Billboards With Secessionist Messages In Maracaibo, Venezuela
Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2006
By Jesus Nery Barrios
Billboards showing secessionist messages in the state of Zulia's capital Maracaibo are causing alarm in Venezuela and are bringing up an old aspiration of some zulianos. All those signs have a logo with the map of the state of Zulia (in yellow) and a white arrow coming out from it (meaning Zulia must take its own path), with the legend (in red): "An Own Course for Zulia!", and show different messages in every one of them. One of them says: "Family, Market and Private Property: Pillars of a Free Society". Another one says: "Yes to the Statute of Autonomy, No to Socialism and enough with the Lefts". And the last spotted one says: "Liberal Capitalism, Hope for the Poor", with all of them displaying two phone numbers and an e-mail account to contact this ideas promoters.
Even when these messages are very obvious by themselves, within the venezuelan and world context today some notes are necessary to fully understand why they appear now and why in Zulia, specifically.
It's well known in Venezuela the state of Zulia (west of Venezuela, next to Colombia) is the richest one of the country, not just for its oil but for its agrarian and cattle production, which supplies 80% of its consumption, having in the lake of Maracaibo (biggest of Southamerica) a very important sweet water reservoir. With a population of almost 4 million people where its capital is populated by more than 2 million people (from which 1 million are legal and illegal colombian citizens), this state has always showed with pride its "regionalism" given its historical geo-political situation (the port of Maracaibo has always had an independent life from La Guaira's port and from Barranquilla (Colombia's nearest port) as well as its internal socio-economic dynamics, which have given them their own cultural features: a special way to speak (or "voicing"), similar to and old version of the spanish language, and even their own folkloric music: the gaita, within the context of a very conservative way of living and thinking.
It's not casual they live and think conservatively, since already during the independence war (18th Century) led by Simon Bolivar he himself had to invade Zulia to force it to be one of the provinces who proclaimed and were fighting for freedom and self-determination, and a good proof of that conflict can be found even today in Maracaibo's current coat of arms: a gift from the King of Spain to thank their loyalty to the Spaniard Crown after Caracas proclaimed independence on the 5th of july, 1810.
It's not casual most "maracuchos" (as zulians are called in Venezuela) today feel proud of having a governor from anti-Chavez opposition, of not being "communists" or "chavistas" as is the rest of Venezuela, even when they seem to forget the fact all social missions created and developed by Chavez Bolivarian Revolution exist in Zulia too and are very accepted and loved by the impoverished zulianos, meaning they are a little chavistas and communists after all, and the proof is their splendid governor had no choice but to develop his own misiones. (See below).
Their historical trends make them an easy prey for secessionist projects, like the one the SONY Oil Corp. launched at the beginning of the oil exploitation in Venezuela (in the 1920's) in order to install a puppet government and so extract all the oil they wanted almost for free. The "new" project of the 21st Century comes to life within the context of the Bolivarian Revolution, the Peak Oil crisis and the Oil Oligarchy that holds power in the U.S.A., hungry for fuel and ready to do whatever necessary to acquire it, even to divide sovereign countries (as was the case with Iraq, when the United Kingdom "created" Kuwait; or with Colombia when the U.S. "created" Panama). What is not new is the method and the characters involved in the comedy: divide et impera and the always needed local traitors ready to sell their souls to obey their masters' wishes, in this case it's Zulia's governor turn: Manuel Rosales (or "Manny" as he's being known from some time now), a pretended leader who wasn't able to finish his high school (while anti-Chavez opponents always refer to Venezuela's President as being ignorant, even when he's a Graduate in Military Arts in the Military Academy of Venezuela with a post-grade in political science -even when he has not presented his final thesis yet) but has been able to become a big land owner in his state and a mall owner in Miami, Florida in a very fast manner. Recently he has been accused of having secret meetings with Chavez' opponents in Colombia, of giving shelter and financial support to extreme-right terrorist paramilitaries within Zulia's territory and of being very close and extremely kind to U.S. ambassador William Brownfield in the latter 's more and more frequent visits to Zulia saluting it as "the best state of Venezuela". As stated above, his mediocrity and manipulating ability is such he didn't have the option but to develop social programs which are copycats of those from Chavez only changing their names. For instance. Mision Barrio Adentro was named Barrio a Barrio; Mercal (Mercado de Alimentos -Food Market) was named Mezul (Mercados del Zulia); Mision Milagro (free eyes operation for the poor) was named Con Buenos Ojos (With Good Eyes), and so on. (http://www.gobernaciondelzulia.gov.ve/lista2.asp?sec=18). Even the logos are plain copycats from those in the bolivarian misiones.
