Venezuelans Voting In New Orleans Disappointed With Chavez Victory


by NTDTelevision

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Thousands of Venezuelans travel to New Orleans to vote, but most leave disappointed as Chavez is re-elected.

Thousands of Venezuelans who live in the United States line up in New Orleans on Sunday, to vote in Venezuela's presidential election.

Most expat Venezuelans live in and around Miami, but President Hugo Chavez closed Venezuela's consulate in Miami earlier this year.

Around 7,000 voters made the long journey to New Orleans to cast their ballot.

[Carlos Alves Fernandez, Voter from Coral Springs, Florida]:
"Unfortunately, the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was closed by the president for whichever reasons he had in mind, whether (or not) these were diplomatic reasons, so it was very important for this electoral process to have polling stations opened so that we could exercise our right to vote, otherwise the action would have been an impediment to allow us to exercise our right. I believe it is the responsibility of the government that today many people have not had the chance to vote."

The expatriate community in the United States is overwhelmingly against the incumbent President Chavez - only 2 percent of Venezuelans in Miami voted for him in the 2006 elections.

The number of Venezuelans in America is steadily increasing, with many middle- and upper-class Venezuelans emigrating, to escape rising crime and shrinking job opportunities back home.

Many celebrate being able to vote.

[Ileana Avendano, Voter from Cape Coral, Florida]:
"Today is a celebration, here in New Orleans or in my country Venezuela. Independent of where we reside, we are a happy country full of brotherhood. We are proud of what we are doing today."

Most people here are hoping their vote will help drive Chavez from power.

But it was announced later that the standing president was re-elected by a 10 percent margin.

This is a big jump from the results predicted in the polls.

Also, the results arrived just three hours after voting ended, leaving many suspicious.

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