Gran Colombia

Last updated
Republic of Colombia

República de Colombia
1819–1831
Coat of arms of Gran Colombia (1821).svg
Coat of arms
(1819–31)
Anthem: Marcha Libertadora
(Liberation March)
Great Colombia (orthographic projection).svg
Gran Colombia
Capital Bogotá
Common languagesSpanish
Religion
Roman Catholic
Government Federal presidential republic
Presidents  
 1819–30
Simón Bolívar
 1830, 1831
Domingo Caycedo
 1830, 1831
Joaquín Mosquera
 1830–31
Rafael Urdaneta
Vice Presidents  
 1819–20
Francisco Antonio Zea
 1820–21
Juan Germán Roscio
 1821
Antonio Nariño y Álvarez
 1821
José María del Castillo
 1821–27
Francisco de Paula Santander
 1830–31
Domingo Caycedo
Legislature Congress
 Upper Chamber
Senate
 Lower Chamber
Chamber of Representatives
History 
 Established
December 17, [1] 1819
August 30, 1821
1828–1829
 Disestablished
November 19, 1831
CurrencyPiastra
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Viceroyalty of New Granada
Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg Captaincy General of Venezuela
Bandera de Angostura (20 de noviembre de 1817).svg American Confederation of Venezuela
Republic of New Granada Flag of New Granada.svg
State of Venezuela Flag of Venezuela (1830-1836).svg
Ecuador Flag of Ecuador (1830-1845).gif
British Guiana Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Today part ofFlag of Colombia.svg  Colombia
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil

Gran Colombia (Spanish pronunciation:  [ˈɡɾaŋ koˈlombja] , "Great Colombia") is the name historians use to refer to the state that encompassed much of northern South America and part of southern Central America from 1819 to 1831. The state included the territories of present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela, and parts of northern Peru, western Guyana and northwestern Brazil. The term Gran Colombia is used historiographically to distinguish it from the current Republic of Colombia, [2] which is also the official name of the former state.

South America A continent in the Western Hemisphere, and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere

South America is a continent in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It may also be considered a subcontinent of the Americas, which is how it is viewed in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas. The reference to South America instead of other regions has increased in the last decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.

Central America central geographic region of the Americas

Central America is located on the southern tip of North America, or is sometimes defined as a subcontinent of the Americas, bordered by Mexico to the north, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south. Central America consists of seven countries: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. The combined population of Central America has been estimated to be 41,739,000 and 42,688,190.

Colombia Country in South America

Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia, is a sovereign state largely situated in the northwest of South America, with territories in Central America. Colombia shares a border to the northwest with Panama, to the east with Venezuela and Brazil and to the south with Ecuador and Peru. It shares its maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Colombia is a unitary, constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments, with the capital in Bogotá.

Contents

At the time of its creation, Gran Colombia was the most prestigious country in Spanish America. John Quincy Adams, then Secretary of State and future president of the United States, claimed it to be one of the most powerful nations on the planet. This prestige, added to the figure of Bolívar, attracted to the nation unionist ideas of independence movements in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, which sought to form an associated state with the republic. [3]

Hispanic America Region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations

Hispanic America, also known as Spanish America, is the region comprising the Spanish-speaking nations in the Americas.

John Quincy Adams 6th president of the United States

John Quincy Adams was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, and diarist who served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829. He previously served as the eighth United States Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825. During his long diplomatic and political career, Adams also served as an ambassador, and represented Massachusetts as a United States Senator and as a member of the United States House of Representatives. He was the eldest son of John Adams, who served as the second US president from 1797 to 1801. Initially a Federalist like his father, he won election to the presidency as a member of the Democratic-Republican Party, and in the mid-1830s became affiliated with the Whig Party.

Simón Bolívar Venezuelan military and political leader, South American libertador

Simón José Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad Bolívar Palacios Ponte y Blanco, generally known as Simón Bolívar and also colloquially as El Libertador, or the Liberator, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led the secession of what are currently the states of Venezuela, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama from the Spanish Empire.

