|Use||State and war flag and state and naval ensign|
|Adopted||March 12, 2006|
|Variant flag of Venezuela|
|Use||Civil flag and ensign|
|Adopted||March 12, 2006|
The flag of Venezuela dates from 1811, the beginning of that nation's struggle for independence. The basic design includes a horizontal tricolor of yellow, blue, and red. Further modifications have involved including a set of stars, multiple changes to the placement and number of stars and inclusion of an optional coat of arms at the upper-left corner.
The flag is essentially the one designed by Francisco de Miranda for his unsuccessful 1806 expedition to liberate Venezuela and later adopted by the National Congress of 1811. It consisted of three equal horizontal stripes of yellow, blue and red. Miranda's flag is also the inspiration for the flags of Colombia and Ecuador. This original design was first flown on March 12, 1806 at Jacmel, Haiti as Miranda's expedition prepared to make the final leg of its voyage to Venezuela. The flag was first flown over Venezuelan soil at La Vela de Coro, on August 3. Until August 3, 2006, Flag Day was celebrated in Venezuela on March 12. Since 2006 it has been celebrated on August 3.
Miranda gave at least two sources of inspiration for his flag. In a letter written to Count Semyon Vorontsov in 1792, Miranda stated that the colors were based on a theory of primary colors given to him by the German writer and philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Miranda described a late-night conversation he had with Goethe at a party in Weimar during the winter of 1785. Fascinated with Miranda's account of his exploits in the United States Revolutionary War and his travels throughout the Americas and Europe, Goethe told him that, "Your destiny is to create in your land a place where primary colors are not distorted.” He proceeded to clarify what he meant by this:
First he explained to me the way the iris transforms light into the three primary colors […] then he proved to me why yellow is the most warm, noble and closest to [white] light; why blue is that mix of excitement and serenity, a distance that evokes shadows; and why red is the exaltation of yellow and blue, the synthesis, the vanishing of light into shadow.
It is not that the world is made of yellows, blues and reds; it is that in this manner, as if in an infinite combination of these three colors, we human beings see it. […] A country [Goethe concluded] starts out from a name and a flag, and it then becomes them, just as a man fulfils his destiny.
After Miranda later designed his flag based on this conversation, he happily recalled seeing a fresco by Lazzaro Tavarone in the Palazzo Belimbau in Genoa that depicted Christopher Columbus unfurling a similar-colored flag in Veragua during his fourth voyage.
In his military diary, Miranda gave another source of inspiration: the yellow, blue and red standard of the Burgers' Guard (Bürgerwache) of Hamburg, which he also saw during his travels in Germany. The idea of the flag is documented in his 1801 plan for an army to liberate Spanish America, which he submitted unsuccessfully to the British cabinet. In it Miranda requested the materials for "ten flags, whose colours shall be red, yellow and blue, in three zones."
The symbolism traditionally ascribed to the colors are that the yellow band stands for the wealth of the land, the blue for courage, and the red for the independence from Spain, or more succinctly: "golden" America separated from bloody Spain by the deep blue sea.
During the first half of the 19th century, seven stars were added to the flag to represent the seven colonial provinces of Barcelona, Barinas, Caracas, Cumaná, Margarita, Mérida, and Trujillo that had united against Spain during the War of Independence.
After the Guayana campaign, Simón Bolívar added an eighth star to the national flag (the so-called Flag of Angostura) in representation of the newly freed province. Bolívar issued the following decree:
The Law of the National Flag, Coat of Arms and Anthem added the Coat of Arms to the flag on February 19, 1954. The coat of arms was not incorporated into the Civil or Maritime Flag, which is intended for non-governmental purposes, such as civilian use, merchant craft, and international sports competition.
In 2006 the President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez announced plans to add an eighth star to the flag of Venezuela to bring about a much belated fulfillment to Bolívar's 1817 decree. 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's 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.
As with most other national flags, the Venezuelan flag should be flown every day by the legally registered public institutions from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Private institutions, businesses and citizens should fly the flag on national holidays or on days determined by the National Executive. Institutions which should fly the flag by obligation are:
There is currently no regulation as to the dimensions of the flag, its use inside private or public institutions or by the public in general, its form and protocol. The conventions that currently exist have been freely determined. Nevertheless, educational institutions currently follow a protocol modeled on the regulations issued for the armed forces for use in raising the flag on special days.
Out of respect for the flag, popular culture holds that upon raising the flag, the national anthem should be played and all present should stand still, straight, with closed hands at the sides and without any headgear.
Although there is no official regulation on the manner in which the flag should be folded, there is, as in other countries, a procedure with widespread acceptance in schools, scout groups and military institutions. Its origins are not known, but there are several possibilities, such as the adoption of the custom from other nations of the region, such as the United States, in which this singular way of folding a flag originated. In the Venezuelan case, there are two ways of folding the flag depending on whether it is a civil or state flag.
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