Venezuela: Closure of Miami consulate may cost Chávez votes
The full weight of the closure of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami following the expulsion of Livia Acosta, a diplomat whose links to alleged Iranian plots to attack several targets in the U.S. were revealed in Univision’s documentary The Iranian Threat, is beginning to be felt now.
Speaking to Mexico’s El Universal, the head of the Venezuelans in Exile Organization (ORVEX), Elio Ponte, says President Chávez will have to reopen the consulate, not only because this measure affects his opponents in Miami, but also because his beloved chavistas with money.
“We believe (the government) will back off,” Ponte said. “Because by reacting this way, he not only acts against nearly 200,000 Venezuelans in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, but also against many boligurgueses (“Bolivarian bourgeois”) who have businesses here in the U.S. This is going to generate big pressure.”
At the Venezuelan consulate in Miami, businessmen get their seals of approval for import and export operations.
As Venezuela’s El Nacional puts it: “Business are paralyzed after the closure of the Miami consulate.”
Other Venezuelan consulates in the U.S. are located in Boston, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, El Nacional says. The closest one to Miami is the New Orleans consulate, and it is still some 540 miles away, a 10 hour journey by car or 2 hour trip by plane.
There are some 19,000 Venezuelans who are registered to vote in next October’s elections at the now-closed consulate. If the consulate remains closed, they will be forced to fly to New Orleans to cast their ballot.
But according to Venezuelan official Nicolás Maduro, the impromptu measure was forced by “security measures” due to “threats from violent sectors linked to terrorism,” and he also accused Florida Venezuelans of orchestrating these threats. Venezuelans in Miami have denied these claims.
Commerce between the U.S. and Venezuela in 2011 totaled $11.2 billion for Venezuelan imports from the U.S., a 13.13 per cent increase from the previous year.
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