Venezuelan students at UC Berkeley organized an event Wednesday on Sproul Plaza in response to the recent Venezuelan humanitarian crisis.
The event showcased food, artwork and the Venezuelan flag rising in the wind — upside-down in response to the crisis.
According to campus junior Walter Jove, an organizer for the event, the crisis involves severe food and electricity shortages and a “mass exodus” of Venezuelans, particularly young college graduates.
“It’s been the worst for young people too, especially students,” Jove said. “I have a lot of friends in Venezuela who graduated and fled because there are no opportunities there for them. And that’s really bad for Venezuela, because who is supposed to build the country if the brains and talent are leaving?”
While Venezuela has the largest oil reserves and is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, poverty, violence and infant and maternal mortality rates remain high, according to a pamphlet given out at the event.
“We’re hoping that this is the first of a series of events, both fundraising and awareness type of events,” said campus freshman Manuela Abenante, another organizer for the event. “We’re doing whatever we can from here at UC Berkeley.”
According to one of the artworks, the flag is held upside down by many protesters and activists in Venezuela in opposition to alleged violence by the Venezuelan Armed Forces.
The art exhibition also showcased artwork on the narratives of college students in Venezuela, as well as the international political climate in response to the Venezuelan crisis. The event also had “Facts 4 Venezuelan Snacks” in the form of plantain chips and arequipe, which is dulce de leche on sweet bread.
“Our main goal of today was to raise awareness about all of the issues going on in Venezuela,” said campus freshman Ashley Lopez, an organizer of the event. “It’s an informational art exhibition. We don’t want to lecture people or force them to learn about it, but rather show them this in an artsy way.”
According to Lopez, Venezuela has one of the highest inflation rates in the world.
A misconception about Venezuela is that the country is a socialist democracy, according to Abenante and Jove. They added that health care subsidies in Venezuela and funding for public schools are lower than in America.
“I think the main thing, without taking a political stance, is the humanitarian crisis,” said campus senior and event attendee Armando Gonzalez. “People are fleeing, families are starving. The idea of the human condition truly is unattainable for a lot. People are losing their livelihoods and lifestyles by relocating to another country. It’s something that truly is tragic.”