Rumors of Change Repercussions of Caribbean Turmoil and Social Conflicts in Venezuela (1790-1810

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by

María Cristina Soriano

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of History New York University September, 2011

_____________________________________ Sinclair Thomson, Dissertation Advisor

UMI Number: 3486820

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© María Cristina Soriano All rights Reserved, 2011

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DEDICATION

For Julio

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

In a project ranging over six years and innumerable sites of research and discussions, more debts have been incurred that I can possibly hope to acknowledge. I have benefitted from the support of many institutions and individuals. This project has been made possible thanks to the support of the Centro de Estudios Hispánicos e Iberoamericanos that allowed me to travel to Seville to pursue part of the archival research. I am also grateful for receiving the support of the Warren Dean Fellowship of the History Department at New York University, and a fellowship from the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. I am especially grateful with the Frank Guggenheim Foundation Dissertation Award, which supported me during the lasts years of writing. My Committee members have been inspiring models of scholarship and teaching, and I am grateful for their patient and thoughtful mentorship. My advisor Sinclair Thomson has been supportive and challenging in his guidance, he has been a thoughtful coach, providing me encouragement and assistance throughout my whole career. Ramón Aizpurúa was the first teacher I actually met at a History department, he has seen this project evolve from my undergraduate interests in the history of reading in Caracas and has given me incredible support as it has transformed. I wish to be able to replicate his generosity and honest research. Ada Ferrer and Sybille Fischer have been wonderful sources of inspiration; they have helped me, directly and

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indirectly, to hone my ideas into stronger arguments. Greg Grandin has been an amazing teacher and an incredible example of an engaged Latin Americanist researcher. I very much appreciate the professionalism, knowledge, and assistance of librarians and archivists in the following repositories: the Archivo General de Indias in Seville and the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, the Archivo General de la Nación, Archivo Arquideocesano, and the Biblioteca Nacional in Caracas. In the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, I had the pleasure to meet the historian and curator of the Latin American collection, Ken Ward who was and continues to be particularly generous and supportive. I have also contracted numerous debts at New York University. I had the fortune of sharing graduate courses with a wonderful group of people, including Michelle Chase, Marcela Echeverri, Michelle Thompson, Aisha Finch, Edwina AisheNikoi, Tanya Huelett, Natasha Lightfood, and Ramón Suarez. All of them made my “New York phase” a wonderful experience at a personal and academic level. While at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, I found support, comprehension and generosity in my colleagues at the Department of Archeology and Historical Anthropology, Professors Emanuele Amodio, Kay Tarble, Luis Molina and Rodrigo Navarrete. During the last five years I have had the great opportunity of sharing my findings, interpretations, and thoughts with a wonderful group of students that have been tremendously generous and have allowed me to enjoy the experience of

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teaching. I am especially thankful to Rommy Durán, Germán Díaz, Dejaneth Ruza and Steven Schwartz. Dejaneth and Steven participated as research assistants in two different moments of this project, their support came in when I needed it the most, and I am grateful for the opportunity of having such great young researchers working with me. The entire dissertation was written in Caracas, and although I enjoyed been close to the archives, I did struggle with my English grammar and writing style, I highly appreciate the generous and detailed editing of Professor Dick Parker. My friends have often saved me from the isolation and loneliness typical of dissertation writers. I especially thank Krisna Ruette, Yoly Velandria, Marcia López, Gabriela Sucre and Claudia Cordido for their emotional support, patience and enduring friendship. My parents-in-law, Irving and Inés Peña, have been amazing grandparents and have offered their help whenever I needed it. My sisters and brothers: Luis and Rebeca, Carolina and Luis Alfredo, Coco and Valentina, always brought joy to my existence in the last six years, I cherish their company and fraternal love. I owe a profound gratitude to my parents, Amilcar and Myriam Soriano, for their support, thoughtful guidance and help taking care of my children whenever I needed it. I also thank them for not asking too often when I was going to finish this project, they knew I would. Julio already knows the place he holds in my heart, but I want to publicly thank him for the many choices he has made that have allowed us to be a two-career family. He has been the most supportive partner I could have ever wished for, and I

! #""! am grateful for every day we share together. Venezuela. With them I have become a bedtime storyteller. and today I found both experiences nourishing and compatible. dreamed. They have taught me to cope with motherhood and research. Vicente and Lucia were born at the beginning of this project. I profoundly thank them for teaching me this great lesson. This is my contribution. and have grown with it. and struggled with the hope that someday their stories would be told. . My kids. today I am convinced that these are the stories I want to tell: the stories of the men and the women of my country. that have lived.

and made them reconsider their relations with them. such as the black rebellion of Coro in 1795 and the Conspiracy of La Guaira in 1797. using white fear to advance their demands. It also gave the elites cause for exercising tighter control over subalterns. and circulated representations of the turbulent Caribbean in the Province of Venezuela and analyze the multiple ways through which this knowledge – in the form of rumors. in particular. and prompted violent responses. My dissertation examines the sources of information. and slaves received. transformed. social values and to negotiate. and pamphlets – transformed social relations among diverse social groups.! #"""! ABSTRACT My dissertation explores the effects of Caribbean rumors of revolution in the political culture and social setting of Venezuela’s slave-based society during the late colonial period. and media that contributed to the development of collective movements against the political elite and the colonial government. and political instability. rebellions. gossip. I argue that new practices and media created more open and contested spaces for dominant groups and subalterns to express their political ideas. verbal enunciations. free-blacks. the turbulent Caribbean was a discursive fulcrum that allowed coloreds to challenge elites. I have found that in the confrontational social setting of the late eighteenth century. undermining their confidence in their slaves. webs of communication. The colonial authorities. illustrations. I explore how Venezuelan masters. became more aware of the need of keeping blacks of the region contented while controlling the potential .

and restricting their participation in the political sphere.! "$! emergence of new subversive movements. .

! $! TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ABSTRACT LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF TABLES iii iv viii xiv xv CHAPTER I 1. An “Unthinkable Event” became possible: The Haitian Revolution. Methodological Approach and Historical Sources 1 1 12 26 45 CHAPTER II The Revolutions on Paper: Transmission of Political Knowledge and the Interfaces Between the Oral and the Written Communication in Colonial Venezuela 54 . The Impact of the Haitian Revolution and Social Mobilizations: Historiographic Trends 3. was it really silenced? 2. A Fragile Harmony: Social Frictions in Colonial Venezuela (1770-1810) 4.

The Presence of Fugitive Slaves and Maritime Maroons 4. The Written Expansion of a “Revolutionary Disease:” Texts from France and Saint-Domingue in Venezuela. Books.! $"! 1. Prohibited Readings. The Impact of French Caribbean Militiamen and Colored Prisoners in the Coast of Caracas (1793-1796) 158 124 124 132 144 CHAPTER IV The Menace: Representations of Saint-Domingue in the Black Rebellion of Coro. Social Control of Plebian Reading 5. the State and the Inquisition 4. 1789-1810 6. Transmission of Political Knowledge: From the History of Books to the History of Reading 2. Caribbean Communication Networks during the Age of Revolution 2. Fugitives and Prisoners of the French Caribbean in Venezuela (1789-1799) 1. The Historiography of the Rebellion of Coro 2. 1795 1. Controlling “Suspicious” French Visitors 3. Readers and Reading Practices in Colonial Venezuela 3. La Serranía de Coro in 1795 180 181 193 . Forbidden Texts and Readers of Color 92 116 54 63 83 86 CHAPTER III Voices and Rumors in Tierra Firme: Visitors.

1.! $""! 3. “Prohibited Books” in the Libraries of the Conspirators 2. Books and Manuscripts in the Conspiracy of La Guaira. Toussaint Invades Santo Domingo: The Presence of Spanish Dominican Families in Venezuela and their “Stories of Chaos” 323 303 303 Epilogue The Political Use of The Haitian Revolution in Colonial Venezuela 348 . Saint-Domingue as a Language of Contention 208 235 CHAPTER V Texts. and the Emergence of a Conspiracy 2. Readings and Social Networks in the Conspiracy of La Guaira. “We can not trust black slaves anymore” Contestation and Negotiation between White Elites and Black Subalterns 2. Narratives of an Event: The Rebellion 4. 1797 253 276 278 290 243 CHAPTER VI The Intensification of the Haitian Revolution and its Impact in Venezuelan Colonial Society 1. The Texts Produced by the Conspirators of La Guaira. 1797-1799 2. Reading Circles.2. 1797 1.The “Revolutionary Port of La Guaira:” Social Groups.

! $"""! BIBLIOGRAPHY 354 .

2 Fig.! $"#! LIST OF FIGURES Fig. 1 Fig. 3. Map of the Venezuela and the Caribbean Map of General Captaincy of Venezuela (1777 – 1810) Map of the Province of Caracas or Venezuela (1777 – 1810) 6 30 41 .

Number of Dominicans in Maracaibo. January 1801 – March 1801 336 ! .! $#! LIST OF TABLES Table 1.

1981). An “unthinkable event” became possible: The Haitian Revolution. “La aristocracia criolla y el código negrero de 1789. 1789).” Boletín del Instituto de Investigaciones históricas XI. Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. See Real Cédula sobre “Educación. XV. For an understanding of the repercussions of the Edict in Colonial Spanish America see José Torre Revello. trato y ocupaciones de los esclavos en todos los dominios e Islas de Filipinas” (Mayo. This latter work is based on a chapter in the first book. Castillo Lara.1 CHAPTER I 1. 802. 1981) and Lucas G. 2 . no.” Revista de Historia 26. concluded that improving the treatment and education 1 The Código Negrero was a Royal Decree that sought to regulate and control the treatment of slaves by their Spanish American masters. “Origen y aplicación del código negrero en América Española (17881794). They thought that slaves rebelled because they wanted freedom and not because of unfair or improper treatments from their masters. the members of the Real Audiencia of Caracas met in order to discuss the advantages and disadvantages that the Código Negrero of 1789 would bring to the Province of Venezuela. represented by the Audiencia. 2 The white elite of Caracas. the slaves of the Province were well attended and the treatment of them could hardly be improved. See Lucas G. During the decade of 1780 some uprisings and “cumbes” of free-blacks and slaves took place in diverse regions of the Province of Venezuela. Indiferente General. Curiepe. 1 (1961): 61-81. no.1 In the opinion of some of the members of the Audiencia. 53 (1932): 42-50. Castillo Lara. Vol. was it really silenced? In December 1789. these uprisings preoccupied elites and officials who discussed all the possible circumstances and reasons that motivated blacks to rebel. Archivo General de Indias (AGI-Sevilla). In fact. they believed that the recent slave uprisings had more to do with the generous attitude of local masters than with any harsh treatment. especially in the coastal region where many haciendas were established. For a comprehension of its effects in colonial Venezuela see Ildefonso Leal. orígenes históricos (Caracas: Biblioteca de Autores y Temas Mirandinos.

los esclavos definitivamente perderían todo respeto por sus amos. y por unos medios capaces de resfriar lentamente el ardor.” 68. with the killing of all the whites. “Representación de la Real Audiencia al Rey sobre Real Cédula de trato de esclavos de 1789. and making use of measures capable of slowly cooling down the ardent spirits.4 Many white landowners and masters sought out members of the Audiencia to discuss the negative consequences of applying the Black Code. the members of the Cabildo (City Council) stated that if they applied the Black Code: The economy would perish.2 of the slaves would give them greater hope for freedom. and it would not be surprising if a general uprising occurred. 4 5 . 167. In an interesting document. and that finally the abolition of slavery would mean the end of the elites social order and economic privileges. acaben con todos los blancos. rumors about the Royal Decree and the Audiencia resolutions spread in the city of Caracas.” Ibid. the spread of rumors about the consequences of the application of the Black Code provoked the different reactions among diverse social groups: the white elites feared “the loss of the province and of their lives. Y Nada extraño tendría que ocurriera un levantamiento general.” in Leal. The Audiencia. slaves would definitely lose all respect and consideration for their masters. y se hagan señores del País.” while the slaves wanted their definitive freedom. decided to apply the Royal Decree “but without any hurry.3 Apparently. Free blacks and slaves not only heard about the benefits – 3 “La economía perecería. 44. “El Tribunal se propuso llevar adelante la execución decretada de la Real Cédula. then. Caracas. Diciembre. no. 1789” AGI-Sevilla. because this [the code] would awake in them a sort of independence and libertinage that would lead to a general uprising in the Province. pero sin apresuramiento.”5 However. “La aristocracia criolla. and with the slaves becoming masters of the country. pues se despertaría en ellos una especie de libertinaje e independencia que no tardará mucho se alcen en la Provincia.

Members of the Audiencia debated the possible authorship of these written messages. a favor de nosotros los esclavos ce publique mas a fuerza que con voluntad de los blancos y de la Real Audiencia cin senalar dia ni hora a pesar de todos los blancos y blancas de esta ciudad de Caracas. 167.3 fictitious or not – of the code.” (9 de mayo de 1790). Se ace saber al publico como hestamos citados para que la Real Cedula que a venido de S. Evidently. reflects in my opinion the unstable and tense relations that existed in the Province between masters and slaves . they also knew that the elites were emphatically rejecting it.during the last decades of the eighteenth century. three pamphlets were found in the central plaza of Caracas and another close to the Church of San Francisco. la culpa yo bien la se hellace declaraba. Caracas. introducing mistrust. . free blacks and mixed-race pardos . where it should not exist. Que de llantos. See AGI.M. there was an illustration showing a black man with a machete in his right hand.and more generally between whites. all of them reproducing the same message with a childish and clumsy calligraphy: The Real Cedula that has come from His Majesty in favor of us. que de muertes. the idea of a slave uprising with 6 The complete original text says: “Que desgracias. It is interesting to note that these pamphlets circulated a year before the first uprisings in Saint-Domingue. will be published more by obligation than by the willingness of the whites and the Real Audiencia.6 In the pamphlet. wondering if they were written by blacks or by “idle and evil people insisting in provoking a black uprising.” This pre-Haitian Revolution image. the slaves. created or not by black authors. and a small white man in his left hand. In June 1790.

” in A Companion to African American Studies. vol.8 During the last decade of the eighteenth century. blacks. and pardos. where slavery was a tangible reality and masters and slaves every-day lives and representations were shaped by the slavery system itself.’ we implicitly (and paradoxically) accept that the history of the West can continue to be written without Haiti and revolutionary slaves. and Modernity on the Periphery. Lewis Gordon and Jane Gordon (Malden. Sybille Fischer. Power and the Production of History (Boston: Beacon Press. freeblack rebellions and other mixed-race conspiracies in the Province of Venezuela that revealed the vulnerability and unstable character of the colonial regime. there were various slave. argues that in Europe a slave revolution was not as unthinkable as Trouillot has argued. Historiography. Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution (Durham: Duke University Press. However. Following Fischer.…. but this does not mean that they could not have imagined a revolution. 2. on the contrary. from a subaltern perspective. as the one I mention here.” while slaves could have distributed written messages and illustrations implying violent threats to their white masters. the Haitian Revolution was unthinkable in the West because it challenged slavery and racism in unexpected ways. 2004).: Blackwell. and could not leave any records. and become “masters of the country. eds.” See Sybille Fischer. 291292. exterminate all whites. 1997). that show how white masters feared a possible slave revolution. 2006). 365. and fantasies. “Unthinkable History? Some Reflections on the Haitian Revolution. historian Michel Trouillot argues that in spite of eighteenth century philosophical debates and the rise of abolitionism. we must inquire if a slave revolution was also “thinkable” for the slaves themselves. white masters indeed imagined a scenario in which slaves could rebel.” See Sybille Fischer. Most of them could not write at all. Mass. There are documents. The events of SaintDomingue in 1791 would later reinforce these violent images in the minds of whites. utopian novels. radicalizing their tensions and social interactions. . in her opinion. I suggest that this characterization of an “unthinkable event” becomes even more implausible in colonial America. such as L’an 2440 (Louis-Sebastien Mercier. Modernity Disavowed. fears. largely in utopias. 1771) show that the idea of a slave revolution “was perfectly available but expressed itself. As Sybille Fischer comments: “If we truly believe that Haiti was ‘unthinkable. In his book Silencing the Past. 360-379. together with 7 8 Such as the assassination of all whites and blacks assuming the rule of the Province.4 revolutionary consequences7 in Spanish America was not as unthinkable as Michel Trouillot has presented it: in the Province of Venezuela.

and the conspiracy of Miranda (1806) are the best known and documented movements against local governments in the Province of Venezuela. but recently many historians have argued that this retrospective denomination oversimplifies their nature and characteristics. 1973). 1993). 10 .9 The colonial society of the Province of Venezuela was structured upon a hybrid slave/free labor force. the plot of Gual and España in La Guaira (1797). Ramón Aizpurua. McKinley. Peter M. international circumstances also jeopardized the stability of the Province of Venezuela and fueled social violence. 283 (1983): 705-23. 9 The black rebellion of Coro (1795). El miedo a la revolución: la lucha por la libertad en Venezuela (1777-1830) (Madrid: Tecnos. Aragua. Miquel Izard. and racial struggles complicated its internal relations. 1979). El problema tierra y esclavos en la historia de Venezuela (Aragua: Asamblea Legislativa del Edo. Monteávila. Federico Brito Figueroa. promoting a tense social and political environment. Traditional historiography has frequently denominated them as “pre-independentist” movements.5 the slavery system and its racial order. Caracas antes de la independencia (Caracas: Edit.10 At the end of the eighteenth century. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro en 1795: una revisión necesaria. no.” Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Caracas).

social.6 Figure 1. The colonization of the Lesser Antilles by non-Iberian European nations during the second half of the seventeenth century allowed the establishment of diverse commercial. and information networks that connected different ports and cities .

during the first two or three years. eds. the events of Saint-Domingue in 1791 increased the fear among Spanish authorities and local elites of a “slave revolution” and gave the opportunity to thousands of slaves and free blacks to imagine different possibilities.. as well as limiting the access of visitors from France and its colonies to the vast Spanish American territories. but pardos. the flow of information about the first events of the SaintDomingue rebellion was frequent and varied. and slaves could also have used these violent events as a powerful reference to reinforce their demands and threaten Spaniards and local whites in order to produce revolutionary transformations. which developed multiple mechanisms in order to prevent and control the entry of revolutionary books.12 The events of the French Revolution and its Republican principles were obviously not well received by the Spanish Crown.7 in the circum-Caribbean region. “The Common Wind: Currents of Afro-American Communication in the Era of the Haitian Revolution” (PhD diss. when the first revolutionary events erupted in France in 1789. or at least significant reforms. Duke University.11 As Julius Scott has showed. Paquette and Stanley L. Julius Scott III.. 1996). 12 . However. free-blacks. There were no detailed 11 Robert L. the information tended to be vague and repetitive. Slaves may have seen in Saint-Domingue a model to follow. In addition. The Lesser Antilles in the Age of European Expansion (Gainesville: University Press of Florida. In Venezuela. European liberal ideas and information about the conflicts generated in the Caribbean islands circulated throughout these networks between different slave societies of the region. and news. pamphlets. 1986). Engerman.

14 . El rumor de Haití en Cuba: temor. 13 See Ada Ferrer. Dolores González-Ripoll and others (eds. since this was the strategy that the colonial powers and local elites used to evade the presence and influences of the revolution. As Ada Ferrer argues in relation to the news from of SaintDomingue in the island of Cuba.14 However. Therefore. material destruction. 1789-1844.8 descriptions of the events. sociedad y esclavitud. such as the pardos militia members and freeblacks. used and re-used as a reference for slaves’ upheavals.” in Ma.13 From the beginning. Michel Trouillot implies that the many and ubiquitous discourses that mentioned and used Haiti also generated silences about it. black insurrection. (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. we should ask: how exactly was Haiti silenced? What did the Haitian Revolution in fact mean in Spanish America for different social groups? These are questions that remain partially unanswered and need to be addressed by Caribbean. 2004). Haiti represented an opportunity to discuss political agendas and opportunities. 179-231. This decontextualization of Haiti has been often assumed as an act of silencing. 95-107. Haiti was decontextualized. See Trouillot. and regardless of what was going on in Haiti. these references suggest that there was a particular type of language for referring to Haiti: it was synthetic and brief. Latin American. raza y rebeldía. He proposes that history is as much a matter of “silences” as it is a matter of “mentions. Silencing the Past. In his book. and Atlantic historians.” that the operations of imbalanced power relations become written into the very source materials from which historical narratives are produced. reproduced and repeated over and over again regardless of what may have been going on locally. “Cuba en la sombra de Haití: noticias. rape and extreme violence. just brief comments that highlighted the violent character of the Guarico uprisings.). for other groups.

” See Fischer. and to illustrate how these led to social and political violence in the local context.” Sybille Fischer. 67-83. . and “Unthinkable History? Some Reflections on the Haitian Revolution. “Temor. functioning as a mirror that reflected the significance of its own internal social problems.” and have invited us to consider whether these silences were not quite complete.” in José Piqueras (ed. and slaves received. sociedad y esclavitud. They have also shown that Haiti spoke through many voices that. In my view. Modernity Disavowed. poder y esclavitud en Cuba en la época de la Revolución Haitiana. pardos. transformed and circulated representations of the “turbulent” Caribbean in their local context. “Noticias de Haití en Cuba. transformed it into a political and historical denial. in the end. goes beyond the confines of disciplinary fragmentation and offers a lucid interpretation for understanding “the different forms denial can take before there can be any silence. 2005).” Revista de Indias LXIII. and Modernity. I argue that the external . the Haitian Revolution and its multiple images and representations reinforced social and racial tensions in the province. Historiography. 15 See Ada Ferrer. no.but nearby .revolutionary circumstances affected the local world of the Province of Venezuela. In its broadest sense.15 This dissertation delves into the heart of this debate and seeks to analyze what discourses and representations about Haiti circulated in colonial Venezuela. I propose to look into how Venezuelan white masters. producing interpretations suited for their own realities. and “Cuba en la sombra de Haití: noticias. this study explores the repercussions and effects of Caribbean rumors of rebellion and revolution in the social setting of Venezuela’s slave-based societies during the final years of the colonial period.” 365-66. for her part. Introduction.) Las antillas en la Era de las Luces y la Revolución. (Madrid: Siglo XXI. free-blacks.9 Ada Ferrer and Sybille Fischer have taken great interest in dissecting this purported “silence. 229 (2003): 675-94.

