Los Roques Modern History Hot
In the second half of the XIX century there was a dramatic awakening of national interest towards Los Roques and other Venezuelan islands in the Caribbean. This interest had many origins. On one hand the accelerated industrial and technological advance created a national as well as an international demand for some of the island resources such as mangrove wood, which was used as fuel for steam ships; guano bird droppings used as fertilizer in northern countries and limestone used in construction. At that time the islands were frequently visited by national and foreign naturalists. We owe these visitors important information about man and the environment of these islands. It is thanks to the Caracas Natural and Scientific society that we know that towards the end of the XIX century flamingos made their nests in several locations in the archipelago. Today Flamingos come to Los Roques only on visits. In 1871 the then president Antonio Guzman Blanco created by decree the Territorio Colon (Columbus territory) which included Los Roques and other adjacent islands. The island of Gran Roque was named as the center of territory government. Four years later the salt extracted from Los Roques was named national resource. It could be assumed that with all these measures the total and free incorporation of Los Roques to the socioeconomic national life would be a reality. However the ups and downs of history and small human weaknesses disarticulated president Blanco's ambitious projects and these were never carried out. This is the case with the plan to colonize the island of Gran Roque with families of fishermen and the planting of thousands of coconut trees in the keys.
The island of Gran Roque was not the permanent seat of government nor a flourishing fisherman village. Fortunately the old light house survived up to today and it is the only monumental witness of that singular period of the history of island territory. Built between 1870 and 1880 this stern construction was made of coral stone and burnt limestone from the islands. It was endowed with a lighting system that worked with carbide and had a visibility of 35 miles. For more than half a century this light house showed many ships sailing close to the archipelago, the way. With the passage of time it became a fixture of the landscape of Gran Roque and the old inhabitants of the island refer to it with nostalgia and reverence when they say that "this light house was really a good light house". This light house unique in its style deserves that experienced hands restore its old dignity.