Absentee ballots. Polling centers open for days on end. Early voting. All of these are ways in which Americans can vote for their nation’s elections. So they might be shocked to hear me tell them that 19,542 Venezuelans living in the United States have to go through a much more grueling process to be able to do the same thing they can do rather easily.
Inside Jose Moreno's Judaica shop in Aventura, there's an entire wall lined with Hebrew books. Other shelves hold glistening menorahs and there's a rack filled with special Passover games and toys for children.
An elderly customer enters the shop wearing a yarmulke and Moreno greets him in Spanish.
Moreno, 71, was raised in Venezuela and for many years owned a similar store in Caracas.
"Most of the Jewish people had good businesses and [a] good living standard,” Moreno said. “We had a lot of synagogues, temples, schools.”
The tall and imposing Nicolas Maduro stepped forward last week to be sworn in as Venezuela's interim leader following the death of President Hugo Chavez.
Before the country's packed congressional hall, he swore to complete Chavez's dream to transform the OPEC power into a socialist state, allied with Cuba and decidedly opposed to capitalism and U.S. interests in Latin America.
Just before leaving for Venezuela to attend the funeral of Hugo Chávez, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad penned a laudatory tribute for the late president.
"[Chavez] is alive, as long as nations are alive and struggle for consolidating independence, justice and kindness. I have no doubt that he will come back, and along with Christ the Saviour, the heir to all saintly and perfect men, and will bring peace, justice and perfection for all," Ahmadinejad wrote in a letter he sent the Venezuelan vice president.
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is an especially tough blow for Cuba, whose feeble state-run economy has been propped up for more than a decade with Venezuelan oil shipments and other subsidies.
The Castro government has declared three days of mourning, calling Chavez "a son" of Cuba, but privately Cubans are quietly fretting about the potential loss of billions in trade and the threat of a new economic crisis.
A fiery leftist, Hugo Chavez was a steadfast ally of dictators like Cuba's Fidel Castro while loudly opposing the United States. He claimed capitalism was destroying the world and tried to transform Venezuela into a socialist state. Millions of Venezuelans loved him because he showered the poor with social programs.
All Tuesday night, we listened to South Floridians react to the death of Hugo Chavez. Many (most) of the reactions were celebratory. Those celebrations took the form of songs, drive-by shoutings and apparently an accordion death ballad.
Below is a roundup of the most colorful reactions to the death of Venezuela's oft-beloved and perhaps equally hated leader.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, has died, Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced in a televised statement.
Chávez died at a military hospital in Caracas at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday. He was 58.
In power since 1999, the former military commander became an icon of socialist policies in Latin America. With his country's oil wealth as backup, he launched fierce and unyielding criticism of the United States and its allies.