[Disclaimer: I did not vote. I am a Venezuelan in Houston, I have my Venezuelan passport but I did not vote. I couldn’t register in time because I applied for my new passport too late. Yes, I am ashamed of it. In fact, this article, in addition to providing readers with live coverage of a relevant worldwide event through a local point of view, is really just a projected manifestation of my shame. So enjoy, and stay informed.]
Things are friendly and patriotic outside the Venezuelan consulate in Houston. Many of them now U.S. residents or citizens, Venezuelan nationals proudly emit their voice through the right to vote.
In the afternoon hours, the turnout at the Houston offices was roughly 3,500 out of around 6,000 registered voters, according to election officials. Amidst the crowds, I could hear people supporting Henrique Capriles, publicly announcing their hope for change in Venezuela. Naturally, the majority of those showing the Venezuelan flag use the seven-star banner as opposed to Chavez's eight-star flag. Nevertheless, some voters assured me there is a consistent chavista crowd.
There are numerous other U.S. locations for Venezuelans to show their political support. In New Orleans, voters traveled all the way from South Florida, since the Miami consulate was closed by Chavez last year before his elections against Capriles. New Orleans estimates 20,000 registered voters for today’s elections, but the October elections brought 8,500 actual votes.
All in all, these numbers aren’t meant to make a dent. They’re made to encourage, to act as a shining light. Much of what determines a nation’s readiness for change is its willingness for change. For many in Venezuela, getting out on a Sunday to vote may not be worth it (Maduro himself might be having a potentially game-changing abstention crisis), however, voters in the U.S. serve as encouragement that change is possible if you’re willing to withstand the journey.
Are Venezuelans willing to change?