The bastardization of our Independence Day

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No civilians allowed

The 201st Anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence is just the kind of date for taking a deep breath and thinking about our national identity, about where we’ve been, and where we’re going. The 5th of July should be about what brings us together, and what sets us apart from other nations.

Sadly, there is no room for such reflections on July 5th because, as we all know, today is also the Day of the Army. An eminently civic event has been transformed into yet another excuse for obese generals to parade their hardware.

This has always been a pet peeve of mine. On July 5th, 1811, a group of men, some intellectuals, most of them farmers, representing a large chunk of modern-day Venezuela (Maracaibo and Guayana didn’t sign) met in the St. Rose of Lima Chapel in downtown Caracas to sign a long-winded document.

There are no grand declarations of the rights of man and all that in the manuscript. In fact, it reads like a summary of the Napoleonic wars and its effects on this forgotten corner of the world, only to conclude that, in the name of God Almighty, we declare ourselves a free nation.

The 5th of July was a civilian event. There were no battles, no gunshots, and whatever generals or armies there were, they were secondary. The birth of our nation was the result of the will of a few visionaries, who took advantage of the chaos in Europe to say “We’re free.” The whole thing took place in a chapel, fer cryin’ out loud.

And yet, as with many things in our country, the Army hijacked it and turned it into a chance to celebrate … themselves.

It’s as if we can’t, for a second, envision our national identity without the army. It’s as if nothing and nobody important in Venezuela has ever worn anything other than military garb.

Perhaps this is not the cause of the outsized role our military plays in our nation, but rather a consequence of it. Perhaps.

But it’s about damn time that changed.

88 thoughts on “The bastardization of our Independence Day

  1. I am just watching the CIVIC-miltary parade right now. CIVIC-military. Get it! For heaven’s sake stop whining and have some pride in your country but I guess you are to far gone being too agringado to understand what is happening in the country and congratulate the army on its current social role in society in addition to being a guarantor of peace in the country.

    Far from changing the role of the military, its role has to be deepened especially by expanding the number of people in the milicia bolvariana. There are lots of enemies out there. When the US and NATO have finished with North Africa and the Middle East, they will come for the oil – all 297 billion barrels.

    • And now, for the view from our visiting paranoid delusional. Thank you, Arturo. Very helpful.

    • The Venezuelan military isn’t the solution to the problem. The Venezuelan military IS the problem.

      • “Hello, I’m from the Venezuelan military and I’m here to help.” :)

        aka the Chavez campaign slogan from ’92 to ’98

    • What does that have to do with turning a civil national holiday into a celebration of war? The holiday should be a celebration of civil virtue, turned into a apology of violence and death. What is the major social contribution of the army in Venezuela, dealing drugs? the soaring crime rates?
      By the way the “love your country” argument for defending the army sounds awfully similar to the attacks that some Republicans direct against anyone who opposes foreign wars in the Us.

      • I would argue the main role of the military is selling arms to the incarcerated. Or anyone else with sufficient funds to further pad officers’ accounts.

        I am curious, given Arturo’s somewhat biased view… why would the U.S. bother with taking oil that we simply buy on the open market? The imperio might be the enemy. But if so, they are more of a frienemy since they are Venezuela’s primary export market/largest trade partner, are they not?

        Silly me. I thought the long standing tradition of military exaltation and spending in LatAm was primarily to shore up the current regime and for use against domestic enemies versus defending against foreign phantoms. Isn’t that what the playbook for caudillos has show for the past 100 years?

    • Yes, the role of the military has changed Arturo. It has gone from useless waste of public resources to partisan useless waste of public resources and a platform for major criminality. Its “current social role in society”? What, bringing rich bolivarian socialists and rich russian and chinese arms suppliers together in harmony? As for the “enemies out there”…how about the FARC operating in venezuela, extorting money from innocent venezuelans, with the complicity of…yours truly? Idiot.

        • Bourgeois? Bourgeois? Some bourgeois dude said something once about the last refuge of a scoundrel…

    • I’ve always had a theory that the crazy far ends of the political spectrum aren’t that dissimilar but I’ve never seen it as well outlined as I do whenever Arturo posts. I mean, where else can you get someone who claims he is anti-imperialist while praising a strengthened military and making xenophobic comments at the same time? It’s like the Far Left met the Far Right, shacked up and had some crazy love-child that inherited the insanity present in both extremes.

