For Wednesday, July 6, 2016. Translated by Javier Liendo.
And nobody checked their fingerprints. The print was the Declaration itself. The fifteen months between April 19th, 1810, and July 5th, 1811, surmise what the government ignored this Tuesday: the value of debate and representation, the capacity to achieve consensus in a space where swords had no value; putting an end to bloodshed by forging alliances.
On March 2nd, 1811, in the house of Count San Javier, the General Congress of Venezuela was convened, with representation of the provinces of Caracas, Cumaná, Barinas, Margarita, Mérida, Barcelona and Trujillo. The seven stars on the national flag, which el finado stuffed with an eighth for Guayana. If the idea was to provide proper recognition, Coro and Maracaibo would be missing too, but those three provinces were still under Spanish control back then.
Many debates later, the participants voted on July 5th, and at 3:00 p.m. the Speaker of Congress, Juan Antonio Rodríguez Domínguez, announced the proclamation of Venezuela’s absolute independence. The Congress instructed representative Juan Germán Roscio and secretary Francisco Isnard to draft the Declaration of Independence, which took two days. It was approved on July 7th, and presented to the Executive Branch on July 8th; but the document keeps the date of July 5th because that was when it was proclaimed. Missing for 95 years, with signatures from 41 representatives and sealed by the Congress, it remains the fundamental document of our history and proof of the profoundly civilian spirit in this date.
What we didn’t see
For the first time ever, the Executive Branch didn’t respect the tradition to celebrate Independence Day in the National Assembly first, before attending the military parade. Those two were simultaneous events and the cadena prevented us from watching Parliament’s. Additionally, the members of the Legislative Branch weren’t invited to the military parade. Nicolás isn’t willing to acknowledge them but he does want conflict. We can’t talk about republic without branch autonomy, just as we can’t talk about dialogue without acknowledgement.
Accompanied by a single Electoral Council authority and a single Supreme Tribunal justice, Parliament proved to be a parallel power. The speaker was Américo Martín: “The 5th of July can’t be used to create division, but to favor reconciliation and cooperation (…) the 5th of July belongs to all of us, not just a group,” he said. He added that the recall is non-negotiable and that the process already transcended its original promoters, that it now belongs to each citizen who demanded it as their constitutional right.
“Negotiating to forge agreements, with clear principles, can mean salvation for humanity or a country. Political flexibility is infinitely better than stubbornness. Those genuinely in favor of dialogue wouldn’t try to crush their counterparts or deceive themselves by deceiving the interlocutor,” because dialogue is the only way to avoid bloodshed. Convinced that nationalism and radicalism strengthen those who seek to cause destruction, he ended with a phrase from Erasmus of Rotterdam: “War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.”
40 months since
The PSUV defines death as “sowing”. The only -green- thing that has multiplied since Chávez’ death is military power. They also define civilian submission to the military as “unity”, and suppression of liberty and prosperity as “independence.” This Tuesday, beside the self-proclaimed socialist, anti-imperialist and chavista Armed Forces, the parade included the social programs (misiones) and even the CLAPs. A bag of food distributed according to political affiliation is a verified proof our lack of independence.
Nobody has challenged this perezjimenista tradition of organizing a military parade for a civilian celebration. As expensive as it was useless, as boring as Nicolás’s speech, who spoke about times of battle, struggle and construction. In his imagination, the consequences of his decisions are similar to those of the Spanish dominion: a queue for food is a battle. As he used the term “predatory” in reference to the Assembly’s opposition majority, he celebrated the Armed Forces for their morals, ideas and love. That must be why he thinks their power must keep increasing: “An independent republic needs an ever more powerful and bigger military power.” A more powerful power, eh.
He concluded by challenging the National Assembly Speaker, Henry Ramos Allup: “Don’t mess with the soldiers, or with the sergeants, or with the captains. Face me, I’m the commander in chief (…) Cowardly taskmaster, the Armed Forces deserve respect!”, he yelled, emboldened by the forced applause of his staged audience. Not even the weather favored him.
Henry Ramos Allup justified Nicolás’ absence in the events organized by the AN by saying that the President would rather attend an event where he could find support. In this case, it evidences the alteration of the democratic order: “Instead of respecting tradition, the President decided not to come. I suppose he didn’t want to listen to what was being said here but sadly, even if he covers his ears, he’ll have to listen.” After praising Américo Martin’s speech, he added: “It would’ve been good for the President to listen so he could learn. He missed an excellent lecture on civility, history and law.” The disparity between the way they express themselves also explains the enormous difficulty to establish the fictional dialogue.
The Foreign Affairs ministers of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay are to meet next July 11th in Montevideo to discuss Venezuela’s political situation, as announced by Paraguay’s minister, Eladio Loizaga: “Venezuela’s situation gets more complex every day and we need a country with internal stability and peace as head of Mercosur, so it can help us face the challenges we have for the next six months,” he said, without hearing Nicolás talk this Tuesday, nor seeing the women from Ureña breaking through the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge to go to Cúcuta. This is such a significant action that the Colombian Foreign Affairs minister, María Ángela Holguín, is expected to travel to Cúcuta this Wednesday. A crisis this profound can open roads that authorities insist on keeping closed. Hunger has different kinds of borders. This country’s never done defining itself.
Another arbitrary arrest
Journalist Clavel Rangel reports that more than fifteen armed men, supported by the Bolívar state police, intercepted six young Voluntad Popular members this Tuesday afternoon, during an event in which Oswaldo Rodríguez, law student at UCAB Guayana and party activist, was arrested. Madeilene Fajardo said that they were sitting inside a bakery called Pan de Oro when four PEB motorizados arrived, followed by three white vehicles without plates. The men asked VP members for their cédulas, their phones and then they ordered them to get in the vehicles. They only managed to take Oswaldo Rodríguez. At 7:00 p.m. it was confirmed that he was held at SEBIN headquarters in Vista al Sol, San Félix.
Farewell to another maestro
Alirio Díaz died this Tuesday in Rome, at 92 years old. Born in La Candelaria, but from Carora, Lara state. In addition to the guitar, he played the clarinet, he was part of Orfeón Lamas’ tenors, he taught at Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, and wrote three books. With several well-deserved awards for his contribution to culture, we’ve lost another maestro.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.