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Local Student Organizes SOS Venezuela Event

People protesting in the streets

People in hundreds of city around the world will gather on February 22nd  to participate in an event to support the SOS Venezuela movement. Cape Girardeau will be one of those participating towns, with students and members of the community invited to help raising awareness about the unrest in the South American country.

According to Ana Carlota Gonzalez, the only Venezuelan student enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University, the past 15 years have been rough in her country but people have finally awaken.

“It is not only my duty but also my responsibility as a Venezuelan to inform the world of our severe situation,” Gonzalez wrote in a letter sent to various media outlets.

Gonzalez is from Caracas and came to the United States after graduating from high school. She is now completing a master degree in Biology at Southeast. She was last in Venezuela in March 2013 and witnessed the deterioration of the situation there. She realized that people were not allowed to buy more than a bag of sugar per family. She said shelves in the supermarket were empty and people could not even get their hands on toilet paper. To her, this shortage of supplies was shocking.

“People are tired of the situation,” Gonzalez told KRCU. Since President Nicolas Maduro has been at the head of the government, his opposition has been trying to denounce the government that they consider illegitimate.

The SOS Venezuela campaign is an anti-government movement aiming at protesting against President Nicolas Maduro’s government and asking for his resignation. It started on February 12, the National Youth Day in Venezuela, when protestors flooded the streets of Caracas. At least three students died in the protests,  and many were injured and/or jailed. In addition, the leader of the opposition, Leopoldo Lopez, was arrested last Wednesday.

Gonzalez said she would like to be one more person on the streets but she feels like she is more helpful here. Since the media coverage is controlled by the government in her country and that some of the social media sites are shut down, she believes that by organizing an SOS event and raising people's awareness from the States, she can spread the word more easily.  

“I’m doing this is be Venezuela's voice,” Gonzalez said.

On Saturday, her plan is to gather people in front of the University Center on Southeast campus and to take pictures of them holding Venezuelan flags and spelling an SOS. After that, she wants everybody to share those photos on social networks to raise people’s interest about the Venezuelan situation.

“It’s a SOS to please have your eyes on Venezuela, to please stop what is going on and to help us be heard, so that we can stop the situation and finally start our new beginning with a better and brighter future,” said Gonzalez.

Social media, even if partly shut down, is the main tool to spread the word. Gonzales said Venezuelans cannot upload pictures or videos on Facebook and Twitter, but she gets evidences of what is happening there through other medium like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

“All I want is people to really educate themselves about what’s going on and to really pay attention and help us by just sharing the story with whoever they can and if they can show up on Saturday that would be great,” Gonzalez said. “It doesn't matter where you are from as long as you care and you want to show your support.”


Marine Perot was a KRCU reporter for KRCU in 2014.