Venezuela History – from Colonial Period to the 20th Century

By | December 16, 2021

The colonial period and independence

Inhabited by the Indians Caribi and Aruachi, reached by C. Colombo on his third voyage (1498), Venezuela was the subject of a failed colonization attempt by the bankers of Augusta Welser, to whom Charles V had granted exploration rights in 1528 and administration. Once the concession was revoked (1546), Spanish colonization began: economic development was pursued by first exploiting indigenous, then African, servile labor; the latter was used in the coastal plantations of sugar, cocoa, tobacco and, subsequently, coffee, planted starting from the 17th century. and main source of wealth together with livestock, raised in the immense llanos of the interior. At first dependent on the audiencia of Santo Domingo, the Venezuela was transformed into Capitanía general in 1731 and later included in the viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. Among whites, the Spaniards (1.3%) held the monopoly of major civil, ecclesiastical and military posts, as well as inter-Atlantic trade, while the wealthiest landowners and planters were Creoles (American-born whites).

● The crisis of the Bourbon dynasty following the French occupation of Spain (1808) pushed the Creoles to rebellion: in April 1810 they overthrew the Spanish authorities of Caracas and set up a provisional government junta; in 1811 independence was proclaimed and a Constitution was drafted, which limited the enjoyment of political rights on the basis of the census and kept slavery alive, but the following year the royalist reaction prevailed. It took almost ten years of relentless struggle for the Creoles of Venezuela, led by S. Bolívar, finally managed to free themselves from Spanish domination. Independence sanctioned the conquest of political power by the large landowners, who kept slavery in force (only trafficking had been abolished in 1811). Furthermore, the Constitution of 1821 of the Republic of Gran Colombia, of which Venezuela had joined since 1819, again denied free blacks and Indians have the right to vote. Heralded in 1826 by the rebellion of JA Páez, the separation from Gran Colombia, proclaimed in 1829, was made official in 1830. The first president of the Republic was Páez, who effectively governed the country until 1847. For Venezuela political system, please check

From the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century

The initial dominance of the Conservative Party was followed by the rise of the Liberal, Federalist Party, an expression of small and medium-sized owners, during the presidencies of the brothers JT Monagas (1847-51; 1855-58) and JG Monagas (1851-55), that despite measures such as the abolition of slavery (1854) ruled with dictatorial methods and in 1858 were overthrown by conservatives and liberals. They soon split on the theme of federalism: the bloody civil war that followed (1858-63) was won by the first, who elected JC Falcón as president and gave birth to the United States of Venezuela. The conservatives, however, resumed power with arms in 1868, to give it back to the liberals, who rose in 1870 under the command of A. Guzmán Blanco. Arbitrator of Venezuelan politics until 1888,caudilloslocals. The following years were marked by a resumption of internal struggles. In October 1899, C. de Castro won power with an armed insurrection; his government managed to dominate the centrifugal forces from the provinces, but was unable to avoid difficulties in foreign policy. In 1908 JV Gómez established a dictatorial government which lasted 27 years, which completed the process of strengthening central authority. Once again stability attracted investments from abroad, concentrated in the extractive sector after the discovery of huge oil fields (1922). However, the wealth produced by oil was not equally distributed and most of the rural residents continued to live in conditions of absolute poverty. Gómez’s successor, E. López Contreras (1935-41), restored civil liberties, I. Medina Angarita, the traditional conservative and authoritarian politics was interrupted in October 1945 by the coup of some army officers linked to the progressive Acción Democrática (AD).

Venezuela History - from Colonial Period to the 20th Century