Culture

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The Venezuelan culture is a mix of three different influences: Indian, African and Spanish. Venezuela, like most Latin American countries, suffers from cultural monopoly of the United States. The indigenous influence is limited to the lexicon and gastronomy. The same applies to the African influence, but it is also present in music and some musical instruments, drum for example. The most important of the three, the Spanish influence, comes from the regions of Andalusia and Extremadura. The architecture, music, religion, language and cuisine are also influenced by Spain.

A Cuatro

A Cuatro

Arts and crafts are an important part of the indigenous culture. People who practice this activity respect traditions, both in producing and selling them. In dance, the merengue and cumbia are described as typical in that country. Those two dances are made on drum and guitar beats. Some traditional instruments include the cuatro, the harp, the maracas and the mandolin.

A very famous salsa dancer, Oscar Emilio León Somoza, better known as Oscar D’León, remained in his country until the two coups d’état in 1992, and then went to Cuba. He returned home a few times to give concerts, but is still living in Cuba nowadays. He is known worldwide as the « Devil of Salsa » and is also one of the most famous Venezuelan artist. Although he is about 70, Oscar D’León still sings.

Today, Venezuelan culture is not developing much, because of the precarious political situation. Many artists left their country because they feared another revolution and more violence, therefore, those artists now contribute to the culture of their host countries.

Indroduction of the Country

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La Tortuga Island

La Tortuga Island

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a country located in northern South America. Venezuela is divided in 9 natural regions: the Andes, Lake Maracaibo, Insular, Central Cordillera, Oriental Cordillera, Deltaic System, The Plains, South Orinoco and the Coriano System. It is a Presidential Federal Republic. The act of independence was signed in 1811. The territory is made of 23 states and one Federal Capital District. The federal capital is Santiago de León de Caracas. The official language is Castilian, but the Constitution recognizes over 30 indigenous languages. Most of the population identifies itself as Christian. The official currency is the Bolívar, established in 1879. The flag of Venezuela, adopted in 2006, consists of three equal horizontal bands. The top one is a yellow band, in the middle there is a blue band with an arc of eight white stars and at the bottom is a red band. The total population is 30,102,382, and the density of 32.85hab/km2. The anthem is called Gloria al Bravo Pueblo (Glory to the Brave People) and is a patriotic Venezuelan musical composition of 1810. It was established as the National Anthem in 1881 by President Antonio Guzmán Blanco. The current president is Hugo Chávez, a revolutionary and his vice president is Elías Jaua Milano.

Typical Recipe, the « hallacas ».

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Mexican tamales

Mexican tamales

The most recognized traditional Venezuelan dish is, without a doubt, the “hallaca”.This elaborate dish is served during the Christmas holidays in Venezuela. The texture of this dish is similar to Mexican “tamales”. It is said of the “hallaca” that is the result of the historical process that this society has gone through, because it is the most visible expression of the Venezuelan mestizo. The banana leaf represents the African, the corn of the American Indian and pork and beef from the Spanish. The word « hallaca » comes from the Guarani and derive from the word « ayúa » which means to mix. The “hallaca” is part of the holidays, and every family and region have their recipes. The recipe that follows is tho one of the “hallaca caraqueña”, typical of the capital region.

This recipe for 50 “hallacas” is divided in three parts:

The preparation of the stew

The preparation of the dough and the leaves

The preparation and cooking of the dish

Ingredients.

