In a quarantined Venezuela, the cultural group Download Area was born in search of creating spaces for imagination and recreation with a sense of union between the residents of the José Felix Ribas community in Petare, one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Petare, located in a district in Caracas, is known for being one of the largest neighborhoods in Latin America, with more than a million inhabitants. Its high population density and the number of inhabitants who depend on informal jobs to survive within a dollarized and hyperinflationary economy make it a particularly vulnerable place in the context of the pandemic in terms of access to health and food.
In Venezuela, the rates of food insecurity and unemployment have increased considerably since March, and the shortage of basic services such as electricity, water, internet or gasoline is added. The country remains in confinement.
Neighbors of José Félix Ribas organized the projection of a film on a platform in the neighborhood in #Petare, so that residents could enjoy from their windows. In this thread I leave you the photos I took for @EFEnews. pic.twitter.com/94KJLlxFyv
– Rayner Peña R (@RaynerPenaR) May 24, 2020
Jaime Pérez, one of the organizers of the Download Zone together with his brother Jimmy Pérez, explains to Global Voices by whatsapp that his group is a combined exercise in deep reflection to connect with the community through the cultural references of the history of the neighborhood from Petare. There are, for example, the painters Bárbaro Rivas, Tito Salas and Jacobo Borges and the cultural figure of the Burriquita de Petare, as well as the current figures, the sportsman Luis Sojo, the model Isabella Rodríguez and the journalist Luz Mely Reyes.
The Unloading Zone events are born in the framework of the pandemic and are designed to entertain the community, inform about prevention measures against the spread of COVID-19 and maintain social distancing.
A journalistic work of @SoyArepita that shows the deployment of our organization ⚡🎧 Download Area 🇻🇪 that builds spaces for the defense of #DDHH and the culture of peace and non-violence.#CinemaPlatabanda🎞️🎥 #MusicaPlatabanda 🎻@NadalDiplo pic.twitter.com/VIjHyX2J9w
– ZonaDeDescarga (@ZonaD_Descarga) June 20, 2020
Disseminating event information during quarantine has been one of the biggest challenges for the Download Zone team. However, Jaime explains that they have not lacked ideas to inform a community that has little access to the Internet, social networks or smartphones: “We use any means of communication. Our greatest ally is the community radio Resplandor de Cristo, which helps us promote the activities of the Download Zone on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. ”
“We have carried out dissemination campaigns with banners and flipcharts, WhatsApp groups of Cine Platabanda where we show our programming. We also have social networks on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where we inform and share the record of everything we do. The interaction with the community has been incredible and we have expanded our team of volunteers and collaborators ”, explains Jaime.
At their first event called “Cine Platabanda” they presented Disney's “Aladdin” movie, starring Will Smith, which allowed residents to escape the stress of quarantine due to the new COVID-19 and political disputes, among other problems that every day they get worse in Venezuela, such as the 6 day shooting that happened in José Félix Ribas in Petare in May, which exposed half a million residents to the violence of a gang war in the neighborhood.
Imagination VS Power
Space for the free debate of ideas and generation of consciousness.
– ZonaDeDescarga (@ZonaD_Descarga) June 4, 2020
But violence in the area is not an obstacle for the Unloading Area team. On Tuesday June 2, they made the first “Platabanda Book”, for which they collected more than 200 books to distribute among the communities in the area. A group of volunteer story tellers use speakers and speakers to tell the story of the Tree.
The organizers also highlight that each activity is carried out thanks to donations and support from the communities, as is the case of the books that were donated by the Bárbaro Ribas library.
He #CinemaPlatabanda Petare is the best thing I've seen online since the quarantine began. Hopefully they will repeat it in other sectors where they need a few hours to escape the crisis. Images of @RaynerPenaR. pic.twitter.com/eue2n69ROs
– Daniel Blanco (@DanielBlancoPaz) May 25, 2020
On June 3, the Download Area held its Platabanda Dance event, in which several volunteers with skill in dance participated and closed the week with a Platabanda concert in which rappers and various musicians from the area will participate. They also performed Ora Platabanda, to allow the community a space of religious expression during the quarantine in which the congregation centers are closed.
Sarai, one of the community's 11-year-old neighbors, has attended all the events: “The Dump Zone activities are exciting. We cannot go out, we cannot study. It is supportive, useful and fun. ”
During the interview, Jaime expresses his love for the neighborhood and the emotion he feels at being able to help the place where he and his family have grown up: “We want to dream. We are that generation that fights and loves their community, that despite the social conflicts and inequalities that we suffer, we live in a constant process of learning in the face of a problem that has had a load of violence, hatred and resentment that began to make noises in our consciences. We want to transform reality with art and culture. ”