MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thousands of Venezuelans who live in South Florida hopped buses or caught flights bound for New Orleans to vote Sunday in the homeland’s historic presidential election.
They made the 900 mile trip to the Big Easy to cast their ballots as to who will succeed the late Hugo Chavez.
“I love my country, I love Venezuela,” said Eduardo Briceno shortly before he boarded a bus in Doral.
Doral, nicknamed “Doralzuela” because of its large concentration of Venezuelan residents, many in the community said they are committed to casting ballots.
“It’s the best day for my country Venezuela,” said Dorelis Contreras-Paz, “ My country is depressed, my country right now is terrorist, my country right now economical situation is terrible, my country in this moment needs other president.”
South Florida Venezuelans are forced to make the trip to vote because Chavez closed the consulate in Miami last year. The non-profit organization VotoDondeSea raised the money to help subsidize a trip for nearly two thousand people.
“We’re telling to the world that there are no obstacles that could not allow us to, get us to vote, we’re going to vote for Venezuela because this is very important for us, were talking about our future,” said a woman identified as Vanessa with VotoDondeSea.
Those making the trip are hoping for more democracy, freedom and change from a new leader.
“I wouldn’t like to see so much insecurity in the streets and I wouldn’t like to see my people be hungry anymore and I simply would like to see Venezuela progress,” said Carolina Guevara.
Chavez’s chosen successor, interim President Nicolas Maduro, is favored to win. But many local Venezuelans said they would be casting their ballot for his challenger Henrique Capriles.