Local communities respond to political crisis in Venezuela

HOUSTON – Local Venezuelan community members gathered in protest and solidarity along Westheimer Road and Fountain View Drive calling for the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro. 

Many who spoke with KPRC2 said they are showing their support to their loved ones back in Venezuela to rise up and overthrow Maduro. 

"It's between staying there and taking your chances of not making it another day or going somewhere else," said Venezuelan Houston business owner Joel Eliaz.

Eliaz owns the Venezuelan Bakery and Café Tuttopane. He said he had to flee Venezuela six years ago with his teenage daughter. Eliaz's mother and extended family are still living there, and he said the situation has become unbearable.

"It's a really difficult situation. If you go to a hospital, there's no medicines, there is no equipment. Doctors have to work with (their) bare hands because there's nothing for them to do surgery with. There is no food industry. People are eating from the dumpsters," Eliaz said.

On Tuesday, opposition leader Juan Guaido called on the people of Venezuela to come out to the streets and overthrow Maduro and what he calls a corrupt government.

Reports of clashes in Caracas captured the world's attention when an armored vehicle apparently ran into protesters. Unrest in the country that has taken shape over many years as residents face a lack of food, water and electricity. Now, thousands are fleeing to the United States and here to Houston.

In addition, many oil and gas companies pulled out of Venezuela years ago.

"The economic conditions there are so bad that no one wants to go back there unless they have to, but I don't think it will have any direct impact on Houston. A change in government will not have a big boost on Houston's energy economy. It's just going to take too many years to repair what's been destroyed," said Barbara Shook, a Houston-based international energy analyst. 

UNIDAD HOUSTON gathered on Westheimer and Fountain View supporting protesters in Venezuela and the ouster of Maduro.

"We have been fighting for this moment for 20 years. A lot of people died because of that. Today we have the opportunity to restore the hope of the whole country," said Jorge Marquez, of UNIDAD HOUSTON.

President Donald Trump has said he supports the Venezuelan people and opposition leader Juan Guaido. While many are against any U.S. involvement, the Houston-Venezuelan community has thanked him for his support.

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