Madrid, Spain – Today is an incredibly important day for Venezuelans: we have to choose between two contrasting proposals for our country’s future. On one side we have Twenty-First Century Socialism. On the other hand, there is a democratic candidate who has managed to unite the different groups among the opposition for the first time in 14 years. It is a day that represents hope of change, progress and a better Venezuela for supporters of both parties. I am proud to say I participated, from thousands of miles away and in a different time zone.
Madrid is the world’s second-largest voting center outside of Venezuela, with 7,600 people registered to vote and an expectation that 5,500 Venezuelans will actually vote here today. Despite all the confusion that has surrounded the elections, organization in Madrid has proven to be smooth, with fast and efficient voting tables. The Comando Exterior Venezuela (CEV) even organized a group of volunteers to stand guard at the Venezuelan consulate in Madrid to guide uninformed people to the site where the voting is being held. What impressed me the most is voters’ active, happy and energetic participation—all making their best efforts to feel as if they were in Venezuelan soil.
Seeing this movement in a city far away from my country is breathtaking, since I have always been an active participant in Venezuelan elections. This time, I had to do it from a distance, without really knowing if my vote will truly count. I know this sounds strange—“I mean, come on, how can your vote NOT count?”. That is unthinkable in developed countries where suffrage and democracy are practically sacred. However, this is not the case in Venezuela, especially in the past 14 years where oppression and instability have reigned. This uncertainty is the reality for overseas voters, and even for those inside the country.
After placing my vote, I am now overwhelmed by a mixture of nostalgia, anxiety, excitement, and pride. But the feeling that prevails is hope of progress toward a peaceful Venezuela. Regardless of the results, the unprecedented high participation of Venezuelans abroad today shows that we are on the path toward a bigger, better Venezuela.
*Laura Strazzaboschi is a guest blogger to AQ Online. She is a Venezuelan living in Madrid, who is a mass media communicator specialized in marketing and digital business. Follow her on Twitter: laustrazza.