Stew:

1 Kg. Of finely sliced ham

2 Kg. Of finely sliced beef

2 Kg. Of sliced boiled chicken (without bones)

½ Kg. Of finely sliced cooked bacon

1 ½ Kg. Of chopped onions

½ Kg. Of finely sliced leek

¼ Kg. Of finely chopped chives

¾ cup of peeled and crushed garlic

½ cup of small capers

1 Kg. Of red pepper, without seeds and julienned

2 Kg. Of unseeded tomato puree

1 cup of dried grapes

¼ cup of finely chopped sweet pepper

2 cups of wine

1 cup of wine vinegar

½ Kg. Of brown sugar

2/3 cup of corn flour

Salt

Pepper

Annatto oil

Garnish:

1 Kg. Of julienned peppers

½ Kg. Of cooked bacon strips ½ cm x 5 cm

½ Kg. Of pork strips ½ cm x 5 cm

½ Kg. Of boneless chicken breast strips

½ Kg. Of onion rings

200 grs. Of capers

400 grs. Of stuffed olives

1 Kg. Of dried grapes

Leaves:

50 pieces of banana leaves 30 x 30 cm

50 pieces of banana leaves 20 x 20 cm

50 strips of banana leaves 15 x 20 cm

1 roll of string

Dough:

2 ½ packages of corn flour

5 cups of lard

3 cups of chicken stock

2 cups of water

Salt

Annatto seeds

Preparation.

The stew is prepared on the first day.

Stew:

The meat must not have excess fat and needs to be sliced in small pieces. Cook each meat separately in boiling water, without tenderizing completely. Keep the stocks.

In a big saucepan, saute the onions and the garlic in hot oil, until it becomes transparent. Add leek and chives and let cook for about 5 minutes. Add red and sweet pepper and let cook a bit more. Add the meats, leave until incorporated and add the rest of the ingredients, keeping the tomatoes and the wine for last. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Aside, dissolve the brown sugar and the corn flour in water. Make sure that the stew does not dry. If it happens, add chicken or beef stock. Add the dissolved brow sugar and corn flour and stir with a wooden spoon. It can be given a bit of colour by adding annatto oil. Let cook for about 40 minutes, until it gets to a thick consistency. Let it cool down and refrigerate.

The rest can be prepared on the following day.

Dough:

Pour the flour in a wooden bowl large enough to knead. Add 1 cup of lard boiled with annatto and 3 cups of normal lard. Add salt and knead until it joins. Gradually add 3 cups of chicken stock. Knead again until dough is smooth.

Preparation and cooking of the dish:

Dispose all the garnishes in a large bowl. Remove thick vein of the leaves and wash well. Wipe dry and put in the bowl. Put the dough and the stew within reach.

Take one of the largest leaves and grease with a bit of lard with annatto. Put a ball of dough in the middle of the leaf and slim down, creating a symmetric circle. Add cold stew and distribute the garnishes evenly. Fold the wide portion of the leaf, folding until it is closed. Fold the edges in and wrap with the one of the smallest leaves. Take one strip and secure the “hallaca” in its middle. Tie with string, crossing twice in each direction

Boil for one hour, take out and dry. Cool down completely and, if possible, wait one day before serving. To heat up, boil 20 minutes, take out and dry.

Chávez’s Government

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Hugo Ch­ávez and Fidel Castro

Hugo Ch­ávez and Fidel Castro

The favourite in the elections of 1998 is, for sure, Chávez, with his programs of help to the poor and de-privatization of health and education. In 1999, he proposed a new Constitution, inspired by the revolutionary ideas of Simón Bolívar. In 2001, he promulgates 49 laws on land administration. But in 2002, the world realizes that the “left” part of the population does not like Chávez’s policies, because of the protestations against the president the lead to the military coup d’état. In the two days following, the protestations were so strong that the president was restored. He is elected again in 2004. Chávez has a “left” management and wants to lead his country into modernity. He created assistance and social development programs in relation with Cuba. The country, because of Chávez, has very good relations with Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba, Iran, Belarus, and Syria, in summary, all of United States’ enemy countries. He is elected one more time in 2006 and made many reforms in the Constitution, such as the control of the armed forces, new economic controls and continuous re-election. In 2007, these proposals are rejected, and although some people say he wants to do a dictatorship like Castro in Cuba, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela is re-elected.

