In Venezuela, there are two distinct holidays commemorating a form of declaration of independence. The 19 April Declaration of Independence Day celebrates what was only a conditional and partial declaration, while the later 5 July holiday commemorates the full and final declaration of Venezuela’s autonomy from Spain.
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Venezuela was already in a rebellious mood when Napoleon’s armies invaded and conquered much of Spain in 1808. There had already been a failed, but popular, revolt back in 1806, and when news arrived in 1809 that Napoleon had subdued Spain, all kinds of chaos immediately broke out.
In January of 1809, the Venezuelan government was overthrown to prevent the colony from falling tribute to Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother whom he had made master of Spain. But by April, news of a surviving Spanish government based in Seville convinced Venezuelans to reinstate their recently ousted local rulers.
Then, a year later on 17 April 1810, it reached Venezuelans’ ears that the Spanish government had been basically annihilated by the French. An emergency meeting was called, and on 19 April 1810, a vote was made in favour of “provisional” independence until a viable Spanish government could be reinstated. Ostensibly, Venezuela was simply waiting until King Ferdinand VII would regain his throne, but many actually favoured independence for its own sake.
Sadly, the 19 April declaration led to a kind of civil war all over Venezuela, between pro-independence and pro-royalist forces. But nonetheless, this was the first great move towards an independent Venezuela, and the date 19 April is enshrined as a national holiday. There are fireworks displays, concerts, and other festive events all over Venezuela every year to commemorate the 19 April decision.
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