But international recognition of the legitimacy of the Gran Colombian state ran afoul of European opposition to the independence of states in the Americas. Austria, France, and Russia only recognized independence in the Americas if the new states accepted monarchs from European dynasties. In addition, Colombia and the international powers disagreed over the extension of the Colombian territory and its boundaries. [4]

Diplomatic recognition in international law is a unilateral political act with domestic and international legal consequences whereby a state acknowledges an act or status of another state or government in control of a state. Recognition can be reaccorded either de facto or de jure. Recognition can be a declaration to that effect by the recognizing government, or an act of recognition such as entering into a treaty with the other state. A vote by a country in the United Nations in favour of the membership of another country is an implicit recognition of that country by the country so voting, as only states may be members of the UN.

Gran Colombia was proclaimed through the Fundamental Law of the Republic of Colombia, issued during the Congress of Angostura (1819), but did not come into being until the Congress of Cúcuta (1821) drafted the Constitución constitucional.

Congress of Angostura South American revolutionary congress

The Congress of Angostura was convened by Simón Bolívar and took place in Angostura during the wars of Independence of Colombia and Venezuela, culminating in the proclamation of Gran Colombia. It met from February 15, 1819, to July 31, 1821, when the Congress of Cúcuta began its sessions. It consisted of twenty-six delegates representing Venezuela and New Granada.

Congress of Cúcuta Constituent assembly that created Gran Colombia

The Congress of Cúcuta was a constituent assembly where Gran Colombia was created. The Congress elected Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander president and vice-president, respectively.

Gran Colombia was constituted as a unitary centralist state. [3] Its existence was marked by a struggle between those who supported a centralized government with a strong presidency and those who supported a decentralized, federal form of government. At the same time, another political division emerged between those who supported the Constitution of Cúcuta and two groups who sought to do away with the Constitution, either in favor of breaking up the country into smaller republics or maintaining the union but creating an even stronger presidency. The faction that favored constitutional rule coalesced around Vice-President Francisco de Paula Santander, while those who supported the creation of a stronger presidency were led by President Simón Bolívar. The two of them had been allies in the war against Spanish rule, but by 1825, their differences had become public and were an important part of the political instability from that year onward.

A centralized government is one in which power or legal authority is exerted or coordinated by a de facto political executive to which federal states, local authorities, and smaller units are considered subject. In a national context, centralization occurs in the transfer of power to a typically sovereign nation state. Menes, an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the early dynastic period, is credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt, and as the founder of the first dynasty, became the first ruler to institute a centralized government.

Federalism political concept

Federalism is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government with regional governments in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.

Colombian Constitution of 1821 former constitution of Gran Colombia

The Constitution of Cúcuta, also known as Constitution of the Gran Colombia and Constitution of 1821, was the founding document and constitution of the country of Gran Colombia, unifying the territories of the Viceroyalty of New Granada as part of a federation. It was signed during the Congress of Cúcuta on August 30, 1821.

Gran Colombia was dissolved in 1831 due to the political differences that existed between supporters of federalism and centralism, as well as regional tensions among the peoples that made up the republic. It broke into the successor states of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela; Panama was separated from Colombia in 1903. Since Gran Colombia's territory corresponded more or less to the original jurisdiction of the former Viceroyalty of New Granada, it also claimed the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, the Mosquito Coast.

Succession of states is a theory and practice in international relations regarding successor states. A successor state is a sovereign state over a territory and populace that was previously under the sovereignty of another state. The theory has its root in 19th-century diplomacy. A successor state often acquires a new international legal personality, which is distinct from a continuing state, also known as a continuator, which despite change to its borders retains the same legal personality and possess all its existing rights and obligations.

Separation of Panama from Colombia

The separation of Panama from Colombia was formalized on 3 November 1903, with the establishment of the Republic of Panama. From the Independence of Panama from Spain in 1821, Panama had simultaneously declared independence from Spain and joined itself to the confederation of Gran Colombia through the Independence Act of Panama. Panama was always tenuously connected to the rest of the country to the south, owing to its remoteness from the government in Bogotá and lack of a practical overland connection to the rest of Gran Colombia. In 1840-1841, a short-lived independent republic was established under Tomás de Herrera. After rejoining Colombia following a 13-month independence, it remained a province which saw frequent rebellious flare-ups, notably the Panama crisis of 1885, which saw the intervention of the United States Navy.

Viceroyalty of New Granada Viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire

The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to the jurisdiction of the Spanish Empire in northern South America, corresponding to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739, and the provinces of Venezuela were separated from the Viceroyalty and assigned to the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777. In addition to these core areas, the territory of the Viceroyalty of New Granada included Guyana, southwestern Suriname, parts of northwestern Brazil, and northern Peru.