Politics Before Chávez

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The Caracazo

The Caracazo

In 1987, because of a crisis originating in a territorial dispute over the Venezuelan gulf, the world gets through one of the biggest periods of international tension. Carlos Andrés Pérez, first elected in 1988, adopted measures that lead to the Caracazo of 1989 in an attempt at solving the crisis. The Caracazo is a series of protestations that took place between the 27th and 28th of February of 1989. After Peréz’s reelection in 1991, Hugo Chávez organized two coups d’état, one in February of 1992 and another one in November of the same year, both unsuccessful. In 1994, Rafael Caldera, newly elected, had to deal with a major bank crisis the same year. To help put a stop to the crisis, he developed some privatization policies, which resulted in an aggravation of the economical situation. After all those problems and the incapacity of the government to find a solution to the crisis, the people are frustrated when the elections of 1998 come around.

La culture

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Oscar D'León

Oscar D'León

La culture vénézuélienne est un mélange de trois influences différentes: indigène, africaine et espagnole. Le Venezuela, comme la majorité des pays d’Amérique Latine, subit le monopole culturel des États-Unis. L’influence indigène se limite au lexique et à la gastronomie. Il en est de même pour l’influence africaine, mis à part que celle-ci se voit aussi dans la musique et dans certains instruments de musique, le tambour par exemple. L’influence la plus importante, l’influence espagnole, vient des régions de l’Andalousie et d’Estrémadure. L’architecture, la musique, la religion, la langue et la gastronomie sont aussi influencés par l’Espagne.

L’artisanat est partie importante de la culture indigène. Les personnes qui pratiquent l’artisanat respectent les traditions, tant dans la confection que dans la vente des produits. Pour la danse, le merengue et la cumbia sont décrient comme typiques de ce pays. Ces deux danses se font sur des rythmes de tambour et de guitare. Quelques instruments typiques incluent le cuatro, la harpe, les maracas et la mandoline.

Un danseur de salsa très célèbre, Oscar Emilio León Somoza, plus connu sous le nom d’Oscar D’León, est resté dans son pays jusqu’au deux coups d’état de Chávez en 1992 et s’en fut à Cuba. Il retourna dans son pays plusieurs fois pour des concerts, mais réside toujours à Cuba. Il est connu à travers le monde comme le «Diable de la salsa» et est aussi un des artistes vénézuéliens les plus célèbres. Bien qu’il ait maintenant plus de 70 ans, Oscar D’León chante toujours.

De nos jours, la culture vénézuélienne ne se développe par beaucoup, à cause de la situation politique précaire. Plusieurs artistes ont fuis de leur pays parce qu’ils avaient peur d’une autre révolution et de plus de violence, ce qui mène à leur contribution dans la culture de leurs pays d’adoption.

Présentation du pays

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Caracas
Caracas

La République Bolivarienne du Venezuela est un pays situé au nord de l’Amérique du Sud. Le Venezuela se divise en 9 régions naturelles: Les Andes, le lac de Maracaibo, Insular, la Cordillère Centrale, la Cordillère Orientale, le Système Delta, les Plaines, le Sud d’Orinoco et le Système Coriano. C’est une République Fédérale Présidentielle. La Déclaration d’Indépendance fut signée en 1811. Le territoire compte 23 États Fédéraux et un District Capital. La capitale fédérale es Santiago León de Caracas. La langue officielle le castillan, mais la Constitution reconnaît plus de 30 langues indigènes. La majorité de la population se dit chrétienne. La monnaie officielle est le Bolívar, établit en 1879. Le drapeau du Venezuela, adopté en 2006, est constitué de trois bandes horizontales de même largeur. Au dessus se trouve une bande jaune, au centre une bande bleue avec un arc de huit étoiles blanches et en dessous une bande rouge. La population totale est de 30.102.382, et la densité de population de 32.85hab/km2. L’hymne national se nomme Gloria al Bravo Pueblo (Gloire au peuple brave) et est une composition musicale patriotique vénézuélienne de 1810. Elle fut établie comme hymne national en 1881 par la président Antonio Guzmán Blanco. Le président actuel est le révolutionnaire Hugo Chávez et son vice-président est Elías Jaua Milano.