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Posts Tagged ‘latin america’

Venezuelans can now buy cell phones for the equivalent of just US $13.95, thanks to a new state-run company that put its first 5,000 units on the market yesterday in Caracas.

Eager shoppers snapped up the first bunch, and the AP reports that another 5,000 will be in stores soon.

The tiny phone, dubbed “El Vergatario,” is equipped with a camera, radio, and mp3 player.

The firm that makes them, a joint venture by the governments of Venezuela and China, is known as Vetelca. This is not an isolated effort, but rather, part of a broader plan to promote affordable technology (you may recall the “Bolivarian Computer,” and the adoption of open-source Linux operating systems).

“El Vergatario” is only sold on the domestic market right now, but depending on its success, it could eventually become an export. And because it is literally the cheapest cell phone in the world, it is likely to be quite competitive.

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gx-study-abroad1

Want to study in Venezuela and learn some Spanish? Since you can’t find everything on the internet, we recommend traveling to Venezuela. We promise you won’t find an opportunity like this one anywhere else.

Global Exchange provides a unique opportunity to English-speaking students to get to know Venezuela in a beautiful town located at the foot of Andes.  Mérida is a popular tourist destination and home to the Universidad de Los Andes.

The fall and spring semester academic programs are designed to increase students’ knowledge of contemporary Venezuelan society. The goal is to create links and build bridges between advocates of social justice in the global North and like-minded people in Latin America. Global’s motto is “building people to people ties”, and you’ll leave Venezuela with lots of new friends.

The 12-week program is built around intensive Spanish language training, essential for anyone serious about getting to know the people of the patria querida. Courses focus on Venezuelan history, culture, and politics. You can earn 15 undergraduate or graduate credits while engaging with contemporary and alternative development issues inside and outside the classroom.

Frequent exchanges with community leaders involved in social change on the ground make this a truly one-of-a-kind experience. The people at Global Exchange have worked within the communities of Mérida for many years. They know the terrain, and can’t wait to show you around!

Here’s the link to learn more.

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TRINIDAD-AMERICAS-SUMMIT-CHAVEZ-OBAMA

It finally happened…the moment we’d all been waiting for! After years of strained relations in which George Bush would scarcely say his name, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at last got the respect he deserves from a US president.

Those of you who’ve hoped for improved US – Venezuela relations all these years no doubt smiled all day Saturday after seeing the photos. Maybe a few of you were even a little misty-eyed. The now-famous handshake even made the front page of the Saturday New York Times and has since been the subject of endless television, radio and print commentary.

The two leaders were friendly and gregarious, and Chavez presented Obama with a seminal work by Eduardo Galeano, The Open Veins of Latin America. The book has since enjoyed a meteoric rise in sales on the internet. It may not be easy to find in the library for a while, but is worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy.

It appears that the Summit of the Americas was a monumental step forward. From easing restrictions on Cuba to greeting leaders with an air of mutual respect and equality, things seem to be changing for the better.

Since the handshake, both the US and Venezuela are now considering the return of ambassadors. It remains to be seen how bilateral relations will play out, but prospects for respect and cooperation seem a bit brighter this Monday morning.

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Venezuela is the nation with the 10th-largest amount of biodiversity in the world. Efforts to protect that biodiversity are highlighted in a new study by RAISG, or La Red Amazónica de Información Socioambiental Georreferenciada.

According to the study, Venezuela has the second-highest proportion of its Amazon region protected. The Amazonian basin covers an astounding 3 million square miles in South America, overlapping several different countries and encompassing a population of perhaps 33 million. Venezuela has already protected 71.5% of its share — second only to Ecuador’s 79.7%, and far ahead of Colombia, Brazil, and Peru.

RAISG measured Indigenous territory and other protected lands, which are generally the best conserved. Venezuela has 43 national parks. A respect for nature is enshrined in the constitution of Venezuela under a chapter that guarantees all citizens the right to a safe and healthy environment.

Since the Amazon Rainforest is often called the “lungs” of South America, we can breathe a little easier thanks to Venezuela.

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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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minsk-book-fair

Venezuela has been strengthening its diplomatic and economic relations with Belarus, a process that will see a new embassy established in the capital city of Minsk later this year. Also in the works is a Simon Bolivar Latin American Cultural Center.

This month, Belarus has invited Venezuela, along with 20 other countries, to participate in the Minsk International Book Fair which lasts from February 11th – 15th.

After the book fair, a Venezuelan historical exhibit called “Latin American Revolution” will display placards and posters from the 1960s to commemorate the social movements of that era.

The Venezuelan Ambassador to Belarus, Américo Díaz Núñez, says that cooperation and friendship between the two nations is growing fast, and has touched issues ranging from culture to technology. Later in the year, Venezuelan artists will participate in Belarusian events and festivals.

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