On July 5th, just like every year, my country celebrates its independence day.
It was on that day, in 1811, that Venezuela finally enacted its declaration of independence from the Spanish Crown, which had been colonizing us for over three centuries.
For historical figures like Simon Bolivar, Jose Antonio Paez, and Francisco de Miranda, our independence from Spain was the beginning of a new Venezuela, an independent and free Venezuela.
The idea was that by achieving our independence, we would be able to develop our own political and economic institutions. So, we would be able to finally develop as a nation.
In this sense, I am sure many thought that after our independence, far gone were the days when rulers acted in despotic and authoritarian ways in Venezuela.
However, here we are. It has been over two centuries since we became independent, and our people are still experiencing the same injustices we expected during our colonial times – if not worse.
Just like the Spanish crown had a system where not every man was equal under the law, today we in Venezuela have a very unequal country.
Back then, the law was applied differently depending on your race and nationality. Today, it depends on your political affiliation.
Back then, Spain’s Guipuzcoan Company had a monopoly on key sectors, such as tobacco and coffee. Today, the Venezuelan military controls the oil business and the country’s oligarchs pretty much everything else.
Back then, we were ruled by the wishes of a King on the other side of the Atlantic. Today, we are ruled by a Tsar in Russia, an Ayatollah in Tehran, and perhaps more pathetic, a Caribbean dictator in Havanna.
In general, we are no freer today than three centuries ago. So, while the world has been moving towards freedom and democracy during this period, we in Venezuela have been frozen in time.
Personally, I don’t think we are destined to fail. There is nothing intrinsic about us blocking us from building a freer and truly democratic future. But we have to work for it. We have to commit ourselves to our cause. We have to finally build a nation not based on privileges or promises but on freedoms and duties.
This is why, I believe there was nothing to celebrate on July 5th. Our true independence day is yet to come.