With Miami Consulate Closed Venezuelan Ex-Pats Head to New Orleans to Vote

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Many of the Venezuelans in Florida regularly vote in their home country's elections, but this year they can't cast a ballot at the Venezuelan consulate in Miami. The Chavez government closed it in January, so Venezuelan expats have to travel to New Orleans to vote. One of them is Luigi Boria. He's a City Councillor there in Doral, Florida and he's running for mayor there. So, Mr. Boria, New Orleans isn't exactly down the street for you. Why are you going?

Luigi Boria: Well, I am going because, as a Venezuelan, Venezuela gives me the right to vote and that's why I wanna take the opportunity to help my country, or my original country because now I am an US citizen, and I want to help another country in South America to be free of the dictators and that's why I'm going to New Orleans this weekend to see how can I help the people of Venezuela to get free.

Werman: I assume from the way you're phrasing that that you're not a supporter of Hugo Chavez.

Boria: Of course not. They're always [??]. I'm supporter the other person which is Henrique Capriles.

Werman: And I gather that a lot of the Venezuelans in South Florida feel the same way as you?

Boria: Yes. Yes. I would say ninety-nine percent.

Werman: How is this voting process in New Orleans going to disrupt your life? Are they allowing you to vote on the weekend so you can kind of make a trip out of it?

Boria: Actually the day of the vote is Sunday and that's why we're going to New Orleans. It will take us eighteen hours if we go by bus, but I'm planning to go in an airplane.

Werman: How many others are planning to make the trek and how are they getting there?

Boria: Most of the people are going by buses and cars, but there are, I believe, ten planes going to New Orleans.

Werman: Ten airplanes going to New Orleans to take Venezuelans to vote?

Boria: Yes. I think we're going to have like ten thousand people from Venezuela going to New Orleans, but a lot of people from here are helping the Venezuelan people to get money to go because we to spend more to go and vote.

Werman: Mr. Boria, it was a diplomatic spat, as you know, that led to the closure of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami, but I'm just wondering what you make of the fact that Venezuelans in Florida now have to travel so far to vote in their home country's presidential election. Why just before a major national election does the consulate close do you think?

Boria: Well, the retaliation from the Venezuelan government to the US which only affects is sad, no? The only people affected by the retaliation is the Venezuelan people.

Werman: Luigi Boria, a City Councillor in Doral, Florida. He's going to New Orleans this weekend to vote in Venezuela's presidential election.