Etymology

The official name of the country at the time was the Republic of Colombia. [5] Historians have adopted the term "Gran Colombia" to distinguish this republic from the present-day Republic of Colombia, which began using the name in 1863, although many use Colombia where confusion would not arise. [6]

The name "Colombia" comes from the Spanish version of the eighteenth-century New Latin word "Columbia", itself based on the name of Christopher Columbus. It was the term preferred by the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda as a reference to the New World, especially to all American territories and colonies under Spanish rule. He used an improvised, quasi-Greek adjectival version of the name, "Colombeia", to mean papers and things "relating to Colombia", as the title of his archive of his revolutionary activities. [7]

Simon Bolívar and other Spanish American revolutionaries also used the word "Colombia" in the continental sense. The establishment in 1819 of a country with the name "Colombia" by the Congress of Angostura gave the term a specific geographic and political reference.

Geography

The Republic of Colombia comprised more or less the former territories of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (1739-1777), which it claimed under the legal principle of uti possidetis . It united the territories of the former Third Republic of Venezuela, the United Provinces of New Granada, the former Royal Audiencia of Panama and the Presidency of Quito (which was still under Spanish rule in 1821).

Government

Before a new constitution could be written by the Congress of Cúcuta, the Congress of Angostura appointed Bolívar and Santander president and vice president, respectively. Under the Constitution of Cúcuta, the country was divided into twelve departments each governed by an intendant. Departments were further divided into thirty-six provinces, each headed by a governor, who had overlapping powers with the intendant. Military affairs at the department level were overseen by a commandant general, who could also be the intendant. All three offices were appointed by the central government. The central government, which temporarily was to reside in Bogotá, consisted of a presidency, a bicameral congress and a high court (the Alta Corte).

The president was the head of the executive branch of both the central and local governments. The president could be granted extraordinary powers in military fronts, such as the area that became Ecuador. The vice-president assumed the presidency in case of the absence, death, demotion, or illness of the president. Since President Bolívar was absent from Gran Colombia for the early years of its existence, executive power was wielded by the vice president, Santander. The vote was given to persons who owned 100 pesos in landed property or had an equivalent income from a profession. Elections were indirect. [8] [9]

History

A mural by Santiago Martinez Delgado at the Colombian Congress representing the Congress of Cucuta Santiago Martinez Delgado in the colombian congress.jpg
A mural by Santiago Martinez Delgado at the Colombian Congress representing the Congress of Cúcuta

Since the new country was quickly proclaimed after Bolívar's unexpected victory in New Granada, its government was temporarily set up as a federal republic, made up of three departments headed by a vice-president and with capitals in the cities of Bogotá (Cundinamarca Department), Caracas (Venezuela Department), and Quito (Quito Department). [10] In that year, none of the provinces of Quito, nor many in Venezuela and New Granada, were free yet.

The Constitution of Cúcuta was drafted in 1821 at the Congress of Cúcuta, establishing the republic's capital in Bogotá. Bolívar and Santander were elected as the country's president and vice-president. A great degree of centralization was established by the assembly at Cúcuta, since several New Granadan and Venezuelan deputies of the Congress who formerly had been ardent federalists now came to believe that centralism was necessary in order to successfully manage the war against the royalists. To break up regionalist tendencies and to set up efficient central control of local administration, a new territorial division was implemented in 1824. The departments of Venezuela, Cundinamarca and Quito were split into smaller departments, each governed by an intendant appointed by the central government, with the same powers that Bourbon intendants had. [11] Realizing that not all of the provinces were represented at Cúcuta because many areas of the country remained in royalist hands, the congress called for a new constitutional convention to meet in ten years.

In its first years, Gran Colombia helped other provinces still at war with Spain to become independent: all of Venezuela except Puerto Cabello was liberated at the Battle of Carabobo, Panama joined the federation in November 1821, and the provinces of Pasto, Guayaquil and Quito in 1822. That year Colombia became the first Spanish American republic recognized by the United States, due to the efforts of diplomat Manuel Torres. [12] The Gran Colombian army later consolidated the independence of Peru in 1824.

Bolívar and Santander were re-elected in 1826.

