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The Venezuelan community celebrates its independence day in Philadelphia. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
The Venezuelan community celebrates its independence day in Philadelphia. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Venezuela celebrates 211th year of independence in Philadelphia

Casa de Venezuela, Gente de Venezuela, city officials and Philly Venezuelans gathered at City Hall on July 6 to raise the flag of the South American country.

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The Philadelphia Venezuelan community gathered near City Hall on Wednesday, July 6, to celebrate the 211th year anniversary of Venezuela’s independence from Spanish rule with a flag raising ceremony.

The flag raising was hosted and organized by Gente de Venezuela; and Casa de Venezuela, the first bilingual nonprofit in the Delaware Valley with the purpose of advancing the cultural heritage of Venezuela.

To start the celebration, NBC10/Telemundo62 reporter Isabel Sánchez, who served as emcee for the event, detailed her experience as part of the Venezuelan community in Philadelphia.

“I arrived to Philadelphia in 2020, and one of the things I remember clearly is how welcoming the Venezuelan community [was] as soon as I got here,” said Sánchez. “And I feel like that is a sentiment that we share as Venezuelans.”

Isabel Sánchez, the award-winning Telemundo62 journalist is a proud Venezuelan in Philadelphia. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Isabel Sánchez, the award-winning Telemundo62 journalist is a proud Venezuelan in Philadelphia. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Despite being in what was described as “a humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela, two common themes throughout the flag raising ceremony were the hope of freedom and democracy returning to the Southern American country, and the welcoming city Philadelphia has been to so many native Venezuelans who have made Philadelphia their new home. 

Ana Omaña shared a bit of her own story.

“I belong to a generation of Venezuelans that didn’t want to leave home. We rather were forced to leave,” she said. 

Her family chose Philadelphia as their home, and it became the place they grew, thrived and prospered. 

Ana Omaña looks forward to democracy being restored in Venezuela. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Ana Omaña looks forward to democracy being restored in Venezuela. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

“How lucky are we to live in a city that welcomes immigrants, celebrates diversity, and values all cultures and traditions,” Omaña added.

The Venezuelan flag was then raised as Venezuelan musician Manuela Romero performed the national anthems for both the United States and Venezuela on the violin.

This year marks 211 years since Venezuela gained its independence. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
This year marks 211 years since Venezuela gained its independence. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

Beyond the community of Venezuelans who help diversify the city’s population, there are a few Venezuelans in prominent leadership positions across the Commonwealth who also contribute to that diversity. 

Luz Colon, executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, noted that for the first time in its history, there are four Venezuelan Commissioners across the state.

They are Nelly Jiménez-Arevalo, Emilio Buitrago, Fernando Torres and Scott Blair.

“May today serve as a reminder of the resiliency and the perseverance of the rapidly growing Venezuelan community,” said Colon. 

Luz Colon says the Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs is dedicated to representing all Latin American communities. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.
Luz Colon says the Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs is dedicated to representing all Latin American communities. Photo: Jensen Toussaint/AL DÍA News.

In a prepared statement, Governor Tom Wolf said, “the Venezuelan community is an integral part of Pennsylvania, and they have contributed greatly to our diversity by sharing with us its rich history, heritage and time honored traditions.”

To close, City Representative Sheila Hess officially declared Venezuelan Independence Day in Philadelphia.

Other speakers at the ceremony included Congressman Dwight Evans, City Councilmembers David Oh and Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, and Amy Eusebio, executive director of the Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs.

The Venezuelan flag raising at City Hall has been an annual occurrence since 2016. 

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