LAST BUT NOT LEAST

It seems impossible to recap everything that a country’s culture entails in just a couple of blog posts. Venezuelan culture is so rich that not even a book could express it. You have to live it. Even though it is not like going to the country itself and experiencing it, hopefully this blog helped in the understanding of a whole new world. I hope these posts have given an idea of what is Venezuela.

First the blog started out with the idea that we needed to show the world what other cultures and places had to offer. That the boundaries of our everyday lives that we live in should be opened up and see what has never been seen before.

The first post consisted of telling people what I was going to write about and why I chose to write about it. Here I talked a little about where I come from and what inspired me to write about it.

The second post was already about the most famous holiday in Venezuela, carnavales (The Floating Holiday) and the several case studies that have been made about this carnival.

In the third post I provided many outside resources that would help more in the understudying of the Venezuelan culture. Some talked about the political situation and how it affected culture and others talked about the festivals and typical parties. Overall these sources covered the political, cultural and historical content of Venezuela.

Owned by: Teresa Sosa domingo

Owned by: Teresa Sosa domingo

After talking about events and historical facts, it was time to talk about people. The fourth post talks about a very prominent character in Venezuelan literature: Teresa de la Parra and one of her most famous books: Memorias mamá blanca.

Bg8afInCMAA3Lw7As it may have been known before reading this next post, Venezuela is going through some really hard political times at this time which is really affecting the culture and the people. The fifth post covers the political situation in Venezuela. It does not only talk about how this topic is rampant through the media  but also how the government has completely taken away the freedom of media/expression.

Baseball season. This is also when Venezuela’s passion, like in the carnavales, goes rampant. This sixth post talks about how baseball is the number one topic right now in Venezuela, especially since the season is just starting up. It covers the main two baseball teams and how it is such a huge part of Venezuelan culture.

Owned by: elchiguirebipolar

Owned by: elchiguirebipolar

I hope this blog has fulfilled its purpose in showing how important it is to look beyond our comfort zone. It has been a pleasure sharing the cultural world Venezuela has and I hope that it has made you want to not only find out more about other places but that it also makes you want to go and see all that this world has to offer.

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VENEZUELA & BASEBALL – Topic of 2014

We already talked about how Venezuelans situation is probably the most known news about the country in the pasts years, but we will not talk about it again instead we will talk about Venezuelan Baseball since it is also a ranging subject since the season for this year has started!

There are many things that make up culture. Music, dances, food and also sports. Usually people think that in Latin American countries what is most important in sports is soccer, which in some way, it is true. In Venezuela soccer takes a lot of importance and is very cultural but even more than soccer there is baseball. To give an example, to those who know how important football (Futbol Americano) is to the United States, that’s how important baseball is to Venezuela.

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On the left the Magallanes Logo and on the right the Leones Logo. Picture owned by: Toonspot

Baseball in Venezuela is huge. It is the number one topic now and probably holds that standard always. Venezuelan baseball players are one of the best. In Venezuela there are two main baseball teams: Los Leones and Los Magallanes. Los Leones is the team of Caracas, which is Venezuelan’s capital. Los Magallanes are from Valencia. These two are the main baseball teams in Venezuela.

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Luis Aparicio. Picture owned by: SiBCI

Our teams have won several of the Caribbean Series. In the Baseball World Cup they won la Serie Mundial de Aficionados in 1942 and many more.  They also won in the baseball tournament at the Pan American Games.

Some of the greatest figures in Venezuelan baseball are: Alfonso Carrasquel, Ceasar Tóvar, Andres Galagarra and Luis Aparicio (who made it to the National Baseball Wall of Fame).

Right now, the 2014-2015 season games are taking place. So Venezuelans are very up to date with the games that are going on right now. The team plays nearly every day from now to December. There are hundreds of tweets going out every single game and posts on Facebook of the excited fans. People are excited, baseball is back!

Venezuela comes alive when baseball season starts.

Baseball. Venezuelans pride. 

FREEDOM OF MEDIA IN VENEZUELA

In Venezuela social media used to be a free means of the people. If you go on google and search for Venezuela what comes up is the situation that the country is going through at this time. It is rampant, as if it was the only thing relevant to Venezuela. The truth is that that is not the only thing that needs to be recognized about such a beautiful country but it is very important that awareness is raised about what is happening there. How might this have anything to do with culture? It has everything to do with culture because what is happening to Venezuela right now is greatly affecting it. The way of life, the people, the atmosphere is all changing due to the situation. In other words, Venezuelan culture is being negatively affected because of the situation. What is happening in Venezuela is very elaborate. Here I have posted a video that explains what has been happening with more detail but in this post we will focus on what the illegimate government has done to social media. In the very beginning of president Chávez presidency, he started to limit the freedom of press very passively. The first thing that the government openly did to sensor media was that in 2002 when Chávez closed down the TV news station RCTV (Radio Caracas Televisión Internacional) because they had shown on air a Coup d’etat (golpe de estado) against the government that happened on April 11th of 2002 even when he order to not show the situation on television.