Federalists and separatists

The departments of Gran Colombia in 1820 AGHRC (1890) - Carta IX - Guerras de independencia en Colombia, 1821-1823.jpg
The departments of Gran Colombia in 1820
A map of Gran Colombia showing the 12 departments created in 1824 and territories disputed with neighboring countries AGHRC (1890) - Carta XI - Division politica de Colombia, 1824.jpg
A map of Gran Colombia showing the 12 departments created in 1824 and territories disputed with neighboring countries

As the war against Spain came to an end in the mid-1820s, federalist and regionalist sentiments that had been suppressed for the sake of the war arose once again. There were calls for a modification of the political division, and related economic and commercial disputes between regions reappeared. Ecuador had important economic and political grievances. Since the end of the eighteenth century, its textile industry had suffered because cheaper textiles were being imported. After independence, Gran Colombia adopted a low-tariff policy, which benefited agricultural regions such as Venezuela. Moreover, from 1820 to 1825, the area was ruled directly by Bolívar because of the extraordinary powers granted to him. His top priority was the war in Peru against the royalists, not solving Ecuador's economic problems.

Having been incorporated later into Gran Colombia, Ecuador was also underrepresented in all branches of the central government, and Ecuadorians had little opportunity to rise to command positions in the Gran Colombian army. Even local political offices were often staffed by Venezuelans and New Granadans. No outright separatist movement emerged in Ecuador, but these problems were never resolved in the ten-year existence of the country. [13] The strongest calls for a federal arrangement instead came from Venezuela, where there was strong federalist sentiment among the region's liberals, many of whom had not fought in the war of independence but had supported Spanish liberalism in the previous decade and who now allied themselves with the conservative Commandant General of the Department of Venezuela, José Antonio Páez, against the central government. [14]

In 1826, Venezuela came close to seceding from Gran Colombia. That year, Congress began impeachment proceedings against Páez, who resigned his post on April 28 but reassumed it two days later in defiance of the central government. Support for Páez and his revolt—which came to be known as the Cosita (the "insignificant thing" in colloquial regional Spanish) in Venezuelan history—spread throughout Venezuela, aided by the fact that it did not explicitly stand for anything, except defiance to the central government. Nevertheless, the support Páez received from across the Venezuelan political spectrum posed a serious threat to the unity of the country. In July and August, the municipal government of Guayaquil and a junta in Quito issued declarations of support for Páez's actions. Bolívar, for his part, used the developments to promote the conservative constitution he had just written for Bolivia, which found support among conservative Ecuadorians and the Venezuelan military officialdom, but was generally met with indifference or outright hostility among other sectors of society and, most importantly for future political developments, by Vice-President Santander himself.

In November two assemblies met in Venezuela to discuss the future of the region, but no formal independence was declared at either. That same month, skirmishes broke out between the supporters of Páez and Bolívar in the east and south of Venezuela. By the end of the year, Bolívar was in Maracaibo preparing to march into Venezuela with an army, if necessary. Ultimately, political compromises prevented this. In January, Bolívar offered the rebellious Venezuelans a general amnesty and the promise to convene a new constitutional assembly before the ten-year period established by the Constitution of Cúcuta, and Páez backed down and recognized Bolívar's authority. The reforms, however, never fully satisfied the different political factions in Gran Colombia, and no permanent consolidation was achieved. The instability of the state's structure was now apparent to all. [15]

In 1828, the new constitutional assembly, the Convention of Ocaña, began its sessions. At its opening, Bolívar again proposed a new constitution based on the Bolivian one, but this suggestion continued to be unpopular. The convention fell apart when pro-Bolívar delegates walked out rather than sign a federalist constitution. After this failure, Bolívar believed that by centralizing his constitutional powers he could prevent the separatists (the New Granadians represented mainly by Francisco de Paula Santander and José María Obando, and the Venezuelans by José Antonio Páez) from bringing down the union. He ultimately failed to do so. As the collapse of the country became evident in 1830, Bolívar resigned from the presidency. Internal political strife between the different regions intensified even as General Rafael Urdaneta temporarily took power in Bogotá, attempting to use his authority to ostensibly restore order, but actually hoping to convince Bolívar to return to the presidency and the country to accept him. The federation finally dissolved in the closing months of 1830 and was formally abolished in 1831. Venezuela, Ecuador and New Granada came to exist as independent states.

