Venezuelan-Canadians gather in Brandon, Man. to vote in protest referendum

Venezuelan-Canadians gather in Brandon, Man. to vote in protest referendum thumbnail

Venezuelans from across Manitoba and beyond gathered in Brandon on Sunday to vote in a symbolic opposition-sponsored referendum on government plans to rewrite the country’s constitution.

Venezuelan-Canadians from as far away as Winnipeg, Regina and North Dakota descended on the Wheat City. The city was among more than a dozen Canadian centres to host voting locations and the only location between Ontario and Calgary. Upwards of 600 Venezuelans live in Manitoba. 

“I feel very frustrated. It’s very hard for us living out of Venezuela,” said Rosa Villamizar, a Venezuelan-Canadian living in Brandon who organized the city’s polling station. “We Venezuelans around the world are really excited to participate because this is the only contribution that we really can do.” 

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The proposal by Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro has led to more than 100 days of escalating tensions and anti-government protests in the South American country of about 31 million people.

“My family personally is marching, friends that are in the country trying to do their best to change the current situation,” Villamizar said. 

Clashes kill more than 90 so far 

People lined three flights of stairs in a Brandon University building on Sunday, all waiting to vote. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

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