After Tuesday's unrest in Venezuela, expats here gathered at a Doral church to ponder the ongoing crisis in their native country. WLRN spoke with many of those Venezuelans last night and found a surprising degree of optimism.
Early Tuesday morning, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó had called on the country’s military to overthrow authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro in what he called "the last phase of Operation Liberty." That led to violent clashes between Maduro forces and rebel soldiers, along with anti-government protesters – but not to the massive armed forces uprising Venezuelan expats hoped for.
Many of those Venezuelans came to Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church in Doral to pray the rosary for Venezuela’s return to democracy. The mood was somber, but also upbeat.
Expats like Caracas native and Doral architect Daniel Valencia said he thought Maduro looked weakened.
“Well, I think that finally we got the support from the military – a big change," said Valencia, flanked by his wife and teenaged daughter. "I think that Maduro is right now in a small spot and everybody’s coming around him that wants him to leave.”
Former Central University of Caracas journalism professor Daisy Ledezma said the lesson Venezuelans should take from the day’s events is that regime change will take time and work.
“It’s something that has to go step by step," Ledezma insisted. "So today was very important. It’s working, it’s working. You can't just say, 'It has to happen today – and then get disappointed when it doesn't. No. There’s not as much military with Guaidó as we would like. But the military are getting onto Guaidó’s side.”
The U.S. and some 50 other countries recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president.