Photo: Flag of Venezuela
Today, all of Venezuela is celebrating and rejoicing its 201-year old independence from Spain. Christopher Columbus sailed along the eastern coast of Venezuela on his third voyage in 1498, the only one of his four voyages to reach the South American mainland. The Spanish arrived in the 1500’s in full force and stayed for nearly 300 years as it colonized the region, converted natives to Christianity and enslaved native populations while pillaging the country’s gold mines.
Venezuela started it fight for independence in 1797 getting inspiration from the French Revolution. The Venezuelan War of Independence lasted from 1811-1823 led by Venezuelan freedom fighter Simon Bolivar. The country’s congress declared the country independent on July 5, 1811 nonetheless Spain kept trying to maintain its control over the country until the final Battle of Lake Maracaibo in 1823.
The country will celebrate with parades, music concerts and cultural exhibitions and toast the return of its ailing and left leaning President Hugo Chavez.
President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton sent the following congratulatory remarks:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Venezuela as you celebrate 201 years of independence this July 5. This year, the people of both our countries will be going to the polls to elect their political leaders. Holding free and fair elections is the best way to pay tribute to our founders, and reinforce the ideals of individual liberty and equality that our countries were founded upon. I wish Venezuelan citizens everywhere health, happiness, and prosperity on this special day. And I hope the friendship between our peoples will continue to flourish in the years ahead.