OFFICIAL NAME: República de Venezuela (Republic of Venezuela). 

GOVERNMENT: federal multiparty republic with two legislative houses (Senate [49]; Chamber of Deputies [189]). 

27 Sept 2010 Caracas, Venezuela (CNN) --The United Socialist Party of Venezuela wins at least 90 seats
An opposition coalition wins at least 59
The election results mean Chavez's party will no longer has a supermajority in parliament

President Hugo Chavez's ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela won a majority of seats in the country's parliamentary elections, the National Electoral Council said early Monday. Voters in Venezuela went to the polls Sunday to decide 165 seats out of 167 in the country's National Assembly. Going into the election, Chavez's party held 137 seats.
The ruling party won at least 90 seats, while an opposition coalition won at least 59, said Tibisay Lucena, the council's president. 
In protest against Chavez, the opposition boycotted the last parliamentary elections in 2005.
The move left opponents of Chavez without a voice in the national assembly. It also gave his party a supermajority that allowed for quick passage of many of Chavez's pet projects.
Lucena said more than 66 percent of registered voters participated in Sunday's elections.


POPULATION:approx 26 million

FLAG The Venezuelan flag was adopted on March 28, 1864. Francisco de Miranda, who helped pave the way for Venezuela's independence from Spain, is considered the flag's creator. The stars are for the original seven provinces. In the upper hoist corner, the national arms are added to flags which serve the government.


Trompo (Venezuela)
Jennifer Risso from Venezuela: I remember when I was a child and used to play this game. I enjoyed it a lot. Trompo is a game for boys and I'm a girl, but this little thing didn't matter to me because I loved to play this game with all my brothers' friends. Trompo is a traditional game in my country; almost everybody in Venezuela know this game.
To play it, you need a special toy—a top (el trompo)—and at least two players. The object of the game is to knock over the other players' tops with your top. The person whose top is spinning in the end is the winner. The boys always put things on the points of their tops to make them spin faster so they can win the game. The traditional top in Venezuela is made of wood, but it can also be made of plastic or other materials that make the top move more easily, or the point can be made of metal. The top has a string that you have to roll up around the top before you throw it to the floor.
Sometimes the kids who have good tops make bets. They say, "If my top wins, I will get yours." Then you see that kid with two or three tops. I sometimes lost mine because I wasn't a very good player, but I enjoyed playing with it all the time!

Songs for children

*Gatico: the diminutive form "-ico" is used in Venezuela with words having a "t" at the end of the radical. **Use the child's name here.

Listen to this song online:

Ahora amiguitos, 
Es hora de descansar
Todos a la camita
Vamos a soñar
El perrito guau, guau, guau,
El gatico* miau, miau, miau,
Ya se fueron a la cama
Todo el mundo a descansar
Vamos Julietica**
La noche llegó
Todos a soñar
¡Buenas noches!
¡Hasta mañana!

Translation: Now, little friends, it's time to rest. Let's all go to our little beds, Let's all dream. The little dog “ woof, woof, woof” The little cat “mew, mew, mew” already went to bed. Let's rest. Come on, little Juliet, night has fallen. Let's all dream. Good night! See you tomorrow!

Duérmete mi niño (Go to Sleep, My Child)

"This is a lullaby we sing in Venezuela to lull the babies to sleep. The music of this lullaby is the same as our National Anthem."

Duérmete mi niño, que tengo que hacer 
Lavar los pañales, darte de comer.
Duérmase mi niño que tengo que hacer 
Lavar los pañales y darte de beber.
Ese niño quiere que lo duerma yo
Que lo duerma la madre que lo parió.
Ese niño quiere que lo duerma yo,
lo duerma la madre que lo parió.

Translation: Go to sleep, my child, for I've things to do. 
To wash the diapers, to give you some food.
Go to sleep, my child, for I've things to do,
To wash the diapers, to give you a drink.
This child wants me to put him to sleep,
The mother who bore him, to put him to sleep.


