Foreign Policy Blogs

Santa Spotted in Venezuela?

On Monday, Hugo Chávez accused Colombia of using a US-manufactured spy plane to over-fly its airspace. Colombian officials denied not only that this happened, but stated that their military did not have such the required military technology. The retort from Bogotá via its Defense Minister, Gabriel Silva, included a little bit of humor: perhaps the Venezuelan soldiers were mistaken and instead of seeing a spy plane, confused it with the sleigh of Father Christmas (Santa)?

In both Venezuela and Colombia families unite the evening of the 24th to exchange their gifts at midnight. At that time children receive their presents from San Nicolás (St. Nick) or Baby Jesus. In each country the families also know how to party, and many stay up celebrating until daylight.

Venezuelans do appear to be a bit less religious than in some other Latin American nations, and many use the time off to head for sand and waves. Most live only a few hours by car from the nearest beach, and this week the temperatures in Caracas will reach into the low nineties.

With New Year’s right around the corner the majority of citizens in the two countries are no doubt hoping for the gift of peace in 2010. In the meantime, the level of stress between the two countries remains high.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.