During the summer of 1996 I went trekking on and around Auyentepui in
Rivers & Creeks
Tepui & Scenery
Tabletop mountains (called tepui) as seen from the Rio Carrao
Angel falls seen from an airplane
Angel falls, the world's tallest waterfall, seen from an airplane
Edge of an area deforested long ago by miners in Venezuela
Coloful bromeliad in southern Venezuela
Tank bromeliad in southern Venezuela
Garden of bromeliads on the approach to the tepui summit
Epiphyte garden near to the summit of Auyantepui
Pemón guide in an epiphyte garden near the summit of Auyantepui
Yellow-banded Poison Arrow Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) in Venezuela
Angel falls, the world's highest waterfall
Yellow, black, orange, and white grasshopper in Venezuela
Heliconius butterfly on a hotlips flower
Tarantula in Venezuela
Fisherman with a catfish from the Rio Carrao
Emergent canopy tree with a tepui in the background
Former village site along the Carrao river in Venezuela
Pink sandstone of Auyantepui
Tepui in Venzuela, seen from the Carrao river
Auyantepui as seen from the Rio Carrao
Angel falls, the world's tallest waterfall, located in Venezuela
Summit of Auyantepui, Devil's mountain, Venezuela
Wei tepui in Venezuela
Devil's mountain (Auyan tepui) waterfall
Internal waterfall on the summit of Auyantepui
Crevasse on Devil's mountain
Blackwater creek on the trail to the Auyantepui summit
View up at the rainforest canopy in the Venezuelan Amazon
Angel falls as seen from its base
Recommended travel guides on Venezuela:
Venezuela -- from Wikipedia
Venezuela is home to a wide variety of landscapes, such as the northeasternmost extensions of the Andes mountains in the northwest and along the northern Caribbean coast, of which the highest point is the Pico Bolívar at 5,007 m.
Also found in the northwest are the lowlands around Lake Maracaibo and the Gulf of Venezuela. The centre of the country is characterised by extensive plains known as the llanos that stretch from the Colombian border to the river delta of the Orinoco east. To the south are found the dissected Guiana Highlands, home to Angel Falls, the world's highest waterfall.
The local climate is tropical and generally hot and humid, though more moderate in the highlands. The capital, Caracas is also the country's largest city. Other major cities include Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, Valencia, Maracay, and Ciudad Guayana. (more)
Venezuela was the site of one of the first permanent Spanish settlements in South America in 1522, and most of the territory eventually became part of the viceroyalty of New Granada. Parts of what is now eastern Venezuela became New Andalusia. After several unsuccessful uprisings, the country declared independence from Spain in 1811 under the leadership of its most famous son, Simón Bolívar.The revolutionary war was decided, however, in the famous battle of Carabobo in June 24th 1821, led against Bolívar's orders by "Grand Marshall" (Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho) Antonio José de Sucre, when the revolutionaries beat the Spaniards. Simon Bolivar led the armies of Venezuela and other countries to free and found what are now Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Another important revolutionary leader during the war was the aforementioned Antonio José de Sucre, who won many battles for Bolivar and was a candidate to become his natural succesor until he was murdered. Venezuela became, after the revolutionary war, along with Colombia and Ecuador part of the Republic of Gran Colombia (República de Gran Colombia) until 1830, when the country separated and became a sovereign republic.
Much of Venezuela's 19th and early 20th century history was characterized by political instability, political struggle, and dictatorial rule. Following the death of Juan Vicente Gómez in 1935 and the demise of caudillismo (authoritarian oligarchical rule), democratic struggles eventually forced the military to withdraw from direct involvement in national politics in 1958. Since that year, Venezuela has enjoyed an unbroken tradition of democratic civilian rule, though not without conflict.
In 1992, there was an attempt by rebellious entities within the Venezuelan military, led by Lieutenant Hugo Chávez, to remove two-time democratically elected president Carlos Andrés Pérez from power. The coup ultimately failed, and Chávez and his co-conspirators were jailed for treason. Pérez, on the other hand, was eventually impeached and convicted for corruption. The coup brought about the death of 80 civilians and 17 members of the armed forces. Chávez's role in resisting a president generally perceived as corrupt by the lower classes made him a prominent figure among them. Chávez was eventually released from jail in 1994 by Perez's elected successor, Rafael Caldera.
Chávez was elected president in 1998 with 56% of the vote as part of a new political party, the Movement for the Fifth Republic. His platform ("Bolivarian revolution") called for the signing of a new constitution, which was written by a Constituent Assembly and approved by referendum in 1999. Chávez was re-elected in 2000 under the new constitution with 59% of the vote. In November 2000, the National Assembly granted Chávez the right to rule by decree for one year, and in November 2001, Chávez made a set of 49 decrees, including large reforms in oil and agrarian policy. The Chávez presidency has for the first time given the majority of Venezuelans a share in the national wealth.
