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Archive for February, 2008

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.

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releaseEarlier 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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dudamelVenezuela’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.

Check out the 60 Minutes segment that details Dudamel’s meteoric rise to success.

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