Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro won another six year term in an election yesterday that is being widely criticized as fraudulent, and the results are not being recognized by the U.S. Here in New York, the election sparked an immediate demonstration in Manhattan, as the Venezuelan immigrant community gathered to raise awareness about the dire conditions in their country.
Desde Nueva York, junto a decenas de venezolanos estamos pidiendo por la libertad de nuestros presos políticos, la libertad de Venezuela y que el mundo rechace el fraude se la dictadura. #20MCronicaDeUnFraudeAnunciado #NoAlFraude pic.twitter.com/nijXxP1F2o
— Voluntad Popular Internacional (@VPInternacional) May 20, 2018
Rozo told Gothamist he was not surprised by the results of the election, which he also deems fraudulent. He said that the real crisis is the lack of basic services like food and medicine in Venezuela, causing a huge diaspora community in Latin America and here in the United States. Rozo hasn't seen his family in four years—he said he left Venezuela in 2014, after being persecuted for being part of the opposition party. He first went to Miami, they came to New York in January of 2017. He eventually wants to get back to Venezuela and get involved in politics there.
Photojournalist Mariana Vincenti was also at the protest yesterday. Originally from Caracas, the rest of her family is still in Venezuela. Her mother recently had cancer, and she and her relatives abroad had to find cancer drugs to bring back to Venezuela.
"You cannot live a normal life [here in NYC] when you have people back home talking about their daily lives, and their daily lives look so impossible," Vincenti said. "How can you live a normal life when you don't have electricity, when you don't have food, when you don't have medicine?"
In part due to widespread boycotts from the opposition, the turnout in Venezuela was only 46.1%, drastically lower than the 80% registered to vote in 2013. The country is in the middle of a massive financial crisis, because of a mix of plunging oil prices and government policies. There are shortages of food and medicine, and the IMF is predicting that inflation this year will hit 13,000%. For a closer look at all this, here's John Oliver's recent segment on the Venezuelan crisis: