Where to even begin with Venezuela?
The country is in turmoil, but on cable news it gets far fewer mentions than the U.S. president’s latest cluster of tweets or 3 a.m. farts.
Dog, cat, and pigeon carcasses are being found in the streets because Venezuelans are starving. Prices for consumer goods rose more than 800 percent in the past year. And the homicide rate is nearly 20 times that of the United States, as fear and desperation boil.
If people aren’t dying from the inhumane conditions, there’s a chance they’ll perish in protest. Since heated demonstrations began in Caracas this past April, nearly 70 protestors have died. Amid the losses, the war against corruption and wildly unpopular president Nicolás Maduro persists.
Lost somewhere in the middle are thousands of children who are dying daily because they lack the most basic necessities. They desperately need our help.
And fortunately, folks like Sofia Dotta are stepping up. She is a 22-year-old Florida International University graduate, Miami resident, artist, and native Venezuelan. She's putting her heart and talent toward an amazing cause: a music-infused pop-art event called TheCarePkg – VZLA, to be held this Saturday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at the Wynwood Garage & Speed Shop.
TheCarePkg – VZLA will offer art for sale by more than 25 artists from Miami and across the United States, as well as Venezuela; they include Natalie Alfonso, Aquareia, and Marco Bell. The art will be complemented by a silent auction and tunes from Musicat, Mo'Booty, Womanmay, and Mr. Alexis.
Artists Muta Santiago and Sofia Dotta
Many of the artists are donating 100 percent of their sales that day to the event’s overall cause — to help buy medical supplies that will be sent to children in Caracas.
“One day I was crying in the car, superoverwhelmed by all of the news coming out of [Venezuela],” says Dotta, whose father lives only blocks from where the most intense Caracas protests have been happening daily. “So my partner [street artist Muta Santiago] turned to me and said, "Let's do something about it... Let’s do something the way we know how to do it.’”
So the idea of this community gathering was born. Dotta and friends hope to raise $8,000 from the June 17 event. Guests are encouraged to donate $5 upon entry or give a needed medical item. (A list of items is available at gofundme.com/thecarepkg.)
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Funds raised will go toward buying basic medication such as amoxicillin, insulin, and prednisone for kids. The medicine will be purchased in Miami and shipped to Caracas. “We need to buy the goods here... because sending the money over there wouldn’t be worth it,” Dotta says. “There has been so much inflation, and their currency really isn’t worth anything anymore.”
For folks who can’t make it to the event, donations can be made at a GoFundMe page as well. “It can be hard to help from the outside,” Dotta says, “but in a way, we can all be supportive and help. This is a way to try to help."
TheCarePkg – VZLA
6 p.m. Saturday, June 17, at Wynwood Garage and Speedshop, 435 NW 25th St., Miami; 305-776-0208. Suggested donation of $5 or medical supplies listed at gofundme.com/thecarepkg.