Doral community reacts to military uprising in Venezuela

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Dozens of Venezuelan exiles in Doral took to the streets to show their support for opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s call to oust Nicolás Maduro.

The group said this is a day of celebration as they stood outside El Arepazo, a popular restaurant along Northwest 58th Street and 102nd Avenue, Tuesday morning.

Inside the packed restaurant, known for being a gathering point to talk politics, Venezuelan exiles watched TV news coverage of the unrest in Caracas. Some of them chanted “libertad” as patrons took out their smartphones and recorded video.

El Arepazo was so full that the crowd spilled out into the parking lot, where supporters also chanted “libertad.”

Guaidó shared a video of himself earlier where he was flanked by heavily armed troops and activist Leopoldo Lopez, as he called for a military uprising in Venezuela in an attempt to overthrow Maduro.

The mood across Doral was celebratory. Guaidó’s supporters said this marks a turning point.

“Today is a wonderful day for the Venezuelan people,” said a Guaidó supporter, “because it’s the result of a lot of fight, a lot of years, a lot of hungry people, that maybe someday, in some hour could be finished.”

The call to action led to thousands in the country to clash with Maduro’s troops.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the uprising will soon be contained.

Patrons inside El Arepazo sported blue ribbons tied around their arms in a show of support for Guaidó and opposition forces.

Supporter Igmar Mendoza explained the reason behind the ribbons.

“The blue ribbons is because the military now are separated, so the Maduro ones, they’re red, so to make the difference, because they have the same uniform,” she said. “Now they have blue scarves, they have blue ribbons.”

Florida lawmakers have also been vocal about the uprising.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., took to Twitter to call on President Donald Trump to get the U.S. military involved. One of his tweets read in part, “@jguaido and the people of Venezuela have taken a critical step. We cannot abandon them. Inaction is not an option.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., also fired off tweets throughout much of the day. One of them read in part, “This is the result of desperation after years of hunger, disease & mass migration caused by #MaduroRegime corruption, incompetence & abuses.”

“We are in our time to be free and to be happy again because they took our food, they took our freedom, they took our electricity and our happiness,” said Mendoza. “They took everything from us, so for us, this is our Super Bowl.”

“We need to go everybody outside on the streets in Venezuela right now,” said Vincente Passariello. “We need a massive support to President Guaidó. This is the moment.”

The size of the crowd at El Arepazo began to dwindle during the afternoon, but spirited supporters chanted “nobody can stop us” in Spanish outside the restaurant, Tuesday night.

Supporter Milton Gonzalez said his concern stems from the lack of basic necessities in the South American country.

“They have no medicine, they have no food. They had their social system collapse a long time ago,” he said. “We need the international aid to come as soon as possible to Venezuela.”

Supporter Jani Mendez, who dyed her hair blue in a show of solidarity, indicated this is not a party.

“It’s not a celebration, but we feel good right now,” she said.

When asked to explain the festive and jovial mood among supporters at El Arepazo, Mendez said there’s a very serious undercurrent to the gathering, especially when considering Maduro remains in power.

“Well, it’s not [being] festive, but we feel release. That’s what we need to explain to people. We’re not celebrating, because that guy is still there,” she said.

“This is a window of opportunity that we need to take,” said Passariello. “We can’t take this moment for granted.”

Some supporters at El Arepazo said they plan to be back on Wednesday.

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