July 5, 2013 commemorates the 202nd anniversary of Venezuela’s independence. In honor of this glorious day, we’ve rounded up 15 influential Venezuelans throughout history:
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Bolivar is one of the most influential political figures in American history. The military commander, who was born in Caracas, is considered largely responsible for liberating Latin America from Spanish colonial rule. He was proclaimed “El Libertador, “(“The Liberator”).
An honorary Venezuelan, Saenz was known as the “Liberator of the Liberator.” She was Bolivar’s lover and political ally. Saenz was an active colonel in the army and dedicated herself to completing many important tasks for Venezuela’s independence.
Francisco de Miranda
In 1806, Miranda prepared an expedition to invade Venezuela and free it from Spanish rule. He brought along with him the flag which later became the country’s national symbol.
Camejo was known as “Negro Primero.” A brave and loyal lieutenant, Camejo fought in the Battle of Carabobo, and it was the military action in this battle which led to the independence of Venezuela.
A native Venezuelan chief of the Teques and Caracas tribes, Guaicaipuro is the symbol of resistance and strength of the Venezuelan people.
Mendoza was born on June 23, 1772. He became the first president of Venezuela and was in office from March 5, 1811 to March 21, 1812. Mendoza authored the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence which was issued on July 5, 1811.
Luisa Caceres de Arismendi
Arismendi was a heroine of Venezuela’s fight for independence. She was recognized for her bravery in confronting the Spanish who attempted to trade her for the surrender of her husband General Juan Bautista Arismendi. In recognition of her loyalty and fight for Venezuela’s independence, her remains were entombed in the Panteon Nacional.
He is known as “The Father of Venezuelan Democracy” and led a Venezuelan political party called Accion Democratica (Democratic Action) in 1941. Betancourt was the president of Venezuela from 1945 to 1948 and then again from 1959 to 1964.
Carlos Raul Villanueva
The most prominent Venezuelan architect of the 20 century, Villanueva played a major role in the development and modernization of Caracas, Maracay and other cities across the country. He is also responsible for creating the main campus for the oldest university in Venezuela -- the Central University of Venezuela (Universidad Central de Venezuela) – which was founded in 1721.
Humberto Fernandez Moran
Moran was a research scientist born in Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1924. He is known for inventing the diamond knife, also known as the scalpel, which is used for various surgical procedures including eye surgery.
Caldera served as president of Venezuela from 1969 to 1974 and then again from 1994 to 1999. He was a founding member of COPEI, Venezuela’s Christian Democratic Party. In 1933 he split from COPEI to form a new political party called National Convergence.
Saez was crowned Miss Venezuela and Miss Universe in 1981. She became the mayor of Chacao in 1993 and successfully tackled Chacao’s high crime rates. In 1998, she ran for president and formed the Integrated Representation of New Hope. Saez demise came with the rise of Hugo Chavez. After her loss in the presidential election, she was elected governor of Nueva Esparta – a position she served in until 2000.
A Venezuelan American fashion designer, Herrera is known for elegant and worldly designs. She’s dressed First Ladies such as Jackie Onassis and Michelle Obama. In 2008, the designer was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
Cisneros is a media mogul, who according to Forbes, is among the world’s richest men. His fortune is estimated at $4.2 billion. The New York Times has referred to Cisneros as one of Latin America’s most powerful figures. He had a major role in the international development of telenovelas. Cisneros holds citizenship not only in Venezuela, but also in Spain and the Dominican Republic.
Before his death on March 5, Chavez was president of Venezuela. During his presidency, Chavez implemented the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution, participatory democratic councils, the nationalization of key industries, and increased government funding of health care and education. He also reduced poverty significantly with the use of oil revenues.