Photo: Flag of Venezuela
Today, all of Venezuela is celebrating and rejoicing its 202-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 John Kerry sent the following congratulatory remarks:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Venezuela as you commemorate the day that Venezuela declared its independence 202 years ago.
Venezuela and the United States have much in common. For example, revolutionary leader General Francisco de Miranda also played a part in our own struggle for independence, participating in the Battle of Pensacola in 1781. His contribution is forever memorialized in a monument that stands in the heart of Philadelphia, the original capital of the United States. When a devastating earthquake struck Venezuela in 1812 the United States sent the Venezuelan people the first humanitarian assistance it ever provided to a foreign country. These two examples demonstrate that Venezuela and the United States have shared ties of friendship and common values since the birth of our two nations, and the ties between our people endure.
I wish Venezuelans everywhere health, happiness, and hope on the anniversary of your independence.