After Carabobo (II) | Vladimir Acosta

Portrait Fragment of José Antonio Páez by John J. Peoli

It should not be forgotten that the Caracas Venezuelan oligarchy or, rather, that its patriot or republican sector was the promoter, the main political leader, and ultimately the great beneficiary of Independence, which implied serious limits to its possible social reach. From the XNUMXth century, in the heat of the European Enlightenment and later, of the so-called North American Revolution, the rivalry for control of political power that confronted this oligarchic venezuelan sector with the Spanish began to increase, although rebellion kept it together with them. of the town, of indigenous people and black slaves, which was also growing alarmingly. By the end of the Spanish colony, at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, the peninsulares continued to have political power, although it is true that the Venezuelan oligarchy previously controlled the councils and had some access to audiences. The dispute with the Spaniards was born and maintained because, the almost absolute owner of economic power: of the land, of the haciendas and plantations, of slave and servile, black and indigenous labor, and of a large part of commerce, ambitions all political power, but lacks sufficient strength to obtain it and fears that trying without the necessary support could create a political and social chaos capable of shaking and fundamentally changing against it that prevailing system of which in the end it is the main beneficiary .

The occasion that makes it possible to try for Independence is the Spanish crisis of 1808. The Venezuelan Junta that was created in 1810 dared to declare it in 1811. The Caracas oligarchy wants a Revolution of independence like that of the United States, whose ruling class, rich, white Racist and slave-owning, became independent from Great Britain, keeping the social system from which derived its wealth and power untouched. But in this Spanish America that is no longer possible; and the initial struggle of the republican venezuelan oligarchy, which speaks of equality, freedom and independence while despising the pardos, uses the indigenous as serfs, keeps the blacks enslaved and wants to subject the free llaneros to peonage, soon becomes violent civil war. The reason is that its message of equality and freedom does not seduce the distrustful people. Part of this begins to mobilize in slave rebellions; and then explodes in a massive and violent popular movement of llanera rebellion against Independence, which crushes republican Venezuela in 1814.

The independence struggle that has been resumed in 1816 begins to take on another profile. The Venezuelan oligarchy needs popular support. The majority of the military leaders leading the fight, among whom Bolívar excels, go further because they sincerely want to win that support, which will take their time. But already among the llaneros the leadership of Páez has emerged, which has always been a Republican. And Bolívar, who wins their support, frees the slaves. Equality is promised to the people, and lands to the llaneros. But for now there is no way to deliver them and only bonuses are granted that the llaneros, not skilled in paperwork, auction off or give away. Páez and Monagas are among those who buy them. After the triumph they will be exchanged for lands.

The oligarchy allows such promises to be made because it needs that support, but neither in Angostura nor in Cúcuta does it accept to abolish slavery, as Bolívar wants. And after Carabobo and even more so, after Venezuela's separation from Colombia, it begins to speak more clearly and impose its will, completely setting aside those promises and frustrating the people who with their struggle gave them independence and who no longer need them. In addition, Bolívar and Sucre are shaken, who hinder him, Soublette is won, and popular leaders such as Páez, Monagas and others are incorporated into their ranks. Now he has the power and Páez finally becomes his leader.

It is precisely for this reason that in previous works I have insisted on distinguishing between Independence and Emancipation, related but different concepts that are used as synonyms, which in my opinion favors the interests of the oligarchy at the expense of those of the people. Independence is the project of the Venezuelan republican oligarchy, which wanted to free itself from Spanish rule without affecting the social system of which it was the main beneficiary. And that was what was achieved. Emancipation is, not the people's program, because they are illiterate and have no way to write and launch projects, but it is what they want and proclaim with their struggles: social and racial equality, elimination of the servitude of indigenous people and peasants and abolition of the slavery of blacks, all with land distribution, social justice, an end to exploitation and the achievement of humane living conditions for all. It is the social revolution that the oligarchy neither accepted nor could accept. The most it offered was an ambiguous legal equality to the pardos and a miserable freedom of the bellies to the blacks. All with more social inequality, more large estates and more peonage.

That is why Independence is the triumph of the oligarchy, which contributes little and means for the people. That is why it imposes the rule, and the people, once again led by the llaneros, renew their struggle shortly afterwards. And amid ups and downs, revolts, failures and new rebellions, this indefatigable struggle of the people has not stopped. It filled the entire XNUMXth century. And in the XNUMXth century, in a soon urbanized Venezuela, it went from peasant struggle to urban, worker and mass struggle that, amid battles, defeats, failures and always new hopes, continues to this day claiming the same objectives. And this time trying to merge Popular Emancipation and Independence into one and only cause.

And by the way, what happened in the meantime with our Independence, heroically won in Carabobo? Well, it did not last long, that with the complicity of the oligarchy it was soon mediated and gradually lost throughout the two centuries that separate us from that liberating victory.

It all started immediately. Britain, which had plans to dominate us as a new imperial power in this regard, began by collecting its recent support from us. Loans that started our foreign debt, business houses and banks everywhere, and unequal and leonine contracts that our governments signed in perpetuity. They imposed on us their freedom of trade, the free navigation of our rivers, their most-favored-nation clauses, and the unequal opening to world free trade that condemned us, as in the Spanish colony, to sell raw materials and buy industrial Europe their products. manufactured goods. In a few years we became an economic colony of Great Britain. And that colonial rule, initially without occupation of territory, was maintained throughout the nineteenth century.

And after its Civil War, three decades of enormous industrial development, resurrecting its Monroe Doctrine and imposing its false Pan-Americanism on us, the United States, at the beginning of the XNUMXth century, threw Europeans out of the Caribbean, turned us into a backyard and began to expand its dominion over our continent. It imposes on us an imperial, neocolonial, looting, hypocritical and violent rule that has lasted for more than a century and to which, despite the struggle that the country has been waging against that rule in these last two decades, we are still subject. Venezuela resists and demands from the Empire its right to govern itself freely and sovereignly and to solve our internal problems without its gross interference.

In short, in key aspects of our life and culture we are still in the colony, now American. It is up to all of us to continue the fight against that colonial rule if we want to feel worthy and consequent heirs of those who fought and died for our freedom and independence in Carabobo.

 

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