After the controversial referendum of July 30, 2017, called by President Nicolás Maduro to install a constitutional assembly, and four months of continuous protests against the government for the deepening social, economic and political crisis, Venezuelans received a virtual solidarity hug from Mexico. An anonymous group of Mexican teenagers behind the Twitter @BanderitasSquad account created the hashtag #ArepaElTacoEstáContigo (Arepa, The Taco Is With You). Channel NTN24 reported the reason behind the initiative, according to one of the hashtag's creators:
Habíamos escuchado de venezolanos que, probablemente, ellos tendrían su última noche con Internet y este fue un modo de mostrar nuestro apoyo. Le mandamos mucho amor y que sepan que no están solos.
We had heard from Venezuelans that it was probably going to be their last night with Internet, so this was a way of showing our support. We sent lots of love and let them know they are not alone.
This message of encouragement brings together a popular gastronomic icon of each country: the arepa from Venezuela, and the taco from Mexico. With this ingenious turn, hundreds of people sent messages of admiration and good wishes to Venezuelans who are fighting for democracy.
We share here some of the messages of strength and respect for the Venezuelan people:
nos les mando fuerza porque sé que ya la tienen, pero les mando mi respeto y admiración a un pueblo de luchadores
— Kislev 🇲🇽🇻🇪 (@ZAYNSH1NE) August 2, 2017
I am not sending you strength because I know you already have it, but I am sending you my respect and admiration you fighting people
¡Porque no cualquiera se levanta y lucha contra la injusticia! toda mi admiración para los venezolanos 🇻🇪🇲🇽#ArepaElTacoEstaContigo 💚💛
— shirel (@shirrnoriega) August 2, 2017
Because not everybody stands up and fights for injustice! All my admiration to the Venezuelans. #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
Los venezolano luchan día a día, son un ejemplo que me ha abierto los ojos, luchar por un país libre. #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
— vero🇲🇽🇻🇪 (@1DMYKINGS4) August 2, 2017
To the Venezuelans who put up a fight each day, they are an example that has opened my eyes, to fight for a free country. #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
There were also those who offered words of comfort:
Deberíamos traernos a todos los Venezolanos a México y darles muchos taquitos para acabar con tanta tristeza #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo 💙
— Aileen García 🇲🇽🇻🇪 (@Meowtilus) August 2, 2017
We should bring all Venezuelans to Mexico and give them lots of tacos to help them cope with so much sadness. #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
Neta me dan ganas de tomar a Venezuela y envolverla en una cobija de amor y ponerla en un lugar seguro #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
— Mary 🇲🇽🇻🇪 (@obtainjh) August 2, 2017
To be honest, I feel like taking Venezuela and covering it with a love blanket and putting it in a safe place.
The confirmation of friendship between the two nations was also evident:
— Ge. 🇲🇽🇻🇪 (@fucksuicideroom) August 2, 2017
This hashtag is pure love for Venezuelans from the unruly Mexicans #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
Lo mejor que podemos hacer es mandar buenas vibras y demostrar que no están solos, Fuerza Venezuela 🇻🇪❤️#ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
— ana 🇲🇽🇻🇪 (@anafloresf) August 2, 2017
The best we can do is to send good vibes and let them know they are not alone. Keep strong Venezuela. #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
In the middle of it all, there were some who complained that Mexican Twitter users were more interested in the news from Venezuela than in developments in their own country. Banderitas Squad replied:
No somos hipócritas por no hablar de los problemas de México, solo que hoy quisimos hacer sonreír a alguien más #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
— Banderitas Squad🇲🇽 (@BanderitasSquad) August 2, 2017
We are not hypocrites for not talking about the problems in Mexico, we only wanted to make someone else smile. #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
There was even a tweet that reported President Maduro to the microblogging platform:
— El Cochiloco (@El_cochi100) August 2, 2017
#ArepaElTacoEstaContigo This suits the asshole perfectly.
On the image: ‘Report’, ‘Being abusive or damaging’
The wave of good vibes was welcomed with gratitude by Venezuelans:
— Judermys Zacarias (@zacariasyuder) August 3, 2017
Friends in solidarity all over the world! #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo. We're thankful. God bless you.
¡La lucha por los DDHH no tiene fronteras! Gracias a los mexicanos solidarios con lucha por la libertad de Venezuela #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
— Luis Florido (@LuisFlorido) August 2, 2017
The struggle for Human Rights has no borders! Thank you to those Mexicans in solidarity with the fight for freedom in Venezuela.
Internationally known Venezuelan chef Sumito Estevez also took part in the conversation:
Que cosa tan bella el #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo que inventaron los mexicanos. Solidaridad desde las banderas intangibles. Las del alma.
— Sumito Estévez (@sumitoestevez) August 3, 2017
What a beautiful thing is [the hashtag] #ArepaElTacoEstaContigo that the Mexicans have created. Solidarity from intangible flags. Those of the soul.
The artist known as ‘Azúcar y Sal’ said on her Facebook page:
I couldn't help making a little illustration of this beautiful hashtag created by my beloved Mexicans on Twitter <3 Thanks for this gesture and for your support! I love you!
— Arrocito🍙 (@AerizWorld) August 2, 2017
In the image, in Mexican and Venezuelan Spanish respectively: ‘I'm with you, my friend’, ‘Thank you, pal. You're the best.’
In the tweet: Your encouragement and support make all the difference, even if you don't think they do. Thank you so much!
And so, the creators of the hashtag responded with a single tweet:
Venezolanos, no tienen nada que agradecer, quisimos sacarles una sonrisa y mostrar nuestro apoyo, los queremos 💛💙❤️#ArepaElTacoEstaContigo
— Banderitas Squad🇲🇽 (@BanderitasSquad) August 2, 2017
Venezuelans, you have nothing to thank us for. We wanted to give you a smile and show our support. We love you.
Read more in our special coverage What's Happening in Venezuela?