Venezuela shares much of the Caribbean influences as well as Spanish, Italian, African, and indigenous in its flavors, cooking techniques and fruits like the plantain which are usually served at meals. Green fruits are starchy like potatoes, yellow ones are slightly sweet as the sugar forms, and black skinned plantains are the ripest and sweetest. Beef is especially popular, although fish and seafood are common along the long Caribbean coast. 

information on Venezuelan foods

List of recipes:

Arepas, small cornmeal patties, originally made by the indigenous inhabitants of Venezuela and Colombia, are a common snack and are grilled or baked and stuffed with all kinds of tasty fillings. 

Asado Negro

Bistec a Caballo

Bollos Pelones

Cachapas, pancakes made with fresh corn. They are sold as road-side snacks in Venezuela, wrapped around queso fresco, mozzarella, chopped ham, chorizo or spread with butter, cream cheese or sour cream.

Cachitos de Jamon

Caraotas Negras (Black Beans)

Chicharrones (Pig)

Chivo al Coco

Corbullon de Mero

Empanadas de Queso. Popular throughout the Latin world. They probably originated in Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. Spanish settlers introduced empanadas to the New World, and they are a special favorite in Chile and Argentina. The variety of fillings for empanadas is endless and includes stew-like mixtures chicken, beef, ham and cheese, fish and seafood. Other fillings include spinach, peas, potatoes, pumpkin and beans.

Capresse Salad

Chicken Salad

Guasacaca, very similar to Mexican guacamole. 
Fill Eggs

Cow Tongue

Pabellón criollo, a dish of shredded beef, simmered black beans, fried rice plantains and hot rice.
Pan de jamón, (a traditional Venezuelan Christmas bread), a sweet, soft dough rolled around ham, sweet raisins and pimento-stuffed olives.

Perico, a scrambled egg breakfast dish, with onions, tomatoes and peppers. It's name means "parakeet" 

Yuca Frita, deep fried yucca. Yuca is a starchy vegetable that is used in much the same way as potatoes. 


2 easy recipes

Country of origin: Venezuela
Cachapas are traditionally made with fresh corn.
1 (14 oz) can creamed corn
3/4 cup pancake mix
1/4 cup corn meal
1 egg
2 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
cheese slices 
Blend all the ingredients in the order listed. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. Heat a non-stick frypan and drop small amounts of the batter as if making pancakes. Serve the cachapas warm, wrapped about a slice of cheese.

AREPAS (corn flour biscuits, like a thick tortilla)
country of origin: Venezuela, Colombia 

4 cups warm water
½ tsp salt
4 cups pre-cooked masarepa flour (can be found in some Latino markets, not the commonly stocked masa harina)
Oil for shallow frying

Preheat the oven to 400. Makes 8 Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and gradually add the warm water, mixing to form a stiff dough. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes then form into 8 balls. Flatten with the palm of your hand so they measure about 3-inches in diameter and are about ¾-inch thick. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan, add the arepas and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until crisp and golden, turning 3 or four times. Remove them from the pan and drain on kitchen paper then transfer to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Serve warm as an accompaniment with soup or main courses such as stews. Colombian arepas are much smaller. 

Some of the most favorite Venezuela drinks include Ponche Crema, Chinotto and Chicha. Some of the other Venezuela drinks that are favored by the people in Venezuela are batidos and milkshakes like merengada. Batidos are fruit juices that are thick in texture but are extremely favorite among both the old and the young. 

Some of the other Venezuela soft drinks include sugar cane juice teemed with lemon juice. This juice is also known by the name of papelon con limon. The tangy taste of the drink makes it popular among the children, although the nutritional value is never compromised with. Some of the other refreshing Venezuela drinks include fresh coconut milk. 

Play Keeps Indigenous Cultures Alive
By Humberto Márquez

CARACAS, Oct 20, 2006 (IPS) - A new study found that play is an essential vehicle of socialisation and transmission of traditions and customs among indigenous groups in Venezuela, who often live in an uneasy coexistence with mainstream society while the survival of their cultures and languages is threatened.
A team of researchers found that indigenous communities in different parts of the country have maintained similar customs, beliefs and rituals surrounding pregnancy, childbirth, newborn care, the teaching of skills, the transmission of values, and the transition to adulthood, while they gradually incorporate schools, modern medicine and television. 

