UNF Venezuelan students vote against President Maduro’s constitutional rewrite

Venezuelan families gathered outside of La Nota restaurant to vote on whether they should rewrite the Constitution. Photo provided by Haidy Andrada

Over 7.1 million Venezuelan citizens around the world headed to the polls Sunday to vote on a constitutional rewrite. Those who headed to the polls included some UNF students.

Violent protests have been ongoing in Venezuela with the citizens demanding government reform.

The vote halted the plans of President Nicolás Maduro to convene a National Constituent Assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution. Many fear Maduro has been pushing to rewrite the Constitution in order to extend his presidency. 

“It was a really important moment,” UNF student David Rojas said. “It’s just not my first time voting for a president, but it’s kind of like my first time voting for the freedom of my country.”

In Jacksonville, there was only one voting poll located at La Nota Restaurant off of Old St. Augustine Road. A total of 1,300 people went to the Jacksonville voting site. Some people drove from Pensacola and Tallahassee to be a part of the voting process since their cities did not have a poll of their own.

In order to vote, you had to be at least 18 years old and a Venezuelan citizen. Voters received a ballot, which they filled in like a scantron. The ballot was made up of three yes or no questions concerning the constitutional rewrite.

Once the ballot was filled, they placed the ballot in a box. Afterwards, voters filled out a sign-in sheet with their name, Venezuelan ID number, and stamped their thumbprint.

The poster reads: “Out with Maduro. Out with CNE. Out with TSJ. Out with the drug trafficking, murdering government. No to rewriting the Constitution. We are more. We can do it!” Photo provided by Haidy Andrada

The majority of the votes were against Maduro’s plan to rewrite the Constitution. However, this vote was not an official vote, but rather a symbolic statement from the people to the government. Volunteer coordinator Maria Kellermann said it was a way for citizens to count themselves in.

“We wanted to make sure we were right, and had the numbers we wanted for change,” Kellermann said.

Venezuelan citizens located away from Venezuela focused mainly on providing basic needs like food and medication to those back home.

Kellermann referred to the vote as a headcount of people who want change before going forward with the next step of  — a complete shutdown of businesses and continuing protests on the streets of Venezuela.  

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