The ironic part of the story is that these special compatriots has always complaint about centralism from Caracas where Zulia, being Venezuela's wealth producer, remained one of the less developed states within the old Republic of Venezuela (poorly built streets, bad basic services, low life standards), and in 40 years of the so-called "democracy", with pro-market governments and politicians and full liberal capitalism its leaders were unable to give Zulia what they deserved, but now with President Chavez Zulia enjoys the benefits of the new Law of Special Assignments, which fairly distributes the oil and tax revenues the central administration receives to the most productive states (including Zulia, Bolivar -where gas, iron and water reserves are, and Anzoategui).
That's why it's not so difficult to understand why the U.S. choosed Zulia and the zulianos to divide the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and proclaim an independent Republic of Zulia (or whatever new name the U.S. want them to put in it, since they are the real authors of such an absurd idea), to kill two birds with one stone: take over Zulia's oil, and to weaken Chavez and the people of Venezuela, as they tried in the past with the coup-de-etat/oil strike in december 2002-january 2003. But the maracuchos should take note of the following: once you set dissent within a population it can turn against you too. What would happen if the guajiros (ethnic group living inside Zulia's territory with 2000 years old culture) decided independence is a good thing and declared themselves independent from Zulia? That's something very crucial to take into account since there's a lot of coal (Guasare), water (Tule) and quarries (Isla de Toas) within La Guajira's territory; the only one suitable beaches in Zulia (Cojoro, Caimare Chico) are within goajiro's territory, and as if it were not enough with this, the Guajira's Gulf is a strategical point and the entrance to Lake of Maracaibo's wealth, with huge gas and oil reserves under its surface. So maracuchos, think it very well before listening to not so advisable gringo's advice, because you will suffer a lot without the cheap and high quality vegetables and fruits you consume from the Andes region, without the cheap and assured electric energy you get from El Guri dam (which supplies almost 60% of the electric energy of Venezuela), and very very much without the cheapest gasoline of the western hemisphere refined in the Paraguana Refining Complex located in the state of Falcon (biggest of the world), as the rest of Venezuela witnessed during the above mentioned oil strike.
If you want to listen to your gaitas, say "vos" instead of "Usted" (You), and elect your opposition leaders to save you from "communism" and "chavism" that is your very special and constitunionally-granted choice. What you should not do is to give support to crazy ideas like the independence of a state that has been part of Venezuela since 1810, to silly propaganda campaigns aimed at ignorant minds to confuse them and to use them as cannon fodder for the imperialist goal of total domination of oil resources using the local traitors like Manny Rosales, who last year did his bit to this lost cause by promulgating a State Constitution who says, in its second article: "Exerting the Right to Autonomy, the State of Zulia will induce its Self-Government, fully exerting its political, administrative, organizative, juridical and tax autonomy, according to what is established in the Republic's Constitution, based on the federal regime and ruled by the principles of territorial integrity, solidarity, concurrence and responsibility"; apart from creating the related symbology for their purposes, like "La semana de la zulianidad" (week of zulian spirit) (http://clezulia.gov.ve/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=44)
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is One since 1810, and will be One when she unites around her legitimate leader Hugo Chavez to defend its sovereignity and integrity from any divisional attempt from the decadent and dying american empire.