|Anti-Chavez forces in US hope for change
Cheering Venezuelans in the US waved the national flag and expressed hope that change would come after the death of populist President Hugo Chavez.
“He's gone!’’ dozens in a largely anti-Chavez community chanted, AP reports.
“We are not celebrating death,’’ Ana San Jorge, 37, said amid a jubilant crowd in the Miami suburb of Doral. “We are celebrating the opening of a new door, of hope and change.''
Many expressed cautious optimism and concern.
“Although we might all be united here celebrating today, we don't know what the future holds,’’ said Francisco Gamez, 18, at El Arepazo, a popular Venezuelan restaurant in Doral.
Many in Florida's large Venezuelan community and other such pockets around the US are stridently anti-Chavez and had fled in response to the policies instituted by his government.
Doral has the largest concentration of Venezuelans in the US.
El Arepazo is at the heart of the community and sells arepas, corn flour patties stuffed with fresh cheese and other fillings. Hundreds of Venezuelans gathered at the restaurant with family and friends to watch news broadcasts covering the death.
Doral Mayor Luigi Boria said 30 police officers were assigned to monitor reaction, but said all was under control.
An estimated 189,219 Venezuelan immigrants live in the United States, according to US Census figures. In addition to Florida, there are sizable Venezuelan communities in Los Angeles and New York.
A large number of professionals and others left their country beginning after Chavez became president in 1999. Many did not agree with his socialist government, became frightened of soaring crime or simply sought better fortunes abroad.
Others, meanwhile, mourned Chavez's death.