Venezuela celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Carabobo, the decisive combat of the troops commanded by Simón Bolívar in 1821 to consolidate the independence of the Spanish Crown. The battle ended a 300-year colonial relationship and a stark civil conflict, the ten-year War of Independence.
With the victory obtained by the patriotic forces against the Spanish troops commanded by General Miguel de la Torre, Bolívar militarily occupies the center of the country and consolidates his control over Venezuela and New Granada, today Colombia, already liberated after the battle. of Boyacá. It would be the first stone for the construction of Gran Colombia, the famous attempt to build a federated nation that was also going to include Ecuador, and which was going to collapse nine years later.
June 24 is, since then, one of the most important holidays in Venezuela: Army Day. In the midst of an unusual shortage of resources, Nicolás Maduro has decided to continue with the state festivities and has appointed a Bicentennial Presidential Commission to commemorate the anniversary. State television has premiered a series on the Battle of Carabobo directed by director Luis Alberto Lamata.
Resources have been invested to repair public ornaments and decorate the squares and avenues, —uniform the façade of gray cities—, and allusive motifs, murals and posters have been placed in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities.
After being suspended in 2020 due to the effects of the pandemic, this year the traditional military parade has been organized again in Campo de Carabobo, the site where the combat took place: a commemorative civic park inaugurated 100 years ago. located about 200 kilometers from Caracas. The parade was chaired by the Minister of Defense, General in Chief Vladimir Padrino López, one of the key elements of the regime. Curiously, Maduro was not present, he was receiving the foreign ministers of the countries that make up the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America – Peoples’ Trade Treaty, ALBA, the subregional forum of the allies of Chavismo.
The Carabobo anniversary has been fuel for Chavista propaganda around national sovereignty and foreign interference in the current political context, and gives continuity to the military interpretation of the national historical future, which has traditionally overvalued the exploits of the war of independence to the detriment of their civil achievements.
“Return to Carabobo”, to rescue the founding myth of the homeland, and consolidate in the present “the second national independence”, has been an extremely common proclamation in most of the Venezuelan politicians and military of these decades.
“I do not think it is a question of evaluating it from the pure and simple epic”, qualifies the historian and academic Edgardo Mondolfi Gudat. “But without a doubt, Carabobo made fundamental achievements for what was to be the future structure of the Republic. Carabobo is a very important political and military development for the cause of independence. Among others, it originated the consolidation of the Liberation Army and the definitive military integration with the Colombian forces under the command of Bolívar ”, he adds.
The reflections on the 200 years of Carabobo have included political and civil opposition sectors and the country’s thought centers. “I particularly highlight the effort made by the universities and the National Academy of History to offer reflections on the Battle of Carabobo, particularly from the point of view of the new military historiography,” says Mondolfi Gudat.
“It is not necessarily harmful for us to review the development of the country’s military history,” says fellow historian and writer Tomás Straka. “If Bolívar had lost the Battle of Carabobo, what the Venezuelan civilian thinkers dreamed of to give the Republic the definitive profiles would not have been possible,” he adds.
The Battle of Carabobo is the consequence of a military pact sealed by Simón Bolívar and General Pablo Morillo on behalf of the Kingdom of Spain, the Treaty of Armistice and Regularization of the War, or Treaty of Trujillo, which provides humanitarian parameters and minimum considerations within of hostilities, and that closes the cycle of the war of extermination, or war to the death, that both sides had been developing since 1813. Shortly after, Morillo returned to Spain and left La Torre in command.
Straka relates: “In 1820, the Republic of Colombia that Bolívar had devised — fruit of the fusion of Venezuela, New Granada and Ecuador— was already a reality in the Orinoquia, Venezuelan Guiana and the center of New Granada, with its capital Bogotá. After the victory of Carabobo, accompanied by other military successes, Bolívar adds Cartagena, Maracaibo, and Panama, whose leaders also decide to accompany him, and incorporates Caracas into the future Republic of Colombia ”.
Shortly after the Battle of Carabobo, Bolívar would undertake the South American independence military campaign, on the way to Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. La Torre will travel to Puerto Rico, one of the Spanish strongholds in the Caribbean, where he would hold the post of Captain General for the next 15 years.
Subscribe here to the newsletter from EL PAÍS América and receive all the informative keys of the current situation of the region.