Venezuela History – 19th Century

By | December 16, 2021

In reality, the Grande Colombia team already had deep cracks. While Bolívar was still in Peru, General José Antonio Páez – commander general of Venezuela – was the initiator of a movement tending to separate Venezuela from Greater Colombia. A popular assembly held in Caracas on November 7, 1826 undoubtedly proposed the separation and recognition of Páez as a civil and military leader. Bolívar’s intervention succeeded in thwarting the attempt. Nearly. A new assembly that met in Caracas on November 26, 1829 again proclaimed the separation and again appointed the Páez head of the country. On May 6, 1830, the first Venezuelan National Congress met, which ratified the already decided separation and dictated the constitution of the country. Many were the discontented: the bishops, that they did not want to swear by the new constitution and were exiled; the military, for the abolition of their forum; Catholics, for the expulsion of bishops; the supporters of the union headed by the geaeral José Tadeo Monagas. But Bolívar’s death (December 17, 1830) consolidated the position of the separatists. In 1832 the Venetian territory was divided into three judicial districts: East, Center and West, being the residence of the three higher courts in the three cities of Cumaná, Valencia and Maracaibo. During the presidency of Páez, considerable progress was made in the agricultural and economic fields and in 1832 came the recognition of Venezuela by Colombia. In 1835, José María Vargas, an expression of civil circles, was elected president. The military elements revolted led by generals Santiago Mariño and Pedro Carujo. Páez managed to restore order and, after a period of provisional presidency of General Carlos Soublette (1837-39), a creature of Páez, he resumed the effective presidency of the country which he held until 1842. It was a period of prosperity in the camp economic and, among other things, the Banco Nacional was founded with 2,500,000 pesos of capital. During the presidency of Carlos Soublette (1843-47) Spain recognized the independence of Venezuela (March 30, 1845). The parties are founded: the liberal party – founded by Antonio Leocadio Guzmán and which represented the opposition to the government – is opposed by the “oligarchic” or “conservative” or “good” government party. The period from 1847 to 1858 is dominated by the two brothers, the generals José Tadeo and José Gregorio Monagas who alternated in the presidency, provoking numerous pronouncements from the opponents. In 1854 slavery was abolished: 40,000 slaves were freed and the government had to pay 30,000,000 pesos to the owners. In 1856 Venezuela was divided into 20 provinces – today’s 20 federal states – and in 1857 the first telegraph line between La Guaira and Caracas was inaugurated. In the same year a new constitution extended the power of the president from 4 to 6 years and allowed his immediate re-election. For Venezuela history, please check

Meanwhile, the political parties had polarized the struggle on the question of the form of government to be given to the country: federal, the liberals said, centralized the government. The government of General Julián Castro installed on March 5, 1858 by a revolt supported by the two parties in hatred of the personalist government of the Monagas brothers, adopted an intermediate form. But the dissent was too deep: for five years the country was bloodied by the civil war (the so-called Guerra federal and Revolución de los cinco años). At the Coche Convention (April 24, 1863) an agreement was reached between the parties. On 24 December 1863 General Juan Crisóstomo Falcón was elected president and on 28 March 1864 the constitution was approved which gave the country a federal organization and the name of Estados Unidos de Venezuela.

General Falcón’s presidency was troubled by constant uprisings of the federated provinces, some of which aspired to complete independence. The ruinous financial conditions of the country advised to persist in the policy of foreign loans which weighed so much on the subsequent policy of the country. In 1868 the “blue” party, made up of liberals and oligarchs headed by JT Monagas, managed to seize power and keep it there for two years. But he was in turn dethroned by a new revolt directed by Antonio Guzmán Blanco who ruled from 1870 to 1877, and then from 1879 to 1884 and from 1886 to 1888, making himself worthy of the country in various ways (first population census, law – June 27, 1870 – on free and compulsory education, opening of the first Venezolan railway line between Tucacas and Aroa, new constitution of 1881), but declaring open war on the Catholic Church and displeasing everyone with its authoritarian personal government and putting itself in conflict with Great Britain due to the border issue with English Guiana (the matter was resolved with the arbitration of an international commission on 3 October 1899). A period of struggles and revolutions followed. We remember the presidency of General Cipriano Castro, who exercised a true dictatorship from 1899 to 1908. Castro, a man gifted with singular energy, was wrong to alienate himself as well as the sympathies of his people those of foreign nations, refusing to recognize and respect the rights of German, Italian, Dutch citizens, French and British who had invested capital in Venetian companies. The contrast reached the point that in 1902 English, German and Italian ships certainly began the naval blockade of the Venetian coasts. Only the Washington protocols (1903) put an end to the situation with the recognition of foreign credits. In 1906 Venezuela wanted to prevent the landing of the French diplomatic envoy: relations with France were severed. In 1907 new difficulties arose with Belgium – as a matter of debt recognition – and with the United States. In 1908 the Netherlands, following disputes caused by the Venetian political exiles who took refuge in Guiana, also declared the naval blockade. The situation was extremely delicate and General Juan Vicente Gómez – former vice-president with Castro – managed to remedy it, who from 19 December 1908 (date of his first presidential election) to 18 December 1935 (date of his death) dominated with his energetic action the political life of the country managing to impose itself internally and operating abroad a cautious policy of rapprochement with all nations based on the recognition of their rights, but, at the same time, on the progressive liquidation (up to the almost total extinction) of any foreign debt. Even in the periods in which he was not constitutional president, Gómez effectively ruled the Venetian government as general in chief. During the long government of Gómez, Venezuela, neutral during the world war, joined (1920), to the League of Nations, he defined the question of the borders with Colombia (arbitration of Switzerland of 24 March 1922) and with Brazil (Treaty of Rio de Janeiro of 24 July 1929). On the death of Gómez, General E. López Contreras was elected president, reconfirmed on April 26, 1936 for a seven-year period.

Venezuela History - 19th Century