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A Grandcolombian solution

By Luis Manuel Aguana

Dedicated to the memory of
Antonio Nicolás Briceño Braun, distinguished grandcolombian

This was the political situation in Grand Colombia, in prelude to the separation of the two brother countries, as reported by Captain Luneau of the French Navy in his report to the French Minister of the Navy. Luneau was on a mission off the Venezuelan coast in December 1824, and according to Carlos A. Villanueva (1), "It is the picture of the situation of Venezuela at the end of the year 24, but, in truth, that of all Spanish America":

"...In Congress, as well as throughout the Republic, there are three perfectly defined parties. The first is made up of those who remain loyal to the old regime, and whose ranks are rapidly growing, filled by the discontent of the other two. This party wishes to return to the domination of Spain, but with modifications to the old laws. The second aspires to a federal republic that would give each department or province the right to administer itself. The third wants the republic as it exists today. The latter is the least powerful. The three are said to be ready to clash, and it is generally thought that with a small effort Spain could regain its rights over this country. More for such a thing would require the sending of people of all confidence and much more money than soldiers. Gold would buy these fierce Republicans, all divided among themselves and wanting to become independent of each other. It would be important to send especially generals who were enemies of cruelty, since these procedures, usually employed in excess by those who lost this vast country, have contributed more to the independence of America than the strength of the arms of the independents.

All resources are being exhausted more and more each day; the public treasures are being squandered by the bosses, and, if we add to this the bad administration that rules, it is impossible to attend to the expenses in spite of the loans covered by England; trade is almost nil: the warehouses are full of English and American goods that cannot find an outlet; everywhere they ask for ours, always preferred to the others. The production of the land decreases in an alarming way because of the lack of arms. Blacks who had hitherto remained faithful to their masters in compliance with an ancient custom, now abandon them, leaving the land uncultivated. The same fruits that can be harvested have lost half their value because of the decline suffered in all the markets of Europe. The cash has completely disappeared from circulation, causing the necessary tension in transactions. On the other hand, there is no good faith in anyone and traders therefore work only with fear and mistrust. This state of affairs has led the whole country into extreme poverty. I have been surprised by the enormous change that has taken place in the course of three years, that is to say, since my first trip to these shores” (1).

I can't help but be amazed by this report. First the situation of the parties. Some, the majority, ¡wanting to return to Spain!, the second thinking of a federation, composed on the one hand of the New Granada and on the other Venezuela, and the minority, who supported the centralized Grancolombian project of El Libertador.

Any ordinary Venezuelan would think it must have been just the opposite! After so much blood spilled in a fierce war of independence, this observer detects that at that time it was not necessary for the Spanish to send soldiers to recover the liberated territories, but rather someone with enough gold to buy the generals! The corruption of the chiefs was rampant, as it is now. And the economic situation goes without saying. At that time the economic concept of hyperinflation did not exist, but its effects were definitely the same: destruction of the productive and monetary base, disappearance of the labour force, shortage of cash, mistrust of trade, in short, misery for the people.

Since this is the political situation of Greater Colombia three years after the Constitution of the Congress of Cúcuta of 1821, did we learn anything from this historical experience? People who do not know their history are condemned to repeat it. The political processes that are taking place in December 2019 in Venezuela, and whose effects are remarkably similar to those experienced in December 1824 (keeping the distance), 195 years ago, unleash irreversible consequences of an unimaginable magnitude, such as those unleashed at that time and whose first result was the destruction of the illustrious work of the Liberator, the Grand Colombia .

At this point I will make a proposal: we find ourselves in a problem of proportions, similar to the one that ended with the separation of Venezuela from Grand Colombia. A problem of such enormous size that it requires, without exaggeration, a genius like that of the Liberator. Consequently, the problem is not only of the Venezuelans, but also of the Colombians. And I go further: it has been said in Colombia that until the problem in Venezuela is resolved, the problem in Colombia will not be resolved. And it is true. What has not been said - until now - is that the solution must be formulated TOGETHER and between the two of us we must do what is necessary to dismantle the criminal and terrorist mafia that is destroying both nations. If that seems impossible to you, read on.

This joint strategy must go far beyond driving drug criminals and terrorists from power in Venezuela. That would only be the beginning, even if it is very difficult to reach. It must incorporate a solution that involves joint Colombian-Venezuelan sustainable development as a problem of State, as if we were still united in Grand Colombia. We take the words of the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes, following the attacks in London on 7 July 2005 and quoted by Manuel Rodríguez Becerra, former Minister of the Environment of Colombia: "it is necessary to expel terrorism from its nests through development. Where there are better standards of living, education and health, where citizens feel that they are shareholders in progress and freedom, terrorism does not find fertile soil (2).

That's why the solution must be joint. Nothing we do in Venezuela unilaterally, like the infamous three-step mantra, will work without that condition because both countries will never live in peace. We must think big as Bolivar thought. From now on, the political leadership should look at this problem from a magnified perspective, as it could not be perceived when the historical events of the late 1820s and early 1830s occurred. That is the size of the problem that both nations have, so its solution should have the same proportion - a Grandcolombian solution! And that solution would be the first step towards compensating the Liberator for the clamor of union of his last proclamation, and a way of reuniting us in history with his dream of seeing our peoples united?

Caracas, December 19, 2019


(1)     Carlos A. Villanueva, La Monarquía en América, El Imperio de los Andes, Págs. 12, 15-17, Sociedad de Ediciones Literarias y Artísticas, Librería Paul Ollendorff, 50, Chaussée D’antin, 50, Paris 1913.
(2)     Arnoldo José Gabaldón, Desarrollo Sustentable, La Salida de América Latina. Prólogo de Manuel Rodríguez Becerra, Ed. Grijalbo, Caracas 2006, ISBN 980-293-344-9

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