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Venezuelan middle class seeks refuge in Miami

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In this Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Carlos Salamanca tries to start his car in Miami. Salamanca fled Venezuela’s increasingly political turmoil with his family in January. He is now living largely out of an old Nissan he purchased for $1,000. Salamanca was a small business owner in Venezuela and said he fled after receiving threats against his family. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)

In this Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Carlos Salamanca tries to start his car in Miami. Salamanca fled Venezuela’s increasingly political turmoil with his family in January. He is now living largely out of an old Nissan he purchased for $1,000. Salamanca was a small business owner in Venezuela and said he fled after receiving threats against his family. (AP Photo/Christine Armario)

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MIAMI (AP) — Carlos Salamanca fled Venezuela’s political turmoil in January with his wife, two teenage children and $8,000.

Two months into his journey to the U.S., he and his wife spend most nights in a car.

Unlike early waves of Venezuelan immigrants who left with abundant savings after the late President Hugo Chavez came to power, these days Miami’s large Venezuelan community is filled increasingly with those from the middle class.

All could afford visas and travel. But they’re arriving with a cushion that is considerably less secure.

The contrast has come to the fore in recent weeks as violent protests have erupted in Venezuela against Chavez’ leftist successor in power.

Immigration attorneys say they’ve been flooded with inquiries from Venezuelans seeking political asylum. Most are middle-class families with limited means to leave.

Associated Press

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