Introduction

Today we commemorate the 209 anniversary of the signing of the Venezuelan Independence Act of the Kingdom of Spain, in the context of a bleak and random internal scenario due to political tensions, a paralyzed economy (even before declaring the quarantined due to the pandemic in March), and an un-optimistic future outlook for the Venezuelan population. It can even be said that during those years, the political and social situation of the then Captaincy General of Venezuela was not going through its best moment: in 1808, the Spanish monarch Carlos IV abdicated in favor of his son Fernando VI after a series of riots in various Spanish provinces and territories that began to rebel against Spanish ruling, and the subsequent arrest and confinement of the new king by the Napoleonic army (1). As a way of preserving the presence and legitimacy of the deposed king, government “Juntas” were formed in his name, which exercised the executive power on an interim basis both for the nation and for the Spanish territories overseas.

First steps towards independence

The first attempts to emancipate the Venezuelan Captaincy General began in 1808, where the then-province of Caracas attempted to establish a government “Junta” in the name of King Fernando VII, which would result in a failure that would end in the persecution and prosecution of his thrusters. Despite this, the Supreme Central Governing Board of Spain and the Indies decreed that the Spanish territories in America could elect their representatives to form part of that central authority, giving more power and autonomy to the colonies(2). In 1809, however, the newly appointed Captain General, Vicente Emparan had a more arbitrary and repressive attitude in the Venezuelan territory with the appointment of the regent Joaquín Mosquera y Figueroa as deputy before the Central Board in Venezuelan representation, in contravention of the wishes of the local political class(3).

For the month of April 1810, before the disappearance of the Governing Board of Spain and the Indies after the seizure of Seville by the troops of José Bonaparte, a council was called in Caracas to decide on the political future of the Captaincy General of Venezuela. In the City Council, by means of a written act, the Conservative Board of Rights of Fernando VII assumed the government of the provincial territories that made up the Captaincy General of Venezuela, ignoring the Regency Council in Spain, and therefore its representative in the territory(4). But this did not necessarily mean that all Venezuelan provinces recognized Caracas as the seat of the new government, bringing with it the separation of several cities from their respective provinces, although without reaching a secession from the country(5). By June of that same year, the Venezuelan Supreme Board publishes the regulations for the elections of Deputies, then settling in March 1811, and also electing a triumvirate to exercise the Executive Power, and a commission to draft the Constitution(6).

July 5, 1811: the act is signed, but independence is not yet reached

From the hand of Juan Germán Roscio and Francisco Inardi, the Venezuelan Act of Independence was drafted, being signed on July 5, 1811, and approved by the elected deputies of the seven provinces of Venezuela. However, this milestone would not be well seen by some sectors of the population that still supported the Spanish Crown, generating a series of internal uprisings, as well as resistance from the Spanish Regency Council(7). In June 1821, in the town of Carabobo (currently one of the 24 states of Venezuela, located in the central-western region) a battle was carried out in which the patriot side defeated the Spanish side(8). Although this was not the last battle for the full independence of Venezuela, its weight was fundamental to bend the efforts of the Spanish cause, as well as that it was the last battle in which the Venezuelan patriot leader Simón Bolívar was present(9). By the end of 1823, the Spanish capitulation finally took place after the capture of Puerto Cabello (located in the current Carabobo state) by the patriot general, José Antonio Páez. Finally, the Republic of Venezuela would not exist as such until January 1830, after its separation from Greater Colombia, to which it had been a part since 1825, was consummated.

Current panorama: between optimism and despair

Today, many Venezuelans have very little to celebrate. On the one hand, the country is currently in the phase of exponential growth of the curve of infections by the COVID-19 virus, where 6,062 cases have been officially reported, with a balance of 54 deaths and 1,649 recovered(10). On the other hand, Venezuela has already accumulated six consecutive years of economic depression, experiencing a decrease of 67.1% of its GDP since 2014(11); and cumulative inflation as of May 2020 of 3,674.9%(12), still maintaining the hyperinflationary spiral that began in November 2017. On the political side, the outlook for the Nicolás Maduro regime appears ambiguous. While internally the socialist leader remains in power and has recently ordered the legislative elections to be held on December 6 under an electoral body under his control, the situation has been more hectic abroad, further increasing the regime’s isolation. At the end of last June, the European Union sanctioned 13 officials related to the Maduro regime (of which 10 work directly with the regime, while the remaining three belong to the questioned board of directors of the National Assembly, irregularly elected in January 2020), thus generating more pressure to force democratic change in Venezuela(13).

Despite this scenario, experts assure that it is unlikely that a change in the political status quo will be generated in the short term, because the Maduro regime has given up Venezuelan sovereignty to remain in power by the external support from Russia (military services), Cuba (intelligence services), and continued but limited trade with China and Iran, allowing it to continue to keep afloat its bureaucratic, oppressive and propaganda apparatus(14).

Learning from history would be key to achieving Venezuela’s emancipation in the near future. It will help to understand that achieving freedom is not an entirely harmonious process that at times seems impossible when it is not, and that the long reconstruction process of Venezuela requires a unified and comprehensive approach that DevTech is happy to accompany and support.

Sources:

  1. Leal, C. (ND). “La primera revolución de Caracas, 1808-1812: Juntismo, elecciones e independencia absoluta”. Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas-Bolivarium. Universidad Simón Bolivar. Caracas, Venezuela.
  2. Idem.
  3. Arráiz Lucca, R. (2015). “Venezuela: 1728-1830. Guipuzcoana e Independencia”. Editorial Alfa. Caracas, Venezuela.
  4. Idem.
  5. Leal, C. (ND). “La primera revolución de Caracas, 1808-1812: Juntismo, elecciones e independencia absoluta”. Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas-Bolivarium. Universidad Simón Bolivar. Caracas, Venezuela.
  6. Arráiz Lucca, R. (2015). “Venezuela: 1728-1830. Guipuzcoana e Independencia”. Editorial Alfa. Caracas, Venezuela.
  7. Idem.
  8. Idem.
  9. Idem.
  10. Information updated as July, 1 2020 (source: www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/venezuela.
  11. Sources: BCV, International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook 2020, own calculations. The 2019 value for GDP growth is estimated by International Monetary Fund.
  12. Source: National Assembly of Venezuela, own calculations.
  13. But perhaps the most shocking blow to the stability of the regime has been the recent apprehension of the Colombian businessman Alex Saab, who is considered responsible for controlling a large part of the illegal businesses of the socialist regime, including the importation of food from the government sponsored food distribution (CLAP).
  14. Asdrúbal Oliveros. 06/22/2020. “Eurasia Group sobre Venezuela: Es difícil que se produzca un cambio con respecto al status quo y, dado el apoyo continuo de Rusia (militares) y Cuba (inteligencia), por no mencionar el limitado comercio continuado con China e Irán, Maduro todavía tiene margen de maniobra”. https://mobile.twitter.com/messages.