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

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

Things That Matter

These Were The Moments That Defined Latin America In 2020 That Weren’t About COVID-19

PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images

2020 will easily go down in manny of our memories as the year that just wouldn’t stop. As the year started, it all seemed to be sort of fine as the world came together to battle record-breaking Australian bushfires and worked to hopefully contain an outbreak of a strange new virus in China.

However, as the year comes to a close things have gone de mal a peor for the world in general, but for the Latino population in the United States and Latin America as a region in particular. Though it’s hard to realize just how much we all witnessed and experienced since so much of what happened seems like it was a lifetime ago.

Here’s a look back at some the defining moments from 2020 across Latin America.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira kicked off the year hopeful with a history-making performance at the Super Bowl.

Yes, believe it or not, this happened in 2020. The pair put on what many have called the best half time show in Super Bowl history. They were also joined by J Balvin and Bad Bunny.

Bolivia’s Evo Morales was forced into exile, only to return to the country in November.

After being forced into exile at the end of 2019 for attempting to illegally run in upcoming presidential elections, Morales spent a year abroad – first in Mexico and then in Argentina.

Mexico’s President AMLO made his first trip abroad to visit Donald Trump at the White House.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a staunch populist and has long said his primary focus is domestic policy within Mexico. Therefore, despite two years in office, AMLO hadn’t left Mexico once. So it came as a surprise when his first trip abroad was a visit to the U.S. leader who had long disparaged Mexico, the government, and Mexicans – not to mention his trip came in the middle of a global pandemic.

Migrant caravans continued to make their way towards the U.S. despite interference from Mexico and Covid-19.

Migrants attempting to make their way to the U.S. isn’t unique to 2020. For decades, migrants have long banded together for safety in numbers along the treacherous journey to the north. However, they became larger and better organized in 2020, perhaps owing to the new dangers of Mexican interference.

Mexico’s AMLO vowed to stop migrants from reaching the U.S.-Mexico border, adhering to Trump’s request. It was also noteworthy because the caravans continued despite the Covid-19 crisis, which has hit the region particularly hard.

Peru saw three presidents in the span of a few weeks after massive protests.

Peru is facing one of the greatest crises the nation has faced. Just as the country seemed to be emerging from the worst of its battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, the country has entered a severe political crisis.

The country’s elected president, Martin Vizcarra, was impeached and removed from office. His predecessor responded with a heavy hand to the protests that ensued resulting in his resignation less than 24 hours later. The government then had to find someone willing to take the job which proved to be a tough sell.

In fact, massive protests swept across Latin America.

From Mexico in the north to Cuba in the Caribbean and Chile in the south, protests were seen all across the region. Although each movement had it’s own stated goal and objectives, many were largely borne out of the same purpose: to fight back against corruption.

Brazil’s President Jaír Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 but it did nothing to change his approach to the pandemic.

Jaír Bolsonaro has long been compared to Donald Trump, with many calling him the Donald Trump of South America. The two were also strongly aligned in their responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, with the pair largely downplaying the severity of the crisis.

Then, Bolsonaro became infected with the virus and many hoped it would change his view on the crisis. It didn’t.

A growing feminist movement developed in Mexico, demanding protection from a shocking rise in violence against women.

Mexico has long been battling endemic violence and the country has continued to see record-setting rates of homicides. But it was the growing rate of violence against women, particularly femicide, that gained national attention.

Women banded together and started large nationwide protests. Over the summer, women in the capital of Mexico City occupied government buildings and destroyed many of the city’s most popular monuments to hopefully get their message across. Although the movement has gained more recognition by Mexicans, the government has still failed to address their concerns. Let’s hope things are different in 2021.

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The Romance Between Frida Kahlo And Chavela Vargas Gets Renewed Attention As Long Lost Love Letters Are Uncovered

Entertainment

The Romance Between Frida Kahlo And Chavela Vargas Gets Renewed Attention As Long Lost Love Letters Are Uncovered

Jorge Silva / Getty Images

Frida Kahlo’s paintings perfectly show the artist’s whirlwind of emotions throughout her life. Her art gives a look into her passions, her pains and her loves, which went far beyond Diego Rivera. 

It’s long been known that the prolific artist had many loves throughout her life, both men and women, and including many major personalities of their time. Everyone from Tina Modotti and the politician León Trotsky were on that list in addition to her longtime companion, Diego Rivera. However, one of Kahlo’s great loves and of whom little is said was the singer Chavela Vargas.

Chavela, who was 12 years younger than Frida, spoke on several occasions about the love she had for Kahlo when her musical career began to take off, while she was “a child.” And thanks to recently discovered love letters we have a new perspective on this little known relationship.

New love letters give us details into the romance between Frida Kahlo and Chavela Vargas.

Although Chavela had claimed to have destroyed all of the love letters she received from Frida Kahlo, new love letters have recently been discovered that paint a new light on the romance.

There is one letter Kahlo had written to Carlos Pellicer, a Mexican poet, to express her feelings about the singer. She told him that after meeting Chavela she felt attracted to her from the very first moment – in some pretty steamy language.

“Today I met Chavela Vargas. Extraordinary, lesbian, what’s more, I wanted her erotically. I don’t know if she felt what I did. But I think she’s a liberal enough woman, that if she asks me, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to undress in front of her. How many times do you not want to get laid and that’s it? She, I repeat, is erotic. Is it a gift that heaven sends me?”, wrote Kahlo.

It was shortly after Kahlo wrote that letter that Chavela went to live with her and Diego at La Casa Azul. In another recently discovered letter, Vargas writes – of her time at Casa Azul – that she felt very happy and in love, as well as loved by Kahlo.

“She taught me a lot of things and I learned a so much. Without giving away too much, I held the sky with my hands, with every word, every morning,” she said.

The lovers had an intense relationship that has fascinated fans to this day.

The two had met at one of the many parties Kahlo and Rivera would host at their home in Casa Azul. The couple were prolific entertainers and often threw extravagant parties.

Before her death, Vargas detailed that night’s meeting.

“A painter friend invited me. She said: ‘There’s a party at Frida’s house tonight. Shall we go?’ I went and the atmosphere was full of people. The night passed, we sang, everyone danced, everyone entertained,” Vargas says in the documentary Chavela, released in 2017.

“I was in a daze when I saw her face, her eyes. I thought she couldn’t be a being from this world. Her eyebrows together were a swallow in flight. Without yet having the maturity of a woman in me, since I was a very young girl, I sensed that I could love that being with the most devoted love in the world, the strongest love in the world,” said the singer about Frida.

Although the romance didn’t last long thanks in part to the painter’s relationship with Diego Rivera.

Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Vargas confessed that the romance didn’t last for a long time on the account of having to share the painter’s love with Diego Rivera. According to Vargas, one day Kahlo simply decided to abandon her.

“My words possibly hurt her a lot when I told her I was leaving and she told me: ‘I know. It is impossible to tie you to anybody’s life. I can’t tie you to my crutches or to my bed. Go away!’ And one day I opened the door and didn’t come back,” Vargas said.

Although the singer never spoke about whether she had intimate relationships with the painter, the romance, as well as the great love and attraction they felt for each other is something that cannot be denied.

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