Venezuela History: Caudillista Stage

José Antonio Páez, President of the Republic on three occasions (1830-1835; 1839-1843; 1861-1863).

The main political leader and strongman of Venezuela at its dawn as an independent nation was José Antonio Páez, who was sworn in as President on April 11, 1831, and his vice president was Diego Bautista Urbaneja. In his person the Conservative Party was constituted, made up mostly of high-ranking military personnel who participated in the War of Independence. In his mandate there was relative peace and the economy showed a recovery stimulated by the Law of Freedom of Contracts of 1834 and the massive export of coffee. In 1835 he delegated power to José María Vargas, the first civilian to run the country. The latter was not to the liking of the liberal-minded military, led by Santiago Mariño and Julián Castro, who rose up to demand the reconstitution of Gran Colombia. and the end of the power of a minority of merchants. Among such officers, who had stood out in the struggle for Independence, were outstanding Bolivarians, such as the aide-de-camp of the Liberator, Luis Perú de Lacroix or the Granada-born José María Melo, as well as an enemy of Bolívar, Pedro Carujo. They obtained a short-lived triumph and appointed Mariño as provisional president, but they called General Páez in order to support them; nevertheless this one restored to Vargas in the government and decreed amnesties to the officials of the revolution, many of whom nevertheless were exiled.

Páez, after having defended the constitutional government from a liberal rebellion, was once again the winner in the 1838 elections. He faced the world economic crisis of that year, which hit Venezuela hard, and the growing liberal opposition, represented by Antonio Leocadio Guzmán. Soublette was again president in 1843, and during his period he fought the Peasant Insurrection of 1846. In 1847 General José Tadeo Monagas was elected. Initially he received great support, but later he broke with the conservatives. Their attempt to depose him led to the attack on Congress in 1848, after which Monagas retained control of the country. At the end of his term in 1851, he made sure that his brother José Gregorio Monagas was made president. In such government the definitive abolition of slavery in 1854 stood out. José Tadeo returned to power in 1855, but his authoritarian regime saw its end in the March Revolution of 1858, commanded by Julián Castro. The decrees of the new government did not take long to create discontent among the liberals. The instability of the government made the outbreak of an armed conflict known as the Federal War imminent.

Ezequiel Zamora, one of the main protagonists of the Federal War (1859-1863)

The Cry of the Federation marked its beginning, and it developed as a guerrilla war. In the initial battles, the liberal federalists obtained important triumphs, despite the death in combat of their leader Ezequiel Zamora in 1860. His command was occupied by Juan Crisóstomo Falcón. The reinforcements and support obtained by Falcón strengthened the Liberals. The subsequent confrontations gave them an advantage and reduced the forces of the centralist government. Finally, in April 1863 the Treaty of Coche was signed, which meant the victory of the Liberals and their access to power. Despite this result, new regional caudillisms were formed with their own army that maintained control of large portions of land, which was contrary to the liberal anti-latifundismo. That year, Falcón assumed the presidency and promulgated his Decree of Guarantees that abolished the death penalty, which was ratified in the new constitution, and making Venezuela the first modern state in the world to implement it.

Falcón’s measures caused resentment among both conservatives and dissidents from the liberal faction. Both sides united to overthrow the government in 1867 in the so-called Blue Revolution. An army led by Miguel Antonio Rojas rose up in the central region of the country, while former President José Tadeo Monagas rose up in the eastern region. Due to the difficult situation, Falcón delegated power to Manuel Ezequiel Bruzual. In mid-1868 Rojas surrounded the capital, and signed the Treaty of Antímano, recognizing the government and assuming the military command of the country. The Orientals, considering the treaty as a betrayal, continued their campaign towards Caracas, which they captured in June of that year, establishing the government of the blue Guillermo Tell Villegas. and José Ruperto Monagas.

Antonio Guzmán Blanco, son of Antonio Leocadio Guzmán, had fought in the ranks of the Liberal side during the Federal War and later became part of the Falcón government. After the start of the blue regime, he plotted together with his father the return to power of the Liberals. Fleeing due to the rejection of mobs urged on by the government, he organized an invasion that won the support of federalist regional leaders, such as Joaquín Crespo and Francisco Linares Alcántara. In February 1870, he landed in Curamichate and took up positions in the central-western part of the country while increasing his forces. He took Caracas in April of that year, which is why his accession to power is known as the April Revolution.

The National Pantheon was a dream enshrined during the government of Antonio Guzmán Blanco. Inside it lie the remains of the Liberator Simón Bolívar and the father of the Venezuelan Nation, Francisco de Miranda, as well as other figures in Venezuelan history, including Gúzman Blanco.

Having lived in Europe for several years, once he was made president, he implemented a series of measures aimed at modernizing the country and establishing the final order. In the decrees of that year, he created the Conservatory of Fine Arts, restructured the Federal High Court, issued the Decree of Public and Compulsory Instruction promoting education, reorganized the Central University, made the Venezuelan peso the national currency, promoted agriculture, improved the infrastructure, and began an ambitious urban transformation of Caracas, a city that according to historians insisted on giving Parisian qualities, without abandoning a centralist and authoritarian tendency. He also fought the uprisings in Apure, Guayana and Coro, managing to subdue the caudillos. He began a promotion of the cult of the heroes of the past, especially Simón Bolívar, as a strategy to unite the country. Likewise, it weakened the power of the Catholic Church in Venezuela, a country located in South America according to COMPUTERGEES.COM, by passing to the State functions that were traditionally carried out by it.

In 1877 he traveled to Europe after passing command to Francisco Linares Alcántara, who shortly after began a movement against Guzmán Blanco. This, and the discontinuation of the progressive line maintained by his predecessor, caused the Reclamation Revolution that overthrew him in 1879. After returning to the country, Guzmán Blanco started a second government in which he designated the bolivar as the national currency, and decreed the song Gloria to the Bravo Pueblo as the national anthem, in addition to continuing the measures that had been successful in its previous period, with livestock and agriculture recovering from the decline in the past. After five years the command passed to Joaquín Crespo. The introduction of positivism and growing opposition from the student sector led to the closure of the university by the government. As a result, Congress elected Guzmán Blanco to preside between 1886 and 1888, who retired in 1887, leaving Hermógenes López as interim president for the transition.

He was followed by Juan Pablo Rojas Paúl, who moved away from the centralist line maintained until now, created the National Academy of History, and faced riots and anti-Guzman uprisings. In 1890 Raimundo Andueza Palacio was elected for the constitutional period of two years, but his attempt to extend his mandate led to the Legalist Revolution of 1892 led by Joaquín Crespo, which overthrew him from power. Crespo assumed the leadership as a product of the movement in October of that year, and approved a new constitution establishing the duration of the presidency to four years, and direct vote. While he was head of the country, public resources were badly invested and new debts were created for the country, but he remained popular with his soldiers. His candidate for successor, Ignacio Andrade, won the 1897 elections, but his opponent José Manuel Hernández, ignored the results, accusing fraud, and rebelled in Queipa, Valencia in 1898. Crespo, commanding the government troops, perished in the Battle of Mata Carmelera [5] , but the uprising was defeated. The balance at the end of the 19th century It was one of economic recession, but of advances in culture, technology and urban planning.

Venezuela History - Caudillista Stage