CARACAS, Monday April 26, 2010 | Update
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Táchira, the land of cordiality
The Church of San Pedro del Río welcomes the local and foreign faithful. In Sabana Larga, La Grita and elsewhere various kinds of flowers are cultivated. According to estimates, there are 634,475 heads of cattle and 67,901 pigs. San Cristóbal plays the administrative role as the capital city. Trade and services are lately booming (Gil Montaño)

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Soccer is widely played and followed; the so-called soccer "temple" is located in San Cristóbal. The Andean site virtually nurtures the rest of the country based on its production of coffee, vegetables, cereals, fruits and cattle, but the human capital is most important

INFOGRAPHY

By ÁNGEL RICARDO GÓMEZ | EL UNIVERSAL
Monday 26 April, 2010


Cold, fresh weather, 12-26 degrees Celsius; green mountains and calm characterize Táchira state, in western Venezuela. In these lands, people speak slowly and politely; their pronunciation is almost perfect. At least they pronounce "s," "r," and "l," unlike many Venezuelans. Music is in line with the calmness inherent in residents, full of violins, four-stringed guitars and duos… To sum up, they play melodic instead of rhythmic musical instruments. However, the vallenato of neighboring Colombia has always competed for people's preference with bambuco and traditional local waltzes. Residents are fondly called "gochos."

San Cristóbal, the capital city, is 841 kilometers from Caracas. The Andean state produces cattle for beef and milk. In Rubio and Bramón, coffee processing plants have been established. Plantations of tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes, yucca, celery, taro, blackberries, apricots, strawberries and beans are widespread. In Ureña, there is a sugar mill. The existing limestone led to the establishment of a cement maker. Also, in Lobatera, coal and phosphate are developed.

But the human capital is most important. Táchira has given Venezuela and the world musicians, dancers, scientists, pageant beauties and, of course, presidents: at least seven men born in Táchira have taken office.

Persons of the past and present attest to a booming state with superb people. Renowned violinist and conductor Pedro Antonio Ríos Reyna was born in Colón in 1905. Dancer Anthony Vivas was born in San Cristóbal 19 years ago. In February, he won a gold medal in Tanzolymp, a competition held in Berlin.

For her part, model Verushka Ramírez, born in Táchira in 1979, became Miss Venezuela in 1997. One year later, she was the first runner up in Miss Universe.

Biological analyst and researcher Mónica Contreras was also born in Táchira. In 1997, she was awarded the Jacques Monod Prize by the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Two years later, she was conferred there a Ph. D. in General Microbiology.

THE CAPITAL CITY OF SOCCER

Táchira state is fourfold the Capital District in area -11,100 square kilometers versus 2,050 square kilometers. Paradoxically, the National Statistics Institute (INE) estimates that as of June 30, 2010, the Capital District will have 2,103,404 inhabitants compared with 1,242,153 in Táchira state.

The Táchira people could be fervent fans of baseball, the prevailing sports in Venezuela. But in Táchira, soccer has been historically widely practiced and followed. The Pueblo Nuevo Stadium is located in San Cristóbal. The "holy temple" of national soccer accommodates 38,000 people. Cycling also occupies a special position with the traditional Tour of Táchira, which turned 45 years in 2010. The event was held, as usual, at the beginning of the year; homage was paid to Fernando, "El Rubio de Rubio," Fuentes, the champion of the 1975 and 1976 editions who passed away last year.

The Tour of Táchira "is a cultural event and its history smells of coffee, mountain, mastranto and vegetables; it is impregnated with the sweat of peasants, factory workers, the effort of housewives, the time of public servants, who make a break to cheer the passage of courageous cyclists. It belongs to them," Fernando Carrero Silva, the head of the organizing committee, said in an editorial published earlier this year.

THE FOREIGN TOUCH

Libertador Bridge is over River Torbes, between San Cristóbal and Táriba. Declared National Historical Heritage, the structure was designed and built in the early 20th Century, under the government of Juan Vicente Gómez, who entrusted the work to the same builder of Paris' Eiffel Tower.

The international touch has always been at few meters, on the border. For journalist Roberto Giusti, born in Rubio, Táchira residents were like Colombians. "We were Colombians because of our consumption habits against a cultural background where soccer prevailed over baseball, porro over guaracha and Pacho Galán over Billo's. But things started to change in the late fifties, when the Pan-American Highway and, later on, the Los Llanos highway, narrowed the gap," he related in an autobiographic chronicle written for the Producto magazine.

In 1856, the Táchira province comprised the territories of La Grita, Lobatera, San Antonio and San Cristóbal. Seven years later, it was promoted to state. In 1867-1868, it formed part of Zulia state. In 1881, when Venezuela was split into nine states, Táchira joined Guzmán (Mérida) and Trujillo, to become the large Los Andes state. In 1899, the Los Andes state broke up and Táchira recovered its status of independent state to date.

The patron saint of Táchira state, the Virgin of Consolation, and Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of San Cristóbal, to whom the major fair in the city is dedicated, bless all these sites full of history, tradition, pleasant weather, booming production and unparalleled people, the same who make the state capital city known as the "City of Cordiality."

Translated by Conchita Delgado