This song, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY6evSbbW-U is fast becoming the second national anthem of the Venezuelan diaspora, estimated in more than one million persons spread all over the planet. It is a beautiful song, even for those ears who are not sentimentally involved. It is, perhaps, not surprising that its authors are not Venezuelans but Spaniards, Pablo Herrero and Jose Luis Armenteros, who spent a brief time in Venezuela writing the song. Herrero says: “We stayed in Caracas and would go to Higuerote in the weekends. We visited Maracaibo, Canaima, the Llanos (Plains) and the Caribbean coast. I am Venezuelan by heart because I want to be and that song came from my soul. Venezuela is a fabulous country with magnificent landscapes but the best is the people”.
I say that it is not surprising to see excellent music about a country written by foreigners. Some of the more “Spanish” sounding music was written by Lalo, a Frenchman and by Rimsky Korsakov, a Russian. A great Czech composer, Antonin Dvorak, wrote a beautiful “American Quartet” and a “New World Symphony” that evoke America as anything Bernstein ever wrote. And Bernstein, in turn, wrote some pretty exciting Latin music in his “West Side Story”.
I would venture that interpreting the soul of a nation could perhaps be easier for a foreigner than for a native. I love Venezuela but I have never been able to see so vividly the beauty of our people as I have seen it through the eyes of men and women who came to our country from distant lands. The first impact of Venezuela in the minds of children and adults running away from dictatorships and cruelty were stronger, shinier, of more emotional impact, than my vision, as a born Venezuelan, of a country where freedom and cordiality were a matter of routine.
Venezuela had never experienced racial hatred, had never felt threatened from the outside. Welcoming the first large wave of immigrants looking for refuge from the ravages of the Second World War, the country was spiritually open. It had also been spiritually open to receive the flows of immigrants from the Spanish Civil war in the early 40’s and the flow of South American political refugees running away from the Southern Cone military dictatorships during the 70’s.
Today the country is in a crisis that is equally material and spiritual. Hatred, social resentment, corruption of values and principles is at an all-time high. The government of the last 16 years has brought to the surface the worst of the Venezuelan soul. Those who came to Venezuela in the past are starting to return to their home countries, with broken hearts. And the Venezuelan natives, who never felt like going away, are now driven away by the humiliation and the horror of what they see and experience. It is mostly for those Venezuelans that the song has a special meaning, because it speaks of the country that once was and yearns to be again.
The song reminds us of how we can be. It gives us a light in the darkness.