Large crowds of Venezuelans gathered in Doral Tuesday to watch news of an attempted military uprising unfold in their country. Many said it was the moment they'd long been waiting for.
Crowds began to form in the early morning at El Arepazo Original, a Venezuelan restaurant and community gathering place, as news filtered out of Venezuela that interim President Juan Guaidó was waging an attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro. By midday hundreds gathered.
Doral is now home to thousands of Venezuelans who have fled a worsening humanitarian crisis in the country.
Gatherers wore yellow, blue and red outfits and fashioned capes out of Venezuelan flags. They chanted "Libertad!" and held signs that read “Operación Libertad,” the name given by Guaidó to the efforts to remove Nicolás Maduro from the presidency. Music blared from stereos outside the restaurant as people danced and sang Venezuela’s anthem.
Carlos Luna, 45, who is from the Sucre State of Venezuela, says he moved to Miami three years ago after he was unable to provide for family, including a 10-month-old baby.
“This is the moment,” said Luna. “Today is the day of freedom for our country.”
There’s nowhere left to sit at El Arepazo in Doral. “It’s today or never,” said one Venezuelan watching the news in his home country. pic.twitter.com/RIE0MoRdRp
— Kyra Gurney (@KyraGurney) April 30, 2019
Franklin Virguez, 75, has lived in Miami for over 18 years. A popular soap opera actor in his home country, he said, “what is happening is what needed to happen.”
“The military uprising that the Venezuelan people needed arrived,” he said.
Virguez’s mother and several family members still live in Venezuela, and he said they were marching in the streets Tuesday in Caracas.
“What will happen is Nicolás Maduro will either be imprisoned or killed, that is what is going to happen,” said Virguez.
The mood in an outdoor seating area at El Arepazo turned somber around noon Tuesday as images of violent clashes in Caracas flashed on a large TV screen in the corner.
Filomena Davalillo said she was feeling “a little dismayed.”
“I’m hoping there’s no more violence and that everything can be resolved peacefully,” she said.
The Miami Herald's Kyra Gurney contributed reporting to this story.
Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the last name of Franklin Virguez. We regret the error.