IF YOU GO
* Who: Chattanooga State Cultural Ambassadors and International Achievers i
* What: A peaceful march to express solidarity with Venezuela's pro-democracy movement
* When: Sunday at 2 p.m.
* Where: Frazier Avenue end of the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge
Eda and Nathan Walldorf want their children, ages 10 and 11, to experience their heritage and grow up with a genuine appreciation of their Venezuelan roots.
"I want my kids to have my culture and understand it first-hand," Eda Walldorf said.
But for the Walldorf family, trips to Venezuela, where Eda's parents and much of her family live, aren't safe now because violent political unrest is sweeping the country. The crisis recently came to a head with government forces violently engaging and even killing citizens rallying against high crime and economic woes they blame on President Nicolas Maduro.
Eda said safety concerns have kept them from the South American nation for four or five years, but that is not stopping them from advocating on behalf of peace and democracy from their location in the Scenic City.
To bring local perspective to the crisis facing the nation of 30 million people, the Walldorfs are encouraging Chattanoogans to march with them through downtown Sunday and join a worldwide trend of people expressing support for Venezuela through peaceful public displays.
The march is set for 2 p.m. at the intersection of Frazier Avenue and Walnut Street. Participants are encouraged to wear white, to signify peace and bring flags and posters with messages of support for Venezuela in this time of crisis.
"The biggest thing is just to raise awareness that folks are protesting against a government that is managing its people wrong," Nathan Walldorf said.
Zary Colón, a member of Chattanooga State Cultural Ambassadors and International Achievers, which is coordinating Sunday's event, said the march is meant to "demonstrate solidarity to the people who face violent suppression by the Venezuelan government."
Thirty-five families in Chattanooga have Venezuelan roots, Eda Walldorf said, and this a way for the local community to support them and shed light on the conflict.
Media reports in Venezuela are heavily censored and foreign correspondence from the embattled nation in recent days has been overshadowed by the violent political crisis in Ukraine.
"It's easy to be like, 'Oh, that's too bad,' and then turn to the next page in the paper," Eda Walldorf said. "I just think this is a good opportunity for us to educate children on how privileged we are here and what's going on there."
Contact staff writer David Cobb at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6731.