As a 100 government supporters sieged into Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, West New York residents, the mayor and board of commissioners showed solidarity for the independence of Venezuelan citizens during last night’s candlelight vigil.
Approximately 100 Venezuelan-American residents sang the Venezuelan National Anthem to reassure that the people of West New York are against the extremes between oppression and freedom during yesterday’s gathering at Donnelly Park.
Venezuelans pour into the streets daily to protest the loss of freedom in a tyrannical regime controlled by President Nicolás Maduro while being chastised to illness, malnutrition, and famine.
Mayor Felix Roque, a Cuban-born pain management specialist, spoke openly of his patients in fear of their family’s health and lives, while also mentioning flooded memories of Cuban oppression.
“I heard what was happening in Venezuela. My patients were complaining how their relatives didn’t have medication. Relatives were actually starving, [which] brought [back] a lot of memories from being in Cuba,” Roque recalled.
“We faced the same thing in 1967: the long lines, the wait for a pound of sugar, the long lines to wait for shoes, not having medication and people were just dying.”
“And the same thing is happening to them in Venezuela. The dictatorship is oppressing the community. There’s no freedom of expression. There’s no freedom, there’s no democracy,” said Roque while reiterating the lack of food, antibiotics, and medication being received by the Venezuelan government.
Since the economic crisis in South American countries, the medical care system has collapsed, death rates have increased, and hospital equipment show no signs of growth.
Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32) was another official in attendance who explained why this fight was a personal one for her.
“I’m a Cuban American, [I] was born here, but I know what Venezuela’s going through because I saw it. I studied what communism is all about,” began Jimenez.
“I demonstrated at a young age against the Cuban regime, now I see it happening, at an older age, in a country Venezuela, that I visited – I know what the people are like and I fell in love with it. In the 80s and in the early 90s I was in love with Venezuela,” she said.
Jimenez further stated that her Trenton colleagues state Senator Nick Sacco (D-32), also the North Bergen mayor, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto are two more supporters of the cause.
While thanking the mayor for organizing the vigil, West New York Public Affairs Commissioner Cosmo Cirillo was amazed by the amount of supporters in the community.
“As I look around, it’s so amazing to see so many members of our community come together in solidarity tonight for not only one another, but for the people of Venezuela,” he said.
The vigil honored the 38 victims killed by President Maduro’s police force in mass protests that have been ongoing since March and any other recent loss of life.