“La propaganda. An interesting approach to slaves’ relation to written culture can be found in José Ramón Jouve Martín.17 The question is: how would mostly non-literate slaves and free coloreds get to know these writings? To answer this question. Callahan. how slaves perceived their masters. folio 224. From 1791 to 1799. 17 18 . and Elías Pino Iturrieta. and in the Valleys of Curiepe. Esclavitud.16 Written information coming from Saint-Domingue and other islands of the Caribbean was another problem that mortified local officials and elites. Chapter 4.” Boletín histórico 14. 1780-1796. slaves.18 I have found that in the Province of Venezuela. “Menacing and pestilent” written materials were circulating throughout the province. and threatening the political elites who prohibited them. Archivo General de la Nación (AGN-Caracas). 1967): 177205. promoting discomfort.10 changing the way whites saw their slaves. Capaya. the oral reading of brief 16 This is evident in the black rebellion of Coro and different movements of free blacks. folio 270. See William J. Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento. I argue that the boundaries established between the written and oral worlds in this kind of “semi-literate” society were not clearly defined or delimited. in this study. See Castillo Lara. the flight of slaves from the Antilles to Venezuela was common and led to the ongoing formation of relatively isolated and rebellious free black communities in the coastal region. Chapter 1. escritura y colonialismo en Lima (1650-1700) (Lima: IEP. La mentalidad venezolana de la emancipación (1810-1812) (Caracas: Instituto de Estudios Hispanoamericanos. 2005). Gobernación y Capitanía General. Esclavos de la ciudad letrada. Regardless of the different mechanisms of state control. and the relations between them. and maroons in Barlovento. 1971). and Caucagua. Facultad de Humanidades. UCV. (mayo. and Tomo LIX. la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela. the anxiety of local authorities increased as news about the insurrection in Saint-Domingue arrived through various channels. orígenes históricos. and Curiepe. Tomo LIX.

silversmiths) who read newspapers and pamphlets to others in public places (plazas and barber-shops). 19 By combining approaches from the history of reading and the history of the systems of modes of communication. they also offered their “literacy” services to the non-literate people by writing and/or reading personal letters in exchange of money or other services from the “listener. . a common political-cultural frame that was shared by these groups: elites feared the violence of Haiti. while free blacks and slaves used Haiti to promote insurrections as a response to perceived social injustice..11 written materials such as pamphlets and newspapers was a common practice. not only for freedom and equality. the knowledge that elites and subalterns produced about Haiti was. but also for 19 There were literate artisans (barbers. persecution and repression. Universidad Central de Venezuela. Representations of Haitian violence circulated orally and in writing. which provided a way for non-literate people to access the written world. 1999). Cristina Soriano.” See my undergraduate thesis. Ironically. nevertheless communicated with each other. and constructed a common frame of reference about Caribbean turmoil at the end of the eighteenth century within which they added their own concerns. while slaves and colored people recognized white fear and used the representations of Haiti to express their anger and make demands. interpretations. this dissertation illustrates the ways in which social groups which were in conflict. Caracas. in my opinion. small surgeons. The colonial state and white elites used Haiti to justify control. “Libros y lectores en Caracas durante el siglo XVIII” (Undergraduate diss. and visions of the colonial world. and created an environment of mistrust and hostility between the elites and the subaltern groups.

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the modification of living conditions. The processes of negotiation, transaction, imposition, and contestation in which these social groups engaged in their struggle for power, economic benefits, and social privileges should also lead us to look for more common spaces of communication.20 In spite of the existence of a “common knowledge,” information about Haiti evoked contradictory interpretations from elites and subalterns, while both groups tended to perceive each others’ actions and perceptions in terms of a process of radicalization and polarization.

2. The Impact of Haitian Revolution and Social Mobilizations: Historiographic Trends

My dissertation is nourished by, and interacts with, the voluminous body of literature that has been produced on resistance and rebellion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since the 1960s, the academic world has seen a growing production of works on all aspects of subaltern groups lives and their relations with dominant groups. The subject of “resistance” in particular has received significant attention
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From a cultural approach, historians Roger Chartier and Robert Darnton, among others, have suggested that the modes of communication and diverse media that people have used to transmit knowledge and share information in each society should also be the focus of historical analysis. They argue that knowledge transcends social limits and flows among diverse social groups. Chartier’s approach to the circulation of “knowledge” among diverse social groups is compatible with Gramscian approaches to hegemony, as a form of relationship between the dominant and dominated groups in which processes of contestation and negotiation coexist. William Roseberry follows this path when defining hegemony “not as [a] finished and monolithic ideological formation but as a problematic, contested, political process of domination and struggle.” See William Roseberry, “Hegemony and the Language of Contention,” in Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and Negotiations of Rule in Modern Mexico, eds. Joseph, G. and D. Nugent (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994), 358.

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during the last forty years, and has made great strides since the pioneering work of C.L.R. James in the 1930s. Within the large body of literature that discusses resistance and rebellion in colonial Latin America, one of the most fruitful areas of analysis emerges from an understanding of the extent to which local political dynamics, and larger international trends affected the oppositional movements of free blacks and slaves as well as indigenous and mestizo peasants. William Roseberry, Steve Stern, and Florencia Mallon have been among the most vocal discussants on this question, emphasizing the importance of “local fields of power” for understanding resistance in Latin America.21 In recent decades, Latin American scholars have paid close attention to local power fields, concentrating on traditional, and long-contested issues of oppression between elites and subalterns. Recently, historians studying slave conspiracies and rebellions in the Caribbean argue that one must indeed consider the ways in which slaves responded to newly-opened rifts in the ranks of ruling classes, while arguing that the origins of conspiracies and plots were often “overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, internal.”22 In most cases, these Caribbeanist historians have begun

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See William Roseberry, Anthropologies and Histories: Essays in Culture, History and Political Economy (New Brunswick: Rutgers University, 1989); Steve Stern, Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987) and Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993); Florencia Mallon, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994). David Barry Gaspar, Bondmen and Rebels: A Case Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua, with Implications for Colonial British America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985).

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locating the origins of black conspiracy and rebellion in the violent master-slave relationships of these colonial societies, and the battle between the slaveholders’ desire for social control, and the slaves’ attempts to resist that control.23 In a similar manner, historians studying Spanish colonization and indigenous and peasant participation in resistance movements direct our attention toward local indigenous communities, and the internal dynamics of cultural autonomy and political integrity that were being played out amongst various actors. Their narrative is clearly aware of wider events and intersections with Creole struggles, but often these historians argue that it was this set of more localized concerns, including inherited and ancestral conflicts, communal and territorial rights, rather than the larger anti-Spanish, state-building projects of Creole elites, or abstract notions of human rights and individual citizenship, that preoccupied mestizo and Indian peasantries in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.24 By focusing explicitly on the long-term perspective, I believe that such analyses allow us to understand the ways in which particular cultural and political

23

See, for example, Gaspar, Bondmen and Rebels: A Case Study of Master-Slave Relations in Antigua; Carolyn Fick, The Making of Haiti, The Saint Domingue Revolution from Below (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1990); Emilia Viotti Da Costa, Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood. The Demarara Slave Rebellion of 1823 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); and Ada Ferrer, Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation and Revolution, 1868-1898 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999). See, for example, Eric Van Young, The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810-1821 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001); Sergio Serulnikov, Subverting the Colonial Authority, Challenges to Spanish Rule in Eighteenth-Century Southern Andes (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003); Sinclair Thomson, We Alone Will Rule. Native Andean Politics in the Age of Insurgency (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002).

24

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clashes determined the nature of resistance in different localities. Eugene Genovese, in a similar vein, has argued for the importance of understanding how slaves exploited and made use of political opportunities and rifts in the larger white power structures.25 A number of scholars of Latin America and/or the Caribbean have devoted significant attention to external factors in rebellions -- in particular, the Enlightenment discourses and political changes of the eighteenth-century, and the liberal-bourgeois revolutions of the Atlantic World.26 The recent work of David Geggus has shown the undoubted influence that the Haitian Revolution had on slaves throughout the Americas. Geggus places a great deal of emphasis on the French Revolution, and the manner in which its ideological influence impacted slave resistance in the French Caribbean. His work is clearly important for illuminating, on the one hand, the manner in which wider political currents shaped subaltern resistance in Latin America and the
25

Eugene Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolution, Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992). In her discussion of eighteenth century Andean rebellions, Scarlett O’Phelan, demonstrates how the fiscal reforms of the Spanish Bourbon monarchy galvanized a wide-range of Andean actors, bringing them together in common cause against the Spanish, and sparking the notorious rebellion of Túpac Amaru. Yet she also argues that Indian peasants continued to resent the ongoing, and oppressive systems of labor and tribute that had been instituted two centuries earlier. O’Phelan aptly acknowledges the way in which moments of unrest and rebellion overlap, yet she pays scant attention to some of the more deeply-rooted cultural and messianic aspects of the rebellion that we see in the work of Steve Stern, Sergio Serulnikov, and Sinclair Thomson. See Scarlett O’Phelan, Un siglo de rebeliones anticoloniales: Perú y Bolivia 1700-1783 (Cusco: Centro de Estudios Rurales Andinos "Bartolomé de Las Casas", 1988); Steve Stern, Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest, Humanaga to 1640, (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1993); Sergio Serulnikov, Subverting the Colonial Authority; Sinclair Thomson, We Alone Will Rule. In Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood, Viotta da Costa argues for a more “polyphonic” analysis of the 1823 slaves rebellion in Demerara, attributing the causes to the new demands on slaves’ time and labor prompted by the colony’s recent incorporation into the British empire, a new language of “universal rights” being circulated by Age of Revolution rhetoric, along with slaves’ traditional conception of their own rights, and the influence of Christian missionaries.

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Caribbean, and, on the other, the way in which Black/African slaves took advantage of these openings. And yet, as we have seen above, these texts only succeed in painting part of the picture. This is particularly so if we acknowledge, as many authors have, that cultural components and social dynamics form an integral part of the way that African, Indians, Afro-Creoles, and mestizos rebelled. Authors such as Carolyn Fick demonstrate how blacks and mulattos in Saint Domingue made use of liberal humanistic discourses emanating from French republican projects in order to argue for their own political rights and eventually create their own nation. She also demonstrates how slaves were consciously aware, and actively exploitative of political machinations between the imperial powers. But Fick also makes a bold attempt to recover the consciousness of slave insurgents by centering on African cultural elements, in particular, the religion of Vodun. I would argue that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to isolate abstract cultural or ideological factors from the more concrete economic and material factors of indigenous peasant resistance, and of slave rebellions as well. Venezuelan historical studies of the rebellions and conspiracies of the late colonial period perceive social movements such as cumbes (maroon communities), black insurrections, and indigenous mobilizations on the basis of two contrasting perspectives. On one hand, there are the traditional historical studies that (often reproducing colonial discourses) perceive rebellions and conspiracies as sporadic movements responding merely to ideological forces coming from abroad; these studies

17

tend to exaggerate the impact of the Enlightenment Age and the French Revolution in the province and to underestimate subalterns’ capacities to think and act politically.27 On the other hand, there are a number of relatively recent works that provide an analytical approach to colonial socio-economic dynamics and perceive these movements more as products of local systems of exploitation than as consequences of ideological contamination.28 Although many of these studies provide interesting information and opinions about the participation of Indians, free-blacks, and slaves in the conformation of the colonial political scenario, they pay scant attention to a number of non-political factors, such as the circulation of political and ethno-racial discourses, friendship, and kinship dynamics, that could lead subaltern individuals into insurgency.29 Here, I argue that ideological factors played just as an important role as material grievances. My dissertation seeks to examine the sources of information, networks of communication, and media that contributed to the development of collective
27

See Pedro Manuel Arcaya, La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro (Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia, 1949); Eleazar Córdova Bello, La independencia de Haití y su influencia en Hispanoamérica (Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia, 1967); Callahan, “La propaganda, la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela,” 177-205; Pino Iturrieta, La mentalidad venezolana de la emancipación. See Javier Laviña, “Revolución francesa y control social,” Tierra Firme VII, no. 27 (Julio-Sept., 1989): 272-85; and “Indios y negros sublevados de Coro,” in Poder local, poder global en América Latina, eds. Dalla Corte and others (Barcelona: Universidad de Barcelona, 2008), 97-112; Izard, El miedo a la revolución. See Antonio Arellano Moreno, Orígenes de la economía venezolana (México: Ediciones Edime, 1947); Brito Figueroa, El problema tierra y esclavos, and Las insurrecciones de los esclavos negros en la sociedad colonial venezolana (Caracas: Edit. Cantaclaro, 1961); Castillo Lara, Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento; Aizpurua, “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro”; Laviña, “Indios y negros sublevados.”

28

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movements against the political elite and the colonial government. Rebellions and conspiracies represent an important focus of my project.30 I am particularly interested in uncovering the network of communication and sources of information that fed them and that created an environment of political dispute, which has not been yet fully explored. This project analyzes the multiple ways in which the information from and about Saint-Domingue – including rumors and gossip, songs and discourses, images, drawings, documents and pamphlets – influenced and transformed social relations among white elites, pardos, free blacks, and slaves, promoting violent discourses, rebellions, and political instability, but also opening common spaces for communication and negotiation. In his book Silencing the Past, Michel Rolph Trouillot contends that silences have permeated methodological approaches to the study Haitian events. He argues that the historiography of the Haitian Revolution is itself marred by two unfortunate postures. First, Haitian historical literature remains too respectful of the revolutionary leaders who led the black masses to freedom, recreating a revolutionary past as a means of legitimizing the political present. Secondly, a sophisticated and empirically rich body of historical work produced outside of Haiti presents a discursive framework that is excessively “western,” misunderstanding certain political and social aspects of
30

I follow approaches that argue that rebellions represent particularly revealing contexts in which social conflicts, political language, and dynamics of power - that are frequently concealed in every-day social interactions -, rise to the fore. They also generate practices that bear comparison with everyday forms of resistance and contestation. See, for example, Ranajit Guha, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999); Viotti Da Costa, Crowns of Glory, Tears of Blood; and Sinclair Thomson, We Alone Will Rule.

In “The Common Wind…. Piqueras. Scott presents ample evidence of the presence of Haiti in the British. Spanish. Throughout his work. 105... Dolores González-Ripoll and others. Universal Emancipation. and French colonial discourse during the nineteenth century.. David Patrick Geggus. ed. David Patrick Geggus. The Haitian Revolution and the Radical Enlightenment (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. Las Antillas en la Era de las Luces y la Revolución (Madrid: Siglo XXI. eds..” Scott argues for the important role played by communication networks in the Caribbean diffusion and imagining of Haiti and its revolution. eds. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. While Genovese and 31 32 Trouillot. The World of the Haitian Revolution (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic. raza y rebeldía. Doris L. “The solution. Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. 1789-1815 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. José A.32 In general. 2005). A Turbulent Time: The French Revolution and the Greater Caribbean. studies of uprisings in the circum-Caribbean region argue that while subalterns regarded rebellion as an arduous collective enterprise. Silencing the Past. ed. El rumor de Haití en Cuba: temor. “The Common Wind”. Nick Nesbitt. Tree of Liberty. Scott. 2008). there is substantial disagreement among historians about the role of the Haitian Revolution in the history of slave rebellions in the circum-Caribbean region. ed. 2002). Ma.. colonial authorities and elites described it and dealt with it as a contagious disease that would spread destroying slave innocence and loyalty. Fischer. La independencia de Haití y su influencia en Hispanoamérica. Scott. eds. “may be for the two historiographical traditions – that of Haiti and that of the foreign specialists – to merge or to generate a new perspective that encompasses the best of each. 1789-1844 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Haitian Revolutionary Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press.. 2004).”31 The increasing attention that scholars are paying to the effects of the Haitian Revolution in the circum-Caribbean region and the Spanish colonies has been particularly stimulating. See Córdova Bello. David Patrick Geggus and Norman Fiering. David Barry Gaspar and David Patrick Geggus.33 However. 1997). “The Common Wind”. Garraway. 2009).19 the Haitian cultural context.” says Trouillot. and Geggus. 33 . 2008). Modernity Disavowed. 2001).

” in The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic.”36 A closer look at the word “influence” could help us find another way to analyze the presence of Saint-Domingue and its Revolution in the Atlantic world. the slave population continued to increase steadily another half-century. insist on the great influence that the revolution in SaintDomingue had in the Atlantic World.” in The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic. “within the Americas as a whole. finding “direct influences of the Haitian Revolution” in particular cases.”35 others historians such as Drescher and Geggus believe that the influence has been exaggerated and that. 36 . Seymour Drescher. 11. 5. the impact of the Haitian revolution varied. Geggus is concerned to identify and document evidence. because it “propelled a revolution in black consciousness throughout the New World”34 and “hastened or delayed the multiple emancipations of the following century. among others. “Impact of the French and the Haitian Revolutions. 96. depending on the geographical and temporal scope of one’s analysis. “The Limits of Example. David Brion Davis. From Rebellion to Revolution. Drescher suggests moving from “symbolic discourse to reality. Sybille Fischer claims that a very narrow notion of influence may unwittingly prevent us from recognizing the ideological and symbolic impact of the Haitian Revolution and thus make it impossible to recognize the cultural 34 35 Genovese.20 Davis.” showing that despite the eruption of diverse rebellions in the circum-Caribbean region.

292. Ibid. Fischer proposes using notions capable of capturing the psychological. Haití en el imaginario cubano (Madrid: Veuvert. Espectro y espejismo. masters. Going beyond the problem of how “silence and fear of Haiti” explains concrete historical actions and events. 2. Modernity Disavowed. 2009).37 Even if it could be imprecise to talk about the “direct influence” of the Haitian Revolution everywhere. She believes that Haiti was used by slaves. Her study focuses on Cuban literature of nineteenth and twentieth centuries. and ideological operations that have produced silences and gaps in the historical and cultural records. In her work. there should be a way to categorize all the images. and government agents in different ways and with varied 37 38 Fischer. Fischer adopts an interdisciplinary approach. With a similar intention. See Elzbieta Skolodowska.”38 Ada Ferrer suggests that we talk about “repercussions” rather than influence. representations. Ada Ferrer insists on analyzing news and information about Haiti that entered the island of Cuba and created particular interpretations of the events. rumors. As she says: “Imaginary scenarios became the real battlegrounds. Elzbieta Skolodowska studies the impact of the Haitian Revolution in the social and political imaginary of Cuba. . and violent discourses (fictitious or not) that emanated from Saint-Domingue and that repeatedly circulated in the Atlantic world. trying to comprehend the complex web of meanings through which the Haitian revolution was re-created in the Cuban context. affective. since Saint-Domingue represented a complex landscape of heterogeneous effects that did not respond to particular events or detailed causes.21 formation … in which knowledge of Haiti was taken for granted and which we know existed. thinking of a political and cultural landscape beyond the confines of disciplinary fragmentation and national categories of history and literature.

22 purposes. sociedad y esclavitud. He also gives examples of how the Haitian Revolution was used as a . Historian Eleazar Cordova Bello studied the impact that the Haitian Revolution had on different Spanish American colonies. “Noticias de Haití en Cuba. poder y esclavitud en Cuba en la época de la Revolución….39 My work also offers revisions of Venezuelan historiographic debates dating back to the mid-twentieth century about whether or not the information regarding Haiti had a real impact on masters and slaves during the last decades of the eighteenth century. such as Cuba.” and “Cuba en la sombra de Haití: noticias. Cordova Bello’s study adheres to a traditional view that 39 Ferrer. Ferrer shows the consolidation of binary and apocalyptic images that would become the prevailing symbols of Haiti and its revolution in Cuba.” Córdova Bello. Puerto Rico. La independencia de Haití y su influencia en Hispanoamérica.” “Temor. In the end. Did Haiti promote black revolts and rebellions or were such ideas merely fabricated by the Spanish government and local elites? Traditional Venezuelan historiography shows evidence of a direct influence of the Haitian Revolution in the Province of Venezuela.40 He provides us with multiple and detailed historical accounts that allow us to register the mentions of the Haiti Revolution in the Province of Venezuela and how different social groups perceived these revolutionary events. In his opinion.41 However. 40 41 Córdova Bello highlights the presence of the “fear of Haiti” for governors and elites of the different colonies and shows how the Spanish Crown and elites designed different strategies to control the entry of revolutionary ideas from Haiti. the Haitian Revolution introduced new problems and features to colonial social realities. Jamaica. The author presents Haiti as a focal point of French revolutionary ideas and as source of diffusion of these ideas to the Spanish American colonies. and Venezuela.

42 Ángel Sanz Tapia.. and “El síndrome de Saint-Domingue. Los militares emigrados y los prisioneros franceses en Venezuela durante la guerra contra la revolución: un aspecto fundamental de la época de la pre-emancipación (Caracas: Instituto Panamericano de Geografía e Historia. eds. Ramón Aizpurua and Adriana Hernández (Caracas: Fundación Polar. Izard.” in Gual y España. Fidelidad bajo el viento. “La Ley de los franceses: una reinterpretación de las insurrecciones de inspiración jacobina en la costa de Caracas. but also at creating a “republic” and/or at applying “French” liberal principles. 2004). La independencia de Haití y su influencia en Hispanoamérica. Laviña. . This traditional historiography asserts that the various insurrections and conspiracies taking place in Venezuela during the last decade of the eighteenth century aimed not only at abolishing commercial taxes. Aizpurua. 1 (2006). Historians Ramón Aizpurua. Recent works have focused more on understanding social frictions and local dynamics of exploitation. See Córdova Bello. Alejandro Gómez. “Revolución francesa y control social” and “Indios y negros sublevados de Coro”. no. Mikel Izard. this narrative argues that the Haitian Revolution directly influenced black rebellions and pardo conspiracies in the province. suggesting that some of these rebellions and conspiracies have been misunderstood. Rogelio Pérez Perdomo. La independencia frustrada. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. El miedo a la revolución.” Akademos VII. and that the historical narrative about them has been strongly contaminated by the official colonial discourse. 2007). Angel Sanz and Alejandro Gómez42 invite us to re-imagine model by the Creole insurrects in order to justify the need for freedom and independence of the colonies. Consequently. freeing slaves and bringing social equality to the Province. Javier Laviña. Juan Carlos Rey. revolución y contrarevolución en las Antillas Francesas en la experiencia de algunos oficiales emigrados a tierra firme 1790-1795 (México: Siglo XXI.” and “La conspiración por dentro: un análisis de las declaraciones de la conspiración de La Guaira de 1797. and that perceives discourses as mirrors of reality rather than as strategies and instruments of social legitimization and power.23 understands historical realities as consequences produced by pure and clear-cut causes. 1977).

To contribute to this debate. this knowledge was used by rebels such as slaves and free-blacks to threaten elites and negotiate their economic (exoneration from commercial taxes. my work analyzes the different discourses and representations that connect the formation. However I also look into situations and circumstances that show the presence and significance of Saint Domingue in the daily life of the inhabitants of the ports and cities of the Province.” Caravelle. Some of these historians contend that rebels in these movements aimed more at solving socio-economic problems – exoneration from taxes. negotiation. and alcabalas. My hypothesis is that the Haitian Revolution became a shared knowledge. and understanding of these political movements with Saint-Domingue. for Percepciones y sensibilidades de la Revolución Haitiana en el Gran Caribe (1791-1814). Others suggest that the Haitian Revolution was not explicitly and directly evoked by rebel discourse but rather by the perturbed and apprehensive discourse of the elites. 86 (2006). creating an open space for contestation. vengeance and violence. and to re-examine the discourses produced and reproduced during and after the social movements. development. . later reproduced by historians. Everyday conversations and discussions transformed the turbulent Caribbean into a common reference for racial and social conflict. no. an everyday reference that became stronger during rebellions. for example – than at imposing a new political-ideological regime.24 the diverse and complex political and social landscapes from which these social movements emerged. and social challenges.

but it was also used by some colored leaders as a way of presenting other possibilities to their fellow subalterns: to show them that there were people of color in other places that have gotten rid from the tyranny of their masters and have achieved freedom. merging them into the overall confrontation between masters and slaves in the colonial Caribbean. but a common language used by both rulers and subalterns. I argue that the perceived violence of Saint-Domingue and the turbulent Caribbean blurred the particular character of local conflicts in Venezuela. In this sense. Through my work. I argue that Haiti was not necessarily a product of elites’ imagination. These strategies varied significantly: from prohibiting the use . Haiti was invoked by people of color in different circumstances: sometimes it was used to threaten the elites and ask specifics demands such as the exoneration of commercial taxes.25 example) and social demands (freedom). On their part. I argue that Haiti functioned as a mirror that local subaltern actors used to reinforce their demands. a meaningful framework more significant and powerful than has been acknowledged by Venezuelan social historiography. or the replacement of a local authority. they were convinced of the importace of keeping people of color controlled in order to avoid a second Saint-Domingue. white elites used Haiti as a reference to undermine people of color and justify new measures of control. In this sense. therefore they employed several strategies to avoid subversive movements. the elimination of alcabalas. and that elites employed to justify repression or to negotiate concessions. and by the elites to justify harsh repression.

