The French Revolution And Independence In Venezuela

1759 words - 7 pages

On July 14th, 17189, a shot was heard around the world: the Bastille had been stormed. Propelled by Enlightenment ideas, a rigid class system, and resentment with the monarchy, on this day the French decided to take matters in their own hands. In the next three years, the French overthrew their monarch and established a government and constitution that promised equal rights for all. As the saying goes, history repeats itself. So was the case in Latin America. By 1810, revolutionary fervor had spread to Venezuela. The revolution here was caused by similar reasons. As a colony of Spain, Venezuela did not have a representational government or equality for all its citizens. Peninsulares, or European-born Spaniards, held all the important governmental positions. Like the nobility in France, Peninsulares did not have to pay taxes. Their children (as long as they were also born in Europe), had many educational opportunities. Below the peninsulares were the creoles, or Venezuelans of Spanish descent. Creoles owned much of the land, but they were considered inferior to the peninsulares. Like the bourgeoisie in France, creoles had to pay high taxes and were subject to strict regulation. Creoles were disappointed in what they saw as social and political inequality, and desired to obtain self-representation in the government. At first hesitant, creoles declared their independence amid the weakening of the Spanish crown and the spread of the Enlightenment ideas. The Venezuelan Revolution was influenced by the French Revolution by the spread of Enlightenment ideas, social inequality, the discontent of creoles, and their desire to gain independence from France and form a new democratic government.
The spread of Enlightenment ideas influenced the Venezuelan Revolution. In France, the writings of philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Locke captured the attention of the educated classes. It made people realize their government was not fair, and provided the catalyst for a democratic society. Later, these writings were used as a blueprint in the new constitution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man. Eventually, Enlightenment ideas reached Venezuela. Venezuela had been a colony of Spain for over two hundred years. The Spanish crown ruled the colony, yet most Venezuelans felt distanced from the monarchy. When educated creoles read about Enlightenment ideas, they became convinced that the Spanish monarchy was not representative of Venezuela. They agreed with many of the ideas that Enlightenment philosophers discussed, such as equality for all men and a fairer taxing system. The leader of the revolution, Simon Bolivar, was an ardent follower of the Enlightenment. He supported the democratic movement in Venezuela, and was responsible for its success. As a child Bolivar's tutor was Simon Rodriguez, a student of Rousseau. Bolivar said about Rodriguez: "You have molded my heart for liberty, justice, greatness and beauty" (Liberators and Patriots of America,...

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