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Venezuela, Congresses of 1811, 1830, and 1864

Venezuela, Congresses of 1811, 1830, and 1864

The congresses in which the principal political transformations of nineteenth-century Venezuela occurred. Venezuela's first Constituent Congress, convened in 1811, declared independence on 5 July and went on to ratify the first constitution of a Latin American republic. The Congress was comprised of representatives from the seven provinces that adhered to the 19 April 1810 pronouncement of the cabildo of Caracas, which marked the beginning of Venezuela's independence movement. These representatives set up the chief governing authority of the republic. They elected men to the executive and judiciary; they also normalized and organized all the judicial, political, fiscal, and economic operating mechanisms of the newly established republic. The Congress was the scene of the most important debates of the era. Because of the devastating March 1812 earthquake, and the social crisis it provoked, the Congress approved the concession of extraordinary powers to the executive and effectively suspended its own activities. The fall of the republic and the flare-up of war prevented any further sessions from taking place.

The Constituent Congress of Venezuela convened in Valencia from 6 May to 14 October 1830 to sanction the dissolution of Gran Colombia and the establishment of Venezuela as an independent republic. Its members ratified a constitution organizing the republic under a central-federal system that lasted twenty-seven years. Under the electoral system they established, eligibility for office was limited and the right to vote was based on economic factors such as landownership and income level. Elections were held on 25 March 1831, and José Antonio Páez was proclaimed president. The new republic's chief executive began to fix the bases of the nation along liberal lines.

After the Federal War (1859–1863), a Constituent Congress met from December 1863 to April 1864. It ratified the 1864 Constitution, which established a federal system that it technically maintained into the 1990s. The Congress of 1864 also approved an electoral system of universal male suffrage, administrative decentralization, and provincial autonomy. The name "Republic of Venezuela" was replaced by the name "United States of Venezuela."

See alsoVenezuela, Constitutions .


Pablo Ruggeri Parra, Historia política y constitucional de Venezuela, 2 vols. (1949).

José Gil Fortoul, Historia constitucional de Venezuela, 4th ed., 3 vols. (1953–1954).

Congreso Constituyente 1930, Venezuela, Actas del Congreso Constituyente de 1830, 3 vols. (1979–1982).

Manuel Pérez Vila, ed., Actas de los congresos del ciclo Bolivariano: Congreso Constituyente de 1811–1812, 2 vols. (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Zahler, Reuben. "Honor, Corruption, and Legitimacy: Liberal Projects in the Early Venezualan Republic, 1821–50." Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2005.

                                         InÉs Quintero

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