Pissing on our shared history

0

In ten days, we will begin the celebration of our country’s Bicentennial. But instead of taking the opportunity to come together as a nation, we will undoubtedly use it to continue tearing each other apart. Today, we got the government’s latest salvo.

April 19th, 1810, is one of those dates that is etched in every Venezuelan’s collective memory. There is probably not a single Venezuelan history textbook that does not contain a hand-drawn sketch of the first "caimanera," when Spanish General Captain Vicente Emparan addressed the crowds and asked them if they wanted him to stay on board, and Father Madariaga signaled the crowd to yell "No!"

The significance of April 19th is hard to overstate. While a formal declaration of independence would not come until July 5th of the following year, the legacy of April 19th is arguably a more lasting one.

Not only was it the first time "the people" rose up to defy established authority, it also marked the beginning of what was to become a sign of a distinctively Venezuelan trait: the mix between mass popular movements, plebiscitary rule, and the intermingling roles of foreigners, the military, and the church.

The 200th Anniversary of such a date is a huge milestone. Not surprisingly, the nation’s National Assembly has called a Solemn Session to commemorate it. And who do you think has been invited to give the speech?

Why, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner obviously!

This may be the first time I’m actually pissed Hugo Chávez is not the one speaking. Say what you want about him, but at least he’s Venezuelan, and millions of people elected him President.

But Cristina? Really?

Are there no Venezuelan intellectuals left in chavismo? Was it impossible to find a single historian willing to pimp herself and suck up to the big guy? Hell, Fidel Castro himself would have been a better choice – at least he knows something about Venezuelan history. Nothing personal, Cristina, but she just seems so foreign to us, so uneducated, so … irrelevant.

With all the things that are going on in Venezuela, it seems petty to get worked up about a stupid speech. But for a government that has made its living in reworking and vindicating our nation’s symbols, the choice of a deeply unpopular President of a nation thousands of kilometers away, one whose most obvious link to our nation has at least five zeros attached to it and fits comfortably in a plane’s overhead compartment, as the designated speaker – well, it’s downright insulting.

Leave a Reply