Preserving its history should be an imperative for any nation and/or society. This entails not just memorizing past dates, but keeping all related evidence (tangible and intangible) available, so present and future generations can understand their origins and therefore, be prepared for the road ahead.
Two recent press articles indicate that Venezuela’s cultural heritage is currently abandoned and seriously endangered.
The May 5th frontpage of Caracas newspaper 2001 presented a sad image: official documents from the early 20th Century are damaged in the National Academy of History’s archives. The reason: Water leaks from an improvised refuge for people who lost their homes in floods more than a year and a half ago.
The day after, newspaper El Universal presented a equally troubling story. The last remaining steam locomotive in the country and the station known as “El Encanto” have been left forsaken, vulnerable to decay and vandalism. In 2009, a 6-million dollar plan was announced to restore the train and the station. Nothing happened.
The government has a twisted relationship with our history. They try their damnedest to adjust it to their ideological agenda, but they neglect keeping all related elements in good condition. From their bizarre cult of Bolivarianism to the whimsical changes to our flag and coat of arms - it’s no wonder this has been the most irrelevant Bicentennial celebration ever. There has not been a single positive event related to it worth mentioning, at least positively.
Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana once wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. The problem is how can we can study our history if we can’t even show concern about our heritage being destroyed.
It’s true that the stressful and uncertain present has made it difficult to look deeper into what previous generations did. But that’s no excuse for letting what’s left of history slide away into waste, into oblivion.