|Location||Northwestern South America.|
|Form of government||Presidential republic.|
Gran Colombia was a multinational state in northwestern South America formed by Simón Bolívar in 1819. It was made up of the current territories of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador.
It was created by the Congress of Angostura , in 1819, through the Fundamental Law of the Republic . Its existence was ratified by the Congress of Cúcuta, which in 1821 consecrated the union of Venezuela and New Granada in a single nation. Then Panama (1821), Quito (1822) and Guayaquil (1822) joined .
In the context of the monarchical restoration consecrated by the Congress of Vienna and the Holy Alliance , the independence of Gran Colombia was only recognized by the United States, Haiti, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Great Britain.
Gran Colombia dissolved in the early 1830s due to differences between Bolívar’s authoritarian centralism and supporters of federalism . The latter defended regional autonomy and opted for secessionism.
The dissolution of Gran Colombia gave rise to three sovereign and independent states: Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia, which until 1903 included Panama.
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During 1810, both in the Captaincy General of Venezuela and in the Viceroyalty of New Granada, the revolutionary Creoles displaced the Spanish authorities from power and created local government boards. These processes concluded with the consecration of the Free State of Cundinamarca on April 4, 1811; the declaration of the Independence of Venezuela , on April 5; and the formation of the United Provinces of Nueva Granada, on November 27.
But after the return to the throne of the Spanish King Fernando VII , the royalist reconquest began which, commanded by General Pablo Morillo, took place between 1815 and 1816.
At the end of 1816, Bolívar, who had taken refuge in the Caribbean, landed on Margarita Island, and from there he went to Angostura, where he organized a liberating army with the help of other patriotic leaders such as Santiago Mariño, Manuel Piar, José Antonio Páez and Rafael Urdaneta.
During 1817 Bolívar led an expedition that managed to liberate a large part of Venezuelan territory. In 1819 he crossed the Andes, defeated the royalists at the Battle of Boyacá and entered Bogotá, also liberating Nueva Granada.
On December 17, deputies from the liberated provinces, meeting in the Congress of Angostura, voted the Basic Law, which established the union of Venezuela and Nueva Granada, which became Gran Colombia.
The formation of the new State was assured after Bolívar’s victory in the battle of Carabobo , in 1821.
Characteristics of Gran Colombia
The main characteristics of Gran Colombia were:
- It was made up of the current territories of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador.
- Its capital was the city of Bogotá.
- It was divided into 12 departments, 37 provinces and 193 cantons.
- His official language was Spanish ; and his religion, the Catholic.
- The population was multi-ethnic , since it was made up of Creoles, Peninsular, indigenous, mulatto, Afro-descendant, mestizo and Zambos.
- The most important economic activities were agriculture and mining. The main crops were cocoa, sugar cane, coffee, cotton, tobacco, corn, vanilla, and dates. The most exploited minerals were gold, silver, platinum and copper.
- Its form of government was the unitary presidential republic, of which Bolívar was its president and exclusive figure.
- It was governed by the Fundamental Law of 1819 and the Constitution of Cúcuta of 1821.
- It had a bicameral Legislative Branch made up of the House of Senators and the House of Representatives. The senators lasted 8 years in their positions and the representatives, 4. They were elected by regional assemblies, whose members were voted by men over twenty-one years of age who could read and write and had a patrimony greater than 100 piastres.
- It was shaken by the conflicts between the centralist project embodied by Bolívar and the federalists, who defended the autonomy and particularities of the different regions.
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Dissolution of Gran Colombia
The crisis between Bolívar and the federalists, led by Páez and Francisco de Paula Santander, began after the Independence of Bolivia and the sanction of its constitution, drawn up by Bolívar in 1826. The main objection of the federalists was the broad powers granted to the president , whose position was for life.
The suspicions of the federalists deepened during the Convention of Ocaña , which met in April 1828 to reform the Constitution of Cúcuta. Bolivarians advocated strong, life-long presidential power. The federalists defended regional autonomies and the periodicity of government positions . The Convention was dissolved on June 10 without reaching any agreement.
Immediately afterwards, Bolívar, in an attempt to maintain the unity of Gran Colombia, proclaimed himself dictator. Bolívar’s authoritarian attitude provoked a reaction against him that culminated in a frustrated attempt on his life on September 25. Although Santander’s participation was not duly proven, he was sentenced to death along with other federalists, who were shot for treason. At the last minute, Bolívar commuted Santander’s sentence to exile.
Bolívar continued to govern in a conflictive environment accentuated after the outbreak of the war against Peru , which claimed sovereignty over Guayaquil. The conflict ended in 1829 with the signing of a peace treaty that maintained the situation prior to the war.
After overcoming this crisis, Bolívar raised hopes of preserving unity. But during 1830, the declaration of his independence from Venezuela and Ecuador motivated his unwavering resignation, being succeeded by Domingo Caycedo as interim president.
The Venezuelan secession was led by General Páez, the first president of the Fourth Republic who ruled intermittently until 1863.
The independence of Ecuador had as its main protagonist the Venezuelan general Juan José Flores , elected as its first president.
Reduced to Panama and New Granada , Gran Colombia was dissolved in 1831 .