Thousands of Venezuelans in Argentina took to the polls on Sunday, in a symbolic vote organized by the opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) in light of Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro’s, plan to replace the Constitution through a Constitutional Assembly (Asamblea Constituyente.) Lines stretched around the block at five voting centers in Capital Federal and one each in Rosario, La Plata, Neuquén, Mendoza and Córdoba. The high turnout forced organizers to open more booths at some locations. “We exceeded expectations,” Venezuelan opposition leader Freddy Guevara said to Agencia EFE.
One of the worst economic crises in Venezuela’s history has led to triple-digit inflation, a scarcity of basic resources, and violent protests that have left 95 people dead since April 1 According to Maduro, replacing the Constitution is the “only path” toward peace and economic recuperation.
70 percent of Venezuelans reject Maduro’s party, as the pollster Datanálisis confirms. Though official data is not yet released, the group projected that 10.5 million out of 19 million registered voters would vote in Sunday’s opposition simulation, ahead of the presidential election on July 30. La Constituyente held a parallel plebiscite.
Since the crisis began, the Venezuelan population in Argentina has more than doubled. The number jumped from 13,049 in 2015 to 24,347 in 2016. Indec estimates that by the end of this year, 30,000 Venezuelans will reside in Argentina.
Chief of the Cabinet of Ministers Marcos Peña tweeted the Argentine government’s support for the Venezuelan opposition vote:
Es conmovedor ver las filas de venezolanos votando en Buenos Aires por la libertad. ¡Todo nuestro apoyo! ?? #ConsultaPopular16J
— Marcos Peña (@marquitospena) July 16, 2017
If the plebiscite is any indication, in thirteen days the Venezuelan people will institute a transitional government.