      • My worldview. The extremes touch, look eerily similar and have similar attitudes.

        Totalitarian worldviews like Arturo’s may have class or race-based enmities. But one thing is sure, don’t enthusiastically agree with them and you are the enemy, the liberal, the “commie”, the Jew, the “other”. They have no sense of humor and no self-consciousness either, all is good for the good of the Revolution.

        Xenophobia and militarism is one shared characteristic of totalitarianism no matter what disguise it might have. For me it’s no coincidence that the years 1922-1953 were so catastrophic for humanity and that they begat several brands of totalitarianism.

    • “Yep, once we finish our barbeque (from the day before of course because we actually celebrate our independence) we will come for it all. All 297 billion barrels, and there is nothing you can do about it.” News flash: the United States doesn’t really NEED Venezuelan oil, we just continue to entertain you by buying it so we don’t have to use our own. Then… well…. you can fill in the rest of the picture with your propagandized visions of sorts.
      So yes, congratulations to you, Arturo for your undying support to a failing government, the Army, for being stupid enough to buy old and outdated tanks and weapons from Russia, (Which the US can easily plow over) and the PDVSA for being so smart as to keep selling oil to the country they hate sooooooooo much to fuel our tanks that would flatten that platoon of tanks your beloved Chavez just bought. Yes, congratulations to you all.
      I’m sure your idea of security is when my friend, a fellow Venezuelan such as yourself, is forced to pay a bribe once he gets on the ground in Caracas to your beloved army for 1300 bsf. in order to keep a camera he bought for himself on vacation in the Caribbean. That is the problem now.

  2. Thank you, JC. I was thinking the same thing. Can just stop this all-year long military parade thing? It’s time to move on.

  3. Ahh, Celebrating National Independence? The military’s role in gaining and ensuring national sovereignty and independence? Sadly, your “pet peeve” seems to reflect a shame that you have in your country and your military. Judging from your rant here, I suspect that you’d rather have the U.S. Marines parading in our Independence Day celebrations. Perhaps you’d feel more comfortable having their boots on the parade ground. I and millions of other Venezuelans are proud of our military and their show of strength in our “civic-minded” celebrations gives us comfort and a sense of security as the bully to the north eyes our natural resources. Our well-trained, professional military is what prevents a return to the horror of the 4th Republic that ruled as a dictator-puppet of Washington for so long. Were you around in 1989? Does Caracazo mean anything to you at all? Or are you your family among those who lost power on payroll of Washington.

      • Anything that does not agree with your perverted view of Venezuela is a “troll”. Intolerance is your hallmark. I suppose you want Venezuela to be like Costa Rica – no military. Sadly you are going to be on the losing side for many years to come. :-)

        • Venezuela needs armed forces that fulfill the needs for our nation.

          In my opinion, being no expert my self, those needs are mostly but not limited to, border protection, drug trafficking prevention, and disaster response.

          Preparing for an asymmetrical war, with tanks and fighter planes is a big waste of our money as they see no other use than on the parades.

        • Why wouldn’t you want to be like Costa Rica? The place rocks, good educational system, low homicide rate and generally awesome. Oh, and they’ve done this with no oil money which is even more impressive. Armies are money pits that exist in Latin America so that dictators can play toy soldiers on a grander scale.

          • The fact that the military institution is not functional it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t exist. If that was the case the executive branch and judicial branch shouldn’t exist ;). Modern armies can provide a good service to society. In disaster response for example. For a country the size of Costa Rica it might be a feasible thing to have a militarized police force. But history will tell if it was a good decision on behalf of the Costa Ricans. We witnessed how one of their neighbors invaded their country and they had to sit still.