Under the leadership of Emanuele Amodio, a professor at the Central University's School of Anthropology, and sponsored by the United Nations children's fund (UNICEF), the team studied nine areas of childbirth and childrearing among six of Venezuela's 35 indigenous groups for two years. 

According to the 2001 census, indigenous people in Venezuela number 500,000 out of a total population of 25 million. 

"Our research was based on reflections on the construction, evolution and crisis of identities, and on the certainty that the roots of identity are traced back to the first five or six years of life," Amodio explained to IPS. "We wanted to go to the roots of the identity crisis, where there was a large gap in the research." 

He said the team selected indigenous groups with varying levels of interaction with mainstream culture, from different linguistic groups, who live in a variety of ecosystems. 

The ethnic groups chosen by the researchers were the Wayúu and Añú (part of the Arawak linguistic family) in the extreme northwest, the Ye'kuana (of the Carib linguistic family) in the south, the Warao (in the Orinoco River delta) in the east, the Jivi (at the confluence of the Orinoco and Meta Rivers) and the Piaroa (on the upper Orinoco River). 

The first area studied was pregnancy, which is sought from the first week of marriage among Wayúu couples, while Ye'kuana women prefer to wait until the second year of marriage. 

In some communities, couples want their first child to be a boy, so he can help out as soon as possible with the hunting and fishing. But in others, couples hope their firstborn is a girl, so she can help with the household chores. 

Meanwhile, new couples in the Piaroa ethnic group have no preference, but do not want "more than three or four children, because everything is very expensive today, and we can't afford to support more than that," said one member of that community. 

In all of the indigenous cultures studied, pregnancy entails special care and rules, including cultural taboos - which often extend to the father as well as the mother - with regard to consuming specific kinds of meat or species of fish that could affect the health of the unborn child. 

Another shared preference is for small newborn babies, to make childbirth easier. And in all six of the ethnic groups, the placenta is carefully wrapped and buried, and is never thrown, for example, into the river. 

There are also taboos against twins. In past centuries, the Piaroa would traditionally leave one of the twins at the spot where the placentas had been buried, so that anyone who wished to could pick the child up and keep it. 

The choice of children's names is steeped in ritual in some of the groups, but most of the names are of Spanish, or combined, origin. In addition, most children are given a nickname. 

One Ye'kuana couple named their children Bebeto, in honour of a famous Brazilian football player who formed part of the team that won the 1994 World Cup; Macunaima, one of the manifestations of the sun god; and Curatay, the Ye'kuana word for grasshopper. 

It is mothers and grandmothers who bathe the children, which they do frequently in the case of communities whose lives are closely entwined with the water, like the Warao in the Orinoco delta and the Añú on the Sinamaica Lagoon, whose children learn to swim and walk virtually at the same time. 

Babies are almost exclusively breastfed in their first few months of life. The Piaroa even have legends about long-ago struggles by cultural heroes in favour of maternal lactation. 

The first foods given to babies are pureed fruits, rice and fish broth. After the age of three, children eat basically the same diet as adults - mainly meat from hunted animals, fish, bananas and other fruits, mandioca, and a few industrially produced foods. 

Wayúu children in rural areas (tens of thousands of people from that ethnic group now live in the city of Maracaibo and other urban areas in northwestern Venezuela) consume goat's and cow's milk and cheese. 

And from the age of four or five, Ye'kuana children learn to collect, roast and eat "bachacos" (red leaf-cutting ants). 

The researchers noticed nutritional problems in several communities, especially among the Warao, some of whom make frequent trips to Caracas and other cities to panhandle, and the Añú, whose nutritional problems are linked to the increasing scarcity of fish caused by the salinisation and pollution of the Sinamaica Lagoon. 

The lagoon is connected to Lake Maracaibo, which in turn is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela. For decades, Lake Maracaibo has been dredged to allow the passage of oil tankers. 

