The Vargas tragedy was a natural disaster that occurred in Vargas State, Venezuela on 14–16 December 1999, when torrential rains caused flash floods and debris flows that killed tens of thousands of people, destroyed thousands of homes, and led to the complete collapse of the state's infrastructure. According to relief workers, the neighborhood of Los Corales was buried under 3 metres (9.8 ft) of mud and a high percentage of homes were simply swept into the ocean. Entire towns including Cerro Grande and Carmen de Uria completely disappeared. As much as 10% of the population of Vargas died during the event.
A part of Vargas state after the 1999 mudslides
|Date||14 December 1999 – 16 December 1999|
|Location||Vargas State, Venezuela|
Location of Vargas in Venezuela
The coastal area of Vargas State has long been subject to mudslides and flooding. Deposits preserved on the alluvial fan deltas here show that geologically similar catastrophes have occurred with regularity since prehistoric times. Since the 17th century, at least two large-magnitude debris flow, landslide, or flood events, on average, have occurred each century within the modern boundaries of Vargas. Recorded events occurred in February 1798, August 1912, January 1914, November 1938, May 1944, November 1944, August 1948, and February 1951. In the February 1798 event, flash floods and debris flows severely damaged 219 homes. Spanish soldiers barricaded an upstream-facing entrance to a fort with cannons in order to prevent debris from filling it.
Prior to the 1999 disaster, the most recent major flood had occurred in 1951, but that event did not cause as much damage. Based on aerial photos and records of measurements, geologists were able to directly compare the 1951 event to the 1999 event. The 1951 event involved less rainfall than the 1999 event, fewer landslides were triggered, and less fresh debris was observed on the fans. The unusually strong storm in December 1999 dumped 911 millimetres (35.9 in) of rain over just a few days, triggering widespread soil instability and flow of debris. Adding to the devastation, Vargas State had experienced high population growth and development since the 1951 disaster, thus increasing the toll of casualties.
The alluvial fans built as sediments from floods and debris flows exit their channels and meet the oceans provide the only extensive flat surfaces along the mountainous coastline of north-central Venezuela. As such, many of them have been extensively developed and urbanized. This high population density increases the risk to life and property from flash flood and debris flow events.
As of 1999, several hundred thousand people lived in this narrow coastal strip in Vargas State. Many of these people lived atop alluvial fans formed by debris flows sourced out of the 2,000-meter (6,600 ft) peaks to their south.
December 1999 was unusually wet along the north-central Venezuelan coast. The first, and less powerful, storm that month occurred 2–3 December and dropped 200 millimetres (7.9 in) of rain on the coast.
Two weeks later, in a 52-hour span during 14, 15 and 16 December 1999, 91.1 centimeters (35.9 in) of rain (approximately one year's average total rainfall for the region) was measured on the north-central coast of Venezuela at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetia, Venezuela. These heavy rains included 7.2 centimeters (2.8 in) of accumulation in just one hour, between 6 and 7 AM on the 16th; precipitation on both the 15th and 16th exceeded the 1,000-year probability rainfall event. Even so, the coast received much less rain than some regions upstream.
This sudden and intense storm was especially unusual because it occurred in December, while the typical rainy season in coastal Venezuela lasts from May to October. These out-of-season rains formed when a cold front interacted with a moist southwesterly flow in the Pacific Ocean. This interaction produced moderate to heavy rainfall starting in the first week of December and culminating in the 14–16 December event that caused the deadly floods and debris flows.
The heaviest rains were centered around the mid-upper part of the San Julián basin, which feeds water and sediment onto the Caraballeda fan. Heavy rains persisted within 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) of the coast, and subsided on the Caracas side of the Cerro El Ávila. Rainfall rates also decreased westward toward Maiquetía.
The bedrock in the region surrounding Caracas is mainly metamorphic. From the coast and extending approximately 1 kilometer (0.62 mi) inland, deeply foliated schist of the Mesozoic Tacagua Formation is exposed. Soils forming on them are fine-grained (clayey), thin (0.5–3.0 meters (1 ft 8 in–9 ft 10 in)), and often colluvial. Although the A horizon of the soil is often less than 30 centimeters (12 in) thick, the bedrock is often weathered down to greater than 2 meters (6 ft 7 in). Further inland, gneisses of the Paleozoic San Julián Formation and Precambrian Peña de Mora Formation extend to the crest of the Sierra de Avila. These units have thin soils over less-weathered bedrock; this is believed to be because of rapid erosion due to the steep slopes in this area.
