Venezuela was recently elected to serve on UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. “Intangible heritage” refers to popular culture, or culture that is specific to a group of people living within another culture. This includes traditional oral expressions, traditional music, dance, theater, rituals, festivals, crafts, and knowledge related to nature, among other things.
Venezuela has been working for years on endeavors that emphasize the importance of culture. Some examples are projects such as Misión Cultura, the Census of Venezuelan Cultural Heritage, and the recent call to enter the Contest of Bearers of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The effort to elevate culture is also seen in the 10-woman percussion and vocal group Eleggua. Its performers are direct descendants of African slaves who cultivated cacao and coffee along Venezuela’s central coast. The women research and recover the purest African roots in their music, fusing African polyrhythmic percussion with all-Spanish vocals. Belen Maria Palacios, a 72-year-old mother and grandmother, is the oldest member of the group — she was named a Living Cultural Patrimony by Miranda State in May 2004.
Venezuelan joins Italy, Cyprus, Croatia, Cuba, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Niger, Kenya, Jordan and Zimbabwe on UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.