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Posts Tagged ‘caracas’

mongrel-better-than-heavy-463710

According to Billboard Music, the band Mongrel is “genre smashing”. The supergroup promotes peace and political consciousness in their lyrics.

Comprised of  members from several bands, including Reverend & the Makers, Poisonous Poets, Arctic Monkeys, and Babyshambles, Mongrel is set to put some Venezuelan flavor in their tunes.

This month they’ll travel to Venezuela to launch a musical program and give a free show.

Mongrel is dedicated to sharing music and will give away thousands of CDs when they arrive in Caracas later this month. 400,000 copies of their last album “Better than Heavy” were distributed for free throughout Britain.

They’ll also make an appearance on the President Chavez’s weekly television show Aló Presidente. Plans are in the works to do a new album based on Jamaican reggae and Venezuela folk music, hopefully featuring Damian Marley.

Watch this video of their song “The Menace”.

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Debuting soon is a new documentary about Colonia Tovar, the German settlement that lies just 60 kilometers outside of Caracas, but is culturally much further removed. The community, a small but well-touristed village of perhaps 6,000 people, was founded in 1840 by the intrepid Italian geographer Agostino Codazzi.

Colonia Tovar provides the setting for “María y el nuevo mundo” (Maria and the New World), the first full-length film from Venezuelan director George Walker Torres. It tells the story of a middle-aged woman who struggles to survive on a garbage dump and dreams of being reunited with her daughter. A parallel is drawn between her search to create a better life and that of the initial founders of the town.

The documentary is promoted by Venezuela’s National Film Board, or Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografía (CNAC). Read more in Spanish. Check back here to watch the trailer once it’s available.

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madres-del-barrio

Women make history every day, and the women of Venezuela are doing so by cultivating a community-based economic model. They are embarking on new paths to autonomy within an historic social movement that is improving the lives of millions through “social missiones” that deliver new opportunities.

Government-funded programs such as Madres del Barrio (or “Mothers of the Neighborhood”) promote  social inclusion and community action. Madres del Barrio gives women the tools to succeed personally as well as economically by offering education, training, and interest-free loans. These tools have been invaluable for women, many of whom had never before worked outside the home.

The Guardian Weekly showcases the personal story of one Caracas woman whose participation in Madres del Barrio led her to found the successful Guarayrapana Textile Cooperative. Yovita Vera had this to say about her experience:

It takes a lot of willpower to keep the cooperative working, but we couldn’t have done it without the support from Madres del Barrio. I feel like this government has finally given women the status they deserve. In the barrios, most of the families are headed by women with little or no support from men, so it makes sense for them to be in control of the finances.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, Madres del Barrio deserves a round of applause!

Check out this video about Madres del Barrio in Spanish.

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Yesterday, March 8th, was recognized by countries around the world as International Women’s Day. In Venezuela, there were many achievements to celebrate as well as challenges ahead.

In 2007, the Law on the Right of Women to a Life Free from Violence was passed. It stipulates that 23 women’s shelters must be created throughout the country, but only two have been opened so far, according to an IPS article. Many women  rely on the “rehabilitation centers” of the government-funded social mission known as “Negra Hipólita,” which provides services to those in situations of critical poverty. A new National Institute for Women was also created recently. Its initiatives include the expansion of a helpline for women that now provides 24-hour service.

Last week, the head of the gender team of the United Nations Development Programme, Winnie Byanyima (pictured here), was visiting Venezuela. In a Spanish-language interview, Ms. Bayanyima said “the [2007] law promulgated by the Venezuelan government is very important, but it must be put into practice and monitored.”

The UN, together with Spanish International Cooperation Agency, held seminars in Caracas that allowed participants from Spain to share with Venezuelans their experiences with setting up a three-tiered system of services for women who face violence. The seminars were attended by officials from the government’s National Institute of Women as well as police and citizens.

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el-mani

No visit to Venezuela is complete without a visit to Caracas, and no visit to Caracas is complete without Saturday night at El Maní es Así, a veritable institution of Latin American salsa.

Called El Maní (the peanut) for short, it is simply one of the greatest salsa clubs on planet earth. Located in the heart of Caracas in Sabana Grande, nearly every taxi driver can take you there. It’s Metro accessible, but you’ll need to take a cab back, since the Metro shuts down before the party does.

Admission to El Maní is usually free, and the crowd is diverse and friendly. Get there early to nab a table. The caraqueño nightlife custom is to purchase a bottle of liquor (with mixers) or mini keg of beer to reserve your table for the night.  The waitstaff is attentive and quick, so tip well! The place is full by 9 pm, but the dance floor always has room for another couple.

Top Latin American salsa bands perform there every weekend, and even party goers without skills will be tempted (and invited!) to dance.  Don’t worry — someone will offer to teach you the steps. The rhythm is hard to fight, the rum is superb, and the house lights will come on before you know it.

El Maní is a great place to see the real Caracas, and a wonderful place to fall in love — with Venezuela, of course!

Check out this great photo montage of the club with music by salsa legend “la voz” Héctor Lavoe.

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The arepa is truly a food without borders. Though it is emblematic of Venezuela, the savory cornmeal snack has a presence abroad, too! Here are some suggestions for where to find arepas in the U.S.:

In New York, the Caracas Arepa Bar (pictured above) is located on 7th St. the East Village. Here, rumor has it you are nearly required to to try Venezuelan-style guacamole, called guasacaca. Rivals El Cocotero are over on West 18th St.

Lucky for folks in Boston, the up-and-coming Orinoco has two locations, one in the South End and another in Brookline.  They have a nice date-worthy ambiance and also sell t-shirts with funny slogans like “arepa boy” and “no se aceptan sifrinos!” (no snobs allowed!).

This may not be the policy at Coupa Cafe in Beverley Hills and Palo Alto, which claims to sell “the finest mountain grown single estate coffees from Venezuela.” It has an entire section of its menu dedicated to gourmet arepas.

Surely Miami is home to the highest density of Venezuelan eateries, but we recommend you try this one first: Caballo Viejo (named for a famous folkloric song by Simon Diaz ) has been described as a “hole-in-the-wall” and a “mom and pop” restaurant that is clean and simple.

Where else do you like to eat arepas? Let us know in the comments section.

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A while ago, we brought you Carlos Cruz Diez, Venezuela’s most colorific artist abroad.  Cruz Diez studied architecture and the science of color in Europe and later returned home to open the Studio for Visual Arts in Caracas. He is known for his technique of “color saturation” and inviting installation art.

Cruz Diez creates interactive, livable art, such as the floor tiles of Simón Bolívar Airport that serves Caracas (above). Countless visitors and locals have exchanged happy greetings and tearful goodbyes on Cruz Deiz’s airport art. The multicolored walkway is angled to give the viewer a sense of movement and speed, which is especially important in those hurried airport moments.

Today’s featured photo comes from the Flickr photostream of metropanas, which has tons of great images of Caracas architecture.

In the Spanish-language video below, Cruz Diez describes his “chromosaturation” exhibit, which recently showed at the Americas Society in New York.

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