            • Well, CR does have a military of sorts, it’s called the Fuerza Publica. Their refusal to engage the Sandinista Army had less to do with not being able to fight them (I get the feeling they’d be evenly matched) and more to do with the fact that they seek to avoid armed confrontation of the kind Daniel Ortega loves to provoke. Latin American nations do need some sort of defense institutions but I find that in Central/South America armies get used for internal defense rather than defending from other nations. In that sense a Fuerza Publica model works quite well for CR. Would it work for Venezuea? Maybe, maybe not. However the fact that the FANB is better equipped for fighting a Marine landing (which would rip them to shreds anyway) than the police is for fighting crime is probably the clearest example of misplaced priorities.

              • I completely agree with you. I am just cautious of the argument of no army at all, instead of an army that is well suited for our needs. I at least believe that Venezuela needs armed forces. I think it needs a FAN that doesn’t look like anything we have today.

                I don’t think we are even that prepared for a marine landing. Our “obese generals” are just buying any hardware that is expensive to get huge commissions regardless of our needs, priorities and overall lifecycle of the equipment.

                For example. I still don’t understand for example why do we buy tanks. Aren’t tank meant for wagging combat in open terrain? n which scenario would tanks be useful here? To fight in the llanos? Against who?

              • I was actually wondering about the Venezuelan tanks just this morning. I mean, any enemy that invaded would have bigger, better tanks. Colombia can’t get their tanks to the border and Venezuela can’t really either and the border isn’t tank country anyways. I mean, you need flat Kursk or Iraq-style terrain for a good old-fashioned tank battle. Likewise, the Sukhois don’t have the range to hit any of the nearby capital cities so…why are they there again? Probably to keep the obese generals happy. And let’s face it, a former lieutenant colonel in power will emphasize the military’s role at the expense of nearly everything else. And you’re right, the Venezuelan government post-Chavez needs to seriously examine its military and tailor it to meet the country’s needs.

      • I’m still wondering if this is a parody of a troll of an actual one. All he usual clichés, dictatorship before 1998, the CIA payroll and the invasion paranoia all in just one paragraph makes you doubt about its authenticity.

    • Sancho,
      “Our well-trained, professional military…” WTF? Let’s include corrupt, criminal, inept, etc. Run by Cubans and unable to do much more than parade. Venezuela will avoid a war at all costs because the military can and will only fight against unarmed civilians. Traffic jams are their worst enemy. I was around in 1989 and the country was much better off. Venezuela had its sovereignty and did not answer to Castro, the Chinese the Russians, etc. Oil was $8 barrel and education and health care were better.

      Chavez is a fat boy in his pretend military outfit and red hat. This is the military of Venezuela today.

    • Are you for real? Have you some self-consciousness at all? Do you only spout like this? Please be at least entertaining in your cluelessness.

    • I actually want to give the new troll high marks for creativity and entertainment value. I just about choked when I read, “Our well-trained, professional military…”. But his use of English idiom suggest he is a native English speaker, not a Venezuelan as he suggests.

    • Am I the only person who finds the resemblance between the chavista excuse for their existence (a.k.a., Caracazo/4ta Rep., Golpe de Edo.) and Bush’s excuse for the War on Terror (Sept. 11)? It is by fear of reliving horrid instances of the recent past that great atrocities have been allowed by the will of the people.
      If recent history has served us for anything is to understand how decayed, untrained, corrupt and rotten our Army is. Drug trafficking, faulty helicopters, murdered mid-rank officers (in apparent mob-like hits), complete neglect to defending sovereignty -the Guyana case, garimpeiros, the FARC save havens-, and many other things have cost more lives than the abuse of power of some Gocho some 13 years ago.

  4. Surely, this post is GTAvex bait, so he’ll come and set us straight soon enough, but…

    My understanding is that “civilian” and “military” weren’t neatly delineated categories in early 19th century Spanish America. Most of the mantuano elite had some sort of military rank and role in the militia, and would act in their civilian capacity or their military capacity depending on the occasion. Obviously the colonies didn’t have standing armies or a professionalized officer corps, you could just buy most military ranks if you had the money…so I think a historian might quibble with your characterization.

    The bigger problem with it, though, is that it still wants to hang on to some fairly disneyficated gringo assumptions about what 5 de Julio was all about. Visionaries?! Gimme a break, you had an insanely privileged extractive elite, that understood itself in the mould of medieval aristocracy, that saw a chance to become bigger fish in a smaller pond when Napoleon took over Spain. Let’s not beat around the bush here…

    • Regardless, it sure as hell wasn’t the day the Army was created! The Army had nothing to do with it. In fact, the Army was created by Juan Vicente Gómez.

