Venezuela’s captial city is awash with festivals these days!
Caracas is currently celebrating Haitian Cultural Week, which features Haitian music, theater, dance, and film.
At first glance, Venezuela may not appear to have much in common with Haiti. But in fact, their relationship dates back to the 19th century, when Haiti’s first elected president, Alexandre Pétion, helped the young revolutionary Simón Bolívar launch his campaign to achieve Venezuela’s independence from Spain.
Haitian Cultural Week began in Caracas on Wednesday with the laying of a wreath at the National Pantheon in Caracas, where Bolívar is buried. Culture Minister Francisco Sesto began the event by saying, “Haiti, our sister nation, profoundly loved, to which we owe a great historical debt…”
These days, Haiti and Venezuela are allies in the global fight against poverty. Click here to read more about their cooperation on humanitarian issues.
Earlier today, a Venezuelan mission involving the International Red Cross liberated four hostages in Colombia. All are former members of Congress and had been held captive by the rebel group FARC for over six years.
This is the second hostage release achieved this year as a result of President Chavez’s humanitarian mediation in favor of peace in Colombia.
Pictured above is the facilitator of the hostage talks, Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba, and one of the four captives released today. They were airlifted via helicopter and flown over the border into Venezuela, and are expected to be quickly reunited with their families.
Reactions to this breakthrough event are beginning to emerge from around the world. Read about the U.S. perspective in this AFP article.
Caracas is paying homage to Jewish culture in a new photography exhibit commemorating the 60th anniversary of Israeli independence.
Pictures by renowned photographer Alex Levac portray daily life in Israel in a meaningful way that provides perspectives on diversity across cultures, ethnicities, and religions.
The exhibit, called “Our Country” and debuting February 28th, is hosted by the Rómulo Gallegos Center for Latin American Studies. Co-sponsors are the Embassy of Israel and the Venezuelan-Israeli Cultural Institute. Click here to view more of these beautiful and insightful pictures.
Spring training has started in Major League Baseball, and believe it or not, there are 130 players from Venezuela participating. Nearly 50 more sluggers from Venezuela are headed for independent leagues in the U.S. and other countries including Mexico, Italy and Japan.
These days, the highest-paid pitcher in the major leagues, Venezuela’s Johan Santana, is contracted for nearly $150 million.
Of course, the world of baseball was not always so extravagant.
The first Venezuelan ball player to enter the U.S. major leagues was pitcher Alex Carrasquel, a native of Caracas, who was hired by the Washington Senators in 1919. While Carrasquel never earned a fraction of what today’s star pitchers are worth, he did gave them big shoes to fill — back home, Carrasquel was known as “El Patón” (Bigfoot) because of his size-14 cleats.
A short film by Venezuelan director Mariana Fuentes will grace the silver screen at this year’s Chicago Latino Film Festival in April. The international tour of Lupe’s Café (El Café de Lupe) is sponsored by Venezuela’s state-funded Villa del Cine, or Cinema City, which was founded in recent years to promote national artistic production and diversity.
Watch this trailer for Lupe’s Café to see what you can expect, and check the Venezuela in Your Town section for festival details.
As climate change becomes a pressing issue both globally and locally, Venezuela is poising itself to become a key player in finding common solutions.
Eleven Venezuelan scientists recently departed for Antarctica to do research on climate change.
The scientists, who are aboard a Uruguayan ship, will spend 45 days studying the effects of global warming on the atmosphere, coastal areas, and flora and fauna. The expedition is historically significant, for it is Venezuela’s largest scientific mission to date.
Venezuela’s Minister of Science and Technology Hector Navarro said that Venezuela hopes to set up a permanent research station in Antarctica and may also sign the Antarctic Treaty, which states: “in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.”
Venezuela’s maverick classical music conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, was featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes yesterday. Dudamel is a product of Venezuela’s renowned music education program for youth, called “El Sistema.” At the age of only 26, Dudamel was selected to lead the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra starting in 2009.
The Institute of National Patrimony in Caracas is helping Venezuelans discover what life was like in the days of its famous independence leader, Simon Bolivar.
The influence of this national hero in Venezuela cannot be underestimated, for most Venezuelan towns and cities have a central Plaza Bolivar. However, few people today know much about the historical moment in which Bolivar lived.
The new exposition looks at the social and economic realities of Venezuela in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Artifacts such as utensils and building materials are displayed and were brought from excavations at historical sites including the Bolivar family home in the state of Miranda and sugar plantation in Aragua.
It is often said about Latin America that the region’s history overlaps with the present day. In Venezuela, the Institute of National Patrimony is making that process an educational one.
The Latin American television network TeleSUR begins broadcasting in Portuguese this week, thanks to a new partnership with the Brazilian network TV Paraná. This initiative was a long time coming. TeleSUR took steps to begin Portuguese-language programming back in May 2006, but a Brazilian editorial staff was finally assembled last month.
TeleSUR was created with the purpose of featuring diverse programming created by and for Latin Americans. It helps reduce regional dependence on news produced abroad in the US and Europe, and instead represents diverse local perspectives on issues that are important at home.
Airing in 20 countries, TeleSUR has been described as Latin America’s alternative to CNN. Ownership of the station is divided between several countries, and Venezuela’s share is the largest, at around 50 percent. The board of directors includes representatives from several countries including Brazil, which is represented by journalist Beto Almedia.
Caracas is currently hosting its annual Jewish film festival. Paradoxically, this show of cultural inclusiveness comes on the heels of spurious allegations that President Chavez is responsible for a “wave of anti-Semitism in Venezuela.”
This trailer for the Jewish film festival is in Spanish, but English-speakers will not miss the message: this cinematic voyage will truly be a revelation!
A new theatrical work by Venezuelan dramatist Gustavo Ott has arrived in Washington, DC where it is being performed at the GALA Hispanic Theater through February 24th. “Tu Ternura Molotov” (Your Molotov Kisses) is billed as a “hilarious and provocative commentary on political incorrectness.” Check out the Washington Post article about the play.
“Tu Ternura Molotov” is Mr. Ott’s fourth feature at GALA Theater in Washington. Back in Venezuela, Ott also runs a theater school in a poor neighborhood in Caracas that gives young people the opportunity to express themselves on stage. Look for up-and-coming actors from the school by visiting Teatro San Martín online.