Because foliation planes are planes of weakness, these fabrics within the rocks strongly influence landslide and debris flow hazards. Where the foliation planes are dipping towards a free surface, failure is likely to occur along these planes.
The alluvial fans that spread out into the sea from valley mouths were built by previous flood and debris flow events. The modern channel systems of these alluvial fan deltas are incised into previously deposited debris flow and flood material. Scientists at the US Geological Survey measured these old deposits. They found that they are thicker than the December 1999 ones and contain larger boulders. This means that previous debris flows were even larger than those in December 1999 and reached higher velocities.
On the Caraballeda fan, the extent of the 1951 event paled in comparison to the 1999 event. Much of the deposits that constitute the Caraballeda fan are of a thickness similar to those produced in the 1999 event and contain boulders of a size similar to those observed in 1999.
The USGS geologists found paleosols with organic material above and below a 10-meter (33 ft) thick layer of debris flow deposits. The bottom paleosol was radiocarbon dated to 4267 ±38 years Before Present (BP), and the top one was dated to 3720±50 years BP. This means that, at least in this area, the bed aggraded 10 meters (33 ft) in 550 years, for an average rate of about 1.8 cm (0.71 in) per year (though the aggradation occurs only during short-lived events). The scientists were not able to tell whether the deposits were from a single debris flow or multiple events.
Alluvial fan deltas in this region have shallow slopes. They are poorly channelized because sediment is being added to them from upstream (infilling the channels) at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which it can be removed.
Hillslopes are steepened past the angle of repose for noncohesive materials. This oversteepening is more than could be provided for by the frictional resistance of the sandy soils. Internal soil cohesion, negative pore pressure ("soil suction"), soil structure, and/or tree root reinforcement may be responsible for this.
Terraces containing previous debris flow deposits are now perched 10–20 meters (33–66 ft) above the modern stream channels. Erosion from the 1999 flood exposed bedrock benches 50 centimeters (20 in) to 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) above the present channel. These abandoned high surfaces suggest recent and continuing tectonic uplift of the Venezuelan coast and corresponding river channel incision. In spite of the fact that most onshore faults active in this region during the Quaternary are mapped as right-lateral strike-slip, it is possible that there is a vertical component of offset in offshore faults.
Heavy rains fell in December 1999 along the north-central coast of Venezuela, culminating in a period of extreme intensity from 14 to 16 December. Starting around 8 PM local time (AST) on 15 December, runoff entered channels and rushed towards the sea, picking up and depositing sediments on its way. Generally after this first wave of flooding, from the coast to just past the crest of the Sierra de Avila, these rains triggered thousands of shallow landslides that stripped soil and rock off of the landscape and sent them slipping down the mountainside. Additional water liquefied these landslides into debris flows, which are granular flows in which water mixes with high concentrations of rock and mud. The first eyewitness accounts of debris flows were from 8:30 PM on the 15th, and the final debris flows were reported between 8 and 9 AM on 16 December. Many catchments released multiple debris flows, some of which carried large boulders and tree trunks onto the alluvial fan deltas. Starting between 7 and 9 AM on the 16th and continuing until late that afternoon, a new wave of floods occurred. These floodwaters were less concentrated in sediment and were therefore able to entrain new material and incise new channels into the flood and debris flow deposits from the previous days.
The debris flows moved rapidly, and many of them were highly destructive. Based on the maximum sizes of boulders measured in the flood deposits and the amount by which the flow on the outside of a bend was higher than that on the inside, geologists estimate the flow velocities to range from 3.3–14.5 meters per second (11–48 ft/s). These rapid, bouldery flows resulted in much of the observed destruction.
In addition to these debris flows, flash floods carrying extremely high sediment loads were very dangerous. Together the flash floods and debris flows destroyed hundreds of houses, bridges, and other structures. They incised new channels to depths of several meters into every alluvial fan delta on the Vargas state coastline, and they blanketed these fans with sediment.
Of the many communities that were affected by the disaster, the Caraballeda fan was one of the most hard-hit. The intensity of the disaster here is a combination of two factors. First, the Caraballeda fan was heavily urbanized, with many high-rise buildings and multistory houses. Second, it lies at the mouth of the Quebrada San Julián (Saint Julian Ravine), and this watershed produced very large boulders and a massive inundated area. Approximately 1/3 of the Caraballeda fan was inundated by debris flows, and the entire fan is built of past debris flow deposits.