      • True. J.V. Gomez was responsible of the first full professional army in venezuela. After taking power in 1908, he takes personal control of the militia and declares a permanent campaign against possible invasions. After being named General en Jefe, he molds the military, bans all weapon permits in 1919 and the following year, the Law of Obligatory Military Service is published in the Official Gazette.

      • This time you are CORRECT! Before it was called the army it was simply rferred to as la tropa.

    • Must say it is pure evil brilliance. I noticed the other day that the “Areperas Venezuela” are now also food trucks. It is like they internally found them selves acknowledging that the couldn’t open one in every little town, so they made it a truck so they can drive it to every town and get exponential exposure.

      Same thing here. If misiones were present elsewhere, they wouldn’t be showing them, but since they aren’t due to their own failures, the little they have the have to show it in cadena nacional

      • It’s only a matter of time that we’ll have a portable country (Pais Portatil).

    • The Bolivarian Missions have been in the July 5th parade for several years. Where have you been living – in Miami or Madrid?

    • Note @ 0.44 min. the ‘escolta’ on the car’s ‘step-board’ (don’t know the technical name for it). He has a briefcase in hand, as have those who lately have accompanied Ch. on his carroza rides. Are they Cuban enferemeros carrying briefcase with medical paraphernalia, perhaps?

  5. the speech by General padrino is the lowest point in the behavior of the high command of the Venezuelan army. See my blog http://www.lasarmasdecoronel.blogspot.com for the video (also in noticias24.com). After what this morally degraded officer said there is nothing to expect from this mickey mouse army. And his boss was very happy and congratulated the “patriotic” clown.

  6. I meant to say hundreds of thousands of new houses with Mision Viviendo. But there are many more. I have visited the great invernaderos now in operation under Mision Agro Venezuela – a beautiful sight – tons of vegetables trucked out of them daily across the country in large trucks and gondolas – bringing food sovereignty to Venezuela for the first time. I doubt that anyone on this page except maybe for Arturo Rosales who has taken the time to visit these great misiones and I doubt that any of you have read Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America.” Until you do, you should get off your keyboards in East Caracas and stop bitching on subjects about you know nothing.

    • There must have been a new injection of troll funds.

      Or Arturo & SP are one & the same.

      I can’t believe that there are 2 trolls on the same post.
      I’m going with one & the same.

    • Panza, after I read “Open Veins of Latin America” I read “Upside Down World” which pretty much describes a country where the socialists form the most privileged class, the military and police are the dangers and the crime, “food sovereignty” consists of massive imports from- among other places- the imperio, nationalism consists of policies reducing the country to total dependence on oil exports principally to the united states, sovereignty consists of inviting foreign powers in to monitor and keep the locals in line, and equality consists of who you know and what you are prepared to pay. Eduardo Galleano, eat your heart out. Nice evocation of high socialist kitsch though, with the gondolas of food and so forth. Have you tried propaganda writing for a living?

    • Sancho, I see that you HAVE been busy while your modern-day boss has been tilting at Windmills (Evil Empire/Cuarta Republica/Oligarchs/Church/Paraguay/etc.). But, we didn’t know that once the vast majority of food consumed in Venezuela is imported, it first must go to invernaderos for trans-shipment–or is this just an in-Venezuela way of generating commissions for the Boli-Bourgeoisie, such as that used internationally when foodstuffs are purchased through commission agents (some near or past expiration date), instead of directly from suppliers, and then shipped to Cuba to be transferred to Cuban vessels before being sent to Venezuela?? As for “Open Veins”, the largest ones with the most blood-letting have been in Venezuela the last 14 years of the Bolivarian “Revolution.”

    • and you should read Orwell’s “animal farm” … you will find that chavez looks more and more like Napoleon

    • Who tf wants food sovereignty?!!! I like eating non native products at reasonable prices!

