The largest seizure ever known in the history of Venezuela was carried out by Simón Bolívar during the War of Independence. On September 3, 1817, he promulgated the Decree on the Seizure and Confiscation of Spanish Assets and on October 10 of the same year, he decreed the Law for the Distribution of National Assets of the Republic. He confiscated both the public assets of the Spanish Crown and the private ones of the royalists and passed them on to the Republic and to the payment of military assets. Even the gold and silver found in religious temples were arranged for the patriot army.
The lands were expropriated and later distributed to the indigenous population. On October 15, 1818, Bolívar promulgated a decree by which he recognized the property rights of the indigenous population over the lands and established that “to the natives, as legitimate owners, all the lands that formed the shelters according to their titles, whatever the current holders claim to possess them ”.
The economic thought of our Liberator Simón Bolívar has been a little studied aspect of his life and work. His doctrine on this matter, truly revolutionary for its time and still in full force, is shown to us, masterfully by Luis Britto García in his extraordinary book entitled “Pensamiento del Libertador. Economy and Society ”published by the Simón Bolívar Study Center, which we briefly review in these lines.
The book, which is a must-read, is the result of careful research and a formidable effort to compile and systematize documents and records that, together with the magic of Luis Britto's pen, takes us on an astonishing journey to the war of independence to know, feel and live, together with Bolívar, their ideas, decisions and actions in economic matters, but also their anguish, concerns, and occupations in the face of the hardships suffered by the people and their army as a consequence of a slave system under the domination of the Spanish empire that, incidentally, had a monopoly on trade and migration, as well as ownership over our lands and mines.
On October 24, 1829, while in Quito, Bolívar expropriated the mines and established, by decree, that all mines of any kind belonged to the Republic. Britto affirms in his book: “This transfer of the mines from the ownership of the Crown to that of the Republic is the beginning of a regime of state ownership of the subsoil that will be common to most countries.
Latin Americans. The general statement that includes 'mines of any kind' will ultimately apply to metals that were not yet exploited at the time, and ultimately to hydrocarbon deposits. "
Bolívar knew that our sovereignty necessarily came from having our own currency and not depending on the currency imposed by the empire. The Federal Constitution for the States of Venezuela of December XNUMX, XNUMX, established that Congress would have full power and authority to mint and beat currency, determine its value and that of foreign ones. For its part Constitution of XNUMX, sanctioned in Angostura on August XNUMX of that year, granted exclusive powers to Congress to determine the value, weight, type and name of the currency that will be uniform throughout the Republic. We highlight the words value and uniform. Bolívar understood that it is the Republic that, in a sovereign way, must mint its own and only currency and determine its value, not any empire. Revolutionary thinking for the time and without a doubt with full validity of which we should take note.
The recognition that the Republic bases property on work, we repeat, at work, is one of the most revolutionary aspects of the Liberator's economic doctrine for that time. The Constitution of XNUMX established in article XNUMX that “property is the right that each one has to enjoy and dispose of the goods that he has already acquired with his work, and industry".
Bolívar ended the monopoly of trade and migration that was in the hands of the Spanish empire. Additionally, it approved protectionist measures to limit the export to the Peninsula of the goods produced here and that were essential for the Republic, or the protection of the national industry. Subject also with full force. Let's take note.
Another of the great concerns and occupations of the Liberator was the payment of the debt, which, by the way, was acquired for the patriot army's quartermaster, but at the same time distributed and squandered by speculators and traitors. In XNUMX, he promoted the cultivation and harvest of quality tobacco to pay off this debt with the proceeds from its sale, a project that, in the as part of the betrayal, it was aborted by President José Antonio Páez who ordered the first shipment of tobacco to be auctioned in eight days, an auction that favored English companies, which acquired it at a low price and resold it abroad.
With innumerable anecdotes, Britto draws us in his book to the generous Bolívar when it came to the distribution of his own patrimony, but also to the Bolívar who rejected any expense on account of the treasury inherent to the rank of the positions he held. He also describes the Bolívar whose generosity turned harsh when it came to maintaining sanctions against lawbreakers in what was referred to as the use of the Republic's assets. Bolívar faced and fought against corruption: on March 18, 1824, in Peru, he decreed the death penalty for any employee of customs, reservations, port captains or any other function of the Public Treasury that takes part in fraud against it.
It is the case, that they usually show us the war of independence with patriotic soldiers well armed, supplied and wearing beautiful uniforms on the battlefields. Little is mentioned about what was happening behind the scenes and the situation of hardship and the need to save on military expenses, concerns and occupations also assumed, down to the last detail, by Bolívar himself, who while designing great strategies to free us from the Spanish empire , he took care of the size of the uniforms of his soldiers.
In summary, in the book, the teacher Luis Britto García tells us, one by one, the battles that Simón Bolívar had to fight in another field and day by day: in the economic field.
In his fight for our independence and sovereignty, he never gave concessions to the oligarchy, not even in the worst moments of the war, despite the fact that his economic thinking and decisions not only implied, as was to be expected, reactions on the part of the Crown and the oligarchy that saw their private interests affected, but also the betrayal of those who at some point recognized themselves as patriots. And it is that, writes Britto: "Bolívar faced an invariable rule: every true revolution is about the property problem, and if the revolutionaries do not solve it, another force will emerge waving it as a flag." The latter is worth taking note of as well.