The government of President Hugo Chavez earlier this year closed the country’s consulate in Miami, where most Venezuelans living in the U.S. have cast ballots in the past. It later said voters would have to travel to New Orleans if they want to participate on Oct. 7.
It’s a hardship in terms of time and money for many potential voters. But some, especially those who want to stop Chavez from being re-elected after 13 years in power, are determined to make the trip anyway.
Carolina Guevara, a 21-year-old college student, plans to take the 15-hour bus ride from Miami to New Orleans, an 870-mile trek.
“We want to demonstrate to the government that even if they put obstacles in our path, we will practice our right to vote,” said Guevara, who hopes to return to Venezuela after completing her political science studies at Miami Dade College.
The Venezuelan government closed its Miami mission after the State Department expelled consul Livia Acosta amid an investigation into recordings that seemed to implicate her in an Iranian plot for a cyber-attack against the U.S.
The closure affected nearly 20,000 Venezuelan voters living in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina who had registered to vote at the Miami consulate. Most Venezuelan voters in the United States live in the Miami area and the vast majority of those are critical of the Chavez government.