DENVER – As the Biden administration moves forward with its plan to grant thousands of Venezuelan migrants temporary protected status, a local Denver non-profit is continuing its decade-long effort to help Venezuelans in need.
SOS Venezuela Denver was founded in 2014 by a group of women who emigrated from Venezuela to Colorado.
“Venezuela had gotten, pretty much, I mean really bad, it was a very dark moment in history, in Venezuela. So that's when we thought there was a need for the community in Denver to get together,” Sue Montoya, SOS Venezuela Board Director said. “We have done a lot of things for the past 10 year - our main goal has been always to support and help the Venezuela community in our country, in our homeland. And of course, we also have focused on supporting and helping the Venezuela community in Denver. I think we're going to be close to the 25 years of this regime. And, of course, this is one of the main issues for the, the political turmoil that is in Venezuela, since 1998 I believe. But I mean, every year has been getting it's been getting worse.”
Montoya said political decisions have led to an economic and humanitarian crisis.
“When you look at the statistics and the real financial, humanitarian situation in Venezuela, then you can understand Venezuela is a case that we cannot compare with other countries….Venezuela is struggling a lot,” Yanire Silva, SOS Venezuela Board Director said. “Financial issues, health issues. The health problem is incredibly, incredibly bad. People cannot go to hospitals like they used to. There's no services supporting anything."
SOS Venezuela Denver sends medical supplies and financial support to those most-in need. Board Director Rosalba Guerra Paulick said the need is growing.
“We have two organizations that help (Venezuelans) every month and one of them helps kids. We give food for kids every month, we help them pay for their family’s expenses. And another organization is one that helps people with cancer,” Guerra Paulick said.
Every board member still has family members living in Venezuela and board directors said when hundreds of migrants started arriving in Denver in fall 2022, they had predicted the migrants arrival years ago.
“Not in the same volume as we have right now. But we kind of predicted that something will happen soon. Because there's the expression, very popular here 'enough is enough'. In Venezuela 'enough was enough' or 'enough is enough'. So people start trying to find ways to feed their family,” Silva said.
Silva, Guerra Paulick, and Montoya said the new Biden administration policy of granting legal status to Venezuelan migrants which allows them to work will provide much needed relief to many.
“That's going to help those who are under humanitarian parole and political asylum. (They) will be, you know, they will feel probably more in peace, mentally relieved,” Montoya said.
Montoya said this week SOS Venezuela Denver plans to meet with their attorney to learn more about how to help more migrants using the new temporary status.