In fact. A Fragile Harmony: Social Frictions in Colonial Venezuela (1770-1810) Europeans first encountered Venezuelan territory in 1498. and stirring mobilization on part of the people of color. In the ocassions that elites confronted social conflict and uprisings. they used Haiti as a powerful reference to harshly repress and punish the instigators. and after arriving at Trinidad.” provoking fear among white elites.26 of firearms to people of color to controlling the intensity of the punishments imparted by the white masters. during the third voyage of Columbus to the “Reinos de Indias. I will show that the messages that circulated in times of Caribbean turbulence had the simultaneous functions of imparting “information. 3. By studying both political representations and practices in a slave-based society. they sought to tightening control and the submission of the slaves and free blacks. a year later.” In 1499. while at the same time improving living conditions which did not necessarily endanger the due subordination and order. the elites’ strategies were two-pronged: on the one hand. Spanish explorers and conquerors Alfonso de Ojeda and Americo Vespucci sighted the mainland near the mouth of the Orinoco River. In this sense. this study will shed light on how subaltern actors in colonial Venezuela responded not only to local circumstances of exploitation but also to representations of planter domination and slave resistance circulating in the region. discovered the eastern .

and the production of leather and cloth for export to the Caribbean. cacao and wheat. During the first years of expedition and conquest. 43 Miguel Izard. the raising of cattle. especially with La Española. historia de Venezuela y Colombia (Madrid: Alianza. 1986). Tierra firme. intensive extraction of pearls in the Islands of Cubagua and Margarita. . were the main goals of Europeans who enslaved Indians to undertake the dangerous tasks associated with this plunder. the colonial economy – based on an important exportation of indigo and tobacco. and an incessant search for gold in the northwestern regions of Venezuela. the economic activities of the region shifted from the extraction of pearls and gold. Venezuela was a stable – but not necessarily a peaceful – province of small importance in the Spanish Empire. However. to the cultivation of tobacco. The colony formed a province within the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada (modern Panama and Colombia) and Quito (modern Ecuador). by the eighteenth century. Despite being under the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada. but mostly of cacao – and the number of inhabitants of the province of Venezuela experienced an important growth and consolidation. Europeans founded scattered cities and established unstable settlements across this region.43 During this initial period of colonization. By the end of eighteenth century.27 coast of what is now known as Venezuela. especially in the northern area where a long coast open to the Caribbean Sea permitted frequent communication and exchange of products with the islands. During the entire sixteenth century. Charles V granted the Wesler Company vast territories in the western region with the purpose of searching for gold mines. In 1528.

Varinas. on the north by that of Cumana. when the General Captaincy was established. Margarita y Tobago (London: G. later. on the north-west by that of Maracaybo. and the territory of the Province of Venezuela. and that this economic interest stemmed largely from the growing popularity of cacao in Europe during the middle of the eighteenth century. The region. In 1777. 45 .” See Jean François Dauxion Lavaysse.28 Venezuela enjoyed virtual autonomy and had become accustomed to little administrative control from Nueva Granada. on which depended the respective governors of the provinces of Cumana and New Andalusian. and the Island of Trinidad. 1820). Cumaná. drew the attention of the Monarchy when it received reports describing contraband activities between 44 During most of the colonial period.B. the Governor of the Province of Caracas also became the Captain General of Venezuela. and Caracas is their metropolis: the province of Venezuela has taken the name of Province of Caracas. The traveler Jean François Dauxion-Lavaysse commented on this: “Almost all European geographers confound the General Government of Caracas or Venezuela.” Then. and Audiencia (a supreme administrative and judicial court). and acknowledged the economic and commercial primacy of the nuclear region of Caracas. This change created confusion about the political jurisdictions of the Captaincy of Venezuela. the Province of Venezuela. Intendant. A Statistical. he adds: “Venezuela is the national name adopted at present by the confederated provinces. Guayana and. The creation. Captain general. This province is bounded on the west by the sea. Trinidad. Margarita. and W. in 1777. Caracas antes de la independencia. Trinidad. Guiana. known from the seventeenth century as an ideal place for cultivating cacao. 55. was established as a “Gobernación. with the province. often called Province of Caracas.” with the Governor as the most important representant of the Spanish Monarchy in the region. Maracaybo.45 Some historians believe that it was the significant economic growth of the Province of Venezuela that put the region at the center of the imperial interests. and to the east and south-east by that of Varinas. Comercial and Political Description of Venezuela. of the General Captaincy of Venezuela. Mckinley. of which the town of Saint Leon de Caracas is the capital. Barinas) to the jurisdiction of the Province of Caracas (also known as Province of Venezuela)44 confirmed the need to centralize the region administratively and politically. Whittaker. This town was residence of the President. which incorporated six provinces (Maracaibo.

1648-1795. Illicit Riches: Dutch Trade in the Caribbean.46 46 In fact. although the commercial relations between the province and the Dutch were illegal. (Caracas: Colección Bicentenario. A Study in the History of Spanish Monopolistic Trade (Cambridge: Harvard University Press.29 Venezuelan merchants and the Dutch.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 68. it has a profound impact that allowed stable and regular economic relations between the two regions only partially interrupted by the activities of the Caracas Company. For this reason the Crown authorized in 1728 the consolidation of the Compañia Guipuzcoana de Caracas. Roland Dennis Hussey. See also José María Aizpurua. agricultural tools. the company’s emergence in Venezuela was closely related to the Dutch presence in Curaçao and their important illegal trade of cacao and other products with the province. 1728-1784. alcohol. (Leiden: KITLV Press. 1 (1988): 75-100. iron. Eugenio Piñero. Wim Klooster. cloth and textiles. Relaciones de trabajo en la sociedad colonial venezolana. “The Cacao Economy of the Eighteenth-Century Province of Caracas and the Spanish Cacao Market. no. 1934). 1998). The Caracas Company. . Centro Nacional de la Historia. a Basque commercial company that undertook the important task of commercializing local goods. and curbing contraband activities. 2009). Wim Klooster defines this relation as a symbiosis. and foodstuff from the Peninsula to the province. while also managing the importation of manufactured goods.

During the eighteenth century. cacao. indigo. horses and mules. and the plantation of the export crops of tobacco.30 Figure 2. the economy of the Province was divided between two main productive activities: the raising of cattle. and the production of leather in the western plains and shores of the country. In the 1780’s. the production of cacao in the coastal area and the southern slopes of the cordillera represented a . especially on the littoral coast. sugar and coffee in different geographical areas.

hired workers and slaves in the coastal areas. no.47 The primacy of cacao cultivation in the province of Venezuela implied the frequent introduction in the region of African slaves. Caracas. 1944. But this aspect was not necessarily exceptional or anormal.31 significant 70 percent of total legal exports and probably more of the illegal trade. John Lombardi. José María Aizpurua notes that one of the most fundamental characteristics of the labor system in colonial Venezuela was its heterogeinity: “The enslaved labor force. By the end of the century. the peasant tenant. in particular. Orígenes de la economía venezolana (Caracas. Historia económica y social de Venezuela. and Eduardo Arcila Farías.for whom the frontier offered the possibility of escaping from slavery . comments that unlike other regions of the Caribbean. 1976). Aizpurua. (Caracas: Ediciones de la Biblioteca Central.Universidad Central de Venezuela. People and Places in Colonial Venezuela (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 181-2. 2th ed. 1982). 1976). the free worker. McKinley. Caracas antes de la independencia. Arellano Moreno. Rather it was the essence of the colonial economic organization. personal communication. the small independent producer and the indigenous cultivator” overlapped and were involved in a complex network of production relations. whose labor force was fundamental for the production of this crop. 48 49 . the exportation of slaves to the Province of Venezuela decreased during the last decades of the 47 Federico Brito Figueroa.” Revista Nacional de Cultura. “Comercio de cacao en el siglo XVII.49 McKinley. Ramón Aizpúrua. late colonial Venezuela was a diversified and commercialized slave society dominated by a hybrid and heterogeneous labor system.48 Most historians of colonial Venezuela agree in asserting that the slave system in this region did not follow the ideal “plantation model” mainly described in nineteenth-century accounts about the Caribbean slave system.and domestic labor. This “plantation system model” was more characteristic of the ninteenth-century Caribbean plantations. 43. rather than the eighteenth century. Therefore. Relaciones de trabajo en la sociedad colonial venezolana. December 2010. the labor population in the Province was dominated by pardos and free blacks in the plains .

Traveler. 38. has a right to carry his complaint to the judge. 216 (1999): 357-74 and José María Aizpurua. Slaves in Spanish America had the right – often called “coartación” or “manumisión” . who may order that he be sold to some other master of known humanity. Relaciones de trabajo en la sociedad colonial venezolana. Caracas antes de la independencia. was more apparent than real. If the agricultural infrastructure of Caracas had needed more slaves and would have responded to the stimulus for absorbing them.51 They also gave their slaves better living conditions: allowing them to 50 McKinley affirms: “In any case. “El derecho de coartación del esclavo en la América española.” See A Statistical. 178. 1955 [1784]). on their paying the sum of 300 dollars. the large majority of the haciendas were too small to require a great number of slaves. and the scarcity of them. and the other Spanish possessions. no. it is doubtless that. The slave treated with injustice or cruelty by his master. if it existed. were much less interested in the importation of slaves than it seems. enjoy a privilege unknown in the French and English colonies: it is that of obliging their masters to liberate them. Decadencia y abolición de la esclavitud en Venezuela (1820-1854) (Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela. see Felipe Salvador Gilij. manumission could have been used as a useful tactic or subterfuge to maintain slavery during the colonial and republican periods. see John Lombardi. 51 . The reasons for this decrease are not fully explored. Trinidad. This situation created a significant population of free blacks in Spanish America. estado presente de la tierra firme (Bogotá: Edit.” McKinley. despite the war with Great Britain. see Manuel Lucena Salmoral. many historians have commented that master/slave relations in the Province of Venezuela seemed less harsh and violent than in other regions of the Caribbean.” Revista de Indias LIX. For a detailed account. in his opinion. Dauxion Lavaysse commented: “The slaves in Venezuela.to buy freedom by paying his/her price to the master through a system of periodical deposits. Interestingly. 2004). Commercial and Political Description of Venezuela. For a historical discussion on this topic. precisely and contradictorily when the economic situation was improving.32 eighteenth century. Venezuelan landowners seemed more willing to liberate their slaves as a reward for their services. a great importation of slaves would have occurred. but the author comments that the hacendados (owners of landed estates or plantantions) seemed comfortable employing free jornaleros (day-laborers) and having some slaves working on their lands. the hacendados. Sucre.50 Relying on this hybrid nature of labor. Ensayo de historia americana.

the elites of Caracas rejected the abdition of slavery because they felt that freeing their slaves implied the loss of an important labor force on which their economic privileges rested. In Venezuela this situation developed in a “hacienda” pattern in which masters often did not supervise the process of production and established sharecropping arrangements with their slaves. 1806). de Pons. and clothing.52 The hybrid nature of labor and the relatively reduced importance that slaves had within the overall labor force did not mean that Spanish and creole elites were more prone to the general abolition of slavery.33 posses. whether the harvest be productive or not. Also see Leal. On the contrary. and they are suffered to go about literally covered with rags. and the law is silent on this project. José María Aizpurua. did not assume the obligations of providing them with housing. that except from a few proprietors. AGI-Sevilla. some of whom eventually earned enough to buy their freedom. as Also a View of the Customs and Manners of the Spaniards and Native Indians (London. 1802.” 53 . During the years 1801. with an Account of the Laws. 802. the clear rejection of the código negrero of 1789 by the Caracas elites allows us to perceive this significant dependence that the elites had on their slaves.J.” See. land.53 Likewise. See Real Cédula sobre “Educación. See Miguel Acosta Saignes. they receive no other provisions than what they cultivate on spots of ground allotted to them for that purpose. subordination. but contradictorily. the response of some slaves to this rejection of the code gives 52 About this. and also because it implied a disruption on the traditional notions of order. In fact. rent or use smalls plots of land to grow crops. Indiferente General. and their own crops. since they are very scantily provided with food and clothes. and Robin Blackburn. Relaciones de trabajo en la sociedad colonial venezolana. The Making of New World Slavery. 1803 & 1804: Containing a Description of the CaptainGeneralship of Caracas. 1998). and social harmony. “La aristocracia criolla. food. 1984). 1789). wood. trato y ocupaciones de los esclavos en todos los dominios e Islas de Filipinas” (Mayo. The consequence of which is. whose hearts are not altogether steeled against the feelings of humanity. French visitor De Pons noted: “The Spanish negroes receive from their master only a supply of prayers. Richard Phillips. and Natural Productions of that Country. Travels in Parts of South America. Commerce. From the Baroque to the Modern 1492-1800 (London: Verso. 497. F. Vida de los esclavos negros en Venezuela (Caracas: Vadell Hermanos. Laws in Spanish America allowed slaves to exchange water.

Venezuela esclava y feudal (Caracas: Pensamiento vivo editores. honor. approximately 800. While traditional historians believed that colonial social stratification relied on “caste” categories based on racial or physical distinctions. similar to those of class societies. this author comments: “The economic growth was accompanied by political stability and social peace…” See McKinley. Caracas antes de la independencia. By analyzing economic and political dynamics. In an introductory paragraph. The nature of social divisions during the colonial period have sparked complex and significant debates regarding the preeminence of racial. by the end of eighteenth century. In the Province of Caracas there were almost 490. See. the conflicts expressed in rebellions and conspiracies were not reactions to contradictory interests between the empire and the colony. Historia económica y social de 55 . or class divisions. Michael McKinley. other historians demonstrate that social divisions were founded on social estates. juridical. Brito Figueroa.54 By the end of the eighteenth century. There is abundant literature regarding this issue. plots and conspiracies) that revealed frictions among imperial reforms and local controls or tensions due to internal social divisions and rivalries. By way of contrast. nor were they responses to the unequal access to power by different social groups. 12. differentiated access to the colonial means of production created different forms of exploitation and accumulation. 1964). 55 54 Traditional Marxist historiography studied late eighteenth-century Venezuela focusing primarily on political conflicts (in the forms of rebellions. defined by feudal criteria of occupation. McKinley argues that the Province of Caracas was stable and relatively quiescent during the last decades of the eighteenth century. They were rather processes of adaptation to the new political and economic transformations triggered by Bourbon reforms. Carlos Irazábal. In his opinion. and juridical status.000 inhabitants. a period in which the province expanded economically and reached an unprecedented political maturity that reflected a harmonious and stable society. a more recent historiography describes this period as the “golden years” of colonial Venezuela. Marxist authors have also argued that.34 us reason to believe that master-slave relations in the Province were not as “smooth.000 inhabitants occupied the provinces of the Capitanía General de Venezuela. but on conflict-resolution and negotiation that took place during this period. gentle. for example. for example. and harmonic” as some historians have presented them. suggests that a new perspective should focus not merely on the conflicts.

estudios de casos (Caracas: Fundación Polar. and overlapping relations between racial. estate and class criteria. wealth. McKinley. for example. Materiales de seminaries (2008): http://nuevomundo. Graciela Soriano. See Soriano. 1. A large and heterogeneous group . Historia fundamental de Venezuela (Caracas: Fundación Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho.org/index34503. J. These works suggest that the structure of Venezuelan colonial society.” Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos. Historians recognize three basic groups: whites57. artisanal activities and education. 57 . and maroons) and Indians. because of their origin. Venezuela 1810-1830: aspectos desatendidos de dos décadas (Caracas: Lagoven. creoles. slaves. La vivencia del honor en la provincia de Venezuela. Alejandro Gómez. precisely. Venezuela 1810-1830: aspectos desatendidos. like others in Spanish America.org/index9973.Biblioteca de Autores del Centro (2007): http://nuevomundo. Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos.. La vivencia del honor en la provincia de Venezuela.product of the continued relations among the three basic groups Venezuela.35 Nevertheless.html. education. “The Pardo Question. social strata were not hermetic. 56 Some historians of Spanish America basing themselves strictly on categories used in colonial times to characterize the divisions of society. blacks (free. Salcedo Bastardo. 1977). Instead each division was permeable. resulted from continued. 1774-1809. 1996). In colonial Venezuela. Luis Pellicer. simultaneous. and “«¿Ciudadanos de color?»”. Nevertheless others reject this denomination because Spanish American colonial societies (like Venezuela) did not follow the classical caste system in anthropological terms used in South Asian ethnography. and local creole whites -. more contemporary approaches have argued that in order to understand the complexity of the colonial social stratification system it is necessary to combine traditional feudal notions of social condition and juridical status with the racial system of classification and incipient class divisions. racial distinction. BAC .56 One of the most important criteria of classification in colonial Venezuelan society was. and prestige. and Pellicer. occupied lower strata than the Spaniards. 1797-1813. argue that these were “caste societies” (sociedades de castas).revues. The category of whites includes: Spaniards. 1988). Chapter. to the extent that people’s status could vary according to honor. Political Struggles on Free Coloreds’ Right to Citizenship during the Revolution of Caracas. and poor whites such as the “blancos de orilla” white spaniards from the Canary Islands who. Caracas antes de la independencia.html.revues.

idler. 1819). and etc. whose minds are totally neglected. a discrepancy that reflects colonial contradictions. such as morenos. historians Alejandro Gómez and Luis Pellicer believe that this conception reproduces the perspectives of whites who tended to lump together the free blacks with all the mixed races. 59 .& J. to the people of this country – Venezuela –.67 (1997). comprehends every vice that is degrading to human nature.) could have been considered pardos. impious. both in a Commercial and Political Point of View.” Caravelle. liar. The latter were despised as a “bad race” because theu supposedly concentrated the worst aspects of Indians and blacks. only those who had some degree of European blood (such as the mulatos. assassin. the British agent George Dawson Flinter. Of ten crimes that may be committed in the province. In their opinion.” See George Dawson Flinter. Trinidad.” in conceptual and practical terms. “La pardocratie ou l’itineraire d’une ‘classe dangereuse’ dans le Vénezuela des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. indeed. villain. tercerones. there is considerable disagreement among historians about the definition of this social group. historian Fréderique Langue has explained that in the Province of Caracas the word “pardo” was used for “non-whites. and lacked the white component. Frédérique Langue. the word zambo is synonymous with worthless. cuarterones. a name which. Together with a Description of the Llaneros. of natives who have contracted only vices of civilization and of African slaves: what can be expected of the children born of such parents. 72-3. Allman. this group was denominated pardos and was integrated by all the mixed-races. they are stigmatized for the commission of the blackest crimes. pardos had a different perception of themselves: they believed that belonging to their group improved the condition of the mixed-raced. Commercial and Political Description of Venezuela. eight are said to be done by the zambos.58 However. no. mulatos.36 progressively increased during the colonial period.” He then continued: “These individuals are born of clandestine and adulterous unions. A Statistical. while zambos were the product of the mix between Indians and blacks.59 But. as distinguished 58 Mulattos and morenos were the products of the mix between whites and blacks. Or People of the Plains of South America (London: T. Another observer. thief. According to them. Illustrating the Real State of the Contest. and zambos. A History of the Revolution of Caracas: Comprising an Impartial Narrative of the Atrocities Committed by the Contending Parties. In this regard. The French agent Dauxion Lavaysse commentted in 1807 “In this metropolis. and in a climate that invites sloth and indolence?” Jean François Dauxion Lavaysse. etc. observed in 1816: “Sambos.

Sometimes they were used as synonyms. 61 62 . a pardo inhabitant of Caracas who was accused in 1796 of influencing others of “his class” by reading seditious papers to mulattos. “Calidad. education. Other times. free-coloreds (including pardos) represented more than the 44 percent of the population. Indians.html. There were almost 190. See Ramón Gutiérrez. but pardo was also used to refer to an “educated mixed-race.60 The boundary between the terms pardo and mulato is also unclear. In regions inhabitated by Spanish.” 61 In this latter case.000 morenos or negros 60 Alejandro Gómez. Also. the limits between pardos and mulatos were not determined in racial or lineage terms. but more so in terms of calidad (quality). La vivencia del honor en la provincia de Venezuela. Debates (2008): http://nuevomundo. as well as purity of blood. While the authorities described Juan Bautista as belonging to the same “class” as the mulattos. and Blacks. See “Declaración y Expediente de Juan Bautista Olivares. Thread of Blood: Colonialism. calidad was configured not so much by the somatic signs of color but more by the cultural indices and icons of a “civilized” status versus a “barbaric”condition and style of life. 1788-1790.org/index32982. which took into consideration: color. 346. Clase and Marriage in Colonial Mexico: The Case of Parral.” Hispanic American Historical Review 64. and even place of origin.revues. no.62 According to Manuel Lucena Salmoral. In Spanish America. 1995). 1980). honor. they also refer to him as a pardo because he was educated enough to read and write. 3 (1984): 477-501. “La revolución de Caracas desde abajo. 1690-1846” (PhD diss. and wealth. used to denote ethnic status and identity. Robert McCaa. This contradiction becomes clear in the case of Juan Bautista Olivares. but others argue that calidad was an extensive category reflecting one’s reputation as a whole.37 from other groups such as free-blacks and zambos. “Sex and Family: Social Change in Colonial New Mexico. pardo represented a broader category that includes mulatos. calidad was a valorizing category.” AGI-Sevilla. Some historians of colonial Latin America have characterized calidad as a racial status defined by legal color. if a pardo married a black – merging the lineage back again with African-descendants – their offspring could lose their status as pardos. Revolution and Gender in Mexico’s Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona. integrity. and Ana Alonso. Caracas. occupation.. Pellicer. creoles.” Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos. at the beginning of the nineteenth century in the Province of Caracas. University of Wisconsin.

