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News: Culture | Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelans

UNESCO Recognises Venezuela’s El Callao

Puebla, Mexico, December 2, 2016 ( – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) officially recognised Thursday the Venezuela festival of El Callao on its List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Carnival of El Callao has been one of Venezuela’s most popular festivals for over a century, and is rooted in the traditions of the country's Afro-descendant population.

“Running from January to March, the traditional practice features parades of people dressed as characters from history and fantasy, as well as calypso music, dancing and concerts throughout town streets with up to 3,000 people taking part,” UNESCO stated.

The organisation continued by stating, “The carnival highlights Callaoense history and diversity honouring its Afro-Antillean links and other community influences, reinforces its cultural identity, promotes unity and encourages younger generations to discover their heritage.”

The Venezuelan government welcomed UNESCO’s decision to officially recognise El Callao.

“This recognition shows how the Bolivarian Government is making efforts to preserve, disseminate and maintain the cultural practises of the Venezuelan people,” the tourism ministry said in a statement.

Long live Venezuela, and long live our cultural traditions,” they stated. 

Check out these photos from last year’s El Callao carnival in Caracas

Venezuela’s Vice Minister for Diversity and Cultural Identity Lisset Torres said UNESCO’s decision was the result of two years of Venezuelan petitions to the international organisation.

“We thank all those who made it possible for our documents – prepared over two years – to reach the specialists [at UNESCO],” Torres told reporters in Caracas.

“This declaration once again demonstrates the cultural value of the Carnival of El Callao for the Venezuelan people,” Torres added.

UNESCO’s decision to recognise El Callao was made during the organisation’s eleventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, the session ended on Friday with a total of 12 new additions to the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Along with Venezuela’s El Callao, UNESCO also recognised Mexico’s Charreria equestrian tradition, Switzerland’s Vevey Winegrowers’ Festival, Romanian wall carpet weaving and traditional puppet theatre in Slovakia and Czechia.

Published on Dec 2nd 2016 at 12.10pm