Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Venezuelans Abroad: When Every Vote Matters

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Show your support: Henrique Capriles Radonski, challenging Hugo Chávez this October, is favored among expats. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

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The October 7 elections pitting President Hugo Chávez against Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Coalition for Democratic Unity—MUD) candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski promises to be close, and every vote will count.

With almost 700,000 eligible voters overseas—215,000 of them in the U.S.—mobilizing the expat community is key, particularly for the opposition: nine out of 10 Venezuelans in the U.S. voted for the opposition in the country’s 2006 presidential election.

One group working to promote the voting rights of Venezuelan expats is Generación Libre. Founded in 2011 by Venezuelan young professionals in Miami, it recently launched the Voto Donde Sea (I Vote Anywhere) initiative, which organizes voter registration days and social media–based get-out-the-vote campaigns. They are mobilizing voters in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Austin, and New York—as well as in Canada, Panama and Germany.

Venezuela’s opposition party has also taken note. The MUD is now spearheading similar efforts through its Venex program. Ramón José Medina, the coalition’s international coordinator, says the goal is to register up to 300,000 new voters.

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