83 percent of the population. 64 These societies were also structured by criteria of social estates. while this last group represented 37. and juridical status (privilege) determined colonial Venezuelan’s social estates. French voyager. (Caracas: Banco Central de Venezuela. In 1794. In this sense. 1960 [1806]). the proportion of free coloreds in the Province was particularly high. probably there is not in the West Indies a city with as many as emancipated or descendants of emancipated” See François De Pons. creole and poor whites).” Anuario de Estudios Americanos. There were almost 99. François De Pons. he wrote: “In proportion to other social classes. Vols. each having particular functions and purposes which served to maintain social order. representing 25. clergy. XXXVII (1980): 8-11.2.000 slaves (15.38 libres (ex-slaves and descendants). 64 .24 percent). Vol. This demographic aspect allows us to understand the menace this group represented for whites who feared the aspirations of pardos to equality. zambos (products of the mix between blacks or pardos with Indians).000 whites (Spanish.63 In comparison with other Caribbean and Spanish American societies. Social estates in Spanish America corresponded to the principal orders of the European societies of the Old Regime: nobility.62 percent of the total of the population.000 indios tributarios (12. noted this particularity of the Caracas human landscape. The complex juxtaposition of one’s origin. 233. 60. occupation or profession. and 47. and pardos. In feudal Europe.65 percent). Viaje a la parte oriental de tierra firme en la América meridional. peasantry and militias. the people 63 Manuel Lucena Salmoral. “La sociedad de la provincia de Caracas a comienzos del siglo XIX. the civil social body was imagined as a composition of different estates or members.

Not in the same position as nobles and hacendados. three main social groups in the province. La sociedad estamental de la baja Edad Media española a la luz de la literatura de la época (Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela. High ranking officials and authorities of the Crown (like the Captain General. Dignity. origin. and possessed diverse privileges due to their lineage and dignity. 66 . the Governors and Magistrates of the Audiencia) also belonged to this privileged group.39 who shared same social condition (marked by education. s/f). according to historian Graciela Soriano. La vivencia del honor en la provincia de Venezuela. and economic situation) were organized within every rank of these social estates.” was a reference to identify only those social groups who were allowed to wear “head shawls” in the Church and during religious festivities. People of color or of lower conditions were not allowed to wear them. and Pellicer.65 In first place. Soriano. This word.”66 65 See Luciana De Stefano. This group made up of Spaniards and white creoles (whites of Spanish descent born in America) were usually referred to as “mantuanos. Venezuela 1810-1830: aspectos desatendidos. meaning “one with a shawl. purity of blood. They were usually local nobles. but important enough to be considered within this group. hacendados (plantation or landed estate owners). a social group made up of whites that represented the highest strata of society. racial type. we find some white merchants (comerciantes) dedicated to major international commercial activities. and the intersection of juridical status with racial categories defined. honor. there was the status of the “Leading people” (Personas Principales). possessing significant capital and able to afford commodities and lifestyles similar to those of nobles and landowners.

or whatever they could collect. tailors. notaries. we find the “people of standing” (personas de condición). secretaries. although not having substantial capital or economic influence. In the bottom stratum. and a limited number of pardos. farms. . and Valencia to Puerto Cabello (London: Robert Baldwin. The proportion of manufactured goods increases in degrees. a social group integrated by white Spaniards. This category included those who. muleteers. in terms of races. Including a Journey from Caracas through La Victoria. at the same time. a heterogeneous group. Indians. Small merchants. pardos. such as shopkeepers and hardware traders. In the town it is easy to trace the prosperity of the owners in the gradual change with takes place in these inventories. shoemakers. and barbers). They usually assumed bureaucratic posts. and public accountants. had sufficient education or level of isntruction to be part of the “University or Seminary professors” or “lettered body”. university or seminar professors. justice officials. and iron. lawyers. masons. blancos de orilla.67 Mixed-race peasants and free blacks working on plantations and haciendas were also considered people of lower condition in the rural areas. Sketch of the Present State of Caracas. and some were doctors. or people who performed services (such as small surgerons. and free blacks who dedicated themselves to artisanal activities (carpenters. These [small shops] are generally kept by natives of Biscay or Catalonia who begin their career in this country with the selling of liquors. and inns.40 In a lower stratum. made up the group of “people of lower standing” (“personas de baja condición”). and the master becomes a respectable merchant. 67. silversmiths).” See Robert Semple. 1812). until a length they form the whole. white creoles. 67 The visitor Robert Semple commented about “pulperías:” “Pulpería is the name given in this country to establishments which are at the same time shops. This group was formed by poor whites. cloths. also belonged to this group.

often called “Costa de Caracas. we also find slaves who did not perform agricultural tasks. sailors. instead they worked as domestic slaves.41 Figure 3. almost the 70 percent was concentrated in a relatively small area in the coastal region. La Guaira. or artisans. . In the main cities and ports like Caracas. Evidently.000 slaves who lived in the Province of Caracas. Of the 60. and Puerto Cabello. below this category we find the black slaves.” where the majority of plantations and haciendas were located.

In her latest book Along the Archival Grain. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. to improve their economic situation and have access to particular institutions. Between Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: Chicago University Press. focusing on the ways that documentation gathered these representations. ed. “Developing Historical Negatives: Race and the (Modernist) Visions of a Colonial State. these classifications represent interesting forms of objectification and of subjectification of central importance to the rhetoric of the colonial administration. 2002). allowed different social groups.42 Although estate categories were abstract constructions of social distinctions. .” and Ann Laura Stoler. and Michel Foucault. often challenged 68 See Peter B.” both in From the Margins: Historical Anthropology and Its Futures.68 During the eighteenth century. and were constantly used for legal legitimization of occupational and social segregation. Peninsular Spaniards occupied political positions that were not open to white creoles. However. and economical conditions. the relationship between and within these social groups was subject to stress by changing political. Brian Keith Axel (Durham. NY: Anchor Press. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge (Garden City. such as the Real Consulado (a colonial Instituion created to protect and promote the productive and commercial activities in the General Captaincy). 1967). 1983). These groups. Stoler discusses how colonial administrators “were prolific producers of social categories” as she deals with these categories and their enumeration. For an interesting discussion on how colonial documents reproduce and legitimize social categories see Nicholas Dirks. such as the white creoles and some members of a pardo elite (often called pardos beneméritos). Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Duke University Press. which had traditionally been confined to the margins of the political scenario. the considerable improvement of the economy. 2009). social. “Annals of the Archive: Ethnographic Notes on the Sources of History. evidenced in the increased participation of the province in international commercial networks and the stabilization of the local market.

pardos were regarded as illegitimate sons and daughters. and were not allowed to marry whites or carry certain arms. . by the end of the eighteenth century. pardos could not walk along certain streets and sidewalks.70 However. and even confronted the General Captaincy. and were restrained from sitting in certain sections inside the church or in the government houses. because it is rather bizarre to find a pardo. with no traceable origins. 1978). and zambos have also the defect of illegitimacy. despised by the Spaniards and the local whites as the worst of all social groups. could not occupy any post in public office. pardos – especially the lighterskinned and wealthy elite – found strategies to pressure whites.” in Santos Rodulfo Cortés. White Spaniards and creoles had educational privileges and occupied important functions in the clergy and military academies regarded as not suitable for pardos. Vols. and their supposedly bastardized origin constituted negative social features that justified a stereotyped perception. did not have access to education in public schools or universities. La vivencia del honor en la provincia de Venezuela.” See “Informe que el Ayuntamiento de Caracas hace al Rey de España referente a la Real Cédula de 10 de febrero de 1795. Their African blood and the estate of bondage of their ancestors. as in other provinces of Spanish America and the Caribbean.69 On the other hand. A document written by members of the Cabildo stated: “Pardos. Laws forbade pardas to wear certain clothes and accessories such as pearls. 28 de noviembre de 1796. See Pellicer. 93-94. using legal instruments to gain access to positions from which they had traditionally been excluded.43 colonial institutions such as the Real Audiencia. Vol. Caracas. spatial. Venezuela 1810-1830: aspectos desatendidos. disobeyed Royal Orders that went against their economic interests. In general. or zambo with legitimate parents. 2 (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. and gold. in 69 70 Soriano. mulattos. silk. 56-57. pardos were not allowed to enter the clergy. the brown color of their skin. 2. and legal segregation. mulatto. In Caracas. One of these instruments was a Royal Edict (Real Cédula de Gracias al Sacar) which. In colonial Venezuela. there was a clear tension between whites and pardos. El régimen de las gracias al sacar en Venezuela durante el período Hispánico. affecting pardos in everyday life through various forms of social.

72 . and internal struggles that jeopardized its apparent stability. white creoles expressed that the honor of whites could not be extended to the pardos. “Conserve con el honor de sus ascendientes y con los pensamientos de sus mayores ahorrándoles el ultraje que les resulta de la mezcla con los Pardos con las gracias que ofrece la Real Cédula de la elevación que les promete. allowed the wealthiest pardos to acquire an expensive “dispensation of quality” (dispensa de calidad) that granted them white status. 2. Also. de la igualdad que les anuncia. that announces equality.44 theory.” Members of the cabildo pleaded for guarding the honor of their ancestors and the thoughts of their elders. 93-94. the multiple documents emanated during this conflict show that the royal edict also challenged Spaniards’ and white creoles’ perceptions of order and honor as fundamental values of the colonial social structure. El régimen de las gracias al sacar. because honor and tradition were values that allowed societies to develop in the “proper order and subordination. and corruption72 Venezuela’s eighteenth century society was a society founded on social privileges. El régimen de las gracias al sacar. 28 de noviembre de 1796. y del desorden y corrupción…” See “Informe que el Ayuntamiento de Caracas hace al Rey de España referente a la Real Cédula de 10 de febrero de 1795. disorder. international circumstances also 71 For a comprehensive study and a documentary compilation of this Royal Decree. Vol. because it went against the policy of control of social mobility imposed by the Crown with the establishment of the Real Audiencia in Caracas in 1786. Caracas. see Rodulfo Cortés.” in Rodulfo Cortés. saving them from the outrage of having to mix with pardos favored by a Royal Decree that promises elevation for them. In a document presented by the local Cabildo (city hall) to the King of Spain at the end of 1796.71 White creoles ferociously opposed the introduction of this royal edict. differences. During the last decade of the eighteenth century.

and motivate us to adopt a more nuanced perspective that understands social struggles as open fields for negotiations and contestation. I argue that. 4. in this sense. A history of social movements and cultural practices.45 jeopardized the stability of the Spanish colonies and its social orders. creating conspiracies against the local government. These groups used multiple webs of knowledge transmission to pursue diverse political agendas. and questioning some aspects of the political. economic. draws on neglected sources that shed light on the everyday forms of . but that serve to illustrate the transmission of political knowledge and social categories during a longer period. and social orders. Methodological Approach and Historical Sources This dissertation deals with a vast number of sources that are not restricted to the analysis and interpretation of the violent “events” or social movements per se. In my work. The events of the French Revolution and especially Caribbean turmoil increased fears and social frictions. society was divided among different social and racial groups that were in permanent rivalry and segregation from each other. The different plots and rebellions that took place during the last decade of the eighteenth century force us to question the “harmonious” picture that some historians have depicted of this period. although this period is characterized by a political and economic reorganization of the province in accordance with the Bourbon reforms.

legal actions and proceedings between masters and slaves. correspondence of immigrants coming from Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo to Venezuelan ports and cities. extracts of wills. the proliferation of tertulias and public debates.46 communication through which social subjects offered representations of themselves and of the others: the emergence of new reading practices. However my research has yielded documentation that contains ample references to the circulation of French and Caribbean – mostly Haitian – news and revolutionary ideas among the Venezuelan population. When I began this research I was cautioned that I would probably not find much material on the circulation of information about the revolutionary Caribbean in Venezuela. official correspondence between Caribbean colonial officers and Venezuelan authorities. and travelers’ accounts and chronicles. in the emergence of subaltern rebellious movements and the colonial state responses. the spread of anonymous hand-written documents in the city and in rural regions. All such practices were involved. books and pamphlets. . planters’ correspondence. royal decree. post-mortem inventories. correspondence between colonial officers and the home government. the spread of revolutionary songs. ship inventories. Among the sources from which valuable data has been obtained during my research are: Haciendas’ inventories and accounts. and understanding their dynamics helps us comprehend the formation and dynamics of the social events themselves. in one way or another.

47 My research on the movement of the black rebellion of Coro in 1795. has several valuable records generated by the Holy Inquisition in Caracas. were drawn from court records housed in the Archivo General de la Nación in Caracas and the Archivo General de Indias in Seville. specifically the sections Gobernación y Capitanía General. A critical reading of these sources enabled me to situate readings and webs of information within a larger context involving state-church control and revolutionary forces. which contain interesting data regarding the prohibition and control of books. Intendencia y Ejército. The Archivo General de la Nación in Caracas. pamphlets. and to consider how political dislocation and unexpected alliances opened up possibilities for resistance and rebellion during these years. Reales Cédulas. Registro de Aragua. This dissertation does not concentrate on one historical event in particular.” In Chapter Two. It rather studies cultural practices and representations that emerged in diverse contexts of the Venezuelan province during the “Age of Revolution. and other written materials in the city. contain large numbers of records related to these rebellious events and also valuable information about the different measures and controls that local authorities adopted in order to control the introduction and spreading of revolutionary materials. Reales Ordenes. and other lesser revolts in the coastal towns of Venezuela. Reales Provisiones. and Diversos. the Gual and España conspiracy of la Guaira in 1797. I study different written materials concerning the political and social circumstances of the . another important Caracas resource. The Archivo Arquideocesano de Caracas.

In this chapter. and discussed in the ports and urban centers of the Province of Venezuela during the end of the eighteenth century. established regulations controlling the circulation of printed materials that contained precepts against the Catholic Church. However. France. such as the Church. characteristics. public readings.48 “revolutionized Atlantic” . Christian morality.Spain. colonial institutions. and intentions of these written materials differed. Chapter Three studies the impact that the mobilization of people from the “Revolutionary Atlantic” had in the Province of Venezuela during the first years of the French Revolution and the Saint-Domingue rebellions. motivations.that circulated and were being read. and the abolition of slavery that attracted the attention of local elites and subalterns. the Holy Inquisition and the General Captaincy. the social order. and recitations). nature. the monarchical state. The origin. shared. between 1791 and 1796. I also seek to analyze the ways in which diverse social groups came into contact with these written materials and developed strategies to spread the ideas contained in them. French and Caribbean people entered the province and brought news and information . I will analyze what kind of materials were transmitted through multiple media and practices (hand-written copies. and the social order. Despite all the mechanisms that the government established and executed in order to control the entry of foreigners in the ports and urban centers of the province. and were transformed into meanings that framed the political and social debates taking place during this period. and the Caribbean . Most of these texts raised questions about the monarchical regime.

local authorities thought that this would be a temporary situation and that those slaves could be easily sold among the local hacendados.49 about the “Revolutions. I offer a description of the social and labor landscape of the region. At the outset. and some used these opportunities to plan the rebellion in the region. work regimes. paying particular attention to the manner in which state control. or could be sent to other cities and ports of Spanish America. the Governor of Spanish Santo Domingo sent more than 1. as well as to black rebelliousness and hope. free and enslaved blacks created crevices in the mantle of control. in order to understand the several versions of the Haitian Revolution that circulated in the province and that contributed to white paranoia and repressive behavior. In this chapter. In Chapter Four. I explore one social movement in particular: the black rebellion of Coro of 1795. Here. these two solutions did not come as easily and quickly as they expected and problems began to arise as the “voices of the prisoners” permeated the walls of the prison and circulated in the streets of La Guaira and Caracas. I seek to analyze some of the stories of the revolution and the wave of rumors that erupted from this situation.” This wave of rumors seriously preoccupied the officials who found it hard to control the oral transmission of information. and the everyday rhythms of plantation culture.000 French prisoners and slaves from Santo Domingo. and social relations became critical to the evolution and dissemination of insurgent ideas and designs. Martinique. During the years of 1793 and 1794. In this way. However. To address the underlying problem of . for example. and Guadeloupe to the port of La Guaira.

equality. soldiers. The historiography that has studied the conspiracy of Gual y España asserts . a subversive republican movement emerged in the city of La Guaira under the leadership of Manuel Gual and Jose María España. This chapter pays special attention to the ambiguous and manipulative official narratives that emerged to justify judicial irregularities. royal officials. but also confronts them with other narratives constructed from the subaltern perspective. stood for “liberty and equality” and the “Rights of Man” and established a plan of action contemplating the downfall of Spanish control and the introduction of a Republican government. the abolition of slavery and Indian tributes. while pleading for harmony between whites. The movement. Its main goals were to introduce freedom of trade.50 confroting the external and internal influences that promoted rebellion. and blacks. In 1797. Gual and España obtained remarkable support from a group of pardos and whites. and republican principles. and the elimination of taxes. Indians. this chapter analyzes the different sources of information that linked the events of Saint-Domingue with the rebellion of Coro and opened a space for contestation and rebellion. which started forming in 1794. and artisans of La Guaira and Caracas with whom they shared a rich network of information related to ideas of revolution. My hypothesis is that Saint-Domingue became a shared knowledge that was used by the Coro rebels to threaten elites and negotiate their economic and social demands. which allow us to question the motivations and agendas of the black rebels of Coro. small merchants. and was used by the elites to justify repression and control.

I analyze the different ways in which these actors produced a common language and information webs for political opposition. and they disliked the involvement of pardos and free blacks in the movement. Therefore. However. Among those documents are proclamations of insurrection. however from 1798 to 1804. as well as the circulation of the political ideas coming from the “Revolutionary Caribbean” that supported this socially unique movement. The Province of Venezuela felt the impact of the slave insurrection of Saint Domingue almost as soon as it began. In Chapter Five.” along with other interesting revolutionary documents from France and Spain that represent fundamental sources for understanding the political knowledge supporting this conspiracy. Thanks to the controversial circumstances . seeing it as the most effective guarantee of order and hierarchy. Most historians contend that rich white creoles and landowners did not support the conspiracy of La Guaira because it was considered too Jacobin and revolutionary. stories. songs. I am interested in understanding the communicational strategies they adopted in order to recruit people of different races and social status. this loyalty of the Venezuelan white aristocracy would be eroded during the first decade of nineteenth century when the crisis of the Spanish monarchy led them to make a bid for independence. the elites remained loyal to Spanish rule. poems. the “Declaration of the Rights of Man. this impact became stronger as boatloads of Saint-Domingue’s and Spanish Santo Domingo’s refugees were disembarking on Venezuelan shores.51 that the conspirators produced a considerable number of texts intended to instruct their followers.

The last chapter examines the character and nature of these representations of the Haitian Revolution in order to understand also the Venezuelan responses to these characterizations of violence. and debates that these exiles brought with them created more open and contested political spaces for dominant groups and subalterns to express their political ideas and social values. no. vol. and about the relationship between masters and their slaves. 2009). 42. Haiti was a discursive fulcrum that allowed coloreds to challenge elites. but also raised questions about slavery. Saint-Dominguan exiles not only raised feelings of terror and fear in white elites. Víctor Uribe-Uran’s “The Birth of Public Sphere in Latin America during the Age of Revolution. 73 Through this work.52 surrounding their flight.Ovalles. see Rodolfo Ramírez. 2 (April. I have found that within the emerging spaces for political debate during the last years of the eighteenth century. rumors. using white fear to advance their 73 See. In the confrontational social setting of the late eighteenth century. 2002): 425-457. Articulación e instauración del aparato de opinion pública republicana 1810-1821 (Caracas: Fundación Bancaribe y Academia Nacional de la Historia. for example. and to negotiate the terms slaves’ labor conditions.” Comparative Studies in Society and History. The stories. For an interesting discussion on the independence movement and Public Sphere in Venezuela. La opinión sea consagrada. freedom and equality among free blacks and slaves. as well as to the ways the colonial state and the white elites justified vigilance and persecution of the colored population. Spanish and French Saint-Dominguans attracted great attention from the authorities and the locals who carefully listened to the “stories of chaos and terror” they repeatedly told. . the representations of the Haitian Revolution were crucial to the ways free blacks and slaves gave shape to their social agendas and movements.

” Revista Iberoamericana. 2009). for example. It also gave fearful elites cause for maintaining colored population contented. Christopher Conway. Christopher Conway’s study of the Gaceta de Caracas also pays particular attention to the diffusion of political ideas through written channels and the proliferation of public spaces for reading and intellectual gatherings in Caracas and La Guaira at the beginning of the nineteenth century. See François Xavier Guerra. especially restricting their access to the public political sphere in subsequent years as the independence movement gained ground in Venezuela. although not entirely revisionist is an argument that challenges the view that intellectual debate and critique took place in a mostly private spaces at that time. “Letras combatientes: relectura de la Gaceta de Caracas. However. provide comparative evidence that at least an incipient public sphere emerged within colonial Spanish America's civil societies in the late colonial period. Francois-Xavier Guerra. such as Víctor Uribe-Uran. “The Birth of Public Sphere in Latin America during the Age of Revolution.” .53 demands. and for exercising tighter control over them. 74 74 Studies focusing on the emergence of independence movements in Latin American contend that during the crisis of the Spanish monarchy in 1808. the demand for information regarding the monarchical crisis had an impact on the emergence of public spaces for political debate in different cities of Latin America. other authors. Modernidad e independencias: ensayos sobre las revoluciones hispánicas (Madrid: Fundación Studium y Ediciones Encuentro. His perspective. See Uribe-Uran. at a time which saw the promulgation of the free-press and the proliferation of newspapers and gazettes in the Hispanic world. Chapter 8. explores the emergence of an early form of public opinion in Latin American countries during the years of 1808-1814. 1808-1822. 214 (2006): 77-92.

Captain Gisborne provided him with one english gazette and the guardian confiscated it. Transmission of Political Knowledge: From the History of Books to the History of Reading. and ordered the commander of La Guaira to find out who took the gazette. One June night in 1794. The captain’s translator requested the official to return the gazette but he refused and left. and told him that after he arrived with a “load of 100 African blacks” in the Port of La Guaira . and asked him if he was carrying newspapers or written materials.the most important port of colonial Venezuela . “and to collect it immediately along with all the .an official and guardian of the port visited his ship. William Gisborne went to the house of the Governor and Captain General of the Province of Venezuela. a British Captain. Don Pedro Carbonell.54 CHAPTER II The Revolutions on Paper: Transmission of Political Knowledge and the Interfaces Between the Oral and the Written Communication in Colonial Venezuela 1. the governor became concerned about the destiny of the gazette. After hearing Gisborne’s account.

education. Juan José Mendiri. Diversos.55 copies that could have been made of it.” and that established a plan of action that contemplated the establishment of a republican government. was the Guardamayor of the Port and royal accountant. manuscripts. “La conspiración por dentro. At this point. Three years later.” 76 . and books about republicanism and abolitionism that intellectually fed a conspiracy in which hundreds of people from different races. pamphlets. See Aizpurua. 290-293. 42 years old. Juan Joseph Mendiri. LXVI. in July 1797. Royal Interim accountant and guard of the port. a resident of La Guaira. and economic statuses 75 “Expediente formado con las disposiciones referents a evitar la introduccion en esta Provincia de papeles procedentes de la Francia.”75 Days later. who returned the gazette and stated that no copies were made of it. although there seemed to be a certain mistrust between the high-level government and their subalterns the need to maintain the “tranquility and calmness” of the region prevented Carbonell from proceeding with further inquiries.” AGN. a republican conspiracy led by the white creoles Manuel Gual and José María España was uncovered in the city of La Guaira. who finally was accused of participating in the creation of an “archive” of gazettes. the main guard of the port and the person responsible for the task of controlling the entry of revolutionary papers and gazettes. professions.76 What is extremely interesting to note here is that it was Mendiri. The Official Guard. the commander found out that the official who made the visit and seized the gazette was Don Juan Joseph Mendiri. was among the people who collaborated in this conspiracy that stood for “liberty and equality” and the “Rights of Man. que contengan ‘señales’ de especie alucivas a la libertad.

