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Venezuela’s dark secret

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

Johan Ramirez, Vice-President of Venetur and H.E. Ms. Haifa Aissami Madah, Ambassador of Venezuela to International Organizations.

Often known for having the largest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is also famous for another dark product: cocoa. With its perfect grains, Venezuelan cocoa excels by the world’s quality standards, and it is often the main ingredient of premium chocolates produced globally.

A Venezuelan delegation of chocolatiers and chocolate producers, accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Foreign Trade, MITCOEX, came to Amsterdam earlier this year to participate in the Chocoa International Fair. The group of Venezuelans attending the event was accompanied by Johan Ramirez, Vice-President of Venetur and led by H.E. Haifa Aissami Madah, Ambassador of Venezuela, Permanent Representative to the International Organizations.  

Among the producers attending the fair there was Arvicacao, with Ocumare cocoa from La Primogenita Farm, and Cakawa Chocolates, a business venture led by Venezuelan women dedicated to producing and promoting a unique collection of fine dark chocolate.

Their stand – which contained an exclusive selection of Venezuelan cocoa – was one of the most visited during the fair. 

In the picture Soraya Achkar and Ester Rojas, from Cakawa Chocolate and Wilhen Diaz Lara, Chargé d´Affairs a.i., Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in The Hague.

Soraya Achkar and Ester Rojas, a professor and an art teacher and one of the business’ founders, recounted how the adventure started. “We started making chocolates five years ago as a hobby, seeking to distract ourselves from the intellectual work of teaching, and also looking for a different source of income that could give us independence.

Then, we started to get more and more interested in making the chocolate, bean to bar process, choosing cocoa beans, as well as putting in our personality, creating original combinations of texture and flavours with Venezuelan cocoa of creole and trinitarian origins”. 

Ester Rojas, Cakawa Chocolates.

The Venezuelan production of cocoa – she explained – features a wide variety of beans.

“We started with beans from Barlobento, Bahia de Barinas, Rio Caido, Rio Caribe, Bahia de Patanemo, Sur del Lago, Carabobo, Carenero. These are very distant regions, each having its own characteristic flavour depending on the composition of the soil. Visiting the plantations for years, we created a solid relationship with the producers, assisting them in taking care of the post-harvest process.”

“The farmers taste the chocolate we make with their beans” – she continued – “and we discuss how long the beans will dry to get the flavour we are looking for, or how long the fermentation process needs to be to get the best aroma. Then, we receive the selected beans, and we make a second selection at the lab. Our products are 100% original chocolate, coming in tablets of 40, 86, and 90 grams. For the filling, we use only local tropical fruits and fruits from the Amazonas. We work with doctors, gyms, and different companies who want their chocolate with medical specific standards or with their logo”. 

The fair proved to be a useful venture for the chocolate producers. “We are delighted with our participation in the Chocoa Fair. We have made exciting contacts with customers who want to buy our product” – Ester Rojas explained, stressing that “Venezuelan chocolate is unique for its quality”. 

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