Beautiful women and oil are the things that most foreigners associate with Venezuela. However, there is even more about the Venezuelan character, which is symbolised by the colours of the flag. Yellow, which represents the sunshine we have during the whole year and which we try to display anywhere we are; blue, which represents the paradisiacal beaches, and red, the passion for life. And why not? We will need more than eights stars to represent the 18 crowns that beautiful Venezuelan women have brought from different beauty pageants.

Out of 30 millions Venezuelan people, 120 of them have chosen to come to Finland. The Venezuelan community is small and scattered throughout the country. But what brings Venezuelans to Finland? Antonio Hourné Rodriguez, Consular Assistant in the Venezuela Embassy in Helsinki, explains that approximately 60 per cent of Venezuelans come to Finland because they are married to Finnish partners.

Another 20 per cent are found at the University of Helsinki, Åbo Akademi University, the University of Vaasa, Turku University and other institutions of learning. The third group of Venezuelans is here for work.

Despite the different reasons for people coming to Finland, the community gets together at two specific events during the year. One is the Christmas party and the second, the Venezuelan’s Independence Day on 5 July. Recently, the last two Venezuelan national elections provided an opportunity not just to reunite Venezuelans, but also to organise and help to mobilise voters from further places in Finland to the Venezuelan Embassy in Helsinki.

Those experiences invigorated relations and increased the need to organise and discuss the common problems that are affecting our home country, the nostalgia of being abroad and the uncommon and exciting experiences in Finland.

The Finland Venezuelan Association (Asociacion Finlandia Venezuela) has coordinated the promotion of the culture and friendship with Finland since 1996. However, today not many activities are planned.

Nonetheless, the Facebook group from the Association is a good way to keep in touch with the ongoing activities independently organised by Venezuelans, such as Zumba classes.

The annual Latin American Film Festival in Helsinki also offers the opportunity to get an essence of Venezuelan culture and society through the movies projected. Other organisations such as the Association of Friendly Countries (Asociación de países amigos) include Venezuelans in their events. Basically, this association coordinates events and activities that promote the Spanish speaking cultures.

Although integrating into Finnish culture is not always easy, Venezuelans have adapted well to the Finnish lifestyle without losing their original roots and essence.

Lia Lezama