(Corrects kilometer conversion in first paragraph.)
Venezuela’s National Electoral Council decided not to open a voting center in Miami for presidential elections Oct. 7, forcing voters registered in the U.S. Southeast to travel about 670 miles (1,072 kilometers) to New Orleans.
The CNE, as the council is known, said in a statement that the decision came after the Miami consulate was closed this year. President Hugo Chavez ordered the closing of the consulate in January, after the U.S. expelled the Venezuelan consul on espionage charges. The Miami area has the largest community of Venezuelans outside the South American country.
“A majority in the CNE decided to not open the voting center in Miami. It’s another blow to the citizens who are treated poorly by their government,” Vicente Diaz, who is the only director on the five-person electoral board affiliated with the opposition, said on his Twitter account. “To make Miami voters travel to New Orleans is an attempt at undermining the morale of a political group of the country.”
Chavez, 57, will look to extend his 13-year rule with another six-year term in the October elections. The socialist leader, who is battling an undisclosed type of cancer, will face former governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles Radonski, who has pledged to gradually remove currency controls, fight crime and attract foreign investment by ending Chavez’s nationalization policies.
There are 23,000 Venezuelans living in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina who are registered to vote in Miami, Caracas-based newspaper El Nacional reported today.
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