With mounting political unrest in Venezuela amid interim President Juan Guaidó’s efforts to topple leader Nicolás Maduro, Emilio Estefan and the city of Miami are hosting a vigil Friday night for the opposition.
The event, scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday in the Design District, was organized by Estefan, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Eduardo Marturet, Venezuelan conductor and musical director of the Miami Symphony Orchestra. The vigil will feature a performance by Venezuelan musicians from the symphony.
The event was announced at a Thursday morning press conference in Estefan Kitchen, the famed musician’s restaurant.
“We ask you to come and join us for the freedom of my country, and for the support of democracy in the world,” Marturet said.
Doral Mayor Juan Carlos “JC” Bermudez, whose west Miami-Dade city has a large Venezuelan population, said the prayer vigil is a gesture of support to people suffering in Venezuela.
“The most important thing we can do from here is to support those inside Venezuela who are risking their lives day to day to bring about a change for an independent, sovereign Venezuela,” Bermudez said.
The vigil will be held at Jungle Plaza, 3801 NE First Ave. Parking at the nearby City View and Palm Court garages will be reduced to $3 for the first four hours.
“Now it is an essential moment, that we can hope to maintain the attention on this humanitarian crisis,” said Suarez, ”and also to change the hearts and minds of the military that is hopefully going to unite behind the leadership of president Juan Guaidó to take the final step for the liberty of all Venezuelans.”
Estefan recounted his experience leaving Cuba with his father following the revolution there, and remaining separated from his mother for years before they could reunite in the U.S. He echoed many of South Florida’s Cuban leaders who have drawn on their exile experience to voice support for Guaidó and the tens of thousands of protesters who have taken to Venezuela’s streets this week.
“It’s going to be a very small production with a big message,” he said. “A big message about hope.”
Tensions remained high in Venezuela on Thursday. Maduro warned of civil war, and the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence said at least 130 people were injured and one killed during this week’s protests.
Fabiana Rosales, Guaidó’s wife, sent a video message to the vigil’s organizers thanking them for the gesture and expressing optimism for the opposition movement.
“We’re getting closer,” she said. “Every second counts. Every one of your prayers count.”