Do you know which country has the most handsome and beautiful people? Maybe it’s Venezuela, which has produced 5 Miss Universes and whose people all seem interested in ‘beauty.’ To know more about this far away country in Latin America, The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Juan Nieto Anos (NIETO).
SMT: Venezuela is not familiar to Korean people; we have no idea about your country. Could you please tell us about Venezuela briefly?
NIETO: It is located in Northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana. We have just two seasons: dry and rainy. The lowest temperature is 25℃ and the highest is about 40℃. There are 23 states in Venezuela and we still have Indio. My country is one of the most important petroleum-exporting countries, and recently, the largest natural gas was discovered there. In terms of politics, socialist firebrand Hugo CHAVEZ, president of Venezuela, has ruled the country since 1999.
SMT: I heard that more than 70 percent of the whole population of Venezuela is of mixed race. What do people think about this social phenomenon?
NIETO: I think it’s better to understand it as a multiracial nation rather than a country which has many people of racial mixture. We usually think that all the people are equal even if they are different races and have different skin colors. So, we never mind when people of different cultures get married, and generally Venezuelans understand and accept it. Actually, in the colonial period, marriage between whites and blacks was banned but now it doesn’t matter.
SMT: I heard that many people are dying for ‘beauty’ in Venezuela. Is this correct? Also, how many beauty contests are held in your country each year and are they limited to only women?
NIETO: It is significant that Venezuela has beauty contests for men too; not only for women. There are two big beauty contests held every year, Miss Venezuela and Mr. Venezuela. To become Miss Venezuela, people suffer fierce competition because the rate of competition is more than 1:100 every year. Also, Miss Universe is one of the big festivals for Venezuelans. During the period of that contest, more than 90 percent of people turn on their TVs and have great concern for who will be the next Miss Universe. Like the World Cup is the big event for Koreans, Miss Universe is such for Venezuelans.
SMT: Where is the most recommendable place in Venezuela?
NIETO: Actually there are so many places I want to recommend, but if you particularly wish it, I want to pick 3 beautiful beaches in the Aragua State: Cepe, Chuao, and Choroni. Those 3 beaches are famous for tourists, especially Europeans.
Nieto’s Choice No.1
− Novel, Rmulo Gallegos’s “Doa Brbara” (1929)
“Doa Brbara” is the most famous novel in Venezuela by Venezuelan author Rmulo Gallegos, first published in 1929. The novel deals with the confrontation between civilization and the barbaric aspects of the rural environment and its inhabitants.
The novel is set in the 1920s; Venezuela was under the dictatorial regime of Juan Vicente Gmez. His rule remains controversial because though he brought wealth to the country, developed modern infrastructure and ended the era of caudillismo that shattered for so many years the economic and social welfare of Venezuelans, he used his power to enrich himself and left the country immersed in a profound illiteracy and culture primitivism.
This novel is considered a masterpiece of Venezuelan literature and a classic in Latin American literature. Well-matched in its fame, this novel was made into a TV series and films, translated into other languages and republished more than 40 times.
Nieto’s Choice No.2
− TV Show, Hugo Chvez’s “Alo Presidente” (From 1999 until now)
Here is an interesting show that will surprise you. It is the “Alo Presidente” which means “Hello President” in English. It is a talk show hosted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez and broadcast on Venezuelan media every Sunday starting at 11:00 a.m. and lasting until Chavez is done.
The show features Chavez addressing topics of the day and touring locations where government social welfare programs are active. Already, more than 320 episodes have been aired since the first aired via radio on May 23, 1999. This program is watched by 8 to 10 percent of the population.
Luis Vicente Leon, an analyst with the polling company Datanalisis said, “Chavez has two objectives for “Alo Presidente.” One is to maintain constant contact with the masses, his supporters, and the second is to give them instructions on what to do.”