” Revista de Historia 3. 12 (1962): 15-25. Based on my studies on the history of reading and modes of communication. as well as the social dynamics involved in processes of knowledge transmission that could have allowed the social expansion of such knowledge and the emergence of insurgency movements. “Bibliotecas coloniales en Venezuela. How did these texts circulate among this diverse population? How were they received? These are some of the questions I will try to address in this chapter. la imprenta y el periodismo en América durante la dominación española (Buenos Aires: Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Historians of ideas. political knowledge. 1940). La biblioteca del Libertador (Caracas. historians have frequently relied on data provided by the social history of printed materials (and especially of the books) and intellectual history. have often assumed a straightforward causal relation between the circulation of certain “ideas” in particular periods of time and the emergence of social movements. for example. and historians of political movements. Guerra.77 Generally 77 See Richard Herr. España y la revolución del s. this chapter aims at understanding the semi-literate world of colonial Venezuela. “Revolución francesa y revoluciones hispánicas: una relación compleja” and “La difusión de la modernidad: alfabetización. Los libros en la colonia y en la independencia (Caracas: . In order to understand. on the one hand. See Manuel Pérez Vila. imprenta y revolución. Latin American historiography provides different examples of this. the ideological origins and inspirational sources for the independence movements emerged. no. In Venezuela there has been abundant historical work that studies the influence of revolutionary books and readings in the independence movement (1810-1824). 1964). establishing unquestioned connections between the expansion of Enlightened French political ideas and Spanish reformism and the emergence of political agendas against colonial governments and the Spanish monarchy. and popular groups. on the other. XVIII (Madrid: Aguilar. José Torres Revello. 1960).56 participated.” in Modernidad e independencias. El libro.

these historians assume clear threads between the content and circulation of certain printed materials among the political elite. and Libros y libertad (Caracas: Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República. 1812 (Caracas: Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República. many of these works do not consider or question the ways and the practices through which the knowledge contained in these books and printed materials circulated among different social groups and created an environment of political debate in which not only elites but subaltern groups engaged with and produced contested discourses. 79 . 1979). and La formación intelectual del Libertador (Caracas: Ediciones del Presidencia de la República. La biblioteca de Francisco de Miranda (Caracas: Chromotip. and that these reading tastes defined their political agendas and actions in favor of Latin American independence. La cultura venezolana en el siglo XVIII (Discurso de incorporación a la Academia Nacional de la Historia) (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. also Pedro Grases.57 speaking. Montesquieu. These debates have not always found their way into historical records and historiographical narratives. Roger Chartier. See Pérez Vila. Historia de la imprenta en Venezuela hasta el fin de la primera república. 1971). and Idelfonso Leal. and the content of political agendas. 1967). Arguing that historians cannot reconstruct the cultural and intellectual history of social groups and communities by considering exclusively “material objects. Voltaire and other enlightened thinkers. La biblioteca de Francisco de Miranda. 1970).78 However. it is important to know how many or what kind of books were sold in bookstores or which books were found in private libraries or ship inventories. 1974). for example.” Roger Chartier contends that it is necessary to create a history that can capture the “gesture” that transforms the texts into knowledge and ideas. The Cultural Uses of Print in Early Modern France (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1987). Ferguson. 78 It is quite common to read in Simón Bolivar’s and Francisco de Miranda’s biographies. 1966). that these leaders were avid readers of Rousseau. since this information allows Oficina Central de Información. and Grases.79 Certainly. La biblioteca del Libertador.

A History of Reading in the West (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Lydia G. Robert Darnton and Guglielmo Cavallo. reading should be seen as an act of interpretation: a practice out of which meanings and perceptions emerge. 1994). which takes place in specific places and times. Norton. and images among readers and listeners. The Cultural Uses of Print. Cultural History: Between Practices and Representations (Cambridge: Polity Press. such as Roger Chartier.”80 The act of reading a written text should not be perceived as a simple submission to a textual machinery. For them it is necessary to understand how those materials were read. Cochrane (Stanford: Stanford University Press.” The American Historical Review 105. 1995).W. and Roger Chartier and Guglielmo Cavallo. cultural historians. Following this approach. On the contrary. sometimes into collective and political actions. historians of reading recommend adopting a perspective that allows us to capture the gestures and social practices that transform knowledge into ideas and then. representations. and which generates motivations. no. 1988). It is crucial to analyze the cultural practices through which those texts were digested and integrated into everyday life and into the frame of social movements and rebellions.58 us to have a general idea of intellectual tastes and interests. See also Robert Darnton. Therefore they propose a “history of reading. Therefore. 1999). believe that these studies do not provide a satisfactory understanding of the impact of printed materials in a given historical period. Authors and Libraries in Europe Between the Fourteenth and Eighteenth Centuries. It is also a learned cultural practice with uses certain instruments and objects. Chartier. for example. and “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris. 1 (2000): 1-35. However. . I understand reading as an “appropriation” of the 80 There is abundant bibliography about the “History of Reading” and its historiographic repercussions. The Forbidden Best-Sellers of Pre-Revolutionary France (New York: W. trans. See. The Order of Books: Readers.

82 .” and RamírezOvalles. eds. and prompting the curiosity of the population.” in Beyond Imagined Communities. The Culture of Print: Power and the Uses of Print in Early Modern Europe. ed. 1989). trans. written revolutionary information from different cities of Europe and America. In this chapter. Beyond Imagined Communities. Guerra. and composing of songs and dialogues to spread the information. “La imagen de la Revolución Francesa en el virreinato peruano a fines del siglo XVIII” (Undergraduate diss. public readings. shared.59 text.” in Modernidad e independencias.” Tiempos de América 12. and Cultural Identities in the Creation of Spanish American Nations. These practices have allowed me to perceive a widening and social expansion for the transmission of political knowledge. such as hand-written copies. 157. Víctor Peralta Ruiz. “Noticias de Haití en Cuba. 3-32. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. I aim to provide a general idea of the diverse written revolutionary and abolitionist materials that circulated and were read. La opinión sea consagrada. I also seek to analyze the ways through which diverse social groups came into contact with these written materials and developed strategies and media. filtered into Venezuela. “La difusión de la modernidad: alfabetización.. as more social groups became interested in accessing and 81 See Roger Chartier. imprenta y revolución. 1790-1821. for example. “both because it actualizes the texts’ semantic potential and because it creates a mediation for knowledge of the self through comprehension of the text. “Prensa y redes de comunicación en el virreinato del Perú. Ferrer. Lydia G. revolution. but especially from Saint-Domingue and Spanish Santo Domingo. Political Spaces. Claudia Rosas Lauro. Reading and Writing the Nation in NineteenthCentury Latin America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Recently. and the public sphere in Latin America in eighteenth and nineteenth centuries..”81 From 1791 to 1800. 82 But more importantly. mortifying local officials and elites. there has been an emerging interest in exploring literacy. 2003). Cochrane (Princeton: Princeton University Press. Sara Castro-Klarén and John Charles Chasteen. 1997). and discussed in the ports and urban centers of Venezuela during the last years of the eighteenth century.. and “Forms of Communication. See. (2005): 1-20. Lima.

60 responding to new information about the revolutionary movements and the political debates implicit in these movements. and Jack Goody. Eighteenth-century Caracas. was a “semi-literate” society where different social groups had differentiated and unequal access to the written word. 77-130. For instance: the oral reading of brief written materials such as pamphlets and newspapers in private or public settings was a common although not necessarily extensive practice used to spread 83 For a rich discussion on the ways that non-literate people position themselves vis-a-vis the lettered bureaucracy. colonization. influenced though by writing and texts. The Logic of Writing. I argue that during times of revolutionary struggle. 1986). An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press. see James C. . the boundaries established between the written and oral worlds were not always clearly defined or limited. while the vast majority of the non-literate population belonged to subaltern groups and transmitted their knowledge in an oral culture.” in Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. state formation. 2009). Literate people normally belonged to upper social groups.83 In the colonial province of Caracas. Here. Literacy and Print in Early New Zealand. Scott. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. McKenzie. and state power. 1999). The Art of Not Being Governed. Guha. to the development of strategies to stir mobilization and conspire against the government. the Organization of Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 6. as I will show here. Donald F. challenging the colonial state and its structures of power. “Orality. more sectors of the Venezuelan society engaged in the political sphere in different ways: from the acquisition of more books about politics and the configuration of discussion groups to discuss these.

and friends. but could not write at all. 1980). The Uses of Literacy in Early Medieval Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Throughout this 84 There were literate artisans who read newspapers and gazettes to others in public places (barbershops.85 During turbulent revolutionary times. I follow approaches that do not assume strict and linear correspondences between cultural cleavages and social hierarchies. The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth Century Miller (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. social actors found more ways to spread political knowledge among the non-literate.” At times. The Culture of Print. “Letras combatientes. 85 86 . without knowing how to read a sentence of their manuscripts. squares and shops). where individuals could have had reading skills. see Christopher Conway’s study of the Gaceta de Caracas. and that subaltern groups such a pardos.84 Considering these practices.. produce a fluid diffusion of ideas and shared practices that cross social boundaries. ed. See Chartier. The Other Rebellion. They could be excellent copyists. such as reading. See Soriano. as a way of promoting their participation on discussion groups and political awareness. and Van Young.61 information. streets. Rosamond McKitterick. neighbors. or viceversa. free-blacks and slaves also developed their own visions about revolutionary values such as liberty and equality. we could assert that non-literate people found different ways within oral channels to access the written world and its texts. 1995). For an assesment of the diffusion of political ideas through written channels and the proliferation of public spaces for reading and intellectual gatherings in Caracas and La Guaira at the beginning of the nineteenth century. my work seeks to challenge the idea that only the colonial elites followed the revolutionary political debate.86 In this line of thought. See for example. Carlo Ginzburg. to make them circulate orally among their family members. In this sense. the dichotomy “literate/non-literate” seems problematic for understanding semi-literate societies. I prefer to analyze how cultural practices. The history of reading and of modes of knowledge transmission is a history of cultural practices. Libros y lectores en Caracas.

consumed. who circulated them. and who read. The common spaces of interaction and communication should help us understand the processes of negotiation. The origin. however colonial institutions established clear regulations regarding the circulation of printed materials . and contestation in which different social groups engaged in their struggles for social and economic power. I aim to analyze which texts related to France and its turbulent colonies were circulating in diverse ports and cities of the Province of Venezuela. my analysis will try to avoid simplifications about common “worlds of meaning” shared by different social groups. such as the Real Audiencia. as well as over the meaning of politics. the local government. Studying how texts were read and spread will give us the opportunity to explore what images and representations of the “revolutionized Atlantic” were being developed and used in the Province of Venezuela. I will try to understand how different texts and sources of information generated particular significance and connections between diverse social groups that have often been considered distant and even opposed to each other.62 chapter. and intentions of these written materials differed. In this chapter. and talked about them. I will not privilege one social group in particular. However. trying also to discover how those texts entered the province. transaction. characteristics. imposition. nature. on the contrary. tried to control the circulation and spread of these texts. motivations. It is particularly interesting to study also how the colonial institutions. the Church and the Inquisition.

During the month of February 1800. Agents of the Inquisition visited private houses in order to collect prohibited books and/or to censor chapters and extracts of some of them. In this letter. the Monarchical State.87 During the eighteenth century the colonial state and the Catholic Church tried to control the existence and circulation of excessively “enlightened” texts that could easily confuse subaltern actors. and the social order. See Cristina Soriano. members of the Real Consulado of the Province of Venezuela addressed a letter to the King of Spain in which they sought for permission to have a printing press in the city of Caracas. These sermons showed the Church’s interest in controlling readers’ consciences precisely when institutional control over the heterogeneous and flexible information networks was increasingly inefficient. they argued 87 Indexes containing lists of prohibited books and papers were read aloud at Sunday Masses and were fixed on the doors of the Church. and Reading Practices in Colonial Venezuela.” By the end of the century. these institutions became even more concerned about the spread of the “revolutionary disease” through written channels and activated new mechanisms of control and vigilance.63 that contained chanllenges to the Catholic Church. 2. however. who were usually perceived by elites as “simple minded. Books. Readers. Christian morality. as well as the dynamics of control. Understanding the nature and direction of these concerns. . Libros y lectores en Caracas. priests reprimanded readers of seditious papers and alerted them about divine punishments they could suffer for reading prohibited materials. During Sunday sermons. allow us to comprehend elites’ representations of French and Caribbean revolutionary movements and the proliferation of feelings of fear and terror among those who sought at all cost to avoid suffering the fate as Saint-Domingue.

in accordance with the spirit of the Enlightenment and Spanish reformism. and commercial transformations in the Province.64 that the establishment of such a press was fundamental for the development of agriculture.” AGI. Spanish books were very expensive for Venezuelan readers who had to wait several months to read them. y los demas ciudadanos se animarán á dar a luz el fruto de sus tareas. Libros y bibliotecas en Venezuela colonial (1633-1767) (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. 2005). It also shows the interest that members of the Consulado had in disseminating a local knowledge that. could produce positive educational. Mercado y redes de circulación de libros en Caracas durante el siglo XVIII. 914. Most books arriving in the cities of the Province of Venezuela came from the Spanish Peninsula. España y América (siglos XVI-XVIII). 1978). “El correr de los libros en la cotidianidad caraqueña.” in Mezclado y sospechoso: movilidad e identidades. Caracas. and Cristina Soriano. á los demas sus compatriotas a fin de mejorar el cultivo. Febrero 1800.88 This petition not only confirms the well-known difficulty that most inhabitants of the province faced in trying to acquire printed materials and books from the peninsula.” in “Carta del Real Consulado al Rey de España. 89 The importance they afforded to local knowledge may also be understood as a realization of the differences between the peninsular and the “American” worlds. See Idelfonso Leal. and of the need for Spanish Americans to 88 “Con ella comunicarán los experimentados labradores quanto conocimiento hayan adquirido sobre los respectivos ramos de su aplicación. los artistas ejecutaran lo propio á beneficio de los de su clase. Gregoire Salinero (Madrid: Casa de Velázquez. economic. and other citizens will feel encouraged to share the product of their chores. the experienced farmers will communicate with other fellow countrymen all the knowledge they have obtained in their fields in order to improve crops. commerce. 89 . and the arts in the province: With it. 229-49. ed. artists will do the same for the benefit of their class.

but also producers of knowledge concerning their own realities. In New Spain. and commercial interest on the peninsula. Buenos Aires.90 The permission for a printing press was denied without further explanation. The reasons why it came late to Venezuela are a subject of an interesting historical debate. See Pedro Grases. capital of the Province of Venezuela. Origen y desarrollo (Madrid: Fundación Germán Díaz Sánchez Ruipérez. He proposes a critical reassessment to understand the complex dynamics of indigenous and Spanish interactions in the New World. El libro en Hispanoamérica. was one of the last cities in Spanish America to receive royal permission to possess the technology.92 Nevertheless. Quito. the menace of the circulation of revolutionary ideas in the Atlantic world increased and eroded the motivations for establishing printing presses in port cities and urban centers where could become dangerous machines for disseminating their revolutionary propaganda. Agustín Millares Carlo. Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra presents an interesting approach regarding the mutual process of transmission of knowledge. the lack of printing-presses during this 90 For an interesting discussion of the problem of similarities and differences between the American and the peninsular worlds. How to Write the History of the New World.65 be not only receptors. that the city finally obtained permission to have one. and the city of Caracas. political. This critical assessment looks for the ways that Europeans of the sixteenth century incorporated or adapted indigenous knowledge to their histories and compilations. mundos distintos. “Buscar libros en una 91 92 . see John Elliot. Introducción a la historia del libro y de las bibliotecas (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica. XI-XXVIII.’ recognizing their proficiency in producing knowledge. 2001). 1986). Histories. See Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra.” in Mezclado y sospechoso. “Mundos parecidos. 1981) and Libros y libertad. for example.91 It was not until the first decade of the nineteenth century and in the midst of the crisis of the Spanish monarchy with Napoleon’s invasion. La imprenta en Venezuela (Caracas: Seix Barral. Bogotá. Cristina Soriano. in order to print texts supporting the rights of Fernando VII and to legitimate the Juntas. the printing press arrived as early as 1539. and Santiago. in the Viceroyalty of Peru it arrived in 1581. all had printing presses. José Luis Martínez. Regarding the exchange of knowledge between Spaniards and the indigenous. Epistemologies and Identities in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Stanford: Stanford University Press. Some argue that by the time the Province of Venezuela acquired administrative. By the end of the eighteenth century the cities of La Habana. and Cañizares argues that sixteenth century Spanish historians in the New World exhibit willingness to listen to the voices of non-European ‘subalterns. 1987).

They can be used to shed light on reading tastes and practices in the province toward the end of the eighteenth century. 2011). If. and Ramírez. and Libros y bibliotecas en Venezuela. 93 We need to bear in mind that the studies of private libraries and ships’ inventories in the main cities do not allow us to draw definitive conclusions about literacy levels in any given community. La cultura venezolana en el siglo XVIII. political violence. we take into consideration the number of wills that contained library inventories. During the French Revolution and the Haitian Revolution. On the contrary. these networks for the circulation of written materials served to spread information about anti-monarchical propaganda. La circulación de los libros en la Caracas de finales del siglo XVIII.” Litterae. for example.66 intelectually dynamic period did not necessarily affect public access to and interest in books. ethno-racial confrontations. Little has been done on the study of literacy in the Province of Venezuela during the eighteenth century. it was the reason why an original and heterogeneous market for books and networks for the circulation of printed and hand-copied materials developed in different cities and ports of the Province of Venezuela. when the first written materials on political and social upheavals in France and the Caribbean started to circulate in the Atlantic World. Nevertheless there are a few studies that provide some information about private libraries and lists of books arriving on ships.Ovalles. Cuadernos de Cultura Escrita (forthcoming. and liberal values such as equality and liberty.” . La opinión sea consagrada. Libros y lectores en Caracas and “El correr de los libros en la cotidianidad caraqueña. 93 Leal. Soriano. we could infer that by the end of ciudad sin imprentas.

I show that of 727 testaments (registered in the city of Caracas from 1770 to 1810). of some methodological difficulties." Past and Present. however. Literacy and Popular Culture. circuitos de distribución y conformación de bibliotecas en los siglos XVI-XVIII. as well as the concept of ‘literacy’ itself. not everyone had books or written materials expensive enough or important enough to be included in a will. “Bibliotecas. not everyone having a library necessarily knew how to read those books. the information contained in post-mortem inventories should be complemented with other sources such as marriage registers’ signatures and censuses.5percent) contained library inventories. lectores y saber en Caracas durante el siglo XVIII. Reading and Writing: Literacy in France from Calvin to Jules Ferry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. The literate world of the Province of Venezuela. 95 .67 eighteenth century almost 13 percent of the population of the city of Caracas possessed books in their homes and knew how to read them. 1993). England 1750-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Carlo Cipolla. as in other urban centers of America.” in Idalia García and Pedro Rueda (eds. forthcoming. First. 1982). 1970). "Literacy and Culture in Early Modern Castile.) El libro en circulación en la América colonial: producción. The societies in the main urban centers of the 94 In a previous work. 1968). no. Literacy and the Social Rrder. if we consider some broad characteristics of private libraries and their owners. Jack Goody (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Third. 2011). was a complicated one. David Cressy. 1981). Nalle. not everyone who possessed books in their homes had the possibility of counting on a post-mortem inventory. only 92 (12. Literacy and Development in the West (London: Penguin Books. For interesting discussions regarding methodological problems with analyzing literacy and nonliteracy in past societies. See Cristina Soriano. Reading and Writing in Tudor and Stuart England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 125 (1989): 65-96. in order to have a clear idea of literacy levels. Second. we may form a general idea of the social composition of readers and their literary tastes. Therefore. see classic works such as Roger Schofield.” in Literacy in Traditional Societies. Sara T. (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. ed. “The Measurement of Literacy in Pre-Industrial England.94 We should be aware.95 However. and François Furet and Jacques Ozouf. For a critical review of the impact of literacy on popular culture over time see David Vincent.

post-mortem library inventories.96 I have found that some “poor whites” left small libraries and I have not found any record of libraries possessed by pardos.“Bibliotecas. free blacks or slaves. is whether this meant that pardos. however it is important to note that very few inventories belonged to pardos and none to free coloreds and slaves. La Guaira. Valencia. and shopkeepers had 14 percent of the registered libraries. Together. in this case. followed by members of the local nobility. lectores y saber en Caracas. 96 See Soriano. In the city of Caracas. and Puerto Cabello. the clergy possessed almost 20 percent of the private libraries registered in post-mortem inventories. such as Caracas. while the white nobility and planters together possessed another 25 percent. and even scribes possessed 10 percent of the libraries registered in Caracas’ inventories. and ship importation lists. for example. government authorities. such as the “men of letter” – such as lawyers. this was not the case. The question. I have found that traditionally. People dedicated to commercial activities such as merchants. free blacks and slaves did not read or did not have access to books and written materials.68 Province of Venezuela. and government functionaries . As I will show later in this chapter.official secretaries.” . tax agents. were mostly “semi-literate” communities where social groups had differential access to the written word. Other social groups. both groups possessed almost the 70 percent of all books’ titles registered in those private libraries. Based on my research with testaments. and landowners were the social groups best trained to read and that possessed the largest libraries. petty traders. the clergy. seminar and university teachers -.

no. By the end of the eighteenth century. shopkeepers. Consequently the number of private libraries in the cities of the province – especially Caracas . and distributed numerous editions among avid readers. and Libros y bibliotecas en Venezuela. several containers with a great numbers of books arrived every month in the port of La Guaira. where the Compañia Guizpuzcoana received. reading practices expanded beyond the limits of religious 97 Leal. Compared to previous decades. The Province of Venezuela was no exception: from 1760 until 1810. and where the colonial state promoted the need for increasing literacy among the population and highlighting the importance of expanding “useful sciences” in order to improve the economic and commercial potential of the region.97 I have also found that the books that came from Spain to the Province of Venezuela during the last decades of the colonial period were quite diverse. “Bibliotecas coloniales en Venezuela.69 The European Enlightenment and Spanish reformism were deeply felt in the cities and main ports of Spanish America where new scientific knowledge and intellectual interests spread. “Los libros de la Caracas colonial. In the main cities of Venezuela. La cultura venezolana en el siglo XVIII. lectores y saber en Caracas. 28 (1969): 10-13.” and Vicente Amézaga. “El correr de los libros en la cotidianidad caraqueña. . Libros y lectores en Caracas. I have found that the last four decades of the eighteenth century witnessed a substantial increase in the number of books brought from Spain to the Province of Venezuela.” and “Bibliotecas.” El Farol 30.increased.” See also Pérez Vila. commercialized. and the diversity of the titles contained in these private libraries was also significantly greater. Soriano. and owners of pulperías. a great variety of books on diverse topics circulated in the cities of Caracas and La Guaira.

