National Observance: Venezuela marks 200 years

TUESDAY, JULY 5: Venezuelans celebrate their independence today, hot on the heels of America’s patriotic festivities and, this year, Venezuelans mark a major milestone: the bicentennial of their separation from Spain. (Wikipedia has more on the Venezuelan War of Independence.)

Political tensions with the U.S. have been running high throughout the stormy rule of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez—but Washington D.C. sent a friendly salute to “the people of Venezuela” this week as they mark their milestone. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s official statement emphasizes that Americans and Venezuelans “share a close history of cooperation and respect.”

Trivia Quiz: Can you name U.S. states with towns named Bolivar? Simon Bolivar was the liberator of Venezuela and other parts of South America. In emphasizing Americans’ links to Venezuela, Clinton pointed out, “All across the United States—in towns, villages, counties, streets and schools—you wil find the name ‘Bolivar.’” Answer: Our list is not exhaustive, but we’ve found Bolivar towns in: Mississippi, Missouri, New York (2 in NY), Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. There’s a Bolivar Peninsula in Texas.

Chavez is in frail health: He returned home just in time for the bicentennial after three weeks of cancer treatment in Cuba, according to the Guardian newspaper online.

News breaks on Venezuela, Chavez and the Vatican: Nearly all Venezuelans identify themselves as Catholic, although icy relations have been the rule between Chavez’s regime and the Vatican. Last month, news stories broke concerning diplomatic reports in 2002 that Venezuelan Catholic leaders helped with efforts to oust Chavez—even though Pope John Paul II told them not to take such action. News stories like this one in the Scaramento Bee reported that Venezuelan Catholic priests were so opposed to Chavez that they defied the pope’s orders.

Care to learn more about Venezuela? In addition to Wikipedia, linked above, the CIA World Factbook has an extensive site on the country.

Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

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