"Chávez's depiction of Bolívar spreads hate and divides society"
"The Liberator despised electoral campaigns, but Chávez made him campaign coordinator" "He wanted to swap the Spanish empire for the British, which he saw with great interest since 1810"
Sharp and acrimonious, historian Elías Pino Iturrieta finds joy in addressing some of the underlying pathologies within "monotheistic patriotism" and effortlessly and mercilessly crushes, one after another, the myths and legends surrounding the alleged immortality of Simón Bolívar. An example lies in his belief that the Liberator wanted to swap the Spanish empire for the British.
-Previous use of the Liberator's image for political purposes abounds, yet have there been any cases within the electoral context?
-There is no record of this because the applicable law since 1958 bans the use of national symbols in political campaigns, including the image, quotations and portrait of Bolívar. In a way, it is some sort of novelty. (Dictator Marcos) Pérez Jiménez used the flag and made references to Bolívar's last proclamation ("If my death contributes to the end of partisanship..."), but Chávez uses Bolívar for political and electoral purposes.
-The underlying issue is that Electoral Laws are being infringed.
-The National Electoral Council is not known for putting the president-candidate in his place; he does whatever he wants and gets his way. Therefore, one can only passively watch the pairing of Simón and Hugo plow on, a situation that breaks the law and defies all logic as it makes no sense for Bolívar to walk alongside Chávez in continuity of the former's projects.
- In using it for partisan ends, does the Liberator's image suffer, who is accepted by all Venezuelans and not by one side only?
-Bolívar was a dominating figure spanning all Venezuelans. He was depicted as a fundamental and essential presence in our life throughout the 19th Century. This remained in effect continuously until Chávez, who now uses Bolívar as a hero dividing the country into two sides. So, Venezuelans are either good or bad based on whether they agree with the ideology of the Liberator, Chávez's sidekick, or not. Bolívar divides the masses instead of bringing them together and stirs up hate instead of harmony, as filtered through his prophet who is none other than Chávez. With the spotlight shining bright, Chávez sets out to use symbolic manipulation, turning Bolívar into a pugnacious prophet, a role he never had.
-Does this strategy reap electoral benefits?
-I do not think so. The candidate-president is simply showcasing his shortage of ideas. With nothing new to say, he lacks arguments to attract voters and looks to Bolívar, but the latter's image is so excessively exploited that, instead of luring voters, it drives them away. Instead of being a magnet, he has become a broom that sweeps voters off.
-Is it not beneficial for Chávez to showcase that no one has ever been intertwined with the image and ideology of the Liberator? I mean, it is not Bolívar who is confused with Chávez's image; it is the exact opposite.
-There is such an intention to create confusion that acute reactions abounded as a result of the someone's misfired claim that opposition candidate Henrique Capriles is an eighth-generation nephew of Bolívar. But, since Chávez felt an unsubstantiated kinship toward Bolívar, he launched a ruthless attack against Fernando Bolívar, first-generation nephew and protégé of the Liberator. This was done to link Capriles, allegedly relative of Bolívar, with Fernando Bolívar, who has a humble man, without any major issues in his biography. Chávez insults Fernando Bolívar to criticize Capriles and to hoist himself upon the geological tree. It is as if this was about his own family, and he was part of the Bolívar Palacios family history. That is quite a pathology in itself.
-Why would Capriles be at fault for being a relative of Bolívar?
-For no reason at all. The only ones at fault are those who feel tempted to use Bolívar in an electoral campaign. They fail to remember that Bolívar hated political campaigns and even wrote in the Constitution of Bolivia that society's instability was largely due to political campaign. That is why life-long presidency was better; he suggested a type of monarchy without a crown. Even though Bolívar made those statements, Chávez has made him his campaign coordinator, and now someone from the opposition wants to make Bolívar a member of Capriles' campaign. Crazy talk from both sides.
-Did Fernando Bolívar betray his uncle and take part in the plot to assassinate him in Bogotá as Chávez claims?
-Absolutely not. That is one of the incoherent things that the president said on the Liberator's birthday. Fernando never even found out. He would have been in a room and may have just woken up by the noise. He had no political involvement during the life of the Liberator. As Simón Bolívar's protégé, Fernando was held dear and was even sent to complete his studies at the only place where the Liberator felt that a suitable education could be attained: the US.
-Was Fernando Bolívar corrupt?
-It is also untrue that he did business with (José Antonio) Páez and got richer along with him. He did take part in building an aqueduct and had minor interest in certain projects during the tenure of Guzmán Blanco, but he never incurred in questionable actions. When he was young, he might have had a rather licentious and somewhat irresponsible life, but Bolívar called him out and made him study. It is a shame that Chávez tries to discredit him for merely political reasons.
-As one of his key arguments, Chávez insists on the need to fulfill, once and for all, the independence process, as if Bolívar's work was incomplete.
-The first large-scale political project mentioning the independence, aiming to become a continuity thereof, came about in 1945 after the coup d'état on (Isaías) Medina Angarita. Political party Democratic Action offered a second independence, on an intellectual basis and bound to that party. Mariano Picón Salas even compared the Barranquilla Plan, prepared by the future founders of Democratic Action, to the Declaration of Independence of July 5, 1811. Therefore, the current manipulation process, which intends to merge a future political project with the Independence, is far from unique. The Independence was a particular and unrepeatable process that took place between 1810 and 1830.
-Does this manipulation not tarnish Bolívar's role in the transformation that led to Venezuela becoming an independent republic?
-It is nonsense. Neither Democratic Action back in '45 nor Chávez at present realize that, by deeming the Independence incomplete, they are saying that Bolívar's work remained incomplete. Consequently, they have taken it upon themselves to attempt to finish it. This is the illogical nature of the hyperbolic, monotheistic Venezuelan patriotism.
-Chávez finds in Bolívar a great visionary and points out that back when it was nearly impossible to know about the future of the US, the latter predicted it would turn into an empire.
-Chávez stands for little more than an outdated (second half of the 20th Century) Marxist histogram, according to which Bolívar foresaw the power that the US would become. The truth is that there are only loose fragments of ill will against the US diplomatic agent in Venezuela at the time, who was trying to collect some money and this angered Bolívar. Care must be made when referencing Bolívar and anti-imperialism.
-Because most documents evidence that the Liberator wanted to swap one empire for another. He fought against the Spanish empire but wanted to swap it with the British empire. He was impressed with the latter since 1810 and insisted in doing business in which the lion's share corresponded to England. Even before drafting the Jamaica Letter, he offered transfers to Nicaragua and Panama to build a channel for the British even though he was not authorized to do so. And, before the British cabinet, he referred to the Independence of the Americas as a significant business venture for the British Crown. Those were the ties Bolívar had with the only empire existing back then. References to the United States are tangential and do not substantiate the structured ideology about the rising US empire.
Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
The very early morning after the presidential election (April 15), both candidates requested the National Electoral Council (CNE) to conduct a full audit of the process: one, Henrique Capriles, because he asserts that the election results are different from the ones announced, and the other one, Nicolás Maduro, in order to clear any doubt regarding his victory, and to reinforce his political stance. Nevertheless, as it is already known, President Maduro changed his mind.