But also during this period.” 99 . new kinds of books appeared and revealed interesting transformations of literary tastes and of the uses of reading. See Soriano. A History of Reading in the West. breviaries. law and medicine continued to be popular among readers who bought illustrated and expensive editions on these subjects. Readers experienced the openness that the modern book offered as an instrument to acquire knowledge. who seemed to experience a process of re-categorizing books as instruments of knowledge. mathematics. and Chartier and Cavallo. The Order of Books.”98 Of course. while other subjects such as military engineering. mathematics. catechisms. to mediate between the empirical reality and the “reason of men. commerce. and maintained their taste for religious texts such as the Bible. This data shows a transformation in the literary tastes of Caracas readers. administration. not all readers and library owners became “modern readers. History. By the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century I find that the importation of religious books decreased drastically. such as Virgil. Cicero. and economic development. My previous study on private libraries shows that the presence of religious books decreased from 53 percent in 1770-1780 to 26 percent in 1800-1810.” and theological literature. and as useful media to debate the particular circumstances of the colonial world.99 This new configuration of Caracas’ private libraries went hand in hand with the reformist and Enlightened discourse that 98 On the shift of reading tastes and practices during the Modern period see Chartier. the government. the “lives of Saints.70 education institutions. politics. Titus Livy. agriculture. agriculture. while there was a significant and growing presence of books about politics. education. and administration doubled their numbers during the last decade of the eighteenth century. lectores y saber en Caracas. military engineering. “Bibliotecas. history. manuals for artisans. and Seneca.” Venezuelan readers continued to buy classic texts. government. as well as newspapers and gazettes. mass books.

increase of the slave trade. 2004). Indiferente General 2173. and educational and social progress. entre el reformismo y el liberalismo. 2177. Melchor de Jovellanos. Pere Molas Ribalta. labor diversification.71 sought to promote progress and development in the Spanish American region in terms of better knowledge and exploration of the region and its natural resources. Bernardo Ward. Francisco Aguilar Piñal. 1996).” in El imperio sublevado: monarquía y naciones en España e Hispanoamérica. On the character and impact of Spanish Reformism in Spanish territories see Carlos Martínez Shaw. economía y derecho. “Política. Contratación 1693 (years 1770-1773). and AGI-Sevilla. and 2178.” in La literatura española de la Ilustración: homenaje a Carlos III (Madrid: Universidad Complutense de Madrid.Sevilla.100 All of these authors brought new “light” and ideas to the Spanish monarchical system. Fray Benito Jerónimo Feijoo. M. 39-51. Francisco Aguilar Piñal (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Caso González. among others. Nicolás de Moratín. they promoted the well-being of society through labor and agricultural development. 1989). and Juan Sempere y Guarinos. wiser administration. “El despotismo ilustrado en España y en las Indias. in general. Víctor Mínguez and Manuel Chust (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. eds.101 These Enlightened Spanish intellectuals sought to produce changes in the public social sphere. ed. “La Ilustración española. 1988). its administrative and legal structure. 32. and J. 101 . its agricultural and commercial development. 1694 (years 1774-1776). arrived in the Province of Venezuela during the last decades of the eighteenth century. 1695 (years 1777-1778). They emphasized the reduction of poverty and 100 See book lists in “Registros de Navíos. Jerónimo Uztáriz.” AGI. and the improvement of commercial activities. Several editions of books written by European and Spanish reformist authors such as Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes. De Ilustración e ilustrados (Oviedo: Instituto Feijoo de Estudios del siglo XVIII.” in Historia literaria de España en el siglo XVIII. and many of their writings valued the expansion of slavery as mean to increase production.

1795). 1757). impugnado. “La Ilustración española. Proyecto económico en que se proponen varias providencias dirigidas a promover los intereses de España (Madrid: Joaquín Ibarra. Historia del luxo y de las leyes suntuarias de España (Madrid: Imprenta Real. 1775). 1785). en todo género de materias. Theatro crítico universal. Francisco Hierro. para desengaño de errores communes. Caracas’ postmortem inventories and ship inventories from 1760-1810. and the significance of public education to eradicate illiteracy and “ignorance. Libros y lectores en Caracas. 1774). the Sciences and healthy literature: Are they contained in Masterpieces already written? The discoveries of Herchel. Aguilar Piñal. dedicado al General de la congregación de San Benito de España (Madrid: Lorenzo Francisco Mujados. An early Spanish newspaper editor.’ magic words that would change the face of the country. Post-morten inventories and Bibliographic catalogue. 1779). Gerónimo de Uztáriz. All of these titles are frequently found in both. Julián de Velasco commented on the benefits of such periodical press: The daily events that are happening in the particular matters pertaining to the Arts. Melchor de Jovellanos. en que por la mayor parte. Juan Sempere y Guarinos.72 indigence. Bernardo Ward.”103 During the eighteenth century. and Discurso sobre la educación popular de los artesanos y su fomento (Madrid: Antonio Sancha. 1726-1739). o discursos varios. See Soriano. 1788). se continua el designio del theatro critico universal. the development of local industries and factories to compete with the products of other nations. so important 102 See Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes. Fray Benito Jerónimo Feijoo. varias opinions communes (Madrid: Hdos.” 103 . Discurso sobre el fomento de la industria (Madrid: Antonio Sancha. the need for exporting products from each Province. Theorica y practica del comercio y la marina en diferentes discursos y calificados exemplares (Madrid: Antonio Sanz. Memorias de la real sociedad económica de Madrid (Madrid: Antonio Sancha. y curiosas. and Ensayo de una biblioteca española de los mejores escritores del reynado de Carlos III (Madrid: Imprenta Real. 1742). and Cartas eruditas. o reduciendo a dudosas.”102 As Aguilar Piñal asserts: “Every thoughtful step of these enlightened thinkers would be preceded by words such as ‘public benefit’ and ‘usefulness. Spain and its provinces also witnessed the emergence of a new kind of periodical press that sought to create a more direct and efficient relation between “useful knowledge” and readers and listeners.

Carlos III of Spain favored the spread of newspapers that could expand the critical thought that his “Enlightened depostism” promoted. gazettes.favoring the spreading of news about current events -. 1/1/1804). and the subjects contained in them had a brief presentation that facilitated a fast and concise reading. etc. Efemérides de la Ilustración de España (Madrid: Imprenta de Manuel Caballero.”105 In general terms. The critical 104 “Los sucesos diarios que van ocurriendo en todos los ramos peculiares de las Artes. in its narrow limits. the small paper is easy to read. Abate Langlet.73 to Astronomy. tan útiles a la humanidad. he encouraged the Counsel of Castile to develop strict vigilance over the content and discourse of periodical printed in Spain and its provinces. XII. Cartas y discursos eruditos sobre todo género de materias útiles y curiosas (Madrid: Imprenta de Francisco Javier García. they were rapidly and regularly produced . Se encuentran acaso en las Obras Magistrales ya escritas? Los descubrimientos de Herchel. and contains. y de la sana literatura. Por qué medio pudieron propagarse con la rapidez que se debía. The Abate Langlet commented in 1763: “Few [people] have time to devote themselves to reading entire books… On the contrary. tan importantes a la Astronomía. etc: By which media were these to be rapidly spread if not by the newspapers of all Europe?104 Newspapers. El hablador juicioso y crítico imparcial.1. los de vacunación. más que por el de los diarios existents en toda Europa?. and magazines offered multiple benefits for the expansion of knowledge and the spreading of information because they were inexpensive media accessible to diverse social groups. no. 1763). 105 . or the discoveries of vaccination. de las Ciencias. the same matters that are extensively written in the vast boundaries of a masterpiece. so useful to humanity. But at the same time.” in Julián de Velasco. 2.

Charles III asked his ministers to watch closely the kind of materials that were printed in the periodical press. Vol. 1995). For an interesting view on the cultural impact of the press during the Spanish Enlightenment see Inmaculada Urzainqui. as this seemed to be a way of overcoming the cultural and geographic frontiers that separated an outlying population from the 106 Many periodicals and gazettes of Madrid. 1973). 107 . 1978).106 Moreover. “Un nuevo instrumento cultural: la prensa periódica. 2000). Spanish American newspapers printed in Mexico City.1. military and diplomatic reports. See Marcelin Defourneax. François López and Inmaculada Urzainqui (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. European and North American newspapers and gazettes circulated through the same networks as local newspapers did. Joaquín Álvarez Barrientos. where news about any matter could circulate from one country to another. and from one province to another.XVIII) (Madrid: Arcos. newspapers favored the development of a flexible and extensive ambit for communication between Europe and America. for example.107 In Spanish America. Therefore. For a comprehensive list of Spanish newspapers and periodicals of the eighteenth century.74 narrative of newspapers and gazettes could easily include information and ideas that went against monarchical and religious precepts. and often passed unnoticed to the government. articles on fashion or scientific findings. revistas y pronósticos (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. El libro en España y América. La prensa española en el siglo XVIII. see Francisco Aguilar Piñal. political and moral essays. legislación y censura (siglos XV. Travelers coming to Spanish American cities and ports frequently brought European gazettes and papers in their baggage.” in La república de las letras en la España del siglo XVIII. Bogotá. and Lima. Diarios. copied extracts and ideas from French writings that expressed critiques against the monarchy and the nobility. These papers contained diverse matters: European court gossip. Inquisición y censura de libros en la España del siglo XVIII (Madrid: Taurus. and Fermín De los Reyes Gómez. for example. and poetry. frequently devoted most of their space to news copied verbatim from Madrid newspapers.

were frequently found in local private libraries and personal belongings of travelers coming to the mainland. foreign newspapers like the London Gazette (London). “La propaganda.108 The Province of Venezuela did not possess printing machines to elaborate newspapers or gazettes until 1808. magazines and gazettes circulating in the Province of Caracas came from other provinces or nations. But as the eighteenth century unfolded. when a printing press was established in the city of Caracas with the task of producing texts supporting the Rights of Fernando VII and legitimizing the Juntas. El libro. El Mercurio Histórico (Madrid). the Pennsylvannia Gazette (Philadelphia). El Semanario Económico (Madrid). the London Journal (London). La Gaceta de México (México city). la imprenta y el periodismo en América. and El Censor (Madrid).” and Leal. 432.” AGI. among others. . La Gaceta de Madrid (Madrid). la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela. and various French periodicals were also found during government searches made of the homes and baggage of suspicious readers in the city and ports of the Province. local publishers in Spanish America tried to make their editions actual analogues of European journals by adapting their formats and style to the local communities. Caracas. A close look at Caracas’ inventories of private libraries and travelers’ baggage allows us to pinpoint the periodical literature that was circulating among readers and listeners of the province.109 108 109 See Torres Revello. Prior to this date.75 metropolitan center. 434 and 436. all the newspapers. In addition. Periodicals such as El Semanario Erudito (Madrid). 1797. and see Callahan. See “Informe de la Real Audiencia sobre lectura de libros y papeles sediciosos relacionados con la sublevacion de la Guaira. La cultura venezolana en el siglo XVIII.

The German explorer Alexander Von Humboldt.76 I perceive the development of a more stable and structured market for books in the Province of Venezuela by the end of the eighteenth century: increasing numbers of new editions were offered in local shops. were well educated and had knowledge of the Italian and French masterpieces of literature. books. visited many cities such as Cumaná. He felt. These ship inventories of titles are still waiting for a detailed analysis that could give us a quantitative approach to the study of the market for books in Venezuela at the end of the eighteenth century. more taste for literature and 110 Ships’ inventory lists show the frequency and quantity of books that were imported to the Province of Venezuela during the second half of the eighteenth century. he commented: It seems to me that there is a strong tendency towards a profound study of the Sciences in Mexico and Santa Fe. that politics was a favorite topic of discussion. La Guaira and Caracas and rural regions of the Province. and more people imported books for their libraries. 1695 (1777-1778). In the years 1773-1778. Irisarri e hijos” normally sent more than thirty cajones (big boxes) of books once or twice a year. the quantity of imported books for public sale significantly increased during the last three decades of the eighteenth century. he noted. The Compañía Guizpuzcoana also sent an important number of boxes of books every four or five months.110 However. the importation Company “La Vda. we also see the proliferation of social spaces where politics. The white families of Caracas. Contratación. however. and were musically cultivated. . While in Caracas. Humboldt attended gatherings and dinners where he developed a sense of the topics and themes most attractive to the people of Caracas. Foreign visitors noted the nature of these gatherings in the main ports and cities of Venezuela. and readings were discussed. In comparison with previous decades. In Caracas. See AGI. At the same time. he stayed for two months and was welcomed by the Governor and Capitan General Don Manuel Guevara Vasconcelos. authors. who traveled to Venezuela in 1799. 1694 (1774-1776) and Contratación.

a French agent who traveled from 1801 to 1804 to various cities of the Province of Venezuela. that they often lose the appropriated track for achieving happiness and social order. in La Havana and Caracas. to translate and speak French and English languages.” Humboldt was surprised to learn about the lack of a printing press in the city. 140. like their fathers. also noticed a change in the formation and education of the white youth who were aware of the insufficiency of their education. particularly the former. more light focused on political relations among the nations. and another open to new ideas “but so contaminated by foreign influences. recognizing that this situation was probably not the responsibility of the inhabitants of the province. who appreciated the importance of reading. Several of them attempt with the aid of dictionaries. and peruse with avidity the works of foreign authors. 112 . in Alejandro de Humboldt por tierras de Venezuela (Caracas: Fundación de Promoción Cultural de Venezuela. he mentioned that “a change of ideas” had produced two kinds of men: one kind tied to old uses and customs. Don François-Joseph de Pons. 1987). 136. They do not think. Speaking of men from Caracas. Ibid.111 He believed that the commercial and information web that connected the Antilles with Europe created what he called a “politically enlightened” environment for Cuban and Venezuelan societies. that geography is a superfluous science.112 Another European visitor.77 what the imagination could entertain in Quito and Lima. or that history is a 111 Alexander Von Humboldt. endeavor to supply what is lacking. and a more extensive perspective about the state of the colonies and the Metropolis. Viaje a las regiones equinocciales del Nuevo Mundo. but the result of a distrustful governmental policy.

514. In fact. show evidence. talked publicly and freely about the French Revolution and the movements in Saint-Domingue. Estado.113 People of diverse social groups gathered at inns. “La conspiración por dentro.” AGI. Reports from the Real Audiencia and the Real Intendencia to the Governor of Venezuela. During this period. and the street market to discuss European politics. Señor Don Diego de Gadorqui. where it referred to diverse situations in which “seditious ideas” of liberty and equality were being discussed in public settings. books. where pardos could be easily contaminated. the Intendente issued a report expressing his concern for the spreading of French ideas in public settings. although the mania in favour of rank and distinction continues as great as ever. the Real Audiencia wrote a large report in 1793. la presencia de prisioneros franceses de Santo Domingo en los Puertos de la Guaira y Cavello. multiple testimonies of witnesses and participants show that people in La Guaira. taverns. conspirators discussed their readings and ideas in tertulias (meetings at barbershops or in private houses) and even produced texts to educate people on revolutionary ideals. barbershops. These discussions were often denounced by concerned inhabitants of the city to governmental institutions – to members of the Real Audiencia or the Real Intendencia. 58. for example114 – or to priests and members of the Church and the Inquisition. and writings. it is natural to suppose. pulperías. the Inquisition continued promoting a traditional way of gathering information about the existence of prohibited books and the circulation of seditious papers: denunciations. 32-3. Later. Caracas. perhaps more than in Caracas. that people were reading prohibited texts and were commenting on them “in public. Travels in Parts of South America. that it must yield in its turn to the progress of reason.78 useless study.” and in front of people of “lower condition. See “Reporte de la Real Audiencia sobre peligros que representa para las Provincias de tierra firme. See “Representación que remite al exmo. in 1797. or to the King of Spain.” AGI. el intendente de Caracas Don Antonio Lopez Quintana sobre medidas necesarias para que no se propague las doctrinas francesas. between the years 1787 and 1810. Likewise.” In October 1795. See Aizpurua. when the Conspiracy of Gual y España was uncovered.” . Commerce has begun to be less despised than formerly. brought by concerned inhabitants of the city of Caracas and La Guaira who had participated in or heard public discussions. inhabitants of the city of Caracas were encouraged to communicate to the secretary of this institution if they had seen forbidden books in 113 114 De Pons.

These notes are interesting because they provide a window into the public discussion and interpretation of books. has the History of America by Robertson. kept a notebook in which he wrote down all the denunciations made by the people of Caracas. or if they had heard others talking of prohibited books and “seditious ideas. later. because he is an enlightened subject who does not suffer the danger of perdition. and that for this reason he had many of these in French.” AAC (Archivo Arquidiocesano de Caracas). One note says: “In 1797.79 particular houses. Priests. believed that they could read prohibited books 115 “Cuadernillo de denuncias del Santo Oficio.”115 Elites assumed that they were entitled to read because their educational background and social condition provided them with the “right understanding” (buen entendimiento) to comprehend the meanings and interpretations expressed in all kind of written texts. Castro added: “Don Marciano Echeverría told me that he could read prohibited books about State matters. 1806. because he has made reference to several paragraphs that I found in it.” In a second part of this notebook. Don Miguel Castro. doctor. Santo Oficio. . a member of the Inquisition.” Don Gabriel Joseff de Lindo. Carpeta II.” And. Don Francisco Carreño heard from a child named Marcos Torres that ‘he believed that Hell existed’ but that ‘another child told him that it did not exist because he read it in a book. for example. wrote in 1806: “I know that don Francisco Guerra.” Another note says: “Josef Bernardo Aristiguieta told me that he has permission to read prohibited books. another accuser.

117 At the end of the eighteenth century and beginning of the nineteenth century. In post-mortem inventories. 2009). and heiresses demanding friends. 2003). these officers visited the houses of more than twenty people in Caracas 116 On Inquisition edicts and special licenses to read forbidden books in Spanish America. heirs. This web of circulation of printed materials allows us to imagine a scenario in which books and readings were frequent topics of conversation and debate among the readers. and justified their readings by saying that they were “enlightened” enough to comprehend the “falseness” of some books and “scattered writings” (papeles sueltos). I thank Ken Ward. for providing me with these references. Several documents offer interesting evidence of this common practice of loaning books. libros e inquisición en el Perú colonial.80 and papers perfectly because they were instructed to differentiate the “truth” from “falsity. and other family members the return of their deceased family member’s volumes. we frequently find spouses. 117 . Libros y lectores en Caracas. and forbidding books and papers. Ideology and Inquisition: The World of the Censors in Early Mexico (New Haven: Yale University Press. 1570-1754 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. During the month of April 1806. neighbors. officers of the Holy Office frequently visited the homes of neighbors suspected of possessing forbidden books in order to confiscate them.116 The lack of local printing presses encouraged readers to borrow and lend books. Censura.” and moreover because they were the social group responsible for controlling. See post-mortem inventories in Leal. Some academic and professional elites also believed that they could read prohibited books. and Soriano. Libros y bibliotecas en Venezuela. the Latin American curator of the John Carter Brown Library. see Pedro Guibovich. censuring. and Martin Austin Nesvig.

See Stephan Palmié.’ Benito Prada. I don’t know where it is. Wizards and Scientists.” When the officer asked Don Gabriel Ponte if he had La Jaira by Voltaire. an agent of the Holy Office. Carpeta II. In Caracas and La Guaira. An interesting topic that still needs the attention of colonial Latin American historians is that of the practices of copying and translating books.119 Seminar and university 118 119 “Cuadernillo de denuncias al Secretario del Santo Oficio.” Later. Surely many Latin American colonial urban centers that lacked printing presses witnessed the emergence of webs of production and circulation of manuscripts. In response. he asked Don Domingo Díaz if he had the book History of the Revolution and Díaz answered that “he remembered reading the first volume.’ or alternatively.81 enquiring about certain forbidden books. as well as the circulation of manuscripts. Don Gabriel answered: “That book is normally ‘running’ freely and. asked Captain Juan Vicente Bolívar if he had Rousseau’s La Julia. neighbors fabricated the same kind of excuses over and over: ‘I used to have the text but I loaned it and I cannot remember to whom.and translators . but I don’t know who. Bolívar answered: “I used to have it. as these allowed readers to keep original ideas on paper and not count on their memory. but that he had lent the book to Don Francisco González de Linares. mutilating and fragmenting them. . converting them into new texts and the copyists . Santo Oficio.into authors themselves. and narrative creation in the fabrication of hand-written texts. today. these practices ended up transforming the texts themselves. I gave it to someone. but I returned it to the foreigner who had lent it to me. changing its typography and material support. However. some readers became copyists and translators of particular parts of the texts containing extracts and ideas they wanted to preserve once they returned the book to its owner or passed it on to another reader. Aponte’s Libro de pinturas represents an example of the construction of this intertextuality of copied phrases and illustrations.” AAC.”118 The lack of printing presses and the existence of this informal web for lending and borrowing resulted in practices of hand-copying and translating books. ‘I read the book but gave it back to the owner or someone else.