The researchers also studied play among the groups, all of whom use children's games as a mechanism for learning, socialisation and preparation for adult life. 

Starting at the age of three or four, there are marked gender differences in toys and games, with boys' activities geared towards hunting, fishing, planting or selling, and girls' activities towards cooking, weaving and taking care of the home and family. 

The toys include canoes, bows and arrows, carved animals and dolls made of natural fibers, wood, shells or clay. But plastic, glass and metal toys from the city are also common now. 

Adults often play games with children, or egg them on as they play. Warao children hold rowing contests, Ye'kuana children play "family", and the Añú, who live near the border with Colombia, play a game called "border guards and smugglers." 

Diarrhea, vomiting and fever are common among the children in the indigenous groups studied, as is malaria. These health problems are blamed by the communities on their poverty, violations of tribal customs or taboos (like eating foods banned during pregnancy), or supernatural causes (the influence of evil spirits). 

The groups turn for assistance to western doctors, in rural or urban health posts, as well as traditional healers or shamans, who fight evil spirits or spells using herbs and potions. 

The education and development of children is the responsibility of mothers, grandmothers and aunts, grandfathers and uncles, older sisters and brothers, and the community at large, especially among the Ye'kuana and Piaroa who live in large community huts, or the Warao and Añú, who live in "palafitos" (houses on stilts) over the water, connected by walkways. 

The mother tongue is predominant when it comes to transmission of knowledge among the Warao, Ye'kuana, Jivi and Piaroa, who communicate among themselves in their own languages, although they are happy to send their children to bilingual schools in their territories. 

The Wayúu, on the other hand, are mainly bilingual. 

By contrast, of the 10,000 people making up the Añú community - of whom around 3,000 still live along the edge of the Sinamaica Lagoon - only a few elderly people and one young person still speak the group's mother tongue. The rest are now Spanish speakers. 

What values are passed on to children? "Good things: how they should behave, to have profound mutual respect within the family, and that it's wrong to steal, say mean things to other people, and mistreat other children," said one father from the Jivi community. 

In the indigenous villages where there are TV sets with satellite connection, the children gather as often as they can to watch cartoons, movies, sitcoms and soap operas. 

"These are new factors of loss of traditional culture, just like Christianity and school taught only in Spanish were in the past," said Amodio. 

"My proposal is that educational curriculums should be modified so that in the first four or five years of school, indigenous children study in their own languages, and after they have become proficient in their mother tongues, they continue studying in Spanish, as a second language," he said. 

The study also found that the ethnic groups all had rituals to mark the end of childhood. For boys, the threshold is crossed when they can fend for themselves in hunting, fishing and other bread-winning activities, while for girls the transition occurs after their first menstruation, when they undergo purification and isolation. 

The study "has revealed aspects that should bolster the development of new educational policies," said Deputy Minister of Education Armando Rojas. 

For her part, Anna Lucía D' Emilio, UNICEF representative in Venezuela, said she hoped it would serve "as a tool to empower indigenous communities and organizations."

New Compendium on Yanomami Language
By Humberto Márquez

CARACAS, Nov 23, 2004 (IPS) –
When a Yanomami Indian dies, his or her name is not to be pronounced for some time, so as not to soil the memory of the deceased. 

This may be a problem if, for example, someone is called Shoco, which is also the term for Tamanduá, an anteater that is common in the jungles of southern Venezuela and northern Brazil, where the Yanomami live. 

However, the difficulty can easily be resolved thanks to the linguistic wealth of this indigenous group that has existed for over 25,000 years, a living testimony to the Neolithic era, the most recent period of the Stone Age. 

There are several synonyms for the names of animals, and also of some plants. Therefore, "aroto" means exactly the same as "shoco", and the community can use that word without violating the tradition that protects the deceased. 

This explanation is provided by one of the 10,000 entries in the "Compendio ilustrado de lengua y cultura yanomami" ("Illustrated Compendium of the Yanomami Language and Culture"), a book by French anthropologist and linguist Marie-Claude Mattéi that has just gone to print. 