The floods and debris flows of 1999 did not follow the eastern channel on Caraballeda. This channel, formed during the 1951 floods, had been lined with concrete and designed to safely transport the flows into the sea. Instead, the debris flows overwhelmed the channel and the flows overtopped the banks wherever the channel changed direction. Once free of the culvert, the channel rapidly avulsed across the fan and spread debris throughout the community. These overbank flows demolished 2-story houses and destroyed the first two stories of apartment buildings. Farther down the fan, the debris flows routed themselves down streets. As the flows progressed, they left thinner and thinner deposits, though they often still exceeded 1 meter (3 feet) in thickness. After several avulsions, the channel roughly followed the pre-1951 flood path.
USGS geologists estimate the deposit volume to be at least 1.8 million cubic meters (from comparing topographic scans) or 1.9 million cubic meters (from field measurements). This is among the largest rainfall-induced debris flow deposits in recorded history, though volcanic-induced debris flows can be ten times as large. Subaqueous deposition extended the shoreline an additional 40–60 meters into the sea. The deposit thicknesses range from 4–5 meters (maximum of 5.3 meters) near the center of the fan to around 0.5 meters near the pre-flood shoreline. Maximum boulder sizes decreased towards the shoreline due to the decreasing slope of the fan.
The disaster caused estimated damages of USD $1.79 to $3.5 billion. The death toll was considered to be between 10,000 and 30,000—the exact number of casualties is difficult to determine as there is no reliable census data from the region at that time, especially about shanty towns and small communities that were completely wiped out. Moreover, only some 1,000 bodies were recovered, with the rest swept to sea by the mud or buried in the landslides. More than 8,000 homes and 700 apartment buildings were destroyed in Vargas, displacing up to 75,000 people. The mudslides significantly altered more than 60 kilometres (37 mi) of the coastline in Vargas. Over 70% of the total population of Vargas State was affected by the disaster. Public services, like water, electricity, phone lines, and land transportation (roads and bridges) completely disappeared in some places. There were no supplies of food and water for months, so most of the population had to be evacuated. Looting and sacking occurred everywhere, forcing the military to implement martial law for more than a year.
The disaster was of such magnitude that the president of the Red Cross initially presumed more than 50,000 dead. The first priority was to evacuate survivors; more than 100,000 people were ultimately evacuated. After the disaster, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez advocated for other Venezuelans to open up their homes, and "adopt a family". The former First Lady of Venezuela arranged the temporary sheltering of children that were feared orphaned in La Casona, the Presidential residence in Caracas. Others offered help, including Major League Baseball shortstop Omar Vizquel, a native Venezuelan, who helped raise over $500,000 in relief funds. After the initial emergency response, focus shifted to analyzing the causes of the disaster, and working to create a sustainable infrastructure for dealing with future torrential rains. A disaster relief team from the United States headed up by New Mexico state Senator Joseph Carraro arrived with a medical team and supplies to assess the damage and help those who were displaced. Contact was made with Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico to determine any radioactive activity included in the debris field. Water purification and sleeping units were provided.
The disaster clean-up soon became politicized. Chávez initially accepted assistance from anyone who offered, with the United States sending helicopters and dozens of soldiers that arrived two days after the disaster. When defense minister Raúl Salazar complied with the offer of the United States' further aid that included 450 Marines and naval engineers aboard the USS Tortuga, which was setting sail to Venezuela, Chávez told Salazar to decline the offer since "[i]t was a matter of sovereignty". Salazar became angry and assumed that Chávez's opinion was influenced by talks with Fidel Castro, though he complied with Chávez's order. Though additional aid was necessary, Chávez thought a more revolutionary image was more important and the USS Tortuga returned to its port.
Despite initial dispersals of emergency funds, receiving tens of millions of dollars from international organizations and the announcement of reconstruction plans, little came of the process and Chávez grew distracted with political squabbles, abandoning attention on the tragedy with recovery ultimately halting. Survivors eventually left their refugee areas and returned to their homes in an attempt to rebuild. By 2006, the state was back to its pre-disaster population level, and projects were slowly being carried out to rebuild damaged infrastructure. Over a decade after the tragedy, thousands remained homeless and the value of real estate in zones untouched by the floods declined by as much as 70%, due to the destruction of infrastructure.
