Venezuela and Simon Bolivar: Leaders of the
South American Independence.
Venezuela’s independence movement was among the
first in Latin America and the stronger in the South American
The desire for political freedom in the country
first started among the country’s creole, or native-born, landowners and gentry
who particularly resented the meddling of the Spanish government in local
The overthrow of the Spanish monarch by Napoleon
in 1806 gave creole patriots the excuse they needed to break with Madrid. In
1806, Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan patriot, tried to land a small fleet at
Ocumare de la Costa. He was driven back by the Spanish, but the cacao boom and a
tradition of rebellion against the mercantilist policies of the Bourbon dynasty
sparked the fight for independence, a struggle which required several years of
When Miranda was captured in 1812 and taken to
Spain, the leadership of the movement passed to the young, charismatic
Simón Bolívar, who had been forced into exile with the rebel forces. Born in
Caracas to an aristocratic family and orphaned at an early age, Bolívar was
destined to become one history’s great military leaders and political
After many setbacks, in which the llaneros, or
horsemen of the plains, were recruited by Bolívar, decisive Battle of Carabobo
was fought on 24 June 1821, and resulted in the total defeat of the Spanish. The
last Spanish forces were evicted from Venezuela following the 1823 defeat of
royalist forces near Maracaibo.
Independence brought Bolívar’s fondest dreams to
fruition. Bolívar went on to liberate Colombia, Ecuador and Perú, before
founding Bolivia and then joining the countries under the name of Gran Colombia.
By 1830, the union was disintegrating. On May 6, 1830, Venezuela seceded and
named its revolutionary hero José Antonio Páez, as its first President. Bolívar
never saw the death of his creation; he died at the age of 47 in Santa Marta,
Colombia, outlawed by separatist and under a cloud of mounting
Venezuela: Its Strong Democracy
Venezuela has a very stable democratic system of
government, now supported by a new and modern National Constitution passed by
means of a popular referendum hold in 1999. The government’s system of the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is divide as follows:
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a
Presidential democracy of 22 states, one Metropolitan District and 11 federally
controlled island groups with 72 individual islands near the Venezuelan
coastline which are Federal Dependencies.
The President is the Head of State and the
government, and the Commander in Chief of the National Armed Forces. The
President is directly elected by universal suffrage for a six year term, with
the possibility of being re-elected, immediately, for one more period. The
President appoints and presides over a council of ministers.
The new Constitution establishes the figure of the
Executive Vice-President, who is appointed by the President and is a direct
collaborator in the design of the national policy.
The new Constitution establishes a unicameral
The number of seats is determined by a
"proportional representation", formula which takes into account the national
population figure and establish the number of deputies in each electoral
district. Also, each Federal entity must elect three Deputies. The aboriginal
people elect also three Deputies according the established in the Electoral Law.
The National Assembly have 15 Permanent Commissions, referred to the national
The National Assembly normally hold two sessions,
the first from 5th January to the 15th of August, and the second from the 15th
of September to the 15th of December.
Judicial Power is vested in the Supreme Tribunal
of Justice which is organized in constitutional, political-administrative;
electoral, civil cassation; penal cassation and social cassation, and various
local courts. The Judges of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice are elected for a
twelve year only period. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice is the final court of
appeal and has the authority to rule on the constitutionality of executive
decrees and congressional acts.
Is exercised through the Republican Moral Council,
which is comprised by the People's Defender; the Public Prosecutor and the
General Accountant, and have the duty to observe, prevent, investigate and
penalize acts against the public ethic and administrative moral and oversee the
legality of the use of the public funds.
Is exercised by the National Electoral Council;
the National Electoral Board; the Civil and Electoral Register Commission and
the Financial and Political Participation Commission; and have the duty to
regulate electoral laws; declare elections process void and the organization,
administration, management and protection of all acts related to the election of
popular representation posts.
Local and Regional
The States are divided in Districts. At the level
of the states, the executive power is vested in the Governors who are elected
for a period of four years by direct and universal suffrage and can be
re-elected for a consecutive period.
The state legislative power is vested in the
states Legislative Councils, integrated by a number between 7 and 15 members,
elected every four years by direct and universal suffrage being able to be
re-elected only for two periods. The local government is composed of the Major,
the Municipal Council, and the Parishes. At the District level, the Major, as
well as the members of the Municipal Council, are elected by uninominal votes.
The Major is elected for a period of four years, and can be re-elected for one
The Electoral System:
Voting is a right and a duty in Venezuela.
Citizens are eligible to vote once they reach 18 years of age; there are no
restrictions regarding sex, race, property ownership, physical handicap or
literacy. Elections are organized, directed and supervised by the National
Electoral Council (CNE), a body composed of 5 members elected by the National
Assembly for a period of seven years.
The Venezuelan Constitution guarantees the freedom
to create political parties when states that "competing political parties have
the right to guide national policy through democratic methods". A political
party can be created by submitting either a presidential candidate or a list of
legislative candidates to the CNE for its approval. The Law of Political Parties
states that a party must obtain 1% of the national vote to retain its legal