It is more than a mere dictionary, instead serving as an encyclopaedic manual that can be used in Yanomami schools and for outsiders studying the Yanomami language and culture. 

After 15 years of research, "we have concentrated our efforts on producing something more useful and rich in information than a simple dictionary - a book that can support the didactic measures that the Venezuelan society and state have the obligation to undertake with respect to the indigenous communities," Mattéi told IPS. 

Venezuela's new constitution, which was approved by voters in 1999, dedicates an entire chapter to the rights of indigenous peoples, including "the right to an intercultural and bilingual educational system that takes into account their special social and cultural characteristics, values and traditions." 

The Yanomami or "children of the moon", who number around 15,000 in Venezuela and 12,000 in Brazil, are among the 34 indigenous peoples who mainly live along Venezuela's borders with Colombia, Brazil and Guyana. 

According to the 2001 census, 300,000 of Venezuela's 25 million people belong to indigenous groups. 

The Yanomami comprise a majority of the population in the municipality of Alto Orinoco, which nevertheless tends to be governed by members of two smaller ethnic groups, the Ye'kuana and Piaroa. 

Like their other indigenous neighbours, the Yanomami sometimes incorporate the ways of mainstream society "in an anarchistic manner. They want speed boats and other technologies that make their lives more comfortable. The contact may threaten their culture and language, but that should not lead to a falsely romantic attitude, such as asking them to live in a bubble," said Mattéi. 

Yanomami and Sanima are the most widely spoken languages among the indigenous people of Venezuela, according to another anthropologist, María Eugenia Villalón. 

"At least seven languages - Mapoyo, Añú, Baré, Sáliva, Yabarana, Uruak and Sape - are in a critical state," Villalón, who has dedicated herself to collecting and preserving what remains of the Mapoyo tongue, told IPS. 

A language, Villalón warns, "is not threatened nor does it become extinct because fewer individuals speak it, but because people stop using it and stop passing it on from parents to children. The extent to which it is at risk can be measured by the number of children who speak it." In the case of Mapoyo, that means almost none, as even adults hardly ever use the language. 

Without an effort to support indigenous peoples, "their languages, which have survived more than 500 years since the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese in the Americas, will slowly disappear, they just won't survive," warned another expert, Lyll Barceló, who has compiled the myths of the Guahibo ethnic group. 

Having similar concerns, Mattéi divided her Compendium into five parts, the first of which is a history and description of the Yanomami people, followed by a guide to comprehend and use the dictionary. "I started with a table of references and conjugations in order to describe the verbal system of the language," she explained. 

The Yanomami "use various forms of the future and past tense, and the suffixes of verbs can vary greatly depending on the meaning," she stated. 

"I haven't only used the information that I gathered myself, but also utilised that of numerous books about the Yanomami," said Mattéi. "What I added was a description of the use of each word, set in the ecosystem where these people live." 

A glossary of the flora and fauna follows, which is a compendium on its own, as well as a bilingual Spanish-Yanomami mini-dictionary "aimed at providing help with the greatest difficulties. For example, there are many ways of saying 'to tie' or 'to open' in this language." 

And linguists and taxonomists (the scientists who deal with the identification, naming, and classification of organisms) will be able to use a glossary of the taxonomy that the Yanomami themselves use for a number of animals, illustrated by Jacinto Serowe, a member of the ethnic group who worked closely with Mattéi. 

"There are definitely threats to their language, just as there are threats anywhere," she pointed out. "But let's stop thinking that indigenous people will remain in a bubble. Changes are inevitable and they are not the problem. 

"The problem is that they are being denied opportunities, rights regarding health care and the preservation of their beliefs, and the rights they have over their own territories. 

"A high-speed globalisation process is taking place in the world, but at the same time there is a revival of interest in minority groups and a vindication of traditional ways, to keep ethnic groups from being lost. In Venezuela, under the new constitution and the government of Hugo Chávez, there is a desire to do something," said Mattéi. 

