Isla La Orchila
La Orchila, the Island of pink sandy beaches (Playa Rosada) east of Los Roques, can be visited with a special permit from the Armada of Venezuela. Orchila is the least known island of the southern Caribbean (possible all of the Caribbean), it has been protected by the Venezuelan government. Venezuela has a military base on the island and President Hugo Chávez had a residence. Orchila is the vernacular Spanish name for the species of Roccella, a genus of lichens (Fungi).
Twenty-four leagues north of Cape Codera is Orchila Island, which has the shape of a pear and extends 2 leagues from E. to 0. with a width of 5 miles in its eastern part, while the part or opposite extremity ends at one point, half a mile to 0N0. of which you can see an extremely clean farallon and cliff that forms with it a freu capable of all kinds of boats. The island is generally quite shallow; but in its part N. has three peaks separated by deep ravines,Near the NE point. of the Orchila, there is a narrow cay that runs 2 miles towards the N. and in this direction a reef, which after extending another 2 miles, flips to the South. and ends almost in the midst of the northern coast of the island: on this reef there are several cayuelos. The rest of the coasts of the Orchila is clean at a distance from a cable. This island is a desert and lacks fresh water.
The ridge complex along the northern and eastern coasts of La Orchila Island, Venezuela, which is composed of coral rubble and shell fragments ranging in size from pebbles to boulders, is as much as 100 m wide and 3 m high. Individual storm rubble ridges and their subsequent merging with older storm deposits are part of the long-term sedimentation that constructs aggradational and progradational depositional complexes on some reef islands.
The queen conch, Strombus gigas, a large marine snail, has been a principal source of food for the inhabitants of Caribbean coasts and islands since the first American Indians settled there long ago. There used to be small numbers of conchs in some areas of the narrow Venezuelan shelf not excessively influenced by wave action and the runoff of rivers. These have been virtually eliminated by overfishing. Some conchs are still available in shallow waters around Los Testigos, Los Frailes, La Blanquilla, and La Tortuga. In La Orchila the conch populations are still extensive due to the fact that the island is a military zone and the only fishing permitted is for sport by base residents and visitors.
In the Orchila there is a plant that bears the name of the island and was at one time exported for industrial uses. In Los Roques there are salt flats and mangroves.
On 11 April 2002, Venezuela's military ousted President Chavez, detained him, and installed pro-opposition businessman Pedro Carmona as interim president. But the coup quickly faltered and ultimately crumbled amid massive protests and bloody confrontations between Chavez-backers and security forces. Less than 48 hours after his ouster, a triumphant Hugo Chavez returned to power and Carmona went into exile.
Gen. Raul Baduel, commander of a paratrooper brigade in Maracay in which Chavez himself had once served, and four other senior field officers announced they were rebelling against the new government and began to organize a plan to rescue Chavez from his captors. Though he had by now been moved from Caracas to a naval base on the coast, Chavez was still refusing to sign a document of resignation.
With the balance clearly shifting in favor of Chavez, who had by now been moved to the Caribbean island of La Orchila, the same military officers who had overthrown him began to distance themselves from Mr. Carmona. At 4:30 p.m. General Vazquez Velasco, still irate at not having been named defense minister, told Carmona that military support of his government would be withdrawn unless he revoked the offending decree dissolving congress.
Carmona acted about half an hour later, but by then it was too late. A few blocks away from the palace, the pro-Chavez National Assembly was already convening to appoint Diosdado Cabello, Chavez's vice president, as interim president, as established by the Constitution. Around 10 o'clock, Carmona stepped down and the uprising was effectively over.
Four Air Force helicopters headed to La Orchila to pick up Chavez, who arrived in triumph back at Miraflores around 3:00 a.m. on Sunday. "I was absolutely sure, completely certain, that we would be back" Chavez said in a speech to his jubilant supporters. "But you know what? The only thing I couldn't imagine was that we would return so rapidly".
On 17 May 2008, a U.S.-Navy fighter plane on a counter-narcotics mission over Caribbean waters violated Venezuelan airspace at La Orchila Island, where a military base is located. The U.S. apologised, but the Venezuelan government said it believed the action was deliberate and in response its military carried out air-to-surface and surface-to-air missile tests in June.
A top Russian Air Force general announced March 15, 2009 that the Kremlin was considering a Venezuelan offer to base strategic bombers on a military airfield on La Orchila island off the coast of Venezuela. Venezuelan laws prohibit the setup of military bases in the country, but a temporary deployment of warplanes is possible.
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