Politics

Francis Suarez Creates "How Can I Help?" NFTs to Benefit Little Haiti

Mayor Francis Suarez has created 12 NFTs to benefit the Little Haiti Coding Boot Camp.
Mayor Francis Suarez has created 12 NFTs to benefit the Little Haiti Coding Boot Camp. Photo by Michael Campina/Screenshot via OpenSea
The residents of Little Haiti never asked for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), but Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has delivered.

In partnership with the Artisan Agency, a Miami-based branding company, Suarez has created 12 one-of-a-kind NFTs that debuted at auction yesterday on OpenSea, an eBay-like marketplace for NFTs. The collection is titled How Can I Help? in reference to the mayor's infamous tweet last December that invited Silicon Valley's tech CEOs and venture capitalists to move to Miami. All proceeds will benefit Little Haiti Coding Boot Camp.

From a pixelated sunglass-wearing Suarez to rainbow-colored block letters of the Creole greeting "sak pase," the dozen animated images are stylized like early 8-bit computer graphics — a nod to the Nyan Cat flying Pop-Tart NFT, which sold at auction for nearly $600,000 this past February.

"I’m excited to launch these NFTs, which will continue to draw attention to Miami’s growing tech community," Suarez said in a press release. "The Little Haiti Coding Boot Camp is a great local tech incubator that relies on our support to thrive."


So far, it doesn't appear that anyone has bid on the works.
click to enlarge The dozen animated images are stylized like 8-bit GIFs. - COURTESY OF THE ARTISAN AGENCY
The dozen animated images are stylized like 8-bit GIFs.
Courtesy of the Artisan Agency
For the uninitiated, NFTs are digital assets whose authenticity and ownership are verified via a tamper-proof network of computers — the blockchain — that meticulously tracks transactions and sales. Similar to designer handbags and conventional physical works of art, NFTs are computer image (or audio) files that come with an authenticity label. Some are sold as one-of-a-kind objects, others as limited editions; their limited quantity and tamperproof seal of authentication can imbue them with value. A reproduction of an NFT, while identical, is by definition a knockoff.

Suarez, who is running for re-election on November 2, has been criticized for luring out-of-towners during a pandemic and pandering more to the needs of Silicon Valley than his own constituents.

Tech entrepreneurs have already donated several hundred thousand dollars to Suarez's re-election campaign — and it's clear the mayor wants to turn Miami into a global tech hub. But many worry that the West Coasters Suarez is trying to lure to Miami's shores will cause our city's already out-of-whack housing market to become still more unaffordable.

He has already floated paying city employees in Bitcoin, despite the fact that most people have no idea how cryptocurrency works.


When a local activist asked Suarez to address the city's lack of affordable housing, Suarez allegedly replied, "MiamiCoin is worth $16 million, bro."

And when it comes to helping marginalized residents compete with out-of-town applicants Suarez is trying to bring here, his apparent answer is NFTs.

The auction ends Thursday, November 4.
 
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Jess Swanson is the news editor at New Times. She graduated from the University of Miami and has a master's degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism.
Contact: Jess Swanson