In 1992 and 1996, the anthropologist wrote two books about the culture of the Panare, another ethnic group from southern Venezuela. 

The Compendium on the Yanomami has been published by government agencies in Venezuela in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation, and Spain's Santander bank. 

Rain God Gets His Own Planet
By Humberto Márquez - Tierramérica*

CARACAS, Sep 4, 2003 (IPS) - A "mini-planet" far out in our solar system, discovered by astronomers at a Venezuelan observatory, will bear the name Huya (Juyá), the rain god of the Wayúu Indians who live on the arid Guajira Peninsula of northern Venezuela and Colombia.
The Wayúu hope that their god, from his new vantage point in the company of Neptune and Pluto, will work some miracle to alleviate the thirst their lands have suffered for several generations. 

Juyá measures some 600 km in diameter and is composed of rock and ice. It is located in the outer reaches of the band of celestial bodies beyond Neptune, known as the Kuiper Belt, after the man who discovered it in 1951, Dutch-U.S. astronomer Gerard Kuiper. 

Larger than the asteroids in its group, it is a tiny planet, barely a quarter the size of Pluto, the smallest of the nine in the solar system. 

It was discovered "the night of March 14-15 in 2000 by researcher Ignacio Ferrín, using the Schmidt telescope with a 100-cm lens, at the University of the Andes Astronomy Research Centre," the research team's spokesman, Johnny Cova, told Tierramérica. 

"It was named Object 2000-EB173, until recently, when the International Astronomical Union (IAU) accepted its new name," publishing it in an official list Jul. 7, said Cova. 

It takes Juyá 243 years to complete its orbit around the Sun, a path that is an elongated ellipse. The possibility of life on the little planet has been ruled out, as its surface temperature is 180 degrees below zero Celsius, according to Ferrín. 

The planet was formed by a shower of rocks, as occurred in the formation of Earth, says the scientist. He pursued a name that would represent the place from where the planet was discovered - Venezuela - and its native peoples, while also evoking the idea of rain. 

"There was consensus that it should be an indigenous name. But that wasn't enough, because it needed literary or mythological references and to have traits in common with the mini-planet," Ferrín said. 

It could have been named María Lionza, mythical native princess that protects the flora and fauna of central-western Venezuela. But that option was ruled out because the name represents a cult object for hundreds of thousands of people. 

Ferrín finally turned to the Wayúu because they are the largest indigenous group in the country. 

The name Juyá was chosen from among more than 20 names considered by astronomers, anthropologists and Wayúu leaders, headed by Jorge Pocaterra. Juyá - god of rain, a warrior, hunter, seducer and inhabitant of "the place beyond the Sun". 

To facilitate its pronunciation in English, the spelling has been altered to "Huya". 

"It is a new recognition for our people and a reminder to the world about our existence and our demands," Wayúu leader Noelí Pocaterra, vice-president of the Venezuelan parliament, said in a conversation with Tierramérica. 

The Wayúu, also known as "Guajiros" after the land where they live, are the most numerous of the 31 indigenous nations of Venezuela: some 200,000 out of a total 511,000 Indians in this country of 24 million people. 

Another 150,000 Wayúu live on the Colombian side of the border. Their language is of the Arawak family. 

The Wayúu are goat herders, weavers, fisherfolk, salt miners and merchants - and there are even known to be smugglers among them. 

Pocaterra recognises that since 1999, when President Hugo Chávez first took office, indigenous rights have been reinforced, such as the constitutional provision that Venezuela's Indians have the right to enjoy the riches of their lands. 

But in the sun-beaten Guajira Peninsula, there is a dire need for development. "One of our demands is the demarcation of our territory. There was a time when the entire Guajira belonged to us. Now we have been granted just a few dry parcels, so water shortages are a pressing problem," said the Wayúu leader. 

"The lack of water is the biggest problem. Whether through rain, the construction of lagoons or the activation of desalinisation plants, we hope that Juyá, god of the rains now recognised the world over, will perform the miracle of water," she said. 

(* Humberto Márquez is an IPS correspondent. Originally published Aug. 30 by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.)