    • “bringing food sovereignty to Venezuela for the first time” HAAAAAAAAAA ja ja ja ja ja…. (breathes in deeply) hAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja (slaps knee)

    • You are aware that reading Eduardo Galeano, nor agreeing with what he says makes you a leftist automatically, right? Try giving good-ol’ Marx or Lenin a go; not a man more famous for the beauty of his words than the content of his social critique.

    • Yes, gliding swiftly through the wonderful new network of Socialist Bolivarian waterway canals crisscrossing the Country, which, with the exception of Arturo, none of the Bloggers here have seen either, since they are blinded by their Imperialistic Capitalistic Pig Ideology!

  7. As an historian, I have to say I am not surprised with the use of these military parades for propaganda purposes. What is surprising is the level of ideological pollution you can see in any event related to this almost but not quite commie wannabe regime. Everything red, or reddish, and soldiers dressed in almost-like pioneer uniforms. Ludicrous, if you one consider how much the guys at the top enjoy the perks and privileges of power (vintage french wine, expensive trips abroad with limitless expenses accounts, etc. etc.).

    As for the “independence” itself: It is well known within the Escuela de Historia de la UCV that the movement was profoundly, profoundly conservative. It has to be: Bolivar was the equivalent of a Gustavo Cisneros at the time. This sort of version from the chavistas that Bolivar was a proto-marxist leftist Almighty God is ludicrous as well. Anyone that has read Bolivar, and read him well, knows that the guy was a conservative. No wonder why he says “…tenemos que cuidarnos de los peligros de una pardocracia…” , when he talks about the Piar affaire.

    And the war of independence. Dear Lord. Is like these chavista guys never read Vallenilla Sanz. Or Carrera Damas. The first part of the war was actually a civil war geniuses, where the base, common-like folk rooted not for Bolivar y su combo, but for the King of Spain…

    P.D. As for Arturo and Sancho Panza, try to use something more clever that the “strawman” fallacy, or the false dichotomy fallacy. It gets old when the only argument you have when you face a guy that doesn’t like your Cobardante en Jefe, is to yell “fascist” or “gringo lover”.

    • You’re absolutely correct, sir. Many people have no clue of what the “Independence War” really was like.

    • Venezuelans learn plenty of subjects when they go to school. We become adults and then realize Mathematics has stayed the same, Biology may have advanced, but History is the only one that’s very different than we had learned —for those who cared to take a second look at it. And politicians still manipulate history as they see fit. Shall we see the day when this crap gets fixed?

  8. The time has come to discuss a very worthwhile topic- the Venezuelan military. Let’s all point fingers at the military But, the biggest problem is “micommandante” who dreams of a superpower
    military.How many more billions will Chavez spend on weapons before 7October? How many billions have been spent this year so far?
    6 July this topic will be forgotten- just a little time left for our light blogging. So, let’s move along
    to another topic…we accomplished our task for the day-we made a few comments. Point is.
    are we really being serious about this (excluding Mr. Coronel)?
    My opinion-Chavez is terribly insane and this military, weapons, spy training,all the BS is way way
    overboard and has been since the beginning with Chavez. Venezuela must move beyond a
    military state- and this will not happen with Chavez remaining in power.

  9. Major depressions, panic attacks and DELUSIONS
    can be controlled in adults [obese generals included].
    Just a little bit of Zoloft or setraline,
    Just a little bit of Zoloft or setraline
    will do the trick.
    cheers, Mary Poppins.

  10. Chavez is not concerned with industrialization. Only with militarization. For example- the billions spent on weapons could have been spent on PDVSA and who doubts that production would be double what it is today. (Seriously- if anyone doubts that- let’s stop right here and discuss it.)
    Just think of the millions of good jobs that could have been created in Venezuela if IF the billions had not been thrown away on weapons for war- NOT for peace as Chavez claims.
    Chavez sees all agreements with other countries in terms of war and building and acquiring more weapons and fighters on his side of the “multi-polar world”- he thinks China is a superpower and Moslems are “superpowers” and Russians are superpowers – and they are all helping Chvez to become a “superpower” against the other 2 superpowers US and EU…
    Joining MERCOSUR for example- for Chavez only means more weapons access and more fighters who he believes are joining him. Industries are going to be the business of Brazil and Argentina. Why did Chvez give away FAJA del Orinoco- a. he does not want to industrialize and b. he wants money now from the “sales” esp. to China to buy weapons now. His dream-his myth.