Chavez controls all branches of the government since his party has a majority in the National Assembly, and he has hand picked the judges of the Supreme Tribunal.
In December 2001, the nation's largest business organizations and the petroleum workers' union organized a general strike. In 2002, the US-backed opposition staged an unsuccessful coup and briefly installed Pedro Carmona Estanga as president of Venezuela. Due to a subsequent, popular uprising, with support from the rank and file members of the military, Pedro Carmona was forced to resign. Diosdado Cabello, Vice President of Venezuela, became president as dictated by the constitution. Chávez was restored to the Presidency in 48 hours. A recall referendum was held on August 15, 2004, which Chávez won with approximately 58% of the vote. Leaders and supporters of the opposition accused Chavez of rigging the election, but failed to prove the accusation. The opposition claims were later silenced when the Organization of American States and the Carter Center certified the referendum. In 2004 plans for another coup were allegedly foiled.
Since then, Chávez's popularity in Venezuela and throughout Latin America, where two-thirds of the South American continent have elected pro-people presidencies, has grown. As oil prices have soared in the wake of the second Iraqi war and booming Chinese demand, oil-rich Venezuela has had the opportunity to refuse loans and aid from the US.
The Bush Administration's influence in Caracas has plummeted, as president Hugo Chávez accuses the Bush administration of supporting the failed 2002 Venezuelan coup. Chávez's program has sought to decrease dependency on Washington and to diversify diplomatic and economic ties with governments throughout the world, such as Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, among many other Latin American countries, as well as China, Iran and India. His government has also consistently pursued closer ties to other countries opposed to global control by the US corporate state.
Articles involving conservation and the environment in Venezuela:
Gold mining expanding rapidly along Guiana Shield, threatening forests, water, wildlife
Gold mining is on the rise in the Guiana Shield, a geographic region of South America that holds one of the worldâ€™s largest undisturbed tract of rainforest. A new mapping technology using a radar and optical imaging combination has detected a significant increase in mining since 2000, threatening the region's forests and water quality.
Outcompeted: Species competition may result in geographic isolation
Scientists have long believed that gene flow and species dispersal is only interrupted by physical barriers, like mountain ranges, rivers or even the complete disappearance of a suitable habitat. But new research into the distribution of two mouse opossum species in South America suggests that other factors may play a role as well, such as competition and predation.
Invasion of the lionfish: new research finds the situation may be worse than we thought
You may have recently read the controversial story on invasive lionfish research involving Dr. Zack Jud of Florida International University and a young girl named Lauren Arrington. While the issue of attribution in scientific research is crucial to the discipline, much of the media focus so far has sidestepped the real issue: what lionfish tolerance for brackish water really means for the environment.
How do we save the world's vanishing old-growth forests?
There's nothing in the world like a primary forest, which has never been industrially logged or cleared by humans. They are often described as cathedral-like, due to pillar-like trees and carpet-like undergrowth. Yet, the world's primary forests—also known as old-growth forests—are falling every year, and policy-makers are not doing enough to stop it.
New report reveals human rights abuses by corporations, governments in the Amazon
Regnskogfondet (the Rainforest Foundation of Norway) recently released a 52-page report that gives an in-depth account of the conflicts activists and indigenous peoples (IPs) are having with corporations and governmental agencies. It relays a situation that does not look good.
Satellites reveal browning mountain forests
In a dramatic response to global warming, tropical forests in the high elevation areas of five continents have been "browning" since the 1990s. They have been steadily losing foliage, and showing less photosynthetic activity. Scientists analyzed the forest cover by using satellites to measure sunlight bouncing off the surface of the earth, then determining the different surface types via reflection patterns.
Scientists identify 137 protected areas most important for preserving biodiversity
Want to save the world's biodiversity from mass extinction? Then make certain to safeguard the 74 sites identified today in a new study in Science. Evaluating 173,000 terrestrial protected areas, scientists pulled out the most important ones for global biodiversity based on the number of threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians found in the parks. In all they identified 137 protected areas (spread over 74 sites as many protected areas were in the same region) in 34 countries as 'irreplaceable.'
Richest countries spent $74 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in 2011, eclipsing climate finance by seven times
In 2011, the top 11 richest carbon emitters spent an estimated $74 billion on fossil fuel subsidies, or seven times the amount spent on fast-track climate financing to developing nations, according to a recent report by the Overseas Development Institute. Worldwide, nations spent over half a trillion dollars on fossil fuel subsidies in 2011 according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Deforestation rates for Amazon countries outside Brazil
Deforestation has sharply increased in Amazon countries outside of Brazil, finds a new analysis based on satellite data. Using data from Terra-i, O-Eco's InfoAmazonia team has developed updated forest cover maps for Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, French Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. The results reveal an increasing trend in forest clearing since 2004.
