Culture

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

Flickr / British Library

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

Instagram / @heandshe_travelblog

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

Instagram / @hechoscriollosoficial

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

Instagram / @rafaelcalderaoficial

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

Instagram / @lahistoria200

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

Instagram / @micaracasantigua

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

Instagram / @bijutsutecho_com

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

Instagram / @eluniversal

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

Instagram / @joseluisbricenorvzla

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

Instagram / @jadsotillo

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.

11. Puntofijismo

Instagram / @masoneriauniversal

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

Instagram / @carolinaherrera

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

Instagram / @oscardleon

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

Instagram / @baseballalmanac

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

Instagram / @humbertofernandezmoran

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

Instagram / @karlmarx8n

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

Twitter / @Ruptly

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

Instagram / @nicolasmaduro

2013 saw the election of Venezuela’s current President, Nicolás Maduro.

19. Mercosur

Instagram / @sediceenlaweb

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

Instagram / @adrianacisnerosceo

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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Culture

The Little-Known Underground Railroad That Ran South to Mexico

Tyrone Turner / Getty Images

Latinos make up the largest minority group in the country, yet our history is so frequently left out of classrooms. From Chicano communities in Texas and California to Latinos in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and the Underground Railroad – which also had a route into Mexico – Latinos have helped shape and advance this country.

And as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism, Mexico’s route of the Underground Railroad is getting renewed attention – particularly because Mexico (for the very first time in history) has counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category in this year’s census.

The Underground Railroad also ran south into Mexico and it’s getting renewed attention.

Most of us are familiar with stories of the Underground Railroad. It was a network of clandestine routes and safe houses established in the U.S. during the early to mid-19th century. It was used by enslaved African Americans to escape into free states and Canada. It grew steadily until the Civil War began, and by one estimate it was used by more than 100,000 enslaved people to escape bondage.

In a story reported on by the Associated Press, there is renewed interest in another route on the Underground Railroad, one that went south into Mexico. Bacha-Garza, a historian, dug into oral family histories and heard an unexpected story: ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

According to Maria Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin studying the passage of escapees who crossed the borderlands for sanctuary in Mexico, about 5,000 to 10,000 people broke free from bondage into the southern country. Currently, no reliable figures currently exist detailing how many left to Mexico, unlike the more prominent transit into Canada’s safe haven.

Mexico abolished slavery a generation before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

Thirty-four years before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, in 1829, Mexican President Vicente Guerrero, who was of mixed background, including African heritage, abolished slavery in the country. The measure freed an estimated 200,000 enslaved Africans Spain forcefully brought over into what was then called New Spain and would later open a pathway for Blacks seeking freedom in the Southern U.S.

And he did so while Texas was still part of the country, in part prompting white, slave-holding immigrants to fight for independence in the Texas Revolution. Once they formed the Republic of Texas in 1836, they made slavery legal again, and it continued to be legal when Texas joined the U.S. as a state in 1845.

With the north’s popular underground railroad out of reach for many on the southern margins, Mexico was a more plausible route to freedom for these men and women.

Just like with the northern route, helping people along the route was dangerous and could land you in serious trouble.

Credit: Library of Congress / Public Domain

Much like on the railway’s northern route into Canada, anyone caught helping African-Americans fleeing slavery faced serious and severe consequences.

Slaveholders were aware that people were escaping south, and attempted to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty that would, like the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that demanded free states to return escapees, require Mexico to deliver those who had left. Mexico, however, refused to sign, contending that all enslaved people were free once they reached Mexican soil. Despite this, Hammock said that some Texans hired what was called “slave catchers” or “slave hunters” to illegally cross into the country, where they had no jurisdiction, to kidnap escapees.

“The organization that we know today as the Texas Rangers was born out of an organization of men that were slave hunters,” Hammack, who is currently researching how often these actions took place, told the AP. “They were bounty hunters trying to retrieve enslaved property that crossed the Rio Grande for slave owners and would get paid according to how far into Mexico the slaves were found.”

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Viva Mexico Is Trending On Twitter Proving That Mexico Is More Than Just A Country

Culture

Viva Mexico Is Trending On Twitter Proving That Mexico Is More Than Just A Country

Carlos Vivas / Getty Images

It is Mexico’s Independence Day and that means that Mexicans around the world are honoring their roots. Twitter is buzzing with people who might not be in Mexico but they will forever have Mexico in their hearts. Here are just a few of the loving messages from people who are Mexican through and through.

Viva Mexico is trending on social media and the tweets are filled with love and passion for the country.

Mexico received its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810 and since then the day has been marked with celebration. The day is marked with parties of pride and culture no matter where you are in the world.

Mexicans everywhere are letting their Mexican flag fly.

Tbh, who doesn’t want to be Mexican to enjoy the day of puro pinche pride? The celebration for Mexican Independence Day starts on Sept. 15 with El Grito. The tradition is that the president of Mexico stands on the balcony on Sept. 15 at 11 p.m. and rings the same church bell that Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla rang in 1810 to trigger the Mexican Revolution.

People are loving all of the celebrations for their homeland.

The original El Grito took place in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato in 1810. While most El Grito celebrations take place at the National Palace, some presidents, especially on their last year, celebrate El Grito in the town where it originated.

Honestly, no one celebrates their independence day like Mexico and we love them for it.

¡Viva Mexico! Mexico lindo y querido. How are you celebrating the Mexican Independence Day this year? Show us what you have planned.

READ: Many Mexicans Are Calling Out Fragile Masculinity As Some Continue To Protest A Controversial Zapata Painting

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