EspañolThe presence of so many Venezuelan expatriates has led to a wave of vigils in support of the mass demonstrations at home. Last night in Lima, Peru, for example, at least 300 people gathered — locals and expatriates alike — at the Venezuelan embassy.
This particular event did not go unnoticed by Chavistas. Although fewer in number, they also made an appearance and set up a counter-protest across the street.
Out of concerns for potential violence, amid heated tensions, police formed a human chain between the two groups. The opposition vigil had prior legal approval to position themselves on the street, and the event remained peaceful.
Luis Villasana was one opposition supporter and Venezuelan in attendance — a young professional who left with his family to seek a better future in Peru.
“My whole family is currently marching in Venezuela,” he said, “including my youngest brother, only 12 years old; even my aunt marches with her one-year-old son over her shoulders. . . . I’m here to fight for a change in the government’s political and economic approaches, based on the soviet model, which have proved to be a failure.”
Villasana affirmed frustrations that have become well known: a divided nation, economic depravity, and out-of-control crime.
The regime “has destroyed the local market,” he explains. “There is no supply of basic goods, and the cost of living has increased to a point where even the basic food basket costs some 8,000 bolívares [per month] while the minimum wage is only 3,000 bolívares [a mere US$50 at the market exchange rate].” He wants “a country that encourages investment and production . . . with less insecurity, where 68 people will not have to die every day due to violent crime.”
Similar vigils took place throughout the world, as messages of support streamed in via social media. For example, earlier in the day (given the time difference), people gathered in Madrid, Spain, to oppose the police state crackdown in Venezuela.
Gina Kawas, a Young Voices Advocate based in Honduras, was among the social media chorus — as she declared that she would advocate for reform from her country.
In the evening, expatriates and locals also spoke out in Guatemala City, Guatemala. A University of Francisco Marroquín student in attendance, María Wer, shared that the threatening and bullying behavior against the opposition should concern all people. Even in Guatemala, she says, Venezuelans have had to take security measures, given the threat of violence from Guatemalan Chavistas.
She hopes people will realize that “peaceful actions are in the interest of everyone.”