Sunday, March 1, 2020

Venezuelas Revolution for Independence from Spain

Venezuelas Revolution for Independence from Spain Venezuela was a leader in Latin Americas Independence movement. Led by visionary radicals such as Simà ³n Bolà ­var and Francisco de Miranda, Venezuela was the first of the South American Republics to formally break away from Spain. The decade or so that followed was extremely bloody, with unspeakable atrocities on both sides and several important battles, but in the end, the patriots prevailed, finally securing Venezuelan independence in 1821. Venezuela Under the Spanish Under the Spanish colonial system, Venezuela was a bit of a backwater. It was part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, ruled by a Viceroy in Bogota (present-day Colombia). The economy was mostly agricultural and a handful of extremely wealthy families had complete control over the region. In the years leading up to independence, the Creoles (those born in Venezuela of European descent) began to resent Spain for high taxes, limited opportunities, and mismanagement of the colony. By 1800, people were talking openly about independence, albeit in secret. 1806: Miranda Invades Venezuela Francisco de Miranda was a Venezuelan soldier who had gone to Europe and had become a General during the French Revolution. A fascinating man, he was friends with Alexander Hamilton and other important international figures and even was the lover of Catherine the Great of Russia for a while. All throughout his many adventures in Europe, he dreamed of freedom for his homeland. In 1806 he was able to scrape together a small mercenary force in the USA and Caribbean and launched an invasion of Venezuela. He held the town of Coro for about two weeks before Spanish forces drove him out. Although the invasion was a fiasco, he had proven to many that independence was not an impossible dream. April 19, 1810: Venezuela Declares Independence By early 1810, Venezuela was ready for independence. Ferdinand VII, the  heir to the Spanish crown, was a prisoner of Napoleon of France, who became the de facto (if indirect) ruler of Spain. Even those Creoles who supported Spain in the New World were appalled. On April 19, 1810, Venezuelan Creole patriots held a meeting in Caracas where they declared a provisional independence: they would rule themselves until such time as the Spanish monarchy was restored. For those who truly wanted independence, such as young Simà ³n Bolà ­var, it was a half-victory, but still better than no victory at all. The First Venezuelan Republic The resulting government became known as the First Venezuelan Republic. Radicals within the government, such as Simà ³n Bolà ­var, Josà © Fà ©lix Ribas, and Francisco de Miranda pushed for unconditional independence and on July 5, 1811, the congress approved it, making Venezuela the first South American nation to formally sever all ties with Spain. Spanish and royalist forces attacked, however, and a devastating earthquake leveled Caracas on March 26, 1812. Between the royalists and the earthquake, the young Republic was doomed. By July of 1812, leaders such as Bolà ­var had gone into exile and Miranda was in the hands of the Spanish. The Admirable Campaign By October of 1812, Bolà ­var was ready to rejoin the fight. He went to Colombia, where he was given a commission as an officer and a small force. He was told to harass the Spanish along the Magdalena River. Before long, Bolà ­var had driven the Spanish out of the region and amassed a large army, Impressed, the civilian leaders in Cartagena gave him permission to liberate western Venezuela. Bolà ­var did so and then promptly marched on Caracas, which he took back in August of 1813, a year after the fall of the first Venezuelan Republic and three months since he had left Colombia. This remarkable military feat is known as the Admirable Campaign for Bolà ­vars great skill in executing it. The  Second Venezuelan Republic Bolivar quickly established an independent government known as the Second Venezuelan Republic. He had outsmarted the Spanish during the Admirable Campaign, but he had not defeated them, and there were still large Spanish and royalist armies in Venezuela. Bolivar and other generals such as Santiago Marià ±o and  Manuel Piar  fought them bravely, but in the  end,  the royalists were too much for them. The most feared royalist force was the Infernal Legion of tough-as-nails plainsmen led by cunning Spaniard Tomas Taita  Boves, who cruelly executed prisoners and pillaged towns that had formerly been held by the patriots. The Second Venezuelan Republic fell in mid-1814 and Bolà ­var once again went into exile. The Years of War, 1814-1819 During the period from 1814 to 1819, Venezuela was devastated by roving  royalist  and patriot armies that fought one another and occasionally amongst themselves. Patriot leaders such as Manuel Piar, Josà © Antonio  Pez,  and Simà ³n Bolivar did not necessarily acknowledge one anothers authority, leading to a lack of a coherent battle plan to  free Venezuela. In 1817, Bolà ­var had  Piar  arrested and executed, putting the other warlords on notice that he would deal with them harshly as well. After that, the others generally accepted Bolà ­vars leadership. Still, the nation was in ruins and there was a military stalemate between the patriots and royalists. Bolà ­var Crosses the Andes and the Battle of Boyaca In early 1819, Bolà ­var was cornered in western Venezuela with his army. He was not powerful enough to knock out the Spanish armies, but they were not strong enough to defeat him, either. He made a daring move: he  crossed the frosty Andes  with his army, losing half of it in the process, and arrived in New Granada (Colombia) in July of 1819. New Granada had been relatively untouched by the war, so Bolà ­var was able to quickly recruit a new army from willing volunteers. He made a speedy march on Bogota, where the Spanish Viceroy hastily sent out a force to delay him. At the  Battle of Boyaca  on August 7, Bolà ­var scored a decisive victory, crushing the Spanish army. He marched unopposed into Bogota, and the volunteers and resources he found there allowed him to recruit and equip a much larger army, and he once again marched on Venezuela. The Battle of Carabobo Alarmed Spanish officers in Venezuela called for a cease-fire, which was agreed to and lasted until April of 1821. Patriot warlords back in Venezuela, such as Marià ±o and Pez, finally smelled victory and began to close in on Caracas. Spanish General Miguel de la Torre combined his armies and met the combined forces of Bolà ­var and Pez at the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, 1821. The resulting patriot victory secured Venezuelas independence, as the Spanish decided they could never pacify and re-take the region. After the Battle of Carabobo With the Spanish finally driven off, Venezuela began putting itself back together. Bolà ­var had formed the Republic of Gran Colombia, which included present-day Venezuela, Colombia,  Ecuador, and Panama. The republic lasted until about  1830  when it fell apart into Colombia,  Venezuela, and Ecuador (Panama was part of Colombia at the time). General Pez was the main leader behind Venezuelas break from Gran Colombia. Today, Venezuela celebrates  two independence days: April 19, when Caracas patriots first declared a provisional independence, and July 5, when they formally severed all ties with Spain. Venezuela celebrates its  independence day  (an official holiday) with parades,  speeches,  and parties. In 1874, Venezuelan President  Antonio Guzmn Blanco  announced his plans to turn the Holy Trinity Church of Caracas into a national Pantheon to house the bones of the most illustrious heroes of Venezuela. The remains of numerous heroes of Independence are housed there, including those of Simà ³n Bolà ­var, Josà © Antonio Pez, Carlos Soublette, and Rafael Urdaneta. Sources Harvey, Robert. Liberators: Latin Americas Struggle for Independence. 1st edition, Harry N. Abrams, September 1, 2000. Herring, Hubert.  A History of Latin America From the Beginnings to the  Present.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962 Lynch, John.  The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826  New York: W. W. Norton Company, 1986. Lynch, John.  Simon Bolivar: A Life. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2006. Santos Molano, Enrique.  Colombia dà ­a a dà ­a: una cronologà ­a de 15,000 aà ±os.  Bogota: Planeta, 2009. Scheina, Robert L.  Latin Americas Wars, Volume 1: The Age of the Caudillo 1791-1899  Washington, D.C.: Brasseys Inc., 2003.

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