Orion, a Rottweiller, was officially recognized for his role in rescuing people during the tragedy. A mudslide forced Orion and his owner Mauricio Pérez to leave their home and go to a safer place. They came across a young girl trapped by turbulent water. Orion guided the girl to shore by swimming at her side, then jumped back in to pull a second girl out of the water. He then helped eight children climb to high places. He spent Wednesday night and part of Thursday morning saving 37 people from drowning, ranging from a girl of 8 years old to an elderly man of 80 years old. He was awarded the Medal "Honor The Value" and a certificate for the role he played. He also received plaques and medals from private institutions and governments, international tributes and recognition by the Grand Lodge of Masonry in Venezuela. On 1 December, 2008, Orion died of intestinal gastroenteritis.
Three films were made about the tragedy by Venezuelan filmmakers, all released in 2011; this is said to show the lasting impact of the tragedy that people were still sharing these narratives, especially in a nation with a poor cinema industry.
Alejandra Gutiérrez Oraa is a Venezuelan television anchor currently working for CNN en Español in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.Caraballeda
Caraballeda is a Venezuelan town, capital of the parish of the same name in Vargas state. It is located on the Venezuelan central coast, facing the Caribbean Sea. It was devastated by the floods that occurred in 1999 known as the Vargas tragedy.Catia La Mar
Catia La Mar is a city and port in the municipality of Vargas, in the State of Vargas, Venezuela. It is Maiquetia's neighbor to the west.
Catia la Mar is about 10 minutes from Simón Bolívar International Airport (Venezuela's main airport).
Named after the 16th-century cacique Catia, contemporary of Guaicaipuro, founded in 1558 by Francisco Fajardo with the name of "La Villa de Catia", currently called Catia la Mar. The city hosts a naval academy and university, a fishing port called La Zorra, and several beaches (Costa Dorada, Playa La Zorra, Playa Candilejas, Puerto Viejo). Its main neighborhoods are Atlantida, Playa Grande, Páez, Ezequiel Zamora, La Lucha, and La Soublette.
According to the 2011 population census, the city had 85,366 inhabitants, making it the most populous of the 11 parishes in Vargas State.
The city was affected by the 1999 Vargas tragedy.Colonial Venezuela
Spanish expeditions led by Columbus and Alonso de Ojeda reached the coast of present-day Venezuela in 1498 and 1499. The first colonial exploitation was of the pearl oysters of the "Pearl Islands". Spain established its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day city of Cumaná in 1502, and in 1577 Caracas became the capital of the Province of Venezuela. There was also for a few years a German colony at Klein-Venedig.
The 16th- and 17th-century colonial economy was centered on gold mining and livestock farming. The relatively small number of colonists employed indigenous farmers on their haciendas, and enslaved other indigenous people and, later, Africans to work in the mines. The Venezuelan territories were governed at different times from the distant capitals of the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru.
In the 18th century, cocoa plantations grew up along the coast, worked by further importations of African slaves. Cacao beans became Venezuela's principal export, monopolized by the Compañía Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Most of the surviving indigenous people had by then migrated to the south, where Spanish friars were active. Intellectual activity increased among the white Creole elite, centered on the university at Caracas. The Province of Venezuela was included in the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1717, and became the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777.
The independence struggle began in 1810 while Spain was engaged in the Peninsular War. The Venezuelan War of Independence ensued. The Republic of Gran Colombia became independent from Spain in 1821 under the leadership of Simón Bolívar, and Venezuela separated from that Republic in 1830.Cynthia Lander
Cynthia Cristina Lander Zamora (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈsintja lanˈdeɾ]; born June 10, 1982 in Caracas) is a Venezuelan actress, TV host and beauty pageant titleholder who represented her country at Miss Universe 2002 and Miss International 2002.History of the Jews in Venezuela
The history of the Jews in Venezuela dates to the middle of the 17th century, when records suggest that groups of marranos (Spanish and Portuguese descendants of baptized Jews suspected of secret adherence to Judaism) lived in Tucacas, Caracas and Maracaibo. The Jewish community, however, did not become established in Venezuela until the middle of the 19th century. Since Hugo Chávez took power in 1999, tension has existed between the government and Jewish population, which has seen large numbers emigrating. Today, the majority of Venezuelan Jews live in Israel, while modern-day Venezuela continues to host a modest Jewish population.Immigration to Venezuela
Immigration to Venezuela has been significant. After the Spanish colonization of the Americas brought European colonists and African slaves, immigration to Venezuela was significant particularly in the period after World War II, with large numbers of immigrants from Asia and Europe, particularly southern Europe. In addition, Venezuela shares a 1000-mile border with Colombia and has long had substantial numbers of Colombian residents. Since the 1980s, the Colombian conflict has seen largescale Colombian immigration, with Venezuela the number one destination for displaced Colombians: by 2008, there were over 4 million, compared to a total Venezuelan population of around 27 million.Index of Venezuela-related articles
The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.International rankings of Venezuela
These are the international rankings of Venezuela.Joseph Carraro
Joseph J. Carraro is a former state senator from New Mexico who served for twenty-four years from 1985 to 2009. He was an acquaintance and supporter of Ronald Reagan, who encouraged him to run for elected office. His first election race in 1984 he ran in a district had a 4-to-1 Democrat majority and he won as a Republican 2-to-1. He was named National Outstanding Legislator of the Year. In 2008 he changed his political registration from Republican to independent.Senator Carraro received an MBA and a PhD; and has taught Organizational and Human Behavior and Professional Ethics in graduate school, and president of the Executive Management Association of New Mexico. As a financial analyst he worked on Wall Street for Merrill Lynch and became a stockbroker and used that experience as chairman of a multibillion-dollar investment oversight committee when he was a state senator. He founded and owned Carraro’s Italian Restaurants, and founded Project Share, a private homeless feeding program in Albuquerque. He is an author, lecturer, and screenwriter (Justifiable, Free Wifi, The Card), playwright (MENtality, Conversation with an Average Joe), and continues his international consulting business Carraro and Associates Inc.
