Venezuelans head to New Orleans for presidential vote
by Gisela Salomon
Associated Press Writer
October 01, 2012 12:39 AM | 801 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Connie Pinero displays a necklace of the ‘Virgen del Valle’ that her group sells to help raise money as she discusses her country’s upcoming elections in Coral Springs, Fla., where she has lived for four years. Venezuela's government closed the Miami consulate and told Venezuelans to vote in New Orleans for the presidential election.<br>The Associated Press
Connie Pinero displays a necklace of the ‘Virgen del Valle’ that her group sells to help raise money as she discusses her country’s upcoming elections in Coral Springs, Fla., where she has lived for four years. Venezuela's government closed the Miami consulate and told Venezuelans to vote in New Orleans for the presidential election.
The Associated Press
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MIAMI — By bus and car, commercial flight and charter, U.S.-based Venezuelans are traveling en masse to New Orleans in the coming days, spending hundreds of dollars and in some cases more than a day of their time to cast a vote in their country’s presidential election.

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.
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