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Archive for August, 2008

Did you know? Of all countries in the world, Venezuela consumes the second-largest amount of pasta per capita each year. That means that more Venezuelans have more pasta on their plates more times each year than almost anywhere else. Anywhere besides… you guessed it, Italy.

Annual pasta consumption in Venezuela currently stands at about 30 pounds, and has been climbing steadily.

Some attribute this to the country’s significant Italian heritage. Others suggest that its geographic location makes it more prone to producing wheat than corn (another key staple in Latin America).

Either way, it’s no secret how much Venezuela loves pasta. World Pasta Day was once celebrated off the coast Margarita Island, according to the International Pasta Organization, which promotes “promoting the consumption and knowledge of pasta in the world.” This year, it comes to Istanbul.

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Did you hear? The regional integration group called the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) now has a sixth member.

Honduras officially joined ALBA on Monday. In a ceremony with the Presidents of Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Venezuela, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya signed a document to ratify the participation of his small Central American nation. By joining ALBA, Honduras hopes to increase trade with other member countries and collaborate on food security and energy security agreements, among other initiatives.

Honduras’ membership in ALBA has been a hot topic in the news, not least because the country was a strategic U.S. ally during the Cold War and the wars in Central America.

Where is Honduras headed now? Perhaps in another direction, according to the IPS. The Italian news service reports that ALBA was founded as an alternative to the now floundering U.S.-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Its principles include: cooperation, solidarity and complementarity and committed to fighting poverty, inequality and unequal terms of trade.”

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With the Beijing Olympics now behind them, Venezuela’s top athletes are being honored back home. Above, President Chavez is shown with the women’s national softball team.

One thing they have to look forward to is the creation of a sports office by the state-owned oil company, PDVSA. This latest social program — others include funds for health, education, and other essential areas — promises to increase the support that athletes are given in Venezuela.

Despite strong showings in volleyball, softball, and taekwondo (a bronze!), Venezuela’s delegation of 100 athletes in Beijing offered just a glimpse of what the country can accomplish.

Check out the full story from AP and Reuters.

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If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Lost World” didn’t stir up images of magical beauty filled with exotic animals gracing the landscape, a new scientific discovery in Venezuela certainly will.

1.8 million year old fossils, including skulls and jawbones of six scimitar-toothed cats (part of the saber-toothed cat family), were unearthed by Venezuelan oil workers laying a pipeline in the eastern state of Monagas two years ago.  They were not identified as such until last year, however, when scientists were brought in to assess the findings.

Venezuelan paleontologists announced the discovery this month, proving that the cat did indeed inhabit South America.  The discovery may also provide insight into the type of environment that existed after North and South America became connected after a 65 million year separation, scientists say.

“The deposit could be one of the most important in South America in the last 60 years,” lead researcher Rincon told The Associated Press.  Read the full AP story here.

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Today, Venezuela scored its first medal at the Summer Olympic Games in China.  Dalia Contreras proudly won a bronze medal in Taekwondo against Kenya’s Mildred Alango with a score of 1-0.  

The match was broadcast by Venezuela’s first public broadcasting station, Televisora Venezolana Social (Tves).

Tomorrow, Venezuela competes in the men’s semifinal Kayak Double.

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With the people of Paraguay still celebrating last Friday’s swearing-in of the new President and former “Bishop of the Poor” Fernando Lugo, a dozen new accords signed between that country and Venezuela are making the future look even brighter.

Presidents Chavez and Lugo (pictured at right, singing) signed 12 accords. One of them is designed to help Paraguay avoid energy shortages. The Venezuelan oil company PDVSA will send 23,500 gallons of oil per day to the small country in order to “guarantee the energy sovereignty of Paraguay.”

Also included in the deal is a one-time supply of diesel fuel — an amount of 440,476 barrels — to stave off shortages that are plaguing Paraguay.

Cooperation on energy issues in the Americas has been a top policy priority for the Chavez administration. As one of the world’s largest exporters of oil, Venezuela has been able to lend a hand to needy people in countries from Argentina to the U.S.

This news shows that cross-border cooperation on energy pays off! To read more from PDVSA’s website in Spanish, click here, or for an English-language AP story, click here.

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Patty Boyd is the latest star to align herself with Venezuela.

In an interview, the former girlfriend of George Harrison and Eric Clapton told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel that Venezuela is her favorite place to visit of anywhere in the world.

“It’s gorgeous — the ever-changing terrain, mountains, valleys, vast waterfalls, rain forests, jungles and flat endless plains,” Boyd says.

She also remarks, “I found Venezuelans to be happy and charming people.”

It’s true — Venezuela is worth visiting for charm of its citizens as much as for its natural beauties. If you want ideas for where to go in Venezuela, visit our Travel Section.

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