The situation has gotten increasingly worst as the years have gone by, and even more now under the power of the illegitimate president Nicolas Maduro. At the beginning of this year there were protest almost every month mostly led by the young Venezuelan students. This was a peaceful protest but the government attacked the students physically and killed many of the  university students who were just standing up for the freedom of their country. They also started taking random students in the protest as prisoners.

People protesting about freedom of press. Picture owned by: International Press Institute

People protesting about freedom of press.       Picture owned by: International Press Institute

The government though, did not allow this to go out of the country by any form of media at all. Not even in Venezuela did he allow the news to cover what was happening, even though it was evident by living there. But overall, the freedom of press was completely taken away. So the people started turning to social media in order to let the world know what was happening in Venezuela. We did not want to fight alone.

Maduro chasing twitter saying “You are the only one left” as the TV and computer and such are sitting in the back with chains.                              Picture owned by: Implied Inference

Facebook, twitter, youtube, Instagram all became the way that Venezuela could get the news out. Eventually, the government started censuring these too. People could not access certain social media applications and if you did you could be in great danger. Many journalists who went against the government and published videos on youtube would disappear or known to be taken by the government. Eventually twitter seemed to be the only media, not only social but any media at all, that was not controlled or blocked form the government. This fight for freedom is still going on today. The people are suffering greatly because they are being forced to live under a dictator and a forming communist government. The protests have stopped but the corruption still goes on. This situation has greatly affected culture because Venezuela is not the same as it was. The way people live has changed dramatically and consequently so has the culture. It is important that we know and are aware of what is going on in these countries who are trapped by the government with no freedoms, not even the freedom from hunger or fear. Even if it has to be through twitter because all other means are taken away, Venezuela fights for freedom. Always.

Picture owned by: El Venezolano Houston

TERESA DE LA PARRA

Owned by: Fundación de Centros de Ciencia de Venezuela

Andrés Eloy Blanco      Owned by: Fundación de Centros de Ciencia de Venezuela

When writing about the culture of a country it is extremely difficult to pick one specific person to represent it. There are many people throughout the history of Venezuela that have impacted culture in a very deep way. There are musicians such as Gustavo Dudamel, Simon Diaz and Chelique Sarabia. There were artists who also affected culture such as Armando Reveron, Carlos Cruz Diez and Jesus Soto. In literature there was the great poet Andrés Eloy Blanco and many more! But I would like to focus, though, more specifically on one which I have been very fond of: Teresa de la Parra.

Picture owned by: venezuelatuya

Statue of Teresa de la Para in Venezuela.                                       Picture owned by: venezuelatuya

Teresa de la Parra was born in Paris but considered Venezuelan by nationality since her dad was from there. She moved to Venezuelan when she was young because of her fathers’ death. There she became a well-known and considered Venezuelan writer. She did not write a lot, only two books, but they changed Venezuelan literature. Her two books were Ifigenia and Memorias de mamá blanca.

I am very fond of this writer because my dad and I would read her books together, especially Ifigenia. Ifigenia was very relevant to Venezuelan culture because it consists of a girl who comes into Venezuela and learns the way it works. It talks about the people, the food, the men, the maids. It talked about everything having to do with the country. The great thing about it is that it also offered a point of view that came from the outside so Venezuelans could see themselves through the eyes of others. She was also able to reflect through the characters of her novel a lot of what was going on in the government at the time, which was the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez. 

Memorias de Mamá Blanca  Picture owned by: todocoleccion

Book: Memorias de Mamá Blanca
Picture owned by: todocoleccion

There is not a cultural event to celebrate Teresa de la Parra but there does not need to be one to realize the cultural impact she had on literature in Venezuelan. At the end of her life she went to Madrid and passed away there, but her body was exhumed and brought to Venezuela where she belonged. Now she is a very much-loved and admired Venezuelan writer who not only affected literature but culture.

Written by: Iraida Bethencourt Graterón

UNDERSTATING CULTURE TROUGH USEFUL RESOURCES

There are many websites that describe Venezuelan culture and their festivals but there are a few main ones that not only tell the reader what the culture is but why it is that way considering the people, government and even climate within it. Most of the sources about Venezuela talk about its political situation and struggles in the modern times. I have picked three main sources that talk about culture but do not ignore the present corrupted political situation so some of them may include some political background. I have added this because it is crucial to understand the countries happenings in order to appreciate what goes on within it. These are the three main sources I found most helpful:

1. Every Culture, Venezuela

This website covers a lot of what Venezuelan culture is about. It not only talks about the normal tradition and cultures but covers much of what happens in the country overall. This is very useful because it can explain why certain things are done and also because the website is formatted in a very simple way. The explanations are short, simple and are able to cover the most important events happening in the country.

