March 5, 2013— -- While many in Venezuela were grieving President Hugo Chávez's death, in Doral, Florida, home to the largest community of Venezuelan expats in the US, many were celebrating the end of an era.
As soon as Vice President Maduro announced that Chávez passed today at 4:25 p.m. Caracas time, the Venezuelan community in Miami headed to "El Arepazo 2" in the suburb of Doral, a restaurant that has become the political meeting place for expats, especially since the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was closed a year ago.
People holding flags were chanting, "Venezuela Libre" (free Venezuela) and "we have a new opportunity."
An estimated 189,219 Venezuelans live in the United States, with 91,091 living in Florida according to Census figures.
Earlier on Tuesday, Doral's mayor, Luigi Boria, the first Venezuelan–born person to be elected mayor in Florida, sent a press release announcing security contingency plans for possible traffic congestion at the time of Venezuela's scheduled announcement at 2 p.m.
The announcement however came later, at 4:45 p.m., but nonetheless the news didn't catch anyone by surprise.
"The powers at be in Venezuela were ready for this, this wasn't a shock for them," said Alexander Alonso Miles, a Venezuelan living in Miami who was at El Arepazo 2, "So what I want to see is show the opposition can strengthen from this."