    • Apart from delusions of grandeur as a motivation, massive weapons purchases produce massive hidden commissions, which keep his usually-rotating top 3M or more military officials fat and happy.

  11. Are you opposed to the idea of having a military organization for which they have the noble task to defend the country against foreign and internal enemies? I mean for USA and EU is OK but for countries like Venezuela is not? That kind of position is cynical and nowadays is kind of political suicide to say it out loud.

    Yes I agree has been deviated from the original mission to preserve the sovereign and integrity of the country, and like or not they are necessary for the stability of the country.

    • Yeah, Juan all those billions on weapons for peace. You said “like it or not they are necessary for th stability of the county”. It’s working! Such a stable, peaceful country
      with millions of new, goodpaying jobs…
      And, those satellites are for “scientific research” too.

    • Venezuela can have an army, but it needs one that meets its national needs. These days the army in many Latin American countries seems to add to national instability rather than aid it. While this doesn’t mean that we have to make our armed forces disappear, I think most countries have allowed their armed forces to exist too long without a mission. During the Cold War that mission was anticommunist defense as part of the larger Cold War strategy. However since 1991 they have little to do and have proven to be not very good at stemming the hemispheric crime wave. Here in Honduras we call the army out to fight crime and…they suck at it because that’s not what they’re trained to do. Likewise, endless rows of tanks and Russian fighter planes look awesome in parades but they cost way too much money to upkeep, money that could be spent on training an army that responds to citizens’ domestic security needs rather than prepare to fight a foreign invader that’ll never show up. At this point the only reason the FAN are being beefed up is to serve as a bludgeon in case of any future civic-political unrest.

  12. They may buy thousands of military toys, but at a highly centralized country like this not even two days if I were to deal with invasiveness.

    • In fact- it is what you do not see at the Parade that is worth pondering.
      Chavez Independence Day parade is a cake-walk a love fest an occult worship event.
      What is missing is the HARDWARE. Rows and rows of tanks.Large trucks loaded with missiles. Thousands of soldiers marching by and jets flyng overhead.
      That is what Chavez really wanted to do for Independence Day -but that would open up the eyes of Venezuela and the world…

  13. Chavez pretends to be a brave soldier with his red beret. However, this coward will run to the Cuban embassy or fly off to Cuba at the first sign of any combat. I still maintain that Venezuela’s military will be used against Venezuelan civilians but never against foreign countries.

  14. Bastardos son los que, lejos de la patria, pretenden mejorar la misma. Venezuela es otra! Pregunto, cuanto pesa Ud? Qué hace lejos del país? Es facil observar los toros, lejos de la arena.
    Nuestros soldados son dignos hijos de Bolivar. No comparto su opinion, aunque la respeto.

      • Me da risa cuando se lanzan clichés como “Nuestros soldados son dignos hijos de Bolivar” para poner a las Fuerzas Armadas por encima de cualquier escrutinio, de cualquier control democrático.

        A ver Marquitos, cuéntame: ¿Vásquez Velasco era también “hijo de Bolívar”? ¿Ítalo del Valle Aliegro? ¿Rosendo? ¿Molina Tamayo? ¿Qué tal Pérez Jiménez?

      • To Bastardize: to lower in condition or worth; debase: “hybrid works that neither preserve nor bastardize existing art forms.”

    • Más que hijos de Bolívar, son ciudadanos de un país, cuyo trabajo es el resguardo de todos, no asumir un papel político. El día que ellos cumplan con su papel a cabalidad, será el día que se les deje de criticar con tanto fervor. Saludos.

  15. Ironic, the one willing to call other fascists at the first disagreement, are the ones with the militaristic fetish. Really, the comments here look a bit like a BDSM sub defending its Master.

    • “Nada hay más grande que servirle al pueblo, que servirle como soldado a una revolución en una época de profundos cambios como la que hoy estamos viviendo”, expresó Chávez, quien definió el evento como un acto de relevo generacional “profundamente castrense y bolivariano”.
      Chavez speaking at graduation for officers today. “serving the people” – what?

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