MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Miami’s Venezuela consulate should be re-opened, pleaded members of the nation’s largest Venezuelan expatriate community.

U.S. Venezuelans sent a petition to President Obama seeking his help in the reopening of that consulate. At a press conference Thursday, community leaders asked that any conversations between the U.S. and Venezuela include talks of re-opening it.

The groups also called on immigration authorities to halt deportations to Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez closed the country’s Miami consulate last year after Washington ordered Consul General Livia Acosta Noguera to leave the U.S.

Chavez died on Tuesday and new presidential elections are to be held within 30 days. Last October, Venezuelans in Miami traveled to New Orleans to vote in the Venezuelan presidential elections. They said they would do so again if necessary.

(TM and © 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and © 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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