First strike: nearly 200 illegal loggers arrested in massive sting across 12 countries
One-hundred-and-ninety-seven illegal loggers across a dozen Central and South American countries have been arrested during INTERPOL's first strike against widespread forestry crime. INTERPOL, or The International Criminal Police Organization, worked with local police forces to take a first crack at illegal logging. In all the effort, known as Operation Lead, resulted in the seizure of 50,000 cubic meters of wood worth around $8 million.
Deforestation rate falls across Amazon rainforest countries
The average annual rate of deforestation across Amazon rainforest countries dropped sharply in the second half of the 2000s, reports a comprehensive new assessment of the region's forest cover and drivers of deforestation. While the drop in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has been widely reported, several other Amazon countries saw their rates of forest loss drop as well, according to the report, which was published by a coalition of 11 Latin American civil society groups and research institutions that form the Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG).
New forest map shows 6% of Amazon deforested between 2000 and 2010
An update to one of the most comprehensive maps of the Amazon basin shows that forest cover across the world's largest rainforest declined by about six percent between 2000 and 2010. But the map also reveals hopeful signs that recognition of protected areas and native lands across the eight countries and one department that make up the Amazon is improving, with conservation and indigenous territories now covering nearly half of its land mass.
Survivors say gold miners in helicopter massacred village of 80 in Venezuelan Amazon
Up to 80 people have been massacred by gold miners in the remote Venezuelan Amazon, according to reports received by the indigenous-rights group, Survival International. According to Reuters, the reports have prompted the Venezuelan government to investigate the alleged murders of the Yanomami isolated community. According to three indigenous survivors, sometime in July a helicopter and what-are-believed to be illegal goldminers massacred the Yanomami community of Irotatheri.
Unidentified poodle moth takes Internet by storm
A white moth from Venezuela that bears a striking resemblance to a poodle has become an Internet sensation, after cryptozoologist Karl Shuker posted about the bizarre-looking species on his blog. Photographed in 2009 in Venezulea's Canaima National Park in the Gran Sabana region by zoologist Arthur Anker from Kyrgyzstan, the white, cuddly-looking moth with massive black eyes has yet to be identified and could be a species still unknown to science.
Dry forests disappearing faster than rainforests in Latin America
Countries across Latin America lost 78,000 square kilometers of subtropical and tropical dry broadleaf forests between 2001 and 2010, according to a new satellite-based assessment published in the journal Biotropica.
'The lion of the cave:' new predatory, swimming cricket discovered in Venezuela
Scientists have discovered what is likely a new species of cricket that is the top predator of its lightless world: a cave in a Venezuelan tepui. The fauna of cave was documented by BBC filmmakers as researchers uncovered not only a large, flesh-eating cricket but a new species of catfish.
Cowards at Rio?: organizations decry 'pathetic' agreement
As world leaders head to Rio de Janeiro for the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, environmental and poverty groups are denouncing the last-minute text agreed on by dignitaries as "pathetic," (Greenpeace), a "damp squib" (Friends of the Earth), "a dead end" (Oxfam), and, if nothing changes, "a colossal waste of time" (WWF). "We were promised the 'future we want' but are now being presented with a 'common vision' of a polluterâ€™s charter that will cook the planet, empty the oceans and wreck the rain forests,â€œ the head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, said. "This is not a foundation on which to grow economies or pull people out of poverty, itâ€™s the last will and testament of a destructive twentieth century development model."
Photo of the Day: Critically Endangered brown spider monkey discovered in park
Researchers with The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Colombiaâ€™s National Parks Unit have located at least two individuals of brown-spider monkey (Ateles hybridus) in Colombia's Selva de Florencia National Park. The discovery is important because its the only known population of this particular subspecies (Ateles hybridus brunneus) in a protected area.
8 Amazon countries pledge more coordination in rainforest conservation
Eight Amazon countries pledged greater cooperation in efforts to protect the world's largest rainforest from deforestation and illegal mining and logging, reports AFP.
Cultural erosion among indigenous groups in Venezuela brings new risks for Caura rainforest
One of the planet's most beautiful landscapes is in danger. Deep in southern Venezuela, among ancient forested tabletop mountains known as tepuis, crystalline rivers, and breathtaking waterfalls, outside influences — malaria, the high price of gold, commercial hunting, and cultural erosion — are threatening one of world's largest remaining blocks of wilderness, one that is home to indigenous people and strikingly high levels of biological diversity.
