Venezuelans rally in Doral

Rally gathers South Florida supporters of interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó.

South Florida supporters of interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó are holding a series of rallies in Doral this month, with an event planed for Feb. 12 to build on a similar one held last Saturday.

Thousands gathered in the city’s Central Park from about noon to 4 p.m. on Feb. 2 to decry the government of Nicolás Maduro, whose reelection to the presidency last year was widely held to be illegitimate. The rally next week is scheduled to take place outside the El Arepazo restaurant during the evening.

“All Venezuelans are united here for the same cause with strong feelings towards the freedom of our country and to fight for what our world deserves, a better world for the youth,” attendee Meliana Moreno said in Spanish.

She has been living in the United States for 20 years, but said she can’t wait for the day she can return and see her country flourishing.

“I live the suffering of my country very very closely, that is why we need to fight and stay together — we are going to make it,” she said.

The atmosphere in the park was generally festive with people singing and chanting “Libertad! Libertad!” But some also teared up while listening to the words of the speakers.

“We are Venezuela wherever we are and we are going to go back to reconstruct our country together because the tyranny fell and Guaidó is our interim president,” speaker Juan Correa Villalonga said in Spanish.

In addition to Venezuelans, a Cuban exile also spoke, though his introduction was received with a smattering of applause, perhaps indicating the strained relations between Guaidó’s supporters and the Cuban government.

“It’s an honor for me to be here in this moment, and I have my heart tight and often a knot in my throat because I’ve been fighting for 50 years to see my homeland free which has been oppressed for 60 years,” said Ramon Saul Sanchez.

His voice cracking with emotion, Sanchez said he looked forward to a similar uprising on his island.

“Every day I dream that a time like this comes and my people are massively on the streets, where in exile we’re all out on the streets showing support and screaming for the freedom of our country,” he said.

Sanchez ended his speech by asking the crowd to hold their hands together.

“Either you stand tall in front of your tyrant or you stop calling yourself Venezuelan,” he said, evoking tears from numerous members of the audience.

Organizer Jose Colina, a former lieutenant in the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela, said he was pleased by the attendance at the Saturday rally.

“The protest signifies the fight I started fighting 19 years ago,” he said.

The Feb. 12 rally is scheduled to take place outside the Venezuelan restaurant El Arepazo, 10191 Northwest 58th Street, in Doral starting at 6 p.m.