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Venezuela is rich in oil, but President Nicol's Maduro and his ham-fisted socialist government are destitute. They've got nothing to solve the economic and social problems that have sharply divided the nation, and the issue has mounted to political bedlam, soaring inflation, and widespread unrest. Since mid-February, dozens of antigovernment protesters, many of them students, have been killed in street clashes with Maduro's Chavista party, adding to a murder rate that's the highest in South America. For Venezuelan-born, Miami-based artists Edwin Villasmil and Elba Martinez, who fled Hugo Chavez' brutal regime, Maduro's equally oppressive authoritarian rule has been the inspiration for a provocative exhibit at the Bakehouse Art Complex (561 NW 32nd St., Miami). The artists aim to deliver stinging commentary on their troubled homeland. "SOS Venezuela" features drawings, installations, video, and other representations of the government brutality and oppression, occurring in the everyday lives of Venezuelan civilians, the artists explain. "This exhibition gives me a voice to exercise my freedom of speech, something that my friends have lost the ability to do" Villasmil says. "The country is sinking inexorably... This series of artworks shows Venezuela adrift becoming more and more of a poor rich country... overburdened, corrupt, insecure, and undersupplied." The conceptual duo and resident Bakehouse artists have collaborated as social activists for more than two decades. This Thursday at 6:00 p.m., they will discuss their exhibit and a recent trip to Venezuela, where they experienced firsthand the turmoil gripping their homeland. "SOS Venezuela" runs through May 4. Call 305-576-2828 or visit
Thu., May 1, 6-8 p.m., 2014


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