Friday, December 14, 2007

Orientation flagged

I read in an article this week that Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez “ordered the horse on the national flag to face left instead of right to reflect his socialist orientation.”

I hadn’t heard this one before (a quick google yields nothing beyond the article cited above), so I don’t know whether this is true or just a beat-up.

The flag represented in my Encarta 2005 edition looks like this:

While the current Wikipedia entry for Venezuela shows the following:

There’s an extra star there too!

All very strange. Has Mr Chavez ordered every flag in every state institution, every school, etc., to be replaced with the new logo?

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Anonymous Jacob said...

Looks to me like the horse was about to turn left anyway...

14/12/07 12:43 PM  
Blogger Father Park said...

Are the kangaroo and emu now gazing to the left or simply resolutely to centre?

14/12/07 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Dylan said...

Wikipedia proves your eagle eyes right on the star issue but the 'turning left' thing might be a furphy.

According to that source of sources:

"On March 12, 2006, the flag was changed once again to the one depicted in the top image. The main changes are the addition of an eighth star, which President Hugo Chávez has called the "Bolívar Star" in honor of Simón Bolívar who had himself proposed the eighth star in 1817. This eighth star recognizes the contributions of the 19th century colonial province of Guayana (now one of the administrative regions of Venezuela), which joined in the fight for independence shortly after the original seven.

The Coat of Arms of Venezuela was also modified. Formerly running to the viewer's right but twisting its head to the viewer's left, Simon Bolivar's white horse now gallops and faces toward the viewer's left; in heraldry, however, this is dexter, the shield-bearer's right, and is the usual direction of motion.

Although the new flag was approved by the Venezuelan government it has caused significant controversy, and at the time of its official unveiling, Óscar Pérez, a spokesperson for the opposition group National Resistance Command, stated that the opposition would not use the new flag.

The opposition has complained about the significant cost involved in modifying not only all flags but all documents bearing the flag or coat of arms by the year 2011 as proposed by the government. However, the government says the 2011 proposal allows ample time for phasing in of the new flag as citizens, businesses, and other organizations are able to switch.

The changed direction of the horse on the coat of arms also caused a stir among the opposition, commentators, and comedians who have remarked that the horse's apparent "running to the left" is a not so subtle reflection of Chávez' left-leaning politics. The new law says the latter represents the horse running with "independence and freedom"; it includes no reference to the attributed political symbolism."

14/12/07 6:17 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

Ah, well spotted Dylan! I only searched google news, should've thought to go to The Oracle.

Okay, so maybe Wikipedia isn't the most authoritative source, but so far it looks like this thing's leaning towards being a beat-up.

14/12/07 7:14 PM  
Anonymous Dylan said...

The 2011 change over date is interesting. I would have thought any authoritarian worth his weight could effect a bit of change quicker than that - particularly with the oil money flowing in to finance the new flag industry this must have promotoed. Can't quite imagine the Bolsheviks giving everyone four years to get on board the whole 'hammer and sickle' thing.

14/12/07 7:47 PM  
Blogger Jacob A. Stam said...

Yes could be a good few years for the Venezuelan flag industry, and perhaps the linen industry (or whatever the hell they make flags out of).

But I get the impression that this authoritarian wants to carry the country with him, not drag it along behind him by its chains.

He imagines himself loved -- which is borne out to some degree by his support among 'the masses'.

By the way, that support base of his is guaranteed by the 'non-meddling' stance of the US.

14/12/07 10:53 PM  
Blogger Jacob A. Stam said...

Oh yeah, it occurs to me to ask: How the hell did it take so long to recognise Guayana with that eighth star?

Also, I read somewhere today that the horse "symbolises Liberty", but now it turns out to be Simon Bolivar's very own horse!

Was its name Bucephalus? Or Silver?

Will google when I get a moment...

14/12/07 11:10 PM  

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