Often arriving thin and penniless in South American capitals after long bus trips across the continent, many Venezuelan migrants blame President Nicolas Maduro for the crushing economic crisis that forced them to flee.
Yet, despite their anger, many in Venezuela’s fast-growing diaspora plan to abstain from Sunday’s presidential election, saying it is a sham vote designed to legitimize another six years in power for Maduro’s socialist government.
In dozens of interviews from Spain to the United States, Venezuelans abroad said they were pessimistic that Maduro would accept defeat at the ballot box. The former union leader has ruled the OPEC nation with an increasingly authoritarian hand since 2013, crushing opposition protests and jailing opponents.
Some of those who hoped to vote for Maduro’s low-profile challenger, former state governor Henri Falcon, said they were facing ever more obstacles to register at consulates, including a requirement that they prove residency in their adoptive country.