"When Chavez won, if you weren't with the Chavez revolution, you were out and you barely had enough money to eat," she said. "Finally, he's died. He's the reason we had to leave home and we're all here."
Her mother, Solange Briceno, is nervous about her son who remains with his family in Venezuela. The 72-year-old called him Tuesday in between serving customers steaming cachapas — Venezuelan sweet corn pancakes.
"I am very worried," she said.
In Washington, President Barack Obama said in statement the Chavez's death marks a challenging time for Venezuela. He said the U.S. is committed to promoting democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law.
Chavez's inner circle has long claimed the U.S. government was behind a failed a 2002 attempt to overthrow him, and he has frequently played the anti-American card to stir up support.
Others, meanwhile, mourned Chavez's death.
Former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II recalled that Chavez and the people of Venezuela donated 200 million gallons of heating oil to the group he heads, Citizens Energy, which distributes oil to lower income families in 25 states and Washington, D.C.
Kennedy, who is a nephew to the late President John F. Kennedy, said Chavez cared about the poor.
He said his prayers go out to Chavez's family and the Venezuelan people.
Associated Press writers Gillian Flaccus in Santa Ana, Calif., Claudia Torrens in New York, Steve LeBlanc in Boston, and Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans contributed to this report.