Venezuelan nationals who marched around the Queen’s Park Savannah today in support of the country’s opposition leader Juan Guaido chanted his name to the tune of the football song "Olé Olé Olé, Maduro must go and President Guaido. "
The Venezuelans were calling on PM Dr Keith Rowley to back Guaido, who declared himself interim President of Venezuela.
The group also distributed copies of an open letter to Rowley from the Venezuelan Community of T&T to passersby and motorists as they made their way around the savannah.
Before setting off at the starting point opposite TGI Friday, they said the same pledge that Guaido made when he was appointed Opposition leader in Venezuela.
Children, babies in strollers, on parents shoulders also took part in the almost 200 strong march, mostly comprised of Venezuelan nationals, several Paraguayans, Americans and Trinidad supporters draped in the colours and flag of Venezuela and carrying signs and banners.
Several cars blew their horns, some workmen on the Carnival booths showed their solidarity for the group, one man said to expel Maduro. One heckler said he was for Maduro, one hostile male runner around the savannah hurled abuse at the Venezuelans to get out of his way.
Sofia Figueroa–Leon, who was born in Venezuela, to a Trinidadian father said “We’re gathered here today in support of our interim President Juan Guaido. Venezuela hasn’t been this united in 20 years. This morning I saw a video of Guardia Nacional heading towards a gathering of people who told them to join them, the soldiers dropped their arms and joined the Venezuelan people in protest.
“It’s coming to come, it’s just a matter of time before Maduro leaves. We want him out of the country, either he leaves on his own accord or he leaves feet first. We want freedom for Venezuela.”
She said Venezuelans want food for their families, electricity, water, to go back to schools, to their jobs.
Figueroa–Leon said a Venezuelan air force general Francisco Yanez defected from the administration of President Nicolas Maduro yesterday and threw support behind Guaido.
She said Venezuela needed US assistance, there was no food in the country and humanitarian aid was missing for the past two years.
Figueroa-Leon said Venezuelans don’t want their country to turn into another Cuba.
When asked what she thought about a regime change, she replied whoever helped remove Maduro, whether American, Australian, people from Timbuktu, the Venezuelan people will take it.
Figueroa-Leon said scenes of Venezuelan people starving, bursting garbage bags for food scraps, dieing from a lack of medicine, mothers giving away their children because they can’t feed them was what Venezuela had descended into.
She said Venezuelans welcomed America if they want to say it was American-led; the Bolivarian people wanted their freedom.
Paraguayan Marisol Simon said her country’s Ambassador to the OAS, Elisa Ruiz Díaz Bareiro, spoke about certain points and rules that never happened under Maduro.
She said it was a humanitarian issue to recognise Guaido as the new interim president as there was a lot of suffering, blood spilled and a lot of help was needed for Venezuela.
Simon said after her country Paraguay experienced 35 years of dictatorship under its former president Alfredo Stroessner, she stood in solidarity with her Venezuelan brothers and sisters.
She said she felt very emotional for not only Venezuela to be free, but all the countries that were under dictatorships.
Venezuelan Ruth Algornoz said she wanted democracy for her country and for all refugees and asylum seekers to return to their country when democracy was restored.
She said she wanted Venezuela to recover its oil industry, moral and values they had lost and even their Catholic religion, Maduro’s regime was now persecuting children.
Algornoz said she also wanted Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to also acknowledge Guaido as interim President.
She said after Maduro leaves the country, Venezuela was going to a transitional government and going ahead with new elections.
When asked about Rowley attending a meeting as part of a Caricom team to discuss Venezuela’s situation in Uruguay on Thursday, Algornoz said that was not possible.
She said talks had failed in the past, they just want Maduro out, no more mediation talks.
Algornoz said not even Mexico can mediate as it was a socialist/communist country.
Englishman Harry Hunt, who has been a resident in Trinidad for 15 years said he was there showing his solidarity because it was a simple matter of right and wrong. He said he supported the Venezuelan people in their struggle to live in a democratic and free society.
Hunt said what was happening in Venezuela was bordering on the criminal. He said Maduro should be hauled before the International Criminal Court of Justice for the crimes he had committed.
Hunt said it was very sad that Rowley had taken the stance he had, it was all down to politics and he felt very sad for the Venezuelan people.
(in fine print)
The letter read:
“On behalf of the Venezuelan Community presently living in T&T under different regular and irregular conditions, and after being forced to migrate since 2015, due to the critical political persecution and devastating economic collapse of our country, we take this opportunity to reach out to your humanitarian and sensible spirit, and hear the voices of our people.
In these difficult times of significant political change in Venezuela, which is aiming to restore our democracy and the “Rule of Law”. We would like you to put your hand on your heart, by recognizing the crying for freedom, of millions of Venezuelans who have been victims of notable and escalating humanitarian crimes against our people in the power of the Nicolas Maduro regime.
At this crucial moment, we would like, you Honourable Prime Minister to understand, that helping the people of Venezuela (not the Nicolas Maduro regime) is in the best interest of T&T citizens, as the relationships amongst our new legitimate and constitutional government chair by our (Interim) President Juan Guaido, can lead into significant benefits to both countries in relation to: effective border controls, stopping of illicit trafficking of guns and drugs, prevention of terrorist cells, stopping of human trafficking from both sides of our populations, stopping the propagation of malaria and many other diseases, and for the alleged forty thousand plus Venezuelans, be able to return safely to a democratic country, and more importantly, our new government sees T&T as a relevant partner to start the recovery and sustainable development of both energy sectors.
This could be our last chance to regain democracy and freedom; please T&T choose democracy over diplomacy and help save millions of innocent people.