Miami in the Meantime

With the future of their country in flux, Venezuelans are setting up shop, and opposing camps, in Florida

"I took this decision for fear of Chavez," she says looking around the place. "It has been very hard."

Fernandez says business, thankfully, has been brisk. At the same time, a life slaving away in a kitchen was not what she had in mind. Adjusting to Miami has also been difficult.

Despite her dislike of Chavez, Fernandez says Venezuela's prospects are not as grim as she imagined. The economy is starting to improve, and the president appears serious about clamping down on corruption. "I have to admit it seems to be getting better," she says. Chavez's efforts on behalf of the poor are probably necessary, she concedes.

The majority of her Venezuelan customers think this way as well, she offers. People such as Leo Wong, sitting at a table in the corner. Wong is in Miami visiting his nephew. Between drags of a cigarette he expresses cautious optimism about the direction of the country under Chavez. "Things could get better," he says.

"Of course there are others who hate [Chavez]," Fernandez admits "but I think they are people who are very tied to Cubans or who have left for other reasons."

Fernandez is not sure how much longer she will remain in Miami. "I hope with all my heart that I was wrong to come here," she says before excusing herself to the kitchen.

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