Montillas to Don Diego Urbaneja and others. Numerous denunciations to the secretary of this institution claimed that certain individuals possessed hand-written copies of prohibited books.82 professors offered their books to students. Caracas’ private libraries contained not only printed but also manuscript books. A note in the Inquisition Denunciations Notebook says: “Don Rafael Lugo has mentioned ‘the Raynal’ several times. 2001). Historian Fernando Bouza offers a comprehensive study of the circulation of manuscripts in seventeenth century Spain in his book Corre manuscrito: una historia cultural del siglo de oro (Madrid: Marcial Pons.” Leal. “Cuadernillo de denuncias al Secretario del Santo Oficio. Historia de la imprenta en Venezuela. and Grases.”121 Explorations in Afro-Cuban Modernity and Tradition (Durham and London: Duke University Press. “El correr de los libros en la cotidianidad caraqueña. Santo Oficio.” AAC. as it could serve to reproduce and spread the content of forbidden texts. in past days he showed me a hand-copied paragraph translated by him. who copied part of them and studied with their hand-written notes.F.” The library of priest and professor José Ignacio Moreno. 120 Soriano. included a hand-copied version of the “Treaty of Philadelphia” (the Constitution of the United States). This same paragraph. among others hand-written copies. Chapter I. The library of Governor Pedro Carbonell contained a “manuscript on painted paper about the use of Arms and other military tactics. Don Rafael Mexias told me.120 Members of the Inquisition were especially concerned about this practice of copying and translating texts. was given by D. 2002). La cultura venezolana en el siglo XVIII. 121 . Rector of the University of Caracas. Carpeta II.

principles of authority. Periodically. . the Inquisition printed edicts of prohibition and censorship of Spanish and foreign books that expressed doubts about or criticized the prevailing instituions. Rousseau. and other leaders of modern impiety had invaded the most distant 122 “Real Cédula declarando que el Inquisidor General no publique Edicto alguno. or the monarchical state. as the members of the Inquisition were depicted as incapable of correctly examining and censoring books. with this decision the Inquisition seemed to lose authority over civil matters. Bula o Breve Apostolico sin que primero obtenga su Real Permiso (18 de enero de 1772). Christian principles.” In this sense. Nevertheless in the year 1772. King Carlos III issued a real cédula in which he declared that the Inquisitor General could not publish an edict of prohibition of books without his royal permission. but especially in the last decades. or contradicting Crown dispositions. Historically. During the entire eighteenth century. des Arts et de Métiers (Paris: Chez du Le Breton. Santo Oficio. 1751-1772). Holy Office prohibitions went hand in hand with royal restrictions and censorship. or the moral order. the State and the Inquisition. Carlos III seemed to be willing to put some limits on an Institution that was depicted in other European nations as “barbarous” and obsolete. This decree is particularly interesting. Prohibited Readings.” AAC. Spanish priest and writer José Francisco Isla was concerned because “Voltaire. since in it the King clearly separates the “spiritual” responsabilities and jurisdiction of the Inquisition. both the Spanish Crown and the Inquisition prohibited the entry to Spanish territories of several French titles that challenged the moral order. from civil matters corresponding to his “Royal Will and Authority.83 3. Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des Sciences. See M.122 In 1778. Diderot and D’Alembert. Carpeta I.

work against 123 See Defourneax. María José Del Río Barredo. examining. 1. and Spanish Council members and Inquisition agents shared the responsibility of reading. anti-Christian and dark evil. sin que primero se presente un exemplar en el consejo y se conceda licencia para su introducción o venta. in the name of liberty.123 In these circumstances. por la cual se manda observar la ley veinte y tres. y Señores del Consejo. and controlling written texts regarding not only “theological. when revolutionary ideas began to circulate in the Atlantic world. in 1784. y de qualquier material que sean.” Other contemporary priests and authorities also protested the avid interest of Spanish readers for acquiring and reading French books that could alter the ideas of social order and subordination.124 By 1789. but books of any kind that could include ideas against “subordination. titulo primero de la Recopilación en quanto a que no se vendan libros que vengan de fuera del Reyno en qualquier idioma. censoring. scholastic and moral” themes. Vol. 11. El libro en España y América. El libro en España y América. vassalage. “Censura inquisitorial y teatro de 1707 a 1819. prohibiting. 124 125 . are evidence of a new race of philosophers.M. XXXVII (1986): 78. who. an entity that provided licenses for the importation and selling of foreign books. con lo demás que se expresa (1 de Julio de 1784). a royal decree proclaimed that no foreign book. “Real Cédula de S. previous institutional tensions eased. could be sold without previous examination and authorization of the Royal Council of Spain. obedience to our Monarch.84 corners of Spain.”125 After 1790. and to the Curate of Christ. both institutions tried to control the entry of revolutionary books and papers that “in addition to being written with a pure style of naturalism. Inquisición y censura de libros.” in De Los Reyes Gómez.” Hispania Sacra. in any language and regarding any subject. and De Los Reyes Gómez.

French books and papers were secretly introduced into Spain by different ways: papers were rolled up and put inside the boxes of items such as hats. 128-29. clocks and musical instruments. The Common Wind. readings. and the hierarchy of the Christian Religion. it was not necessary to employ such methods. smuggling webs could have been also a way of introducing foreign forbidden books and gazettes that found their way to urban centers. and public recitations of texts. Also. Nevertheless.127 Evidently. and twenty-one of these edicts were printed and published after 1789. . where agents’ controls were less intense and careful. La Guaira and Puerto Cabello owned prohibited French 126 127 128 Defourneax.85 it. 129-30. books and papers were introduced in heavy boxes that were dropped out of the ship while the visitor of the Inquisition checked the boxes containing books and were later retrieved.128 Readers in the cities of Caracas. Scott. showing the ease with which prohibited books entered into the periphery of the colonial world. See Defourneax. and the Church and the government jointly participated in these activities of vigilance. with the purpose of collecting specifically French prohibited books in order to take them to the Inquisition See. “Edictos de Prohibición de Libros. In addition. and Pino Iturrieta. the French Revolution had generated institutional concerns for controlling books. La mentalidad venezolana de la emancipación. Inquisición y censura de libros. Santo Oficio. Libros y lectores en Caracas. See Soriano.” AAC. Several prohibited titles are registered in private libraries’ inventories and records of the Inquisition between 1789 and 1810. in Spanish America. Inquisición y censura de libros. Approximately twenty-six “Edicts of Prohibition of Books” were read aloud after the Sunday Mass and pinned on the external walls of the Churches of Caracas between 1762 and 1807. destroying the political and social order. Carpetas I and II. Cumaná. frequently boxes of French Books entered into the Ports of La Guaira and Puerto Cabello unnoticed.”126 Officials of the Holy Office visited private homes in Caracas and other cities.

1803). 129 4. 1767). and La Pitié. among others. Montegnon y Paret. Filangeri. Voltaire’s Philosophical dictionary and novel La Jaira. The majority of these elite readers frequently regarded reading as a practice appropriate only for a restricted social group. poeme (Paris: Guiguet et Michaud. L’Eneide (Paris: Chez Guiguet et Michaud. . G. See Post-Mortem library inventories (1790-1800) in Soriano. Esquisse d’un tableau des progress de l’esprit humain (Madrid. Du Contrat Social. William Robertson. J. and Theory of the Social Law by Duaray de Brie. Marquis de Condorcet. military officials and merchants. La casa de Sucre. J. also Leal. F. M. Théorie of des Lois Sociales (Paris: Demonville. Cours d’étude pour l’instruction du Prince de Parme (Geneve: Deifart. Most of these books were found in the libraries of white priests. 1762). They considered that “prohibited” books and. D’Alembert’s writings on philosophy. Montegnon y Paret. 1786). 1804). and history. Raynal. et de philosophie (Amsterdan: Zacharie Chatelain & Fils. 1766). Dictionnaire philosophique portatif (Amsterdan: Varberg. written materials should not 129 M. Abbé T. Mélanges de littérature. Delille’s poetic works. the Abbé Raynal. Montesquieu. parte primera sacada de las memorias que dejó el mismo (Madrid: Antonio Sancha. d’histoire. 2010). Dauray de Brie. 1804). 1789). P. P. sociedad y cultura en Cumaná al final de la época colonial (Caracas: Centro Nacional de la Historia. Historia política de los establecimientos ultramarinos de las naciones europeas (Madrid: Antonio de Sancha. Rousseau. La cultura venezolana en el siglo XVIII. La Scienza de la Legislazione (Genova: Ivone Gracian. J. J. Delille.86 texts such as the Social Contract of Rousseau. Voltaire. 1784). ou principes du droit politique (Amsterdan: Marc Michel Rey. rich hacendados. in general. Social Control of Plebian Reading. Eusebio. the Marquis of Condorcet. 1794). and his novels Abelard and Eloise and La Julia. Thomas Paine. and Gaetano Filangeri. literature. Alembert. Several accusations to the Inquisition by anonymous informants stated that suspicious readers in La Guaira and Caracas had the forbidden texts of the Abbé Condillac. and Emanuele Amodio. n/d). Abbé de Condillac. Libros y lectores en Caracas.

the demographically largest group. del Carmen Borrego Plá. 2007). such as pardos. and even the soverignty of the Crown. Izard. la independencia frustrada (Caracas: Colección Bicentenario de la Independencia. Ma. América Latina ante la Revolución Francesa (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The topic of “fear” of the French Revolution in Spanish America has received considerable attention from historians. See Juan Carlos Rey. freedom. or the social order.131 130 As an example is the conspiracy of Gual and España in La Guaira and Caracas. free blacks. El miedo a la revolución. and Indians. slaves. abolition of slavery. Fundación Polar. In fact. for example. These fears of ideological contagion among groups of color reached a peak as the Haitian Revolution unfolded. The content of a book or paper could change the perceptions and ideas that people had about the political regime. Gual y España..87 be read or handled by inferior groups. 131 . the authority of the local government. uncovered in 1797. However. Adriana Hernández and Ramón Aizpurua Aguirre. Rogelio Pérez Perdomo. and even formed discussion gruops for planning of revolutionary movements. I say “the majority of the elite” because there were elites – some white merchants. and Spanish and creole officials. and equality. infused with the republican values of liberty and equality.who. the economic circumstances.130 The majority of the white elite believed that subaltern reading of “seditious” papers and books was a very dangerous practice because “erroneous ideas” could encourage pardos. decided to spread revolutionary readings among the colored population. See. reading and writing were seen as practices that required certain social condition. and slaves to question their social condition and to challenge the institutional order. eds. creating a rich web of information and ideas regarding racial confrontation. free blacks. among others .

and artisanal activities. Ada Ferrer. “El miedo a la Revolución. 132 Pellicer. free blacks. 2009). La educación venezolana bajo el signo de la Ilustración 1770-1870 (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia.” El miedo en el Perú siglo XVI al XX. agricultural. Following these Enlightenment currents. these colored subaltern groups were not allowed to attend colonial public schools. But the vast majority of the literate or “semi-literate” pardo population learned to read and write at the shops of 1993). some concerned teachers in Caracas suggested the need for improving public schools – traditionally attended by whites – and creating “Schools for pardos” (Escuela de pardos) in the cities of the province. where their labor was “reduced” to manual. 1790-1800. and slaves really read? How did they come into contact with written materials? We should bear in mind that. poder y esclavitud en Cuba en la época de la Revolución. ed. and Rafael Fernández Heres. and were generally seen by the elites as people who did not need to be literate in order to actively participate in colonial society. . Claudia Rosas Lauro (ed. vices and idleness in the population at large. 1995).88 But. 139-83. La vivencia del honor en la provincia de Venezuela. Revolution in the Atlantic World: A Comparative History (New York: New York University Press.) (Lima: Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. wealthy pardo families could afford hiring private teachers who would visit the students at their homes. could pardos. or universities. traditionally. 2005).132 However. by the end of the eighteenth century this traditional view of society and education underwent a transformation as Enlightenment and Spanish reformist ideas promoted literacy and useful education among all and a battle to eradicate perceived ignorance. According to these teachers. Rumores y temores desatados por la Revolución Francesa en el Perú. Their accounts provide us with information regarding the education of the social group of pardos. religious seminaries. “Temor. Claudia Rosas Lauro.” Wim Klooster.

1954). 19 de mayo de 1794." Theasurus XV. the teacher. the cartilla is “a printed notebook with the letters of the alphabet and with the basic notions for learning to read.” Diccionario de Autoridades (1726-1742) (Madrid: Gredos. 1 (1960): 214-234.) (Caracas: Imprenta Nacional. “Reflexiones sobre los defectos que vician la escuela de primeras letras de Caracas y medio de lograr su reforma por un nuevo establecimiento. 1976). In 1786. Don José María de Bañuelos alerted the cabildo about the pitiful state of primary education in the city of Caracas. Regarding the pardos. and it was very popular in Spain during the sixteenth through the eighteenth century. Escritos. Documentos para la historia de la educación en Venezuela (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. According to the Diccionario de Reales Autoridades. beauty salons. and Pedro Rueda Ramírez. and arithmetic. carpenters. Simón Rodríguez. he writes: 133 Quoted by Ildefonso Leal. This same situation was described by the teacher Don Simón Rodríguez. LII. 1968). 5-27. where it is impossible to pay attention to this primordial matter.unirioja.135 Rodríguez emphasized the need for expanding literacy socially by incorporating artisans and peasants into the institutional teaching of reading.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3406934. and musicians who informally offered their educational services. no. He asserted “It is a shame to discover the scarce number of primary schools that exists in a populated city like Caracas. The cartilla was an essential tool for teaching how to read. shoes stores. Pedro Grases (ed. and thanks to artisans. They were inexpensive and massively imported to the Spanish American territories. Many schools are reduced to barbershops. 134 135 . and other places of mechanical occupations.” in Simón Rodríguez. "Las cartillas para enseñar a leer a los niños en América española. See José Torres Revello. some pardos learned to read thanks to old artisans who teach just the basic notions of grammar and the cartilla134." http://dialnet. who in 1794 wrote a long account entlitled The State of the Primary Education in Caracas.”133 According to him.89 barbers and shoemakers. writing. "Las cartillas para aprender a leer: la circulación de un texto escolar en Latinoamérica. Caracas’ pulperías and small shops offered a large quantity of them.

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The mechanical arts are linked, in this city and elsewhere in the Province, with pardos and morenos (free blacks). They do not have anyone to teach them, they cannot attend the School of whites, and poverty limits them from their childhood, so that they learn through practice, but without technique; lacking this, they proceed in everything by improvisation, some become teachers of others without ever having been students, excepting those who with an extraordinary vigor have achieved their instruction thanks to painful efforts136

Since they also belonged to society, Rodríguez believed that pardos needed education as much as whites. Therefore he proposed the creation of a School for pardos, where they could all find an appropriate place to learn and grow. In the opinion of Rodríguez, beauty salons and barbershops were not Schools, and barbers and artisans did not have educational methods, nor did they have the proper teaching skills or authority to educate: “these improvised teachers do not even know who their students are and how they have progressed.”137 Rodríguez believed that in these false schools children learned “to read and to comb their hair, to write and to shave.”138 Rodríguez’s account gives us clear and detailed picture of the state of popular education in the city of Caracas, its vices and the multiple problems that the local government needed to attend to, but it also provides us with valuable information about the education of pardos and the social spaces for their education. In the first place, there seemed to be informal spaces for learning in the cities that were attended

136 137 138

Ibid, 6. Ibid 8. Ibid,10-11.

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mostly by pardo children, so it is clear that the prohibition on attending public schools did not mean that pardos could not learn to read and write. Many of them, as Rodríguez says, did so; but in improper settings and in “inadmissible” ways.139 On the other hand, Rodríguez also provides an image of barbershops and beauty salons as places for socialization, teaching, exchanging knowledge, and debating ideas. For example, there were barbers and artisans in the city who offered services of reading and writing letters in exchange for money or other services. So, non-literate neighbors visited these “literate artisans” to listen to their private letters or to understand certain papers or pamphlets that fell into their hands. More sophisticated artisans, offered translation services from English to Spanish, or from French to Spanish.140 In Caracas and La Guaira, Barbershops and beauty parlours were also places where people of different social groups (professionals, merchants, militiamen, students, artisans) used to meet to play table games, to chat with friends, read papers aloud, share ideas, and even to conspire against the government. In this sense, these
139

One of the aspects that Rodríguez underlines is that children who attended these improvised schools learn to read “in dialogue,” so they do not “learn to read in all the discourses, and they read only to answer questions.” See Rodríguez, “Reflexiones sobre los defectos que vician la escuela de primeras letras,” 11. This is particularly interesting because this was the form in which religious knowledge was imparted to children through catechisms, a written discourse that followed the pattern of a oral conversation: someone ignorant – usually a child, a women, an Indian or a Black – asks questions and someone with more experience – father, teacher, usually a white male – responds. Religious catechisms were popular in colonial Latin America. Political catechisms were used later to educate subaltern groups during Independence period and during formation of the Latin American republican nations. See Nydia Ruiz, Gobernantes y gobernados: los catecismos políticos en España e Hispanoamérica (siglos XVIII-XIX) (Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela, 1997). See Soriano, Libros y lectores en Caracas. Regarding artisans who read papers and translated them to others, see the case of André Renoir, a hairdresser, who had a beauty shop in La Guaira but also visited other barbershops where he was asked to help with the translation of some paragraphs from French books. Aizpurua, “La conspiración por dentro,” 255-56.

140

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places functioned as public meeting areas, where diverse literary practices took place and where a sort of public sphere for political debate emerged; there, papers and gazettes about the French and the Haitian Revolutions became a pretext to express inconformity with the colonial system.141

5. The Written Expansion of a “Revolutionary Disease”: Texts from France and Saint-Domingue in the Province of Venezuela.

During the entire eighteenth century, the Church and the Inquisition were institutions formally entrusted with the task of controlling and confiscating prohibited books and seditious papers that were circulating in ports and urban centers of the Province of Venezuela. However, after the events of the American and the French Revolutions, the Spanish Crown and local governments became greatly concerned about the expansion of revolutionary ideas on the mainland and undertook, together with the Church and the Inquisition, the censure, prohibition and confiscation of “dangerous” reading materials.142

141

See the diverse testimonies of suspects and pardoned in the Conspiracy of Gual y España (1797) in which they described their meetings and gathering in these locations. Quoted by Aizpurua, “La conspiración por dentro,” 244-56. Following Víctor Uribe-Urán, these spaces made it possible for individuals to gather, read, criticize their readings, express their ideas, and “mold public opinion.” Uribe-Urán, “The Birth of Public Sphere in Latin America during the Age of Revolution,” 437. Callahan, “La propaganda, la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela,” and Soriano, Libros y lectores en Caracas.

142

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The King of Spain Carlos IV was particularly concerned about the possible influences and effects that the French Revolution and its propaganda could have in his American territories. In fact, in September 1789, he was informed that some people from the National Assembly of Paris were interested in introducing a seditious manifesto in America that could “shake the power of the Spanish dominion among its inhabitants.”143 Immediately, the Spanish Minister - the Count of Floridablanca issued a royal order to the governors of the Spanish Provinces in America in which he ordered them to control, with the help of Church ministers, the introduction and diffusion of any writings that contained revolutionary and anti-religious ideas that could “promote Independence and anti-religion.”144 From 1789 to 1790, the Spanish monarch issued a great number of royal decree restricting the entry of French books and papers, prohibiting those whose content was considered dangerous to religion, proper subordination, and the social order. Official authorities were ordered to supervise closely the circulation and diffusion of what they identified as “revolutionary ideas.” Between September and October 1789, two royal orders were issued prohibiting “the entry of any illustration, printed or handwritten papers, boxes, fans or any other object alluding to the French Revolution.” In the case of finding any of these

143 144

“Real Orden del 24 de septiembre de 1789,” AGN, Reales Ordenes, X, 140. Ibid.

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items, they were to be sent to the Secretary of State.”145 Likewise, in 1790, the Council of Castille prohibited the introduction of several French newspapers, revolutionary catechisms, and books containing information and opinions related to the French Revolution.146 Official reports from all the provinces of Spain – including the American territories – denounced that French books and papers were circulating in the hands of curious and avid readers. For this reason, the monarch issued a royal decree on September 10, 1791 in which he stated: “The introduction of any letters or seditious papers contrary to the principles of public fidelity and tranquility is prohibited.” People who committed this crime were accused of the offense of disloyalty, and local authorities (Justicias) were responsible for controlling the circulation of these materials, and sending copies to the Counsel.147 Institutional controls and prohibitions did not only affect the circulation of texts from France to Spanish territories. They also condemned Spanish printed
145 146

Note 15, Novísima Recopilación, Book VIII, Title XVIII. Law XIII.

French newspapers like Correo de París and El Publicista Francés were not allowed to enter the Spanish territories because they contained “falsity and aim to disturb the fidelity and tranquility that must exist in Spain,” Orden del Consejo prohibiendo la introducción y curso del ‘Correo de París o Publicista Francés’, no. 54, 5 de enero de 1790, quoted in De Los Reyes Gómez, El libro en España y América, 627. The Counsel of Castile also prohibited French catechisms like “Catecismos Francés para la Gente del Campo,” French letters like “The Manfiesto Reservado para el Rey Don Carlos IV, que Dios guarde y sus sublimes ministros,” and several books such as “La France Libre” y “Des Droits et Devoirs de L’homme.” For the most complete history of censorship and prohibition of printed materials in Spain (s. XV-XVIII) see De Los Reyes Gómez, El libro en España y América. “Real Cédula de S.M y Señores del Consejo, en que se prohíbe la introducción y curso en estos Reynos de qualesquiera cartas o papeles sediciosos y contrarios a la fidelidad, y a la tranquilidad pública, y se manda a las Justicias procedan en este asunto sin disimulo y con la actividad y vigilancia que requiere; en la conformidad que se expresa” (Madrid: Imprenta de Vda. De Marín, 1791).

147

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materials that included French texts and extracts, or Spanish texts that offered news, reports, opinions or descriptions of France’s political situation.148 In June 1793, for example, the Counsel prohibited the insertion of any news favorable or contrary to aspects related to France in any book or paper printed in Spain. The Council prevented any Spanish periodical from including news or information about France.149 In this way, France and its Revolution were drastically silenced in Spanish written culture. However, this restriction was not strictly respected, as numerous newspapers printed in Spanish territories carried information about the French and the Haitian Revolutions. Claudia Rosas Lauro shows that newspapers printed in Lima in 1793 offered ample information about the French Revolution; these editions were promoted by the same Virrey Gil de Taboada who said that it was important to “offer an official version of the Revolutionary events.” Nevertheless, as Lauro comments, while these editions aimed to a provide negative view of the events, they at the same time offered precise and detailed information about the Revolution, its main events and protagonists.150

148

Frequently, eighteenth-century Spanish newspapers included texts and extracts taken from prohibited French and English books, that went unnoticed, thanks to their anonymity and other disguises. Often prohibited texts of Rousseau and Montesquieu were extracted, translated, and transformed into short essays in Spanish magazines and gazettes. See Philip Deacon, “La libertad de expresión en España en el período precedente a la Revolución Francesa,” Estudios de Historia Social I-II, no. 36-37 (1986). De Los Reyes Gómez, El libro en España y América, 632.

149 150

Rosas Lauro, “El miedo a la Revolución. Rumores y temores desatados por la Revolución Francesa en el Perú,” 144.

