Venezuela in 1811 became the first independent country in South America; it was not an easy transition as the history of the country demonstrates and currently faces an economic crises with food and medicines in short supply. But an attack on the National Assembly in Caracas on this National Day, which should be a day of celebration for the whole country brought tensions to a head.

While in Canberra, about as far away as you can get from their home, the Embassy of Venezuela celebrated this National Day in the grand surrounds of the Albert Hall, with the Charges d’Affaires Daniel Gasparri Rey and his wife Luz hosting a reception for what is now called since 1999, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.    

National Days follow a format and on this occasion the genuine hospitality of the embassy staff brought together dancers, music, traditional food and friendship from those who represent Venezuela in Canberra with Daniel and Luz among my favourites on the circuit, having enjoyed their hospitality on many occasions.

With the embassy staff and local community catering the event it was just like a home grown feast of delicacies from South America’s favourite empanadas, ceviche and mini ‘tres leches’ desserts, as always with discussion about which embassy does the best.

But as always these occasions are about the diplomatic rather than the detail of current issues a country faces and for the local Venezuelan community it was a pleasure to be part of their celebrations.