MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Hugo Chavez’s hand-picked successor has won Venezuela’s presidential election and his challenger Henrique Capriles, along with South Florida Venezuelans, are not happy about it.
Venezuela’s election board said Nicolas Maduro won with slightly more than 50-percent of the vote. Even before the results were announced, Capriles’ campaign said it believed Maduro was trying to steal the election.
Now, Capriles is demanding a full recount, following the razor-thin loss.
Venezuelans in South Florida say they are devastated by the news that Maduro will become president of Venezuela.
Hundreds gathered at El Arepazo 2 in Doral to watch the election results. After hours of anticipation, many left in tears.
They spent most of Sunday chanting and waving Venezuelan flags. South Florida Venezuelans were united in support of opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.
Thousands went to New Orleans by bus or plane to cast their ballots.
As the hours passed without an official result, many thought that meant a close race and victory for the opposition. They left incredibly disappointed.
Eduardo Vidal said, “I came here today to share what I thought was going to be a major happiness for all Venezuelans –celebrating that we were going to win the elections and it happened like the last time. We knew that we were winning then boom something happened and it didn’t happen.”
Trina Behrens said she fears the worst. “Maduro is following Chavez but it’s not Chavez and with him. My country’s going to be very, very bad now. We needed a change right now if it wasn’t today we’re lost,” she said.
Dr. Susan Kaufman Purcell is the director of the University of Miami Center for Hemispheric Policy. She said the economic situation in Venezuela could get worse under Maduro and we could see more Venezuelans coming to live in the U.S.
“If there are any people with the means to come now and are able to come they might decide to give up. On the other hand it could work a different way because the economy is so bad people still in Venezuela may decide that the situation is not sustainable for the Chavistas so they may decide there’s a chance these kinds of people will not be running the country.”