Tens of thousands of Venezuelan exiles took to the streets Saturday to protest the actions of Hugo Chavez, comparing the nation’s president to Cuba’s Fidel Castro and likening his recent actions to terrorism.
About 50,000 protesters jammed into Miami’s predominantly Cuban Little Havana, calling for the ouster of Chavez, who opponents say is dissolving the country’s long-standing Democratic structure. The Venezuelans were joined by Cuban Americans and sympathizers from other Latin American nations.
“He’s trying to do everything that he can to abrogate all democratic principles in Venezuela,” said Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, a Cuban. “That’s something that we should not support.”
Miami police reported no injuries or violence at the rally that lasted about five hours.
In an effort to force Chavez from office, Venezuelan business and labor groups are in the midst of a seven-week strike that is threatening to destroy the country’s economy.
The strike was launched by Venezuela’s opposition Dec. 2 to demand that Chavez resign or call early elections if he loses a Feb. 2 nonbinding referendum on his rule.