War with Peru

Aftermath

The dissolution of Gran Colombia represented the failure of Bolívar's vision. The former republic was replaced by the republics of Venezuela, Ecuador, and New Granada. The former Department of Cundinamarca (as established in 1819 at Angostura) became a new country, the Republic of New Granada. In 1858, New Granada was replaced by the Granadine Confederation. Later in 1863, the Granadine Confederation changed its name officially to the United States of Colombia, and in 1886, adopted its present-day name: the Republic of Colombia. Panama, which voluntarily became part of Gran Colombia in 1821, remained a department of the Republic of Colombia until 1903, when in great part as a consequence of the Thousand Days War of 1899–1902, [16] it became independent under intense American pressure. The United States wanted territorial rights in the future Panama Canal Zone, which Colombia had refused.

With the exception of Panama (which, as mentioned, achieved independence seven decades later), the countries that were created have similar flags, reminiscent of the flag of Gran Colombia:

(See United Provinces of Central America, Nordic countries, Pan-African colours and Arab nationalism for more examples of regions whose nations possess similar flags because of historical connections.)

Confederation Status

The term Gran Colombia is used today to refer to the federation that was formed between the Republics of Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Panama before 1830. [17] However, Gran Colombia is in a sense an artificial term, as the country was always referred to simply as Colombia. This is clear to anyone who examines the many treaties signed between Colombia and Peru before 1830. [18] [19]

In Peru, however, the dissolution of Gran Colombia is seen as a country ceasing to exist, giving way to the formation of new nation-states. The significance of this view is that the treaties Peru had signed with Gran Colombia became void when the countersignatory ceased to exist. The three new states, the Republic of New Granada (which later changed its name to Republic of Colombia), the Republic of Venezuela, and the Republic of Ecuador, in the Peruvian view, started with a clean diplomatic slate. [18] [19]

An alternative view is that Ecuador and Venezuela separated from the Gran Colombian Federation and inherited all of the treaty obligations that Gran Colombia had assumed, at least to the extent that they apply to their respective territories. There are indications that Colombia itself maintained this position, because clearly, Gran Colombia and its successor state, the Republic of Colombia, shared a capital city, a subset of the same territory, and much the same citizenry. It would be unnatural to disavow their common histories. [18] [19]

The question of the status of treaties and accords dating to the revolutionary period (1809–1819) and Gran Colombia period (1819–1830) has a profound effect on international relations to the present day. [18] [19]

Reunification

There have been attempts at the reunification of Gran Colombia since 1903, when Panama separated from Colombia. People in favor of reunification are called "unionistas" or unionists. In 2008, The Bolivarian News Agency reported that the then president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, announced the proposal of a political restoration of Gran Colombia, under the Bolivarian Revolution. [20]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Rafael Urdaneta Venezuelan General

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United Provinces of New Granada

The United Provinces of New Granada was a country in South America from 1811 to 1816, a period known in Colombian history as the Patria Boba. It was formed from areas of the New Kingdom of Granada, roughly corresponding to the territory of modern-day Colombia. The government was a federation with a parliamentary system, consisting of a weak executive and strong congress. The country was reconquered by Spain in 1816.

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History of Venezuela aspect of history

The history of Venezuela reflects events in areas of the Americas colonized by Spain starting 1522; amid resistance from indigenous peoples, led by Native caciques, such as Guaicaipuro and Tamanaco. However, in the Andean region of western Venezuela, complex Andean civilization of the Timoto-Cuica people flourished before European contact. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American colonies to declare independence, which was not securely established until 1821, when Venezuela was a department of the federal republic of Gran Colombia. It gained full independence as a separate country in 1830. During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional caudillos until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments. Economic shocks in the 1980s and 1990s led to several political crises, including the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of President Carlos Andrés Pérez for embezzlement of public funds in 1993. A collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 election of former coup-involved career officer Hugo Chávez and the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution, beginning with a 1999 Constituent Assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. This new constitution officially changed the name of the country to República Bolivariana de Venezuela.

Bolivarian countries

The Bolivarian countries are six Hispanic American countries whose republican origin is attributed to the ideals of Simón Bolívar and independence war led by the Venezuelan military in the viceroyalties of New Granada and Peru.

The Convention of Ocaña was a constituent assembly that took place in the Colombian city of Ocaña between April 9 and June 10, 1828. Its objective was to reform the Constitution of Cúcuta and resolve differences related to the republic.

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  14. Bushnell, The Santander Regime, 287–305.
  15. Bushnell, The Santander Regime, 325–335, 343–345.
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Bibliography

Coordinates: 4°39′N74°03′W / 4.650°N 74.050°W / 4.650; -74.050