As a state senator he championed the causes of the developmentally disabled, and autistic and felt fortunate that his family never suffered such conditions. Working as a custodian in a cancer isolation ward of a hospital, he experienced the desperation and suffering of those patients and families while members of his family had never experienced the heartache from cancer and as a state senator sponsored the funding of the NIH-recognized cancer center for treatment and disease research at the University of New Mexico. As a senator, he learned by listening and asking questions and doing whatever was necessary to get the job done.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was responsible for getting the gasoline needed to run the generators in New Orleans, and was then tasked with mopping floors in the emergency trauma center while taking those morbidly obese to the bathroom, and helping organize Angel Flights for those who lost their homes to be reunited with family members throughout the country, and eventually being placed in charge of the psychiatric triage. He was then singled out by the Louisiana Legislature in the passing of a resolution in his honor for his response and contribution to those in desperate need. He always says he knows what it takes to get the job done, whether dealing with the head of a country or cleaning up someone else’s mess. In 1999 he also headed the Venezuelan Medical Recovery and Disaster Relief effort during Vargas tragedy. He was later recommended by elected officials form both major parties to be Ambassador to Venezuela.
He became an executive committee member of the National Energy Council, attended the MacGuire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, and met with energy ministers from around the world. He served on National Legislative Committees of Finance, International Affairs, Education and chairman of the Trade and Transportation Committee of the Council of State Governments. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the Commission for Disabled Americans.
Carraro ran in the Republican primary in a bid for the seat vacated by Heather Wilson in New Mexico's 1st congressional district in 2008.List of years in Venezuela
This is a list of years in Venezuela. See also the timeline of Venezuelan history. For only articles about years in Venezuela that have been written, see Category:Years in Venezuela.Maiquetía
Maiquetía is a city located in the Central Region of Venezuela, in the state of Vargas. It is at approximately 19 m above sea level on a small shelf between the Caribbean and the mountains behind it. Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, is approximately 37 km to the southeast.
Maiquetía is mainly a commercial center. The historic center has many narrow streets lined with stores and a market. The main road in this part of the city is the Avenida Carlos Soublette. The recent geopolitical divisions in Vargas makes Maiquetía no longer include the Simón Bolívar International Airport, the most important one in the country and the commercial airport serving Caracas. Conviasa, the Venezuelan flag carrier airline, is headquartered in the city. Even though the airport is now in the state of Vargas, it has kept the name Maiquetía, which cause some confusion among locals and foreigners alike.
The city forms a conurbation with La Guaira with which it is linked via Avenida Soublette. Given its proximity to Caracas and seafront location, it offers an optimal location for some hotels.
