Venezuela: importing milk since the XVIIIth Century

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Negra_Hipólita
Ay negra

One of the new textbooks being distributed in Venezuela’s schools makes the strange claim that Simón Bolívar was nursed … by a Cuban woman.

Now, the story of Bolívar’s early nutrition has always been draped in mythology. As you can imagine, baby formula was not readily available back then, so it was customary for wealthy mothers who were having problems nursing to hand their child over to other women more capable of doing so. The young Bolívar was nursed by one of his parents’ slaves, La Negra Hipólita, a figure that has rightfully taken her place in the pantheon of Venezuelan folklore.

But now, a mysterious Cuban wet nurse has entered the picture, promising to wreak havoc in our collective memory. .

Prominent Venezuelan historian Elías Pino Iturrieta dismisses the claims, saying they have no basis in historical fact. He says the woman in question, Ines Mancebo, has been known for a while, and she even figures in Hipólita’s Wikipedia page as well, but that there is no basis to say she was Cuban.

This may all be just an amusing chavista prank, but Venezuelan intellectual extraordinaire Colette Capriles sees dark intentions in the mystery of the Cuban wet nurse. Her money quote:

“Just like everything that surrounds the abnormality that we have become, mystery, silence, misinformation, and myth-making operations also hound the analysis of the relationship between Venezuela and Cuba, or shall we say, of chavismo with castrismo. These days we have seen a new act of totalitarian re-writing of history when we learn that a textbook for children states that a “Cuban wet nurse,” supposedly “a friend of doña Concepción (Bolívar’s mother, which suggests a woman of means),” fed little Simón Bolívar, thereby displacing Hipólita, the black woman we had always learned about. What makes this position so grotesque is that it shows the lengths they are willing to go in order to build a guttural, intimate reference between the two countries. The metaphor feeds the idea of the nutritional link between Cuba and Venezuela – two nations that did not yet exist at the time. This link would, supposedly, trascend the political, the epochal, and the historical.”

1 COMMENT

  1. About the Wikipedia page, there is no mention she is Cuban. Elías Pino says she did do it, while denying her nationality.

  2. Wonder how this fits with the well-known chavista slogan that breast-feeding is ‘the first act of food sovereignty’.

    • Actually, when you think about it, it dovetails nicely.

      We see chavismo promote food sovereignty yet somehow after 15 years, they still rely heavily on food imports and have plenty of Mercal stores with empty shelves.

      Compare that with having chavismo promoting breast-feeding on one hand and yet on the other, in implant-obsessed Venezuela, there is simply the illusion of plenty which in no way represents reality for half the population.

      Its all about saying things that completely contradict reality.

      Sin chavismo no hay paraiso.

  3. Being fair. Ines was the wife of Fernando Miyares, who was Cuban, and she did take care of little Simon. I don’t have an independent source claiming Ines herself was born on the island, though. Moreover, Elias Pino Iturrieta does not dismiss it, but rather emphazises the fact that this is done intentionally to Cubanize Bolivar.

  4. It’s pretty bad when we discuss these details about the usual and ever worsening personality cult and no one seems to be discussing the explicit mentions of socialism in the education programme as integral part of the “education” in Venezuela.

    • The one thing most Venezuelans can agree on, regarding the education program, it’s that it should not tarnish Bolívar’s image at all costs, not even with proven facts.

  5. It seems that once again the chavistas have us talking about this, and as you say Kepler, the most important part of the debate gets forgotten and passed under the belt , like all things this misgovernment does.

    They love to fly these ballons and let us all step over ourselves in showing our supposed dislike of Cuba- while it’s their castroist policies that so disgust us.

  6. Cuba and Venezuela were not countries when little Simon Bolivar was nursing. Therefore Ines Mancebo was not a Cuban. Case closed.

    Ines Mancebo was not a Castro or Chavez supporter either. Don’t write about dead peoples future political preferences. It is fantasy.

    • Really?
      Wikipedia: “On September 1, 1548, Dr. Gonzalo Perez de Angulo was appointed governor of Cuba”.
      The “Capitania General de Venezuela, was recognized in 11766.
      Bolivar was born in 1783

      Maybe tehy were not defined as countries or republics, but they existed.
      And even Hipolita might have been of Cuban origin. She was black, a slave. She or her ancestors might have well be brought from Cuba.
      Not to say that it is right what they are doing.
      But there is a possibility.

  7. I have a different view of all this turmoil. The reason: I’ve known the fact since childhood from a children’s book released in 1983 over Bolivar’s bicentennial. I have no upsetting feelings of seeing our history being rewritten regarding this particular event. It did happen, get over it. What does matter is the newly self-evident attempt to transform Cuba into a sort of political motherland for Venezuela by bringing up a household event with no historical relevance.

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