MIAMI: Thousands of Venezuelan expatriates living in the United States are so eager to see President Hugo Chavez ousted from power that they plan to travel to New Orleans this week to vote against him.
Many of them live in Florida and are vehement opponents of the socialist Chavez. The Venezuelans plan to travel on charter or commercial flights, or in caravans of buses and cars, to New Orleans to cast their ballot in Sunday election.
With polls suggesting the Venezuela election could be close, they hope their votes will help end Chavez’s long rule. It is the only way to vote after Chavez this year ordered the closure of Venezuela’s consulate in Miami, home to a large and growing Venezuelan community outside the country.
Chavez said he took the decision after the U.S. government expelled a Miami-based Venezuelan diplomat on allegations that she discussed potential cyber-attacks on the United States with Iranian and Cuban diplomats, a charge Chavez angrily denied.
His decision left around 20,000 Venezuelan registered voters living in the southeastern U.S. without a consulate in Miami.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 03, 2012, on page 11.