When the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami was shut down in January of this year, Venezuelan nationals in the region were left stranded, with no chance to participate in the democratic process.
Then came the reality of the logistical nightmare- 19,542 citizens registered in Miami (which are Venezuelans living in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina) would have to mobilize and vote in New Orleans for the upcoming October elections.
Florida International Student Emily Bello-Pardo is working with organization VotoJoven to solve the problem. Together they are working to move all these registered Venezuelan voters en masse to New Orleans for the cause. VotoJoven is present in over 40 countries, working to increase participation in the Venezuelan election process.
An online survey is currently being distributed throughout the four states, asking basic, but crucial questions from Venezuelans in those states. Respondents are asked “are you registered to vote?” and “do you have a Venezuelan ID?” , the two most important questions, both being prerequisites to participate.
Details of the mobilization are still up in the air, but the organization is collecting contact information from respondents to keep in touch leading up to the election.
As for getting this push-back from the Venezuelan government for political reasons, the group take the non-partisan stance. “The attendance in the latest years has been over 90% opposition vote in the United States.. So that may be a factor in there, but as an organization I wouldn’t go ahead and say that ‘yes, that’s the only factor where they’re trying to restrict us from voting.’ What we’re trying to say is that it is a Venezuelan right that people can vote. It is a universal right, more than a Venezuelan right.” says Bello- Pardo.
Helping people to decide the future of their country is the mantra of VotoJoven, and they are in it for the long haul.
Or, more precisely, the long road.