Expats call Venezuela ‘a dictatorship’
“The situation back home is very delicate right now,” she said.
People were dying in hospitals due to lack of medication. In the past three years, Mahmens says she has watched the Venezuelan community in Toronto grow larger as her homeland becomes increasingly unsafe.
“My mom thanks every day that we’re here,” she said. “But that’s a parent saying to a child, ‘I’m so happy you’re far away from me — that you’re gone.’ ”
Organizers in Toronto were pre- pared for 5,000 to 7,000 voters when the facility opened at 10 a.m. But by 8:30, crowds were already gathering — clad in Venezuelan flags as they lined up around the block.
The vote was called by the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties’ Democratic Unity Roundtable. The Canadian government expressed concern this month about Venezuela’s stray from “constitutional order,” urging its government to respect citizens’ democratic rights.
Isabel Pardo, who left her home country before her two daughters were born, said she couldn’t do her job as a lawyer in Venezuela anymore.
“We live in a dictatorship that’s committed numerous human rights violations,” Pardo said. “Even though this is not an official election, it’s a public consultation. That has a lot of weight.”
But, for Guellermo, he’s holding onto the chance that things in Venezuela will get better. “I like the trees, the grass, the school, my house, everything,” he said, chatting happily. “I hope that I could go back there one day.”
Guellermo Gonzalez, 7, with his father, Alfredo Gonzalez, says his family left home “because they’re killing people.”