Thousands Rally in Doral To Support Venezuelan Protesters, But Many Fear More Bloodshed
A protester at today's rally in Doral
Michael E. Miller
Roughly 8,000 people flooded JC Bermudez Park in Doral this afternoon to rally in support of student protesters in Venezuela.
The overall message was one of unity, as Miamians from all of Latin America lambasted the government of Nicolas Maduro. But many admitted they expected more bloodshed in Venezuela before the protests end.
"Unfortunately, more people are going to have to die before this is over," said one protester.
"How many people are going to die?" asked the woman, who gave her name only as Marielba and was dressed -- like most of the protesters -- in white with a Venezuelan flag hat. "Who knows? One hundred? I hope that's not the case but I'm afraid it is."
At least eight people have died so far during the protests, including several government supporters. But the majority of the casualties -- and international media focus -- has been on the side of students protesting the country's high crime rate and economic woes.
Today's protest was orderly, with the only scary moment coming when a boy fainted in the sweltering midday heat. Doral police directed traffic as protesters walked for half a mile to get to the park.
See also: What the Hell Is Going on in Venezuela?
Doral mayor Luigi Boria (far left in hat) speaks to the crowd
Michael E. Miller
Protesters gathered on a hill near the park's lagoon, where organizers arranged them into lines spelling "SOS Venezuela" from above. There was even a drone to take aerial photos of the demonstration.
On a small stage near the hill, students and politicians spoke to a sea of Venezuelan flags and homemade signs.
"Arriba Leopoldo López," shouted Doral mayor Luigi Boria, referring to the Venezuelan politician arrested earlier this week. "Arriba los estudiantes!"
After his speech, Boria told New Times that he was in contact with López up until his arrest as well as fellow opposition figure Henrique Capriles Radonski and student leaders in Venezuela.
"We're going to do as much as we can [to support the protesters] from here, from the United States, from the city of Doral," Boria said. "If they need money, they will get money. But I don't think we should get so involved in their private situation. I don't think they need money. They need to get rid of that regime."
Michael E. Miller
Boria said he was hopeful that pressure from protesters would force Maduro to resign, especially given recent statements by John Kerry. Today the U.S. Secretary of State slammed government violence against protesters as "unacceptable."
"I think something is happening," Boria said. "This is the first time I've seen [Kerry] supporting those people whose rights have been totally violated... That means they are changing their minds."
But Boria, too, admitted he was worried about further deaths in Venezuela.
"We don't want another Ukraine where we see so many people dying and there is a river of blood," he said. "We don't want that in Venezuela. That's why this is so important."
"Venezuela is a strong country," the mayor continued. "The people are very strong. The people are tired because they don't have anything. We have 28 million people there. They don't have food, even toilet paper. They don't have even the essential things to survive. No one can survive under that situation. Something's going to happen.
"We don't want any more blood," he said. "On the contrary, we just want our voices to be heard."