Thirteen miles west of downtown Miami is Doral. It has acquired the nickname Doralzuela. In recent years, the political and economic conditions have deteriorated in Venezuela. And many of that country’s citizens have migrated here.
In case your memory of the greater Caribbean map has dimmed, here’s a refresher:
Caracas is the capital. It is 1,376 miles from Miami. In the past four years 70,000 Venezuelans have made their way to the United States. Another 3 million have fled to Colombia, Brazil and Peru. Twenty-seven million remain in the country.
Doral has about 62,000 residents. Venezuelans make up 8.22% of the population. So they number just under 8000.
Doralzuela: El Arepazo
On Sunday I went to the Venezuelan restaurant El Arepazo in Doral for breakfast. This establishment serves as the title image, above. On the roof you see the Venezuelan flag flying next to the American flag.
The restaurant is in a gas station:
An arepa is a patty of cooked ground maize dough, either plain or stuffed. An arepazo is a very big one. Perhaps the big O in the logo with its thumb up is supposed to suggest an arepazo.
Here’s a stuffed one.
I had read about El Arepazo. It’s the place where the Venezuelan community congregates for political protests. Nothing much was happening on Sunday morning:
But the place was hopping back in April when hundreds gathered here. They came to cheer on the efforts of interim president Juan Guaidó. He is trying to oust President Nicholás Maduro who claimed to have won a second term in January. The dispute about the election has continued non-stop for months.
Of note: The U.S. was the first country to recognize Guaidó. As a result U.S. diplomats were expelled. And opposition rallies in Caracas have continued, including up through this past weekend.
Doralzuela: The Venezuelan Flag
Here’s a close-up of Venezuelan flag with its 8 stars.
About those stars, seven represent the provinces that supported Venezuela’s independence in 1830. An eighth star appeared in 2006 to honor Simón Bolívar (1783-1830).
Sure enough, in the parking lot behind the gas station there’s this.
Bolívar was the Venezuelan military and political leader who led the independence from the Spanish Empire. As the plaque says, he is the padre de seis naciones latinoamericanas. That is, ‘father of six Latin American countries.’ Namely Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama.
Doralzuela: The Town
I’ll admit that I visited on a cold and cloudy day. So I didn’t see much of visual interest. The residential areas of Doral are endless strings of gated communities of the type:
Okay, so they have palm trees. But if you’ve seen one ….
Same goes for the also seemingly endless iterations of shopping centers:
They have palm trees, too.
Doralzuela: A Very Hispanic-Oriented Community
For one, Univision is an American Spanish-language television network. Its headquarters are in Doral. It began in the 1960s and is the country’s largest provider of Spanish-language content. The country’s second-largest provider of Spanish-language content is Telemundo. Its headquarters are also in Doral. Telemundo began in 1984 and is now owned by NBC Universal.
For another, about 85% of the population speaks Spanish. I take this to mean speaks Spanish as their first language. I have no information about how many of them also speak English. But I would imagine a hefty percentage does. Monolingual English speakers make up only 9% of the population.
Finally, the current mayor, Juan Carlos Bermudez, is Cuban by birth. He came the U.S. when he was 3 years old. He is the founding mayor of Doral and served in the capacity for 9 1/2 years. Doral re-elected him in 2016.
Okay, then. That’s about it. My foray to Doralzuela was less one of visual interest. And it was more one of the history and recent political events in South America whose impacts are felt in Miami.
I add this very mild adventure to my explorations of other Miami neighborhoods. Brickell, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Florida International University, Little Havana, South Beach, University of Miami, Vizcaya and Wynwood.
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen