DENVER (CBS4)– Coloradans concerned about family and friends living in Venezuela rallied to show their support for the people trying to overthrow the current government. They also wanted to raise awareness not only about the political conflict, but the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
“We know that they are going through a very difficult situation,” said Sue Montoya, the president of SOS Venezuela- Denver.
Her organization demonstrated on the steps of the Colorado state Capitol on Saturday along with groups in cities all over the world. They were all trying to show their solidarity with people gathering in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas that same day. Montoya says the situation has gotten significantly worse since 2014, which is why she started her group in Colorado. SOS Venezuela not only sends aid to people in the country but also works with those coming to the U.S. and adjusting to life in a new place.
The country once considered one of the wealthiest in South America and an oil rich nation, has been under the rule of Nicolas Maduro for two decades. The people gathering on the capitol say he is a dictator that must be forced out of office.
“The situation in Venezuela is terrible. People are starving,” Montoya said. “We are definitely in a humanitarian crisis.”
Alexander Hernandez is another Venezuelan in Colorado. He moved to Denver a year and half ago to live with family already in this country. He also wants Maduro to go because he has seen people suffering; they are starving and cannot find work.
“A lot of Venezuelan people left the country and they are around the world trying to help the family they have in Venezuela,” he said.
Families living in the U.S. try to send supplies to the country but say it is a challenge to get anything into Venezuela. Montoya says her organization has sent money over the past year because of that challenge.
“We collect food, clothing, and we try to send to Venezuela,” Hernandez said. “What is happening in Venezuela right now is very important.”
Hernandez supports the opposition leader who has gained the backing of key countries around the world including the U.S. and Europe. He believes Juan Guaido will help deliver the country back to fair elections. He hopes this movement can be a reminder to others about the value of democracy and an example of what people are willing to do in order to keep it.
“We need to need to live in a free world,” he said. “We are showing to the world that we need to be free.”
As he keeps track of the developments in his home country, a lot of it on Instagram, he feels optimistic about Venezuela returning to a time when more of its people prospered.
“I feel excited,” Hernandez said. “We have been through a really hard situation for years.”
Montoya moved to Colorado 25 years ago with her son. She says she remembers when her home country used to be a strong democracy and looks forward to the day it can become one again. She believes Venezuela is closer than ever to a change in government in part because of the support it is now getting from the U.S. and other countries.
“Finally after 20 years, we got the world’s attention,” she said.