MIAMI — People crowd outside a church near Miami’s international airport, chatting about family and friends left behind in Caracas, Valencia and Maracaibo as they wait more than an hour to receive rice, beans, yogurt and other food for their families.
At a storage space not far away, about 60 other Venezuelans line up for free sheets, towels, cookware and other goods donated to help them get on their feet in their new country.
Volunteers at South Florida social service organizations say they have seen an increasing number of Venezuelan seeking help. It’s a reflection of the deteriorating situation in Venezuela, where the opposition has held massive protests against President Nicolas Maduro for his handling of the economy and a Supreme Court decision that briefly stripped the opposition-led congress of most of its power.
“I never thought I would need to receive food but the time has come and I don’t have a choice,” said 26-year-old Venezuelan lawyer Alejandra Mujica, who was among about 80 people waiting outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic church one recent afternoon.