Venezuela Matters

CHICAGO — During an Aug. 24 press conference with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who denounced televangelist Pat Robertson’s call for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s assassination, the consul general of Venezuela, Martin Sanchez, announced a multimedia cultural exhibit called “Venezuela Matters.” The exhibit will open Oct. 13-14 at Chicago’s East River Art Center. And on Oct. 15, Afro-Venezuelan Day will be celebrated at Rainbow/PUSH headquarters here.

“Venezuela Matters” shows the country’s rich cultural history, beautiful natural landscapes, diverse musical traditions, proud baseball legacy, oil-rich economy and innovative social programs to empower all its citizens. The exhibit also highlights Venezuela’s “long and important relationship with the U.S.,” Sanchez said, and “encourages continued tourism, cultural exchanges, trade and investment between the two countries.” Historically, Venezuela has had strong economic and cultural ties to Chicago. The country currently invests heavily in the region through its oil refinery in Lemont, Ill., operated by CITGO Petroleum, a company owned by the Venezuelan state. Dozens of Venezuelans have played major league baseball on Chicago teams, with Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio, shortstop Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel, and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen being the most prominent.

“Venezuela Matters” seeks to reinforce these ties and raise awareness of the presence of Venezuela in the everyday lives of Chicagoans, according to the consul general.