WESTON (CBSMiami) – Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans protested Thursday against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. And to show solidarity, dozens of Venezuelans in South Florida rallied with them.
“Maduro, fuera!” or, “Maduro, out!” was the cry that rang out at the El Arepazo 2 restaurant in Weston on Thursday night, as several dozen Venezuelans who live in Weston gathered to call for Maduro’s ouster.
One of the attendees was Michele Perez, 17, who left Venezuela when she was 12 years old. Her mom and several siblings still lives there.
“It’s impossible to live there,” she said. “They treat people inhumanely.”
People in Venezuela are angry about persistent food shortages and long lines to get any food at all. They complain of a rising crime rate, high inflation and rising unemployment. For people who fled Venezuela for a better life in the United States, it’s difficult to watch.
“It’s not a democracy,” said Marisela Pages, who has extended family in the country.
Several South Florida political leaders called for greater sanctions on Venezuelan’s leaders and demanded change in the country.
“There will be a change in Venezuela,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. “It is going to happen, and when it does, the people who have stood in the way of human rights and democracy and have committed crimes against the people of Venezuela, are going to be held accountable.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said America’s allies in the region must work together to deal with the crisis.
“There has to be accountability,” she said. “They’re not following the constitution. They’re not following the laws of their country and they’re engaging in horrific oppression.”
In Venezuela on Thursday, Maduro’s supporters also rallied and reports indicated that police used tear gas on some protestors. Meanwhile, Maduro said government forces defeated a coup attempt against the government.
South Florida Venezuelans are fed up with the repression, lack of basic necessities and a rising murder rate in their native country.
“How many more people have to die?” Pages asked. “There are people that don’t have the opportunity to get out of the country like I did.”