Fear and hope mark Venezuelans’ day in Halifax

Maan Alhmidi 

Published: May 01, 2019 at 5:17 p.m.

Venezuelans in Halifax are worried about the safety of their families and friends back home.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido started an attempt to lead a military uprising against President Nicolas Maduro. Guaido said on Tuesday it’s the “final phase” of his plan to get Maduro out of the power. He called on Venezuelans and the military to back him to end Maduro’s rule.

Halifax resident Juliana Fombona hopes that “this time it will work,” as she follows the news from her home country.

“Of course, there is stress and people are nervous, but the biggest feeling is we will do it.”

She and other Venezuelans who oppose the socialist regime want their country without Maduro. “We will be free.”

Fombona is an architect in Halifax. She relies on WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook to know what’s going on in Venezuela.

“I have two brothers and two sisters in Venezuela supporting the president Guaido,” she said. “We call him the interim president.”

Canada and about other 60 countries recognize Guaido as the interim president and have called for political change in Venezuela.

“These are not Venezuelans and we are going to defend ourselves.”

Venezuelan activist Tulio Quintero was in Halifax watching online Venezuelan TV channels to get instant updates of the situation.

“We are on the edge of a civil war,” Quintero said.

He said that Maduro is using the army and Cuban and Colombian militias to shut down the uprising. “These are not Venezuelans and we are going to defend ourselves.”

Quintero has been trying to organize a protest in Grand Parade to show support for people who took to the streets in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities.

But Fombona hopes that things are going to be smoother.

“If we are able to get Maduro out of the government, it will be a transitional government for a period of time and then they will call for elections,” she said.

Venezuela is already in the middle of a huge humanitarian crisis on the top of its political and economic crisis.

That’s spreading to neighbouring countries including Columbia, Peru and Ecuador as these countries host millions of Venezuelan refugees. The continuing unrest has raised the alarm about other waves of immigrants from Venezuela crossing to neighbouring countries.

“We want the international community to support Venezuelans,” said Fombona.

That, she hopes, will bring positive change to Venezuela.

“There will be a lot of international investments, and the country will recover,” she predicted.

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