Venezuelans in US celebrate Chavez death
A crowd of Venezuelan emigres gathers at a restaurant in Doral, Fla., celebrating the death of President Hugo Chavez, Tuesday evening, March 5, 2013. Reuters

On Tuesday afternoon, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died after a two-year battle with cancer. On Tuesday night, several Miami restaurants and bars offered food and drink happy hours as residents crowded together to celebrate Chavez’s death. Wait, what?

Shortly after Venezuela announced that Chavez had died of cancer, the Miami New Times compiled a list of restaurants in the Miami area that had announced happy hours and specials in celebration of Chavez’ death. The list is admittedly small (only three restaurants), but it’s still a bit disconcerting.

It appears that plenty of South Florida residents took them up on the offer. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Venezuelan Americans flocked to the El Arepazo 2 restaurant in Doral to celebrate the news.

Another restaurant on the list, La Latina, even advertised the event on Twitter. La Latina’s Spanish-language Twitter account never mentioned Chavez in any of its tweets, but it has made several mentions of a spontaneous happy hour, which appears to be rare for a Tuesday night. One tweet even explained that the restaurant and bar would be extending its hours until midnight. It’s a little hard to believe that’s simply a random coincidence.

Miami New Times blogger Alex Rodriguez explains that the restaurants aren’t exactly celebrating Chavez’s death per se, even though, yes, that is exactly what’s happening.

“What a bunch of a******s! Serving celebratory specials for the death of a human being?” Rodriguez writes. “Well, not really. Hugo Chavez may have personified heartache and headache to millions of Venezuelan citizens, immigrants, and their U.S.-born descendants, but to say we're celebrating his death would be horrifically offensive.”

“However, the socialist leader's death this afternoon cannot go without recognition, be it with excitement or sympathy,” Rodriguez continued. “After all, this evening marks the beginning of a new hope for the people of Venezuela and every country that deals with it.”

The post ended with “Keep fighting the good fight, Venezuelans of Miami.”

It might be shocking to some, but for many familiar with southern Florida’s demographics, it isn’t too surprising. Florida is home to about half of the United States’ population of Venezuelan-Americans, many of them emigres who left during Chavez’s time in power. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Florida’s Venezuelan-American population has doubled since Chavez assumed office in 1999.

Watch a video of South Floridans celebrating at El Arepazo 2 below, courtesy of the Sun-Sentinel.