Amazon still neglected by researchers
Although the Amazon is the world's largest tropical forest, it is not the most well known. Given the difficulty of access along with the fear of disease, dangerous species, indigenous groups, among other perceived perils, this great treasure chest of biology and ecology was practically ignored by scientists for centuries. Over the past few decades that trend has changed, however even today the Amazon remains lesser known than the much smaller, and more secure, tropical forests of Central America. A new study in mongabay.com's open access journal Tropical Conservation Science, which surveyed two prominent international tropical ecology journals (Biotropica and Journal of Tropical Ecology) between 1995 and 2008, finds that Central America was the subject of twice as many studies as the Amazon. In fact, according to the authors, much of the Amazon remains terra incognito to researchers, even as every year more of the rainforest is lost to human impacts.
Italy and Panama continue illegal fishing, says new report
On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its biennial report identifying six countries whose fisheries have been engaged in illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing during the past two years. The report comes at a time when one-fifth of reported fish catches worldwide are caught illegally and commercial fishing has led to a global fish stock overexploitation of an estimated 80 percent.
Epidemic hits Amazonian indigenous group
An epidemic, suspected to be malaria, has struck down dozens of people of the Yanomami tribe in the Venezuelan Amazon, reports the Associated Press. Leaders of the three impacted village told health workers that approximately 50 people have died so far, many of them children.
Photos: world's top ten 'lost frogs'
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Conservation International (CI) have sent teams of researchers to 14 countries on five continents to search for the world's lost frogs. These are amphibian species that have not been seen for yearsâ€”in some cases even up to a centuryâ€”but may still survive in the wild. Amphibians worldwide are currently undergoing an extinction crisis. While amphibians struggle to survive against habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and overexploitation, they are also being wiped out by a fungal disease known as chytridiomycosis.
Left Must Fine Tune Its Position on Cuba Embargo in Light of Oil Spill
With no end in sight to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, some may wonder whether BPâ€™s spill could become truly international in scope. That, at least, is the fear in Cuba where people are worried that strong currents could carry the slick to pristine white beaches along the islandâ€™s northern coast. In a rare moment of cooperation underscoring the grave seriousness posed by the BP spill, the U.S. and Cuban governments have been holding talks on the matter.
BP and the Perilous Voyage of Bama the Manatee
To the degree that Americans are paying attention to the environmental plight of marine wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, they may focus most upon dolphins and whales. However, the U.S. public is much less familiar with another marine mammal, the manatee, which could also be placed in jeopardy as a result of the BP oil spill. One of the most outlandish creatures on the planet, the shy and retiring manatee, which gets its name from an American Indian word meaning "Lady of the Water", is one of my favorite animals.
Colombiaâ€™s Next President: A Renovation for the South American Left?
Mired in populist demagoguery and environmentally-unfriendly resource extraction, the South American left is in dire need of ideological renovation. But, where is the likely inspiration to come from? You could not pick a more unlikely candidate than Colombia, a key U.S. ally in the region. And yet, if recent polls are correct, the Green Party could be cruising toward electoral victory in the troubled Andean nation and is currently poised to capture the presidency.
The Oily History of Offshore Operations: From Venezuela to the Gulf
Though undoubtedly shocking and disconcerting, the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is hardly the first incident of its kind in the region. Indeed, as I watched the footage of the ominous oil spill approaching the ecologically sensitive coast of Louisiana, I was struck with a profound sense of dÃ©jÃ vu. Long ago, while researching my dissertation on the environmental history of the petroleum industry in Venezuela, I combed through archives and libraries in the U.S., Britain and South America to uncover the oil companiesâ€™ sordid past. Starting in the 1920s, American and British subsidiaries of Standard Oil of New Jersey, Gulf and Royal Dutch Shell turned environmentally pristine Lake Maracaibo, which empties out into the Gulf of Venezuela and the Caribbean, into toxic sludge
Half a trillion spent on fossil fuel subsidies mostly "a complete waste of money"
Despite a warming planet linked to the burning of fossil fuels, governments around the world still spend 500 billion US dollars a year subsidizing fossil fuel industries. A new study from the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development looks at the difficult political situation behind ending fossil fuel subsidies.
El NiÃ±o in Venezuela: Hugo ChÃ¡vezâ€™s "Katrina" Moment?
Venezuelan President Hugo ChÃ¡vez has been in power for more than ten years, during which time he has deflected numerous electoral challenges, a recall effort, a coup dâ€™etat and even an oil lock out. A politically adroit statesman, he has demonstrated enormous staying power throughout all these political crises. Yet, ChÃ¡vezâ€™s luck may have finally run out: a devastating El NiÃ±o-linked drought has recently ravaged Venezuela and the government has been forced to undertake conservation measures for water and electricity. Hardly amused, some are holding ChÃ¡vez responsible for the energy crunch and the drought could exact a heavy toll on the Venezuelan president in Septemberâ€™s legislative elections.