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In uptown Charlotte, group protests Venezuelan election

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

More than 50 people with ties to Venezuela gathered in uptown Charlotte on Sunday to raise awareness about what they say was a fraudulent national presidential election.

“We want a new election,” said demonstration organizer Elvia Gordils.

On April 14, Hugo Chavez-backed Nicolas Madura beat opposition leader Henrique Capriles in the national election, according to Venezuela’s National Electoral Council. The council said Capriles obtained 49 percent of the votes.

Because of accusations of voter fraud, many Venezuelans have called for an independent recount.

“We are asking for a clean and legitimate recount,” Charlotte event organizer Ricardo Mata said. “The electoral board is not doing anything. They’re hoping time will go by and everyone will forget.”

On Sunday, the group of Venezuelans stood near the intersection of Stonewall and Tryon streets, singing national songs; wearing blue, red and yellow baseball caps; and holding signs that said “Maduro Ilegitimo” and “Fraude Electoral.”

Many demonstrators played on pots and pans as well as the cuatro, which is Venezuela’s national instrument.

Mata said that one of the principles of Capriles supporters is to be nonviolent.

“We’ll be noisy but we’ll be peaceful,” he said.

Mata estimates that there are nearly 2,000 Venezuelans living in Charlotte and about 4,500 in the state.

Although they are nearly 2,000 miles away from Venezuela’s capital city of Caracas, they are hoping that their persistence will keep the issue alive until the government holds a recount, Mata said.

“This is just one step,” he said. “It’s going to be a long fight. We won’t stop until we bring Democracy back.”

Arriero: 704-804-2637; On Twitter: @earriero
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