The Constitution of 1830 of Venezuela arises from the political-legislative actions of the Congress of 1830, which legalizes the separation of the new Republic of Venezuela from Gran Colombia by establishing a new constitution. Its most important aspects are its conciliatory tendency and its conservative nature.
Gran Colombia was a South American regional project that brought together Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia in a single constitutional state, unifying its policies and making it a power in the region against other powers such as the United States or even the Spanish Empire.
The constitution of 1821, which was the regent during his brief political life, promulgated the progressive liberation of the slaves, ended the Inquisition, and declared himself a popular and representative government.
The causes of the dissolution of Gran Colombia were: the difficult economic situation, the great geographical distances that impeded communication and political control of the territory, conflicts within the pro-independence elites and regionalist discontent over the designation of Bogotá as capital, considered “too far away”.
By 1830, Venezuela was in the midst of a very strong economic crisis that caused discontent within the economic elites. The need to remedy this situation became evident in the set of regulations and economic freedoms that were raised in the 1830 constitution.
Fundamental aspects of the 1830 Constitution
1- Consensus between centralist and federalist tendencies
The 1830 constitution that governed Venezuela, sanctioned on September 22 by the Valencian Constituent Congress installed on September 6, represented a great effort to define juridical-political, with valuable contributions to the formation of the Venezuelan state in the 19th century.
It was a conciliation of the centralist and federalist tendencies that had dominated the country during its separation from the great colony and since the period of independence from the Spanish Empire.
1- See Venezuela as an independent State
In this constitution it was also established that the nation was free and independent from any foreign power (in direct attack on the Spanish Empire, of which Venezuela had been a colony for three centuries) and that it did not constitute the personal patrimony of any family or person.
2- Territorial division
The new constitution subdivided the territory into 11 provinces, divided in turn into cantons and parishes to facilitate their management and administrative control.
3- Central-federal form of government
The form of government proposed in the 1830 constitution was central-federal, responding to the political discussions of the moment that confronted the centralists with the federalists. Finally, a kind of “middle ground” was chosen.
The constitution also sought to legislatively unify the new nation: the property confiscation laws of 1821 and 1824 from the Spanish were repealed, as an element of future friendship and reconciliation.
In the same way, it was arranged to arbitrate resources to support the army. To process loans, import taxes were established granting franchises to the importation of fruits and minor goods, abolishing the alcabala in the sale of slaves and fruits that were consumed in the country.
4- Death penalty
The death penalty was maintained: This policy responds to the strong conservative tendency that the Congress of 1830 had. The death penalty was considered by legislators as necessary
5- Reform of the Law of Manumission
The Manumission Law established in 1821 was reformed, extending the age for the manumission of slaves from 18 to 21 years. This generated a great controversy within the country since it maintained the social status of the slaves as such, regardless of whether or not they had contributed to the patriot cause.
6- Division of powers
The 1830 constitution divided public power into three great powers: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial .
The executive power was exercised by the President of the Republic, the vice president and some ministers; the legislative power was represented by the National Congress. Finally, the judiciary was represented by the Supreme Court, the higher courts and the lower courts.
7- Conservative electoral system
The 1830 constitution limited political rights (right to vote, to public justice, to inheritance, etc.) to men over 21 years of age, free, proprietary and literate.
In this constitution, the electoral process has a great weight, since force is restricted as an instrument of access to power, although in fact it was the case, and the necessary controls are set in it to prevent the establishment of omnipotent powers.
It also limits the electoral participation of the poor classes by demanding two things to be able to exercise the right to vote: owning property, or having an annual income of fifty pesos, or a profession, trade or industry that produces one hundred pesos a year or a salary. annual of one hundred and fifty pesos.
This measure caused controversy in Venezuelan society since it excluded from the political world significant numbers of people who had contributed to the patriotic cause, but were not owners or literate. These measures only demonstrate the strong conservative tendencies that were maintained in the legislative Congress.
The citizen rights that were had, (for having fulfilled the aforementioned requirements) were subject to obedience to the laws, and these could be suspended or extinguished in case of insanity, vagrancy, for the exercise of the office of servant, for drunkenness continuous, by criminal action or by judicial interdiction.
For its part, the designated presidential constitutional term was 4 years, without the right to immediate reelection, the president being chosen through a census and indirect system.
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