In the backyard of an arepa restaurant in Doral, part of metropolitan Miami, around some domino tables and some Cuban black coffees, part of the hard core of the Venezuelan diaspora has gathered this Thursday with one purpose: to organize a caravan to support Donald Trump on Sunday by land and sea. Five days before the presidential elections in the United States, the Republican is growing strong in anti-Chavez corners like this one, which are bringing a historic social mobilization to the streets in South Florida.
"It's no use if we don't film all that." We also need a drone, we have to see who is in charge of all this production …
"We see it now, woman."
The woman who speaks, dressed in a blue shirt, dark sunglasses and with apparent experience in communication tries to explain to a former deputy of the Venezuelan Assembly, a former senator and a collaborator of the opposition leader Leopoldo López the most effective way that what they are preparing to be seen throughout the country. They call it a caravan in support of Trump and it is scheduled two days before the elections, in which they await a tour by land, with their vehicles crossing one of the bridges that connect Miami with Miami Beach and dozens of boats that join the bay with flags and posters "It's going to be beautiful," says Carmen, who prefers not to give her last name.
In this corner of DoralzuelaAs this affluent residential area on the outskirts of Miami is popularly known, where a large part of Venezuelan immigrants live in the country, to support reelection is to vote for change in Venezuela, it matters little —or at least it is not mentioned— the political future of the United States. "There is no member of the Republican Party organizing this event," they say. And they point out to this newspaper that for months the design of this type of event has run on its own, in alliance with the Cuban and Nicaraguan community.
These weeks, Trump has become strong in the streets of Miami thanks to these apparently spontaneous support groups that are organized in places as peculiar as this one: El Arepazo, the restaurant that since 2004 in addition to offering the menu that bears his name serves as political headquarters of the Venezuelan exile. Its Cuban counterpart is the mythical Versailles coffee shop, in the heart of Little Havana.
Although Venezuelans do not represent a strong electorate at the national level, and according to the latest data from the Florida census only 75,000 have the right to vote, they are aware that the struggle for a victory in the state – key to giving Trump victory in these elections – so narrowly anticipated that every handful of votes is highly coveted by both parties. And the mobilization of their countrymen, hand in hand with anti-Castroism – which represents the indisputable majority of Hispanics in this State – is the priority these days. A community that has also grown exponentially in recent years, in 2008, only 26,000 were registered as voters.
“I am not with Trump because he is a Republican. I'm with him because it suits me. It is convenient for my country ”, summarizes the former deputy of the National Assembly of Venezuela, Freddy Solórzano, who belonged to the Democratic Action party and later, to Alianza Bravo Pueblo, an opponent of the Government of Nicolás Maduro. Around this domino table are several red caps with the motto Make America Great AgainBut for them, that America is the continent: "He speaks of a healthy America, of a continent in democracy, freedom and development," adds Solórzano, who fled Venezuela eight years ago due to political persecution. However, Trump has never referred to that term anything other than the limits of the United States.
In this corner of Doral, hidden behind a gas station, the ghost of communism, so recurrent these days of the Republican campaign, also lives with its inhabitants. "I came to the United States for security and I am afraid of these terrorists called Democrats," says Carmen. What everyone calls "the socialism of the 21st century", which according to them has permeated the Democratic Party through Kamala Harris (the vice presidential candidate with Joe Biden), Bernie Sanders (candidate in the party's primaries) and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is the enemy to beat. "It contains a series of figures linked to corruption, secret societies, the new world order, drug trafficking," says former Venezuelan senator Pablo Medina. Biden does not sound on that blacklist: "He's a puppet," he adds.
In this group of opponents temporarily united for a common cause, Donald Trump, the cracks of the Venezuelan diaspora in exile are also observed. Solórzano and Medina have it clear: "We want a military intervention in Venezuela," says former Senator Medina, who fled Venezuela three years ago after being part of the 2017 assault on Fort Paramacay in Valencia, in the center of the country, and declares member of the "resistance" abroad.
“Trump also wanted to intervene, but the Venezuelan opponents stopped him, they were not interested. He already had his finger on the trigger ”, he adds, proud of the candidate, Solórzano. Carmen, who worked with Leopoldo López for two decades, refuses the offensives of her compatriots and is committed to a democratic transition: "At the moment, I think it is the best."
The future of Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua is what is being discussed these days among the majority of Trump's Hispanic followers in Florida. The Republican's speech has permeated those who have no other mission in the United States than to continue the political struggle in their countries of origin. And there is no doubt or possible debate as to whether, in these four years, the president has shown what he promises now in the campaign. An electoral oratory directed especially to them, in a state that he cannot do without, since it would grant him 29 of the 270 electoral votes necessary, if he wants to reach the presidency again.
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