Check Out Venezuela’s Tumultuous And Profound History Through Photos
While the world is still recovering from the shock of seeing the iconic Notre Dame burn, it’s more important than ever for us to appreciate the artifacts we have access to that show the trials and tribulations of history. Where Venezuela is concerned, there are plenty of things that showcase its tumultuous and amazing history. And so, we’ve found a collection of beautiful, thought-provoking, and politically stark pictures from Venezuelan history for you to peruse.
1. Pre-Colombian Venezuela
Venezuela before Christopher Colombus’ arrival had an estimated population of one million, and hosted a combination of societies: the Kalina, Auaké, Caquetio, Mariche, and Timoto-Cuicas. The Timoto-Cuicas boasted a particularly complex culture, and were known for constructing pre-planned villages and irrigated fields.
2. Discovery by the Spanish
Christopher Columbus arrived in Venezuela in 1498, effectively naming the country “Little Venice” because the local Indians had built houses over water by using stilts. Columbus’ arrival marked the start of a period of slavery in the region, where the Spanish exploited the locals and gouged the region of pearls.
3. Simon Bolivar
Seeing an opportunity in Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory over Spain, Simon Bolivar took advantage of the Spanish instability and launched a revolution that lead to independence for Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and Colombia. By 1824, Bolivar was not only the ruler of the new “Grand Colombia”, but also Peru’s liberator. Don’t be fooled, though – no matter his track record for leading successful revolutions, this guy was a dictator.
4. Venezuelan Independence
By 1930, Venezuela had fully seceded from Grand Colombia … and ended up with a series of military dictators for rulers. The first of these was General José Antonio Páez.
5. Martin Tovar y Tovar
Born in 1827, Martin Tovar y Tovar is one of the most prominent painters from 19th century Venezuela. He ended up participating in Venezuela’s first ever art exhibition in Exposición Anual de Bellas Artes, and was a favorite of the Venezuelan President at the time, Antonio Guzmán Blanco.
6. Alejandro Chataing
This guy made a name for himself creating iconic Venezuelan architecture, designing the Arch of the Federation built in El Calvario, and Villa Zoila in 1904. One of his last works was the Miramar Hotel, in Macuto.
7. Jesús Rafael Soto
Even though Jesús Rafael Soto made his name as both a sculptor and painter in Venezuela, his artistic career began when he was hired to paint cinema posters as a young boy. Not only did he create interactive works, he also was the director of Escuela de Artes Plasticas, Maracaibo between 1947 and 1950.
8. A Coup or Two
1945 saw the establishment of a civilian government, after decades of military rule. This didn’t last for long, however, because in 1948 Venezuela’s first democratically elected leader, President Romulo Gallegos, was overthrown by the military. This was a little unsurprising, given that Venezuela had been living for decades under military dictatorships, and had seen president after president replaced by force.
9. Maritza Sayalero
Boasting the title as the first Venezuelan Miss Universe winner in 1979, Maritza Sayalero inspired the beauty pageant scene in Venezuela to really pick up its pace. The Miss Venezuela pageant is now one of the most competitive beauty contests in the world.
10. Democratic Rule
Once again, Venezuela saw a military coup. This time, however, a civilian won the democratic election, and leftist Romulo Betancourt became the President of Venezuela. He oversaw the 1963 elections, and the first democratic transition between civilian presidents for Venezuela.
Raúl Leoni became President of Venezuela in 1964, at the start of this period. Basically, elections were limited to competition between two major parties, a practice otherwise known as puntofijismo.
12. Carolina Herrera
An entrepreneur and fashion designer, Carolina Herrera has been named as one of the world’s best-dressed women. In fact, she was responsible for dressing people the likes of Renee Zellweger and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Beyond her fashion and bridal collection, Herrera has also released 10 fragrances, and been awarded the Gold Medal from the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute (1997), the Award for Excellence from The International Center in New York, and the Gold Medal of Merit in the Fine Arts of Spain. You know, just to name a few achievements.
13. Oscar D’León
Recognised by his moniker, El Sonero del Mundo, Oscar D’Leon was the first Latin American to be contracted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). While his career saw him in quite a few different bands, his most well-known salsa music includes, “Deja Que Te Quiera”, “Préstame Tu Piel” and “Esperando Por Ella”.
14. Luis Aparicio
Venezuela is no stranger to baseball. In fact, at this stage, it’s had 219 players compete at the Major League level in the US. Luis Aparicio is one celebrated Venezuelan baseball player, having played on teams such as the Chicago White Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. And, Aparicio commanded some serious bragging rights – he had been a 13-time All Star player, and won the Gold Glove Award nine times.
15. Humberto Fernández-Morán Villalobos
Humberto Fernández-Morán Villalobos is a research scientist known for his invention of the diamond knife/scalpel for ultrathin microtomy and the ultra microtome. Basically, he did some great work with cells and tissue.
16. Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez started his career in politics from a very controversial standing – a failed coup in 1992 saw him imprisoned for a few years. In 1994, he was forgiven by Venezuelan President Rafael Caldera. Which was just as well for him, considering that Chavez ended up successfully running for president in 1998. Chavez didn’t end up leaving his position until 2013, when he died after a severe bout of cancer.
17. A Venezuela-Russia Partnership
2006 was the year Venezuela signed a 3 billion dollar arms deal with Russia, and two years later the two countries signed an agreement over oil and gas. This saw Venezuela shift away from its efforts to cultivate a strong relationship with the US. In fact, Russia ended up doing joint military exercises with Venezuela – the first time the Russian navy was in the Americas since the Cold War. These events saw the beginning of a partnership that continues to this day.
18. Nicolás Maduro
2013 saw the election of Venezuela’s current President, Nicolás Maduro.
In 2012, after vying for a position in the trading bloc for years, Venezuela was finally accepted into Mercosur. At this stage, Mercosur is basically a political and trade agreement Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela – and some would say an indicator of Venezuela’s up-and-coming economy.
20. Gustavo Cisneros
A Venezuelan-Dominican media tycoon, this is one guy to watch out for. According to Forbes Magazine in 2014, he is one of the world’s most richest men. His company, The Cisneros Group of Companies, owns Venevision International, a producer and distributer of Spanish-language telenovelas. It also owns Venevisión, a Venezuelan television network, the Leoned del Caracas baseball team, and the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant. The New York Times has said that he’s also “one of Latin America’s most powerful figures”.
And so now you’re one bueno Venezuelan history buff! What surprised you in our short tour of Venezuelan history? Share it with us on our Facebook page – you can find it by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.