Chavismo buries the Spanish legacy of the coat of arms of Caracas, 400 years later | International

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Image of the official shields.

Caracas is premiere. Chavismo has decided to change the coat of arms, the flag and the anthem of the capital. The traditional emblem of arms of Santiago de León de Caracas, one of the stamps par excellence of Venezuelan identity, granted in 1591 by Felipe II from the offices of Simón de Bolívar – of Basque origin and a prominent member of Venezuelan colonial life and ancestor of the Liberator-, gives way to a new design. Carmen Meléndez, mayor of the Libertador municipality, seat of an important part of the Caracas metropolitan area, signed an ordinance for the change, accompanied by the vote of the Chavista members of the Caracas Municipal Council.

The new coat of arms of the city shows the faces of an indigenous woman and another of the black race, in profile next to Bolívar himself, as a reflection of the white man. Below there are some inscriptions that commemorate the date of the pro-independence deeds, along with those of two of the episodes that form the basis of the officialist contemporary narrative: the popular protests of the Caracazo, on February 27, 1989, and the suppressed popular anti-Chavista rebellion of April 1989. 2002.

The announcement adds to a growing list of squares, shields, statues, parks, ephemeris and characters that have been renamed by Chavismo, tending to mitigate or ignore the Spanish colonial past to strengthen the indigenist legend and its own story as a political current.

The decision announced by Meléndez has been highly criticized, especially on social networks. The National Academy of History issued a statement in which it states that "the symbols of a nation constitute representations of a collective identity that strengthen belonging, and have been built throughout its history as a result of a shared past, therefore that they are not a circumstantial creation of a political bias. Only a poor and limited understanding of our historical heritage can lead to the banal exercise that involves modifying the founding symbols of a city, as if it were a question of renovating the logo of a commercial brand”.

Antonio Ecarri, from the Pencil Movement, an opposition political party in the city, has assured that Venezuelans have been "victims" of an attack on their identity. While the mayor of the Baruta municipality, also part of the capital region, Darwin González, posted a tweet on his personal account that reads: “We propose a citizen consultation and let the people decide if they want to change the symbols of Caracas ”.

"Venezuelans are heirs of the conquerors too, as a result of the Spanish conquest," said political scientist and academic Guillermo Tell Aveledo in an interview with the Unión Radio station. Tell maintains that it is an "artificial imposition" that will not last in the public attachment. "Many people will never recognize it, as is already the case with other name changes of this type," he insists.

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The old emblem of Santiago de León de Caracas was for a long time the symbol of the identity of part of the Venezuelan provinces of the Spanish colony. At that time, Caracas was a wide expanse of territory that included the current central states and part of the country's plains. The coat of arms predates the creation of the General Captaincy of Venezuela in 1777. Under its aegis, Simón Bolívar; the precursor of the independence of America, Francisco de Miranda, and the intellectual Andrés Bello, father of Castilian grammar for Americans. The lion is the symbol of the city. His image is embedded in several official buildings and some statues and he presided over the celebrations of the quadricentennial of Caracas in 1967.

The change is added to other recent ones. The Francisco Fajardo highway -mestizo, son of a conqueror, one of the first explorers of the Caracas valley-, which crosses the entire city from east to south west, was renamed Cacique Guaicaipuro, in honor of the head of the conference of indigenous chiefs who he faced the Spanish in the battle of Maracapana and one of the most tenacious combatants against Diego de Losada, the founder of Caracas. A monument to the figure of his questionable aesthetic credentials is now being built on one of its extensions.

Cerro El Avila, which dominates the city, is now called by the Warairarepano regime, a Caribbean voice that was extinct. October 12, before Columbus Day, is a holiday called Indigenous Resistance Day after a decree by Hugo Chávez. In 2006, the statue of Christopher Columbus, on the Paseo of the same name, in Plaza Venezuela, was demolished by Chavista activists to erect a monument with a warrior with bows and arrows in a combat posture. In any case, the vast majority of people continue to talk daily about Cerro El Avila, Paseo Colón, Día de la Raza and the Fajardo highway.

Mayor Meléndez assured that the new coat of arms of Caracas was the result of a broad consultation and regretted that the opposition councilors had not approved it: "There was resistance to change, attachment to colonial symbols."

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