February 12 – Youth Day in Venezuela

Posted on February 12, 2016

This holiday commemorates an event in the Venezuelan War of Independence.

The Spanish forces attacked the city of La Victoria on this date in 1814. General Ribas, who was fighting for independence, didn't have enough troops to hold the city against the Spanish. So he rallied 85 students from colleges and seminaries in the city and nearby towns, and he gave them weapons and led them in battle.

The battle began early in the morning and lasted all day. Even though the independence fighters (the Patriots) were hugely outnumbered, they eventually won and chased off the Spanish forces.

On this date in 1947, February 12 was declared Youth Day in honor of the students who helped the Patriots achieve this victory, especially those who gave their lives in the effort. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago Youth Day was marked by youth protests of the current Venezuelan government – and the protests turned violent, even deadly. I'm not sure how many of the 87 students fell in 1814, but in 2014, two youths died in the Youth Day protest.

Wild for Venezuela...

  • Venezuela is one of the biodiversity hot spots, considered “mega-diverse.” There are only 17 nations in the world with that label. 

  • There are 43 national parks that are, in part, dedicated to conserving that diversity of plants and animals.
The tallest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls,
is located in Canaima National Park in Venezuela.  
  • There are about 1,400 species of birds in Venezuela.

  • There are about 25 THOUSAND species of orchids in Venezuela.

  • Some of the mammals that live in Venezuela are the 2-toed sloth and the 3-toed sloth.

Plus the jaguar, Amazon river dolphins, and the world's largest rodent, the capybara.

  • One of the weirdest insects in Venezuela is the poodle moth. It was only discovered in 2009, and we don't know a lot about it yet. It looks like a relative of the Chinese silkworm moth.
Venezuelan poodle moth, above,
and Chinese silkworm moth, below.

  • Speaking of weird, I think that Mount Roraima looks pretty weird. From the flat top of this ancient mountain, you can often look down on clouds. Trees don't grow on the mountaintop, because most nutrients are washed away and down the steep cliffs. (There are nutrients enough for smaller plants to grow, of course.)

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