Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.A.2

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Colombia and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela have nominated Colombian-Venezuelan llano work songs (No. 01285) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

Colombian-Venezuelan llano work songs are a practice of vocal communication consisting of tunes sung individually, a capella, on the themes of herding and milking. The practice emerged from the close relationship between human communities and cattle and horses and is in harmony with the environmental conditions and the dynamics of nature, forming part of the traditional animal husbandry system of the Llanos. Transmitted orally from childhood, the songs are repositories of the individual and collective stories of the llaneros. Llano work songs have been gradually affected by economic, political and social processes that, modifying the llanero cultural universe, have significantly weakened the practice. For example, ambitious government plans conceived from a developmental perspective have led to profound changes in the use of the land and in ownership systems, and the modification of the social, cultural and natural sites of the songs have resulted in a loss of interest in the values and techniques of llano work. Llanero work songs thus face various threats to their viability. Efforts to safeguard the element are nonetheless widespread, including a pedagogical strategy involving more than twenty meetings for bearers and young people in the region, training projects for schoolteachers and a proliferation of festivals.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:

U.1:   The element is identified in a clear manner, conveying its characteristics. It constitutes a practice of intangible cultural heritage that is important to the identities of the communities concerned; the element unites the will of local communities to perpetuate the knowledge and memories that give meaning to their way of life. Highly expressive songs help to accustom cattle to the presence of humans and to tame them, ensuring that the relationship between humans and animals during the milking process is close and functional.

U.2:   A comprehensive analysis of different interrelated factors affecting the practice of the element is provided. These range from changes to traditional agricultural settings to legislation following the government’s new development agenda, leading to instances of environmental destruction and the migration of bearers of the element to urban areas. Threats to the element include: the delimitation of properties through the use of barbed wire; the construction of extensive road networks; ambitious government plans for large-scale irrigation, oil and gas extraction projects; the exploitation of bio-fuels and the large-scale introduction of economic activities diverging from traditional husbandry modes. The use of new media forms and technologies substituting the human voice are also perceived as threats to the element.

U.3:   Efforts to ensure the transmission of the element, as well as research, documentation (e.g. cultural mapping) and promotional (e.g. festivals and competitions) activities are duly explained, showing the committment both of the communities and institutions. They also include joint actions between two countries where practitioners can benefit from an exchange of experiences. These efforts are structured around a five-year plan with three strategic lines of action: knowledge, revitalization and transmission. Specific efforts underway include: support from institutions for the production of documentaries and television broadcasts about the llano traditional husbandry, demonstrating the state of emergency of the element; the foundation of the Museum of Llano Cultures in Venezuela, with the goal of safeguarding the llano work songs; the development of relevant pedagogical programmes, publishing activities and the broad dissemination of information on the element in both countries.

U.4:   The fruitful synergies between the efforts of communities, associations and the respective institutions are evident. Diverse and numerous expressions of consent encompass creative written testimonies, fingerprints, palm imprints and photographs.

  1. Further decides that, on the basis of the information provided by the submitting States to the Committee at its present session concerning community participation in the inventorying process and the frequency of updating of the inventory in Colombia, the following criterion for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is satisfied:

U.5:   The element is registered in inventories of intangible cultural heritage in both countries. The frequency with which the inventories is updated is clearly indicated and the communities participated in the process of drafting the entries in the inventories concerned.

  1. Commends the States Parties for the well-conceived and carefully prepared file, notably in relation to the description of the threats to the element;
  2. Inscribes Colombian-Venezuelan llano work songs on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding;
  3. Reiterates to both States Parties the importance of updating inventories on a regular basis with the participation of the communities concerned.