Maiquetía suffered the devastating effects of torrential rains and mudslides during the 1999 Vargas tragedy.Morón Fault System
The Morón Fault System or Morón Fault Zone (Spanish: Falla Morón) is a complex of geological faults located in northern Venezuela and the adjacent Caribbean Sea. The fault system is of right-lateral strike-slip. The fault forms part of the diffuse boundary between the Caribbean and South American tectonic plates. The existence of this fault was hypothesized as early as 1888.Mudflow
A mudflow or mud flow is a form of mass wasting involving "very rapid to extremely rapid surging flow" of debris that has become partially or fully liquified by the addition of significant amounts of water to the source material.Mudflows contain a significant proportion of clay, which makes them more fluid than debris flows; thus, they are able to travel farther and across lower slope angles. Both types are generally mixtures of various kinds of materials of different sizes, which are typically sorted by size upon deposition.Mudflows are often called mudslides, a term applied indiscriminately by the mass media to a variety of mass wasting events. Mudflows often start as slides, becoming flows as water is entrained along the flow path; such events are often called flow slides.Other types of mudflows include lahars (involving fine-grained pyroclastic deposits on the flanks of volcanoes) and jökulhlaups (outbursts from under glaciers or icecaps).A statutory definition of "flood-related mudslide" appears in the United States' National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended, codified at 42 USC Sections 4001 and following.Médanos de Coro National Park
Médanos de Coro National Park (Parque Nacional Los Médanos de Coro) is a Venezuelan national park located in the state of Falcón, near the city of Coro on the road that leads to Paraguaná. The National Park was created in 1974. The park is easily reached by bus or taxi from Coro.
The Médanos park protects part of the Paraguana xeric scrub ecoregion.
It lies on the Médanos Isthmus and covers 91 km2 (35 sq mi) of desert and coastal habitat, including salt marshes. It is made up of three zones: an alluvial plain, formed by the delta of the Mitare River and some smaller streams; an aeolian plain, composed of three types of dunes; and a littoral plain with a belt of mangrove swamps. The massive sand dunes, known as Médanos, spread over an area of approximately 5 by 30 km (3.1 by 18.6 mi). They can reach 40 m (130 ft) in height and are constantly transformed by the unrelenting wind.
Rainfall is rare. However, during the severe floods that struck Venezuela in December 1999 ("Vargas tragedy", being especially devastating in Vargas State), the heavy rain formed four lagoons in the dunes; a circumstance that the park guards had never witnessed before.Tiburones de La Guaira
The Tiburones de La Guaira (English: La Guaira Sharks) are a baseball team in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. Based in the city of La Guaira, the Tiburones have won seven national championships since their founding in 1962.United States–Venezuela relations
United States–Venezuela relations refers to the bilateral relationship between the United States and Venezuela. Relations has traditionally been characterized by an important trade and investment relationship as well as cooperation in combating the production and transit of illegal drugs. As of 23 January 2019, the United States and Venezuela have no formal diplomatic ties, but continue to have relations under Juan Guaidó, who serves as disputed interim president recognized by around 54 countries, including the United States.
Relations were strong under traditional governments in Venezuela, such as those of Carlos Andrés Pérez and Rafael Caldera. However, tensions increased after the socialist President Hugo Chávez assumed elected office in 1999. Tensions between the countries increased further after Venezuela accused the administration of George W. Bush of supporting the Venezuelan failed coup attempt in 2002 against Chavez, an accusation that was partly retracted later.Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been further strained when the country expelled the U.S. ambassador in September 2008 in solidarity with Bolivia after a U.S. ambassador was accused of cooperating with violent anti-government groups in the country. Though relations thawed somewhat under President Barack Obama in June 2009, only to steadily deteriorate once again shortly afterwards. In February 2014, the Venezuelan government ordered three American diplomats out of the country on charges of promoting violence.On 23 January, during the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis Nicolás Maduro announced that Venezuela was breaking ties with the United States following President Trump's announcement that the US recognized Juan Guaidó, the Venezuelan opposition leader, as the interim President. On 26 January 2019, Maduro backtracked the request which defused the situation from a few days earlier with the request of the embassy staff to leave. Maduro's government was in a 30-day talk with the Trump Administration to open a U.S. Interest Office on 26 January.Vargas (state)
Vargas State (Spanish: Estado Vargas, IPA: [esˈtaðo ˈβaɾɣas]) is one of the 23 states of Venezuela. Named after Venezuela's first non-military president, José María Vargas, Vargas comprises a coastal region in the north of Venezuela, bordering Aragua to the west, Miranda to the east, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Capital District to the south. It is home to both the country's largest seaport and airport. The state capital is La Guaira. The Litoral Varguense conurbation is the principal urban agglomeration in the state, which is part of the Greater Caracas Area.
In 1999, the geographic center of Vargas state suffered major floods and landslides, known as La Tragedia de Vargas (the Vargas tragedy), causing major losses of life and property, and resulting in forced population movements, including the virtual disappearance of some small towns. Thousands died, and many more fled the area to other states.