Mi­grant Venezue­lans stand for rights

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LUCY SMITH

CON­CERNED about po­lit­i­cal cri­sis and eco­nomic col­lapse in their home coun­try, Venezue­lans liv­ing in Townsville have met to cast their votes in an un­of­fi­cial ref­er­en­dum.

The pop­u­lar con­sul­ta­tion was called by Venezuela’s Na­tional Assem­bly in op­po­si­tion to Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro’s pro­posed Con­sti­tu­tional Assem­bly.

Townsville ref­er­en­dum co- or­di­na­tor Alejandra Her­nan­dez, from Cara­cas, said the pro­posed Con­sti­tu­tional Assem­bly threat­ened democ­racy in the coun­try.

“The gov­ern­ment has de­cided to make this change with­out con­sult­ing ( the peo­ple) first about whether they want it or not,” she said.

“The ref­er­en­dum is to ac­tu­ally to say that we don’t want to make that change and to ask the gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish again the democ­racy and the civil rights in our coun­try.”

The Venezue­lan pres­i­dent has faced crit­i­cism for mis­han­dling the econ­omy, with food and medicine in crit­i­cally short sup­ply.

“There are peo­ple dy­ing from star­va­tion and a high per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is eat­ing from the garbage,” Ms Her­nan­dez said.

“My grand­par­ents don’t have med­i­ca­tion for high blood pres­sure and de­men­tia.

“You have no idea how hard it is to be here, know­ing that they’re go­ing through that sit­u­a­tion.”

This year 108 peo­ple have died in Venezue­lan protests.

Vot­ing booths are be­ing opened across Aus­tralia, with Townsville’s opened yes­ter­day at Cafe de Colom­bia on Char­ters Tow­ers Rd.

World: page 17

FOR DEMOC­RACY: Nel­ida Xiques, Mar­i­anela Col­menares and Alejandra Her­nan­dez vote in Townsville. Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

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