2. Information Venezuela

This is a website that contains fourteen pages of historical background and traditions that have been going for years. This website should be read by those who really want to gain a deep understanding of Venezuelan history. As I said in my first post, understanding history is understanding tradition, so it is important to also follow up on what has been happening in a country from its foundation to the modern time. Whoever wants to go deeper into political history and understand the Venezuelan culture through it should visit this website.

3. Culture and Tradition 

The last two sources have covered both cultural and historical background, but this one is focused solely on what events happen in Venezuela, when and why. It is a very nice website to visit in order to figure out very fast what an event is about and how it is usually celebrated. It even has pictures to show what it looks like to be in the middle of a Venezuelan event. It offers in specific: festivals, feasts and carnivals for each month.

I hope you enjoy reading these websites that will give you a deeper insight not only to the culture and events, but the reasoning and history behind them. Enjoy!

THE FLOATING HOLIDAY

Photo owned by: Iraida Bethencourt

My grandma, when she was young, dressed up for the carnaval celebrations.          Photo owned by: Iraida Bethencourt

Venezuela has many traditions and feasts but the one that is most celebrated around all of Venezuela are the ‘carnavales‘. There are many reports about this specific tradition because it is one of the few events that makes the whole country come alive. Some of those reports that cover this are Countries and Their Cultures -VenezuelaVenezuelan Culture and Discover Venezuela.

Picture owned by: Emilia Rodriguez Robles

Picture owned by: Emilia Rodriguez Robles

This feast is always celebrated in the month of february but with no specific date because it takes place forty days before Good Friday and since Easter changes every year, the date of the holiday changes also. The way it works is that people get the friday and following monday of the week off work and school. Everyone celebrates it a little different depending on where they live in Venezuela. People from cities have different events and activities than the people in the pueblos. For example, usually the people from the city leave and go to the beach that is close by whereas those from the more rural places stay in their towns. At the end of the day though, they all aim the celebration towards the same thing.

Picture owned by: Emilia Rodriguez Robles

Picture owned by: Emilia Rodriguez Robles

The festivals are extremely colorful. The country suddenly changes its look. Everything is decorated and the streets are all lit up. Then the Venezuelans themselves dress with the traditional costumes and perform many of our traditional dances. There is a lot of folk music and joropo, which is a typical Venezuelan dance. There is also dancing of salsa and merengue which are danced in any party during the year. Music and dancing has always taken a strong role in Venezuelan culture. There are also those who just go to the beach and have different events there. Since I am from the city, my family and I usually went to the beach. I remember that we had a lot of water balloon fights and sand castle competitions in which everyone competed. There are also the typical Venezuelan foods such as Arepas, cachapas, empanadas and tequeños that are served at this event. It is a time when the culture and tradition that all have inside are released in a very extroverted way. It is great to remember these things because a lot of the times when we hear about Venezuela it is bad news. It is about the corrupted government or about how dangerous it is. But we must keep in mind that even though it is a country that is struggling, there are still beautiful things within it. Despite what goes is going on in this country, the Carnavales keep being celebrated, remembering the wonderful things such an amazing country has to offer. Written by: Iraida Bethencourt Graterón

VENEZUELA

Citizens of the World was chosen by our group because we found it interesting that even though we all come from different places with completely different lives, we all found each other in one same place sharing our stories. In our group we are almost all from separate countries, so we decided to share what we knew, loved and disliked about the various places we have lived in.

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I am from Caracas, Venezuela.  A born and raised Venezuelan city girl. Later in my life, due to the political situation in the country, my family and I had to leave in order to find quality life. We moved to the United States, North Carolina where I became a teenage country girl. When we moved there it seemed outrageous to me that people did not know where Venezuela even was located. To them, anyone who spoke spanish was from Mexico, no other Latin American country existed. Call it ignorance or call it conformity, awareness of what happens around us is very essential to understand the happenings of the world.

This blog was made with the idea that we can open the eyes of those that are not aware of the unimaginable things the world has in store. We are hopeful that with our stories, we can inspire and show people what this life has to offer. Even though there are many things to know about every single country in existence, there is one thing that makes each place their own: culture. Understanding culture is understanding tradition and understanding tradition is understanding origin.

When an event causes a whole town to come together, it does not happen from one day to another, there is a real story behind it and as time goes on, that story makes history. Many public events are celebrated because of a changing point in the country’s history having to do with politics, government or the lives of significant and memorable people. In the events there are usually typical foods, dances and traditional dress of the specific place.  In this way, by simply understanding an event, you can capture much of a country’s history.

It is about getting close to people and showing a desire to learn the challenges each different society has been faced with and discovering new ways to overcome conditions facing our humanity. If you understand the importance of diverse cultural knowledge, grow in love for different cultures and learn about the history of different places, you become a citizen of the world.

Written by: Iraida Bethencourt Graterón