Above the shield are two crossed cornucopias (horns of plenty), pouring out wealth. The shield is flanked by an olive branch and another of palm, both tied at the bottom of the coat with a large band that represents the national tricolour (yellow for the nation’s wealth, blue for the ocean separating Venezuela from Spain, and red for the blood and courage of the people). The following captions appear in golden letters on the blue stripe:
In March 2006, the National Assembly approved changes to the coat of arms and the Flag of Venezuela, which were made official on March 12, 2006, coinciding with Flag Day. Prior to 2006, the horse was running to the sinister side of the shield with its head turned to the dexter (to the viewer, this appears as the horse galloping towards his right and looking back to the left). In heraldic practice, animals and beasts are to appear facing to the dexter, which is considered the natural and honorable position. The Economist observed that Hugo Chávez ordered the seal changed after his daughter, Rosinés Chávez Rodríguez, had described the previous horse as “looking backwards”. Government supporters state, however, that even if the president's daughter was the one who sparked the discussion, both the legislative and executive branch agreed to changes. These were adding a machete to represent the peasant fighters during the revolutionary wars in Venezuela since the War of Independence, and a bow and arrow as a tribute to the brave indigenous population who resisted the Spanish conquistadors.
Many critics have suggested that the horse, now running to the dexter (to the viewer's left) is a political statement of the current left-wing government of President Hugo Chávez. Previously in the Venezuelan arms adopted in 1863, the horse was moving as it is seen today, to the dexter (the viewer's left). Also to note is that in heraldry, positions are not described from the viewer's point of view, but rather the shield's, so while the horse appears to be galloping left to one observing the arms, the horse is actually galloping to the dexter, or right, side of the shield. This symbolizes Venezuela as the first of the independent states of South America, and Simon Bolivar's campaigns of liberation for all of Latin America, which started here in 1811 (with Venezuela's Declaration of Independence and the earlier Caracas Junta of 1810) and ended with his final victory in the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824, all the while riding his white horse Palomo.
Political opponents have also claimed that in addition to being politically motivated, the changes were economically wasteful. At the time of the official unveiling, the opposition party stated that they will not use the new flag or coat of arms, but retain the old and employ them in demonstrations against the government. However, by 2008, and with a slightly improved political climate, the new coat of arms and flag have been generally accepted among the population and opposition.