96

The same developed with the Gaceta de Madrid, which offered interesting and revealing information about the rebellious movements in Saint-Domingue. Ada Ferrer asserts that this gazette, printed twice a week in Madrid, reproduced news published in other European and North American newspapers, and offered detailed information about Saint-Domingue rebels, campaigns against plantations and masters. Later, it offered news about the abolition of slavery by the French National Assembly in 1794, and about revolutionary leaders such as Tousaint Louverture and Rigaud. By 1804, the Captain General of the Island of Cuba, the Marquis of Someruelos, expressed his concern about the public circulation and spread of the Gaceta in different corners of the island,“everyone buys them, and they circulated widely amongst the blacks”151 One of the first authorities of a province in the Captaincy of Venezuela to denounce an irregularity regarding news and information related to France was the Governor of the Island of Trinidad, Don José María Chacón. In January 1790, Governor Chacón condemned to exile the French writer and printer of the Gaceta de Trinidad, Don Juan Bautista Vilaux, because he had “copied and printed diverse articles of public foreign papers related to the current Revolution in France, in which there were many subversive phrases, contrary to the good order of our

151

Ferrer, “Noticias de Haití en Cuba,” 687-689. See also Alejandro Gómez, “Le Syndrome de SaintDomingue. Perceptions et représentations de la Révolution haïtienne dans le Monde Atlantique, 1790-1886” (PhD diss., Ecoles de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 2010), 130-2.

dailies. 152 “Sobre destierro del redactor de la Gaceta o papel publico de ocurrencias semanales de la Ysla de Trinidad.97 Constitution. 10.” In the opinion of Guillelmi.” AGI. the printer – hidden on the periphery of the island153 – did not forsee the consequences of his actions.”152 Apparently. Trinidad had a small printing press where brief papers about news and current events were printed. Don Juan Guillelmi. This situation confirms the argument that by the time the Province of Venezuela acquired administrative.”154 This phrase summarizes the general attitude that local authorities assumed when faced with the problem of the circulation of revolutionary information throughout the entire period: an attitude of secrecy and silence. and unlike Caracas and many other important cities of the captaincy that lacked printing presses. contrary to the case of Caracas where permission was emphatically denied. In December 1790. providing news about current events of Paris. the Captain General of Venezuela. no. no.” AGI. The Province of Trinidad had been recently added to the Captaincy of Venezuela. political.” AGI. Caracas. “Sobre destierro del redactor de la Gaceta o papel publico de ocurrencias semanales de la Ysla de Trinidad. and commercial interest for the peninsula. In his report he added: “It was my intention to prevent the evil or to elminate it at its origins. the Governor was aware of the “terrible” effects of these papers and decided to put an end abruptly to the danger. 153. 10. 153. the menace of circulation of revolutionary ideas in the Atlantic world increased and eroded the motivations for establishing printing presses in urban centers where they could become instruments for disseminating revolutionary propaganda. The reduced significance of Trinidad during the eighteenth century allowed the entry and functioning of a printing press. Caracas. have entered the Province of Venezuela. nevertheless. 153 154 . Caracas. and supplements from or about France. without alarming the public and avoiding its curiosity to find out the reasons of my decision… Different opinions would make people talk about themes that are better left in silence. sent a report to Madrid in which he indicated that “in the four previous months several gazettes. and “Noticias sobre Introducción de papeles extranjeros. 115.

the vigilance over the introduction of written materials and people increased. public tranquility. XII. 157 .” AGN. dangerous books. jeopardizing the pureness of our Religion. asking them about the purposes of their presence in the province. spying on foreign visitors and neighbors.155 Right after the first news about the rebellious events of Saint Domingue arrived. Diversos. papers. In August 1793. “due to the current circumstances of war with France. Reales Ordenes.156 The execution of Louis XVI and the beginning of the war between Spain and France in 1793 intensified control strategies. “Carta del Gobernador de Caracas al Comandante Interior de La Guaira. Gobernación y Capitanía General. LXVI. 290-295.” AGN.98 the “evil designs” of these papers represented a danger to the proper order and harmony of the captaincy. and news could pass to our territories. LIX. and subordination”157 155 156 “Expediente de la Intendencia relativo a asuntos de Francia. gazettes and papers. and even demanding that ministers of the Church provide them with information about the population’s books and their reading habits. 85-86. Local authorities devised strategies for controlling ports.” AGN. “Sobre la introducción de libros y papeles franceses en estas provincias. members of the Council of Indies issued a royal order to the governor of Caracas in which they mentioned that. in order to to confiscate prohibited books. 256. performing censuses of the people who were arriving and their belongings.

an institution that was central to fomenting the French Revolution. a pardo militiaman named Joseph Luis Aleado found a seditious document entitled “Extract of the Manifest that the National Convention made for all the Nations. Apparently the document was distributed by Juan Xavier Arrambide. Estado.” He ordered his officials to redouble their vigilance. who translated the paper from French to Spanish with the help of Tomás Cardozo. and Callahan.” Ibid.99 In August 1794.” This text contained a list of conclusions and arguments made by the National Convention of Paris. However at times 158 “Expediente creado con motivo de haberse descubierto la introduccion de un papel de la Asamblea de Paris. Vols. a pharmacist (boticario) who also worked in La Guaira. and not to call the attention of the neighbors to this issue. “La propaganda. It is also mentioned in Héctor García Chuecos. 159 .159 The official orders to control the entry of papers and written materials (especially by foreigners) in the ports of the captaincy were obeyed. no. which included having port agents increase their control over the documents and people that entered Tierra Firme because it was essential to discover those who were introducing this kind of materials. a merchant of the port of La Guaira. Estudios de historia colonial venezolana. and secondly.” AGI. because he believed it was important to act prudently. 20.158 The Governor and Capitan General Carbonell did not punish the readers and translators of the paper because he was not sure about the proper penalty for this kind of actions. 1938). to “maintain the tranquility of the province. Extracto del Manifiesto que la Convencion Nacional hace de todas las Naciones. 65. 2 (Caracas: Tipografía americana. la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela.

Estado. “La conspiración por dentro. represented more than one hundred thousand. Like Mendiri. stationed at the Spanish side of the Island of Santo Domingo. Caracas. This was the case of Juan Joseph Mendiri. 161 .” AGI. Roume in France. especially on the slaves who.”161 The Governor of Trinidad. See Aizpurua. a movement that stood for “liberty and equality” and the “Rights of Man. the paper contained several expressions “capable of causing harmful impressions on the simple people. According to the members of the Audiencia.” and that even established a plan of action to establish a republican government. while Juan José Mendiri. In May 1796. 86. 42 years old. the Real Audiencia met in order to discuss the introduction and rumored circulation among the inhabitants of the province of a “dangerous” document entitled: “Instruction that shall serve as a rule for the French interim agent. Joseph María Chacón. Juan Xavier Arrambide participated in the conspiracy of Gual and España. Spain) was a 35-years-old merchant in the Port of La Guaira. 8. the wave of rumors about the circulation of prohibited texts in the ports and cities of the Province of Venezuela continued to flow. mentioned at the beginning of the chapter.” “Sobre introducción y circulación de Papel ‘Instrucción que debe servir de regla al Agente Interino Francés destinado á la Parte Española de Santo Domingo. 58.” written by a Mr. answered that he would observe 160 Juan Xavier de Arrambide. born in Villa del Puerto Real (Cádiz.100 the authorities came to mistrust the same agents who were supposed to assume the vigilance. although he was trusted with the task of controlling texts. and AGI. no.160 In these circumstances. only in this province. no. 169. he became a distributor of them. was the guardamayor of the port and royal accountant.

to make all new citizens love the Republic. Therefore. It was a republican decree that promoted love and respect for the Republic. and to try to preserve all that precious population which belongs to the Island. destinado a la parte Española de la Ysla de Santo Domingo. “Instrucción que debe servir de regla al agente interino Francés. LIX. LIX. part of his work encouraged the French agent to win the Spaniards over to his side. and one that clearly rejected the monarchical system.” contained recommendations and suggestions concerning the occupation of Santo Domingo by France. 163 . he recognized that they are leaving Santo Domingo and that this emigration affected the economic development and progress of the island. the author contends: “It is important. but both populations and “nations. 237-239. The author represented the Spanish as an essentially antirevolutionary nation.” AGN. Gobernación y Capitanía General. which ignored the qualities and advantages of the republic and lived without its glory. so he was emphatic in expressing the need to unite not only both sides of the island. above all.” He writes: “The difficulty then is… to prove to the entire world through an intimate union with the Spanish Chiefs how easy it is to 162 “Carta del Gobernador de Trinidad al Gobernador de Caracas.101 vigilantly the entry of this text. Gobernación y Capitanía General. 258. comunicándole que pondrá en ejercicio su orden de recoger y remitir papeles que se introduzcan por la via de Santo Domingo. but that he was concerned that these materials could come to Trinidad directly from Spanish Santo Domingo.”163 Two enemies were identified in this document: English invaders and royalist Spaniards.162 The “Instruction addressed to the French agent in the Spanish part of Santo Domingo. At the outset.” AGN.

He contended that Spaniards 164 “La dificultad es pues. such as those that might suggest a contradiction between Christianity and the Republic. he encouraged the agent to prevent this emigration and execute possible actions to “persuade and convince all these citizens of the falsity of ideas that may have been impressed upon them about the French Revolution. “persuadir para desimpresionar a aquellos ciudadanos de las falsas ideas que hayan podido imprimirseles de la revolución Francesa..”164 Briefly the author narrated the history of Santo Domingo and highlighted its importance as a Spanish city that counted on a Real Audiencia and Archbishopric.”165 According to the author. 165 .…. in consequence.” Ibid. establecer una perfecta armonía entre ambas naciones.102 establish a perfect harmony between both nations. The document went on to describe the different actions that the Spanish would adopt in order to fulfill the Treaty of Basle and predicts how the Spanish monarch would remove both institutions and transfer the administration of the Island to the French. probar al mundo entero por medio de una unión íntima con los Jefes españoles quan facil es. the agent must provide the Spanish inhabitants with information about the French Republic and in doing so he must dissipate the false ideas that people have about the Republic. 237-239. and to calm down from their spirits any suspicions they may have about the free exercise of their religion. taking advantage of the existing difference between the political principles (of both nations). aprovechándose de la diferencia que existe entre los principios políticos. y disipar en su espíritu cuantos recelos se les haya inspirado del libre ejercicio de su religión.” Ibid. The author foresaw that the transfer of authority could provoke the massive emigration of the Spanish population and.

Regarding this. which is not necessarily anti-Christian.166 In this paragraph. los quales sobre tener menos esclavos que las demas naciones europeas. except by people filled with preoccupation or inspired by a vile interest. he writes: If the constitutional act annihilates the horrible right of slavery of a man over another man equally endowed with a rational soul. es claro que este articulo no puede mirarse como una infraccion del dro. . de propiedad colonial. but that recognizes the independence of the political system from religious institutions. the author strongly criticizes the law and practices in the 166 “Si el acto constitucional aniquila el dro. but rather fostered a perfect harmony between the Church and the republican government. it is clear that this article can not be seen as an infraction of the colonial property rights. the author contended that the agent must defend his ideas with the constitution in his hand. los han tratado siempre con una humanidad capaz de grangearlos por amigos.” instead he argued that the revolution only supported the creation of the perfect system: the Republic. y que no se separaran jamas de sus lados como hijos reconocidos. but on the contrary will always be devoted to them and will not ever abandon from them as in the case with legitimate children. Therefore. the emergence of the Republic was not a movement against Christianity itself. los nuevos colonos humanos y generosos esperar que sus esclavos libres ya. And this objection should have even less weight among Spaniards. have always treated them with a humanity capable of turning them into friends. Horrible de esclavitud de un hombre sobre otro hombre dotado igualmente de un alma racional. who in addition to having fewer slaves than other European nations. The new humane and generous settlers should then expect that once free their slaves will not abuse their freedom. using the abolition of slavery as an analogy. while contending that the Republican Constitution rejects the “horrible” system of slavery.” Ibid.103 have mistakenly confused revolution with “anti-religion. no abusaran de su libertad. sino por gentes llenas de preocupación o cargadas de un vil interes. Y esta objeción debe tener aun menos fuerza entre los espanoles. sino que seran al contrario siempre adictos. Deben pues. Interestingly.

the ex-slaves would not “abuse their liberty. in this way. . expressed a paternalistic and conservative view of abolition as being a “sacrifice” the French Republic had to make in order to preserve power and control over the island. representing the French conservative abolition. on the contrary. The author. and their permanence as a quiescent social group which would not pursue a fight for political power. Granting slaves their liberty meant keeping them content and passive.” Therefore liberty was what guarantees the passivity and tranquility of the former slaves. He contends that once freedom is granted.” In the end they expressed: “Anywhere it was read.”167 167 Ibid.” The idea of liberty that the author developed here is intriguing. Members of the Audiencia of Caracas were particularly concerned about the anti-slavery character of the document. he thinks that blacks will remain passive and will still depend on their masters. as a son depends on his father. According to him. only people “with a vile interest” consider the enslavement of a rational being as a “colonial property right. it would be understood in the same way.104 Spanish colonies. and its effects on “common people. his perspective shows that he does not see abolition as an approximation to equality between blacks and whites.” They believed that although the paper was intentionally addressed to the French agent in Santo Domingo. More interestingly. it could definitely have harmful consequences in “all the Americas.

located in the Province of Barinas.” Various versions of the document were found in the city of Caracas.169 Although. the governors also said explicitly that they would act with “wisdom and care. In these responses too. 1796. the governors collected some copies of the document using “the greatest discretion. not letting anyone know about the inquiries. 19. Gobernación y Capitanía General.105 On July 24th. On August 5. Gobernación y Capitanía General.’” AGN. from Spanish Santo Domingo. “Contestación del Gobernador de Trinidad sobre circulación de papel ‘Instrucción que debe servir de regla. LIX.’” AGN. required a stronger response on the part of the government. Don Fernando Mijares. the Captain General sent an order to the authorities in other provinces asking them to be vigilant and to confiscate this “hazardous” document. the city of Coro and in the distant village of Obispos. 45. The governors of Trinidad. LIX. but in particular. and Barinas. specifically. “El Gobernador de Barinas. LIX.’” AGN. LIX. 258. Gobernación y Capitanía General. 296. Santo Domingo. the Real Audiencia met in order to adopt definitive resolutions concerning the introduction of several “menacing and dangerous” printed materials proceeding from France and. They suggested that the governor and the 168 “Contestación del Gobernador de Barinas sobre circulación de papel ‘Instrucción que debe servir de regla.” they were never able to find out who had introduced and circulated them. remite al Capitán General dos copias que encontró del papel prohibido: ‘Instrucción que debe seguir de regla. 169 . “Contestación del Gobernador de Coro sobre circulación de papel ‘Instrucción que debe servir de regla. The wave of rumors claiming that the Province of Venezuela was full of “seditious papers” coming from the Antilles. and the Lieutenant of Coro168 answered that they would be on the lookout for this document and would send the copies to him.’” AGN. Gobernación y Capitanía General.

It was an untitled paper of two or three pages that began with this phrase: “After receiving the news.” and ended: 171 . all of them proceeding from Spanish Santo Domingo. The first anonymous document was brought by Don Gerónimo Winderoxhul. y de la Espana Europea y Americana. One began: “Enciclical Letter of the Bishops of France to their brothers. Saint Domingue. the members of the Real Audiencia met again.” The other two papers were brought by the President of the Audiencia.” 171 170 “Para que recojan todos los papeles abiertos que vinieren de Santo Domingo ó de otra parte. In this way they could have a larger group of officials searching for papers and written materials proceeding from the revolutionized Atlantic – France.170 Six days later. and the third document started off: “Paris October Nineteen.106 Interim Commander adopt a plan to inquire about the nature and character of these materials. European and American Spain. Gobernación y Capitanía General. and other Bishops” and ended: “The signatures of Five Bishops follow”. 219-223. and fourth of the Republic” and ended: “Gregorio.” the second one started: “Carta Enciclica de muchos y otros Obispos de Francia a sus hermanos los demas Obispos y a las sedes vacantes. They also instructed the Captain General to alert other local authorities of the region about the matter.” and ended: “Forget the injury that your Old Government has made. and join us for the benefit of France. Bishop of the Loir and member of the National Convention of France. Santo Domingo. y puedan conceptuarse nocivos á la tranquilidad publica y subordinación de vida á su Majestad y a sus Ministros. on August 11. y asociaos á nosotros para el bien de la Francia. I am delighted. year of the Lord one thousand and seven hundred and ninety five. LIX. The first one started “Después de las muchas noticias recividas yo me lisonjeo” and ended: “Olvidad pues el agravio que os ha hecho vuestro antiguo Gobierno.” AGN. This time they had in their hands three new texts.

“with the most possible wisdom and care. and Gobernación y Capitanía General. but as they were considered “bad. on August 21 and 31 respectively. 270. LIX. and confusing. LIX.”173 In this communication. one to the governors of the provinces and the other one to the Bishop and Church ministers. he also recommended to revising and collecting any document coming from Spanish Santo Domingo for inspection and consideration. Gobernación y Capitanía General.” the Audiencia decided to prohibit their circulation and reading. Consequently. ambiguous.“After receiving the news. 172 “Acuerdo de la Real Audiencia sobre los papeles provenientes de Santo Domingo. the Captain General sent two decrees. “Del Capitán General de Venzuela a los Comandantes y Goberadores de su jurisdicción. 219223. LIX. sobre introducción de papeles provenientes de Santo Domingo. 224. I am delighted” – was to “produce a general hatred of Spain and the Spaniards on the part of the inhabitants of the Spanish part of Santo Domingo. Gobernación y Capitanía General. LIX. collect them.”172 The other two papers were considered incoherent and innocuous. Santo Domingo was considered an infectious location from which the contagion of ideas could emerge and be spread to the rest of the Spanish territories. the purpose of the anonymous author of the first paper .” AGN.107 According to the members of the Audiencia. and commanded the officials to control their circulation in the cities and towns of the region. “Siguen las firmas de cinco Obispos” and the third one: “Paris. and send him all the copies. o cuarto de la República” and ended: Gregorio Obispo de la Diócesis de Laya y miembro de la convencion de Francia. in which he ordered them to locate those papers. 19 de Octubre del año del Señor de mil setecientos noventa y cinco. At this point.” AGN. 173 . Gobernación y Capitanía General.” See AGN. Again. 219-223. the Captain General was particularly explicit when he asked them to do so under the utmost secrecy.

the Captain General sent a letter to the Spanish Minister Don Manuel Godoy. The exact date of the papers is unknown but they appear to be written sometime between 1795 and 1796.108 At the end of August 1796. France would not act on this cession. the occupation that took place in 1801 was led by Toussaint Louverture. 175 . and that he was vigilant. 235-236. no.” were both written after the Treaty of Basel of June 1795. I am delighted. also AGI.” AGN. adding that the content of those papers represented an “evil that we must fear. but prohibited France from publicly intervening in other Spanish colonies. 2004). as well as the problems and consequences that this circumstance might provoke. Gobernación y Capitanía General.”174 The texts “Instruction addressed to the French agent in the Spanish part of Santo Domingo. Estado.” and “After receiving the news. Avengers of the New World.” in “Gobernador de Caracas al Príncipe de la Paz. Laurent Dubois. The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press. In his letter. 65. with copies of the four papers mentioned above. In theory. We know for sure however that the “Instruction” 174 “males que son de temer.175 The central theme of this document was again the occupation of Spanish Santo Domingo by the French. LIX. trying to prevent their diffusion and the evil designs that would come with them. 54. the Governor of Caracas and Captain General of Venezuela contended that several copies of these four papers had been introduced by French people into the province. one of the articles of the Treaty of Basel ceded the Spanish part of Santo Domingo to France.

yo me lisonjeo. The paper entitled “After receiving the news.” In his opinion the French Revolution was unique. the author condemns the Spanish monarchy that. contained rights that benefited all the inhabitants of Santo Domingo: it allowed them to leave the island with all their possessions. the author strongly contends that the French Revolution should not be confused with other “partial events that have several times moved the history of the World. On the other hand. 240-244. an indication of this fruitful expansion. He dedicated some paragraphs to explaining the political context in which the Treaty had taken place.177 which. 177 . 240-244. I am delighted” is an anonymous letter that. it also protected possessions left behind allowing them to be acquired through inheritance. again. and argued that the events of Saint-Domingue are. In this document. Gobernación y Capitanía General. and argues that “the new political and economic order of the republic would make all the families of Santo Domingo happier than ever.” AGN. has 176 “Despues de las noticias recividas.” because the former was quoted by the latter. yo me lisonjeo. The author establishes comparisons between the French republic and the monarchical Spanish regime. and it also allowed them to recover to and to keep French citizenship. praises the republican system. the author also shows respect and admiration for the Treaty of Basel. LIX. according to him.” AGN.109 circulated before the “After receiving the news I am delighted. in his opinion. indeed.”176 Additionally. Gobernación y Capitanía General. He compared it with an imposing tree that spreads its fruits throughout the world. LIX. See “Despues de las noticias recividas. depicting the Spanish as deceitful and dangerous.

No se acordó ya mas de vros.110 forgotten and betrayed the people of Santo Domingo by giving the island up to the French. en las Sabanas. because “France will be dedicated to provide you with all the good you deserve. forgot about all the blood that you so many times shed in the Valleys. He says: But the Spanish Minister awakening from his terror and panic. intrepido valor por el descubrimiento y conquistas de las Yslas. and to console you for all the ingratitude and insult you have received. and your work and intrepid courage for in the discovery and the conquest of the Islands and the American continent. or against the English sent by […] or finally against the fearless Filibusters. de vro.178 Therefore. ya contra los Yngleses mandados por Drak Pen. after the more than three hundred years that he fought for the glory and usefulness of the Monarchy.” Ibid. whether it was against the ancient Indians. He no longer remembered your Expenses. y conzolaros de la ingratitude y insulto que se os ha hecho. duenos legitimos de la Ysla. to accept abolition. Gastos. y en las Montanas de Hayti. ya fuese contra los antiguos Yndios. “va a dedicarse enteramente a haceros todo el bien de que sois merecedores. olvidó toda la sangre que vosotros haveis derramado tantas veces en los Valles. Plains and Mountains of Haiti. to be part of the republic and. y panico. y continente de la America. de vras. your Tiredness. legitimate owners of the Island. he depicted the Spanish monarchy and its officials as being deceitful and unfair to its people. the author tries to convince the inhabitants to forget about Spain and integrate themselves into the “glorious” French Republic. more importantly.” Ibid. In this sense. 179 . Fatigas. while asserting that the Treaty of Basle would provide favorable conditions for the entire island and its inhabitants. With certain 178 “Pero el Ministerio Espanol al volber de su terror. y Venables [¿] o ya haya sido finalmente contra los fieros Filibustieres. despues de mas de trescientos anos que convatio por la gloria y utilidad de la Monarquia. y de vros. trabajos.”179 He particularly encouraged the people of Santo Domingo to stay on the island.

while you are prisoners of a more humiliating and hateful tyranny?”180 According to him. como os ha tratado a vosotros el Gobierno espano.111 slyness. For the Spanish authorities the word “Republic” meant political chaos. “Vosotros vivis juntos con ellos (los esclavos).” But the idea of 180 181 Ibid. los alimentais. disorder. and take care of them. including slavery. ni barbarie. and “anti-religion. he asks: “Are you going to regret the new rights of blacks. He said that he desires the unity of the two nations “for the benefit of France. in proclaiming fidelity to the Republic. You dress. and the European and American Spaniards” These texts were prohibited in the Province of Venezuela because. rather he prefers to encourage unity between the two nations. los vestis. Not even a master treats his slaves as the Spanish monarchy had treated its vassals: “You live with your slaves.” Ibid. both slavery and monarchy were arbitrary and despotic systems. The Spanish monarchy was. they generated strong doubts about the Spanish monarchical regime and the social order that it had established. . he says that he does not want to promote hatred towards the Spanish. But this assertion seems cynical and ambiguous since the author has attempted to proclaim the republic while strongly criticizing the monarchy. los manejais. Local authorities saw that the purposes of the French revolutionaries were more ambitious than simply proclaiming a Republic. y vosotros no los haveis tratado jamas a ellos con tanta inconsequencia. in his opinion. You manage them. a system that treats its vassals in a terrible manner. and you have never treated them with as much neglect and barbarism as the Spanish government has treated you!”181 In the end. los cuidais. You feed.

who was visiting her. a priest from Chile. An important question to address here is: How were these papers introduced into the province? In my opinion. several circumstances allowed the entrance of these written materials into the urban centers and ports. there were foreigners who brought books.” AAC. . gazettes and papers and shared them with locals in private meetings and discussion groups. Doña Manuela Ybarra confessed that she had the Letters of Abelard and Eloise. But the excuse was credible as the government was truly concerned with the idea that 182 “Cuadernillo de denuncias al Secretario del Santo Oficio. A foreigner lent it to me and I have returned it. Carpeta II. and that this was a gift she received from her nephew.”182 Of course. In the same way. In the first place.112 providing absolute freedom for slaves and equality among whites and people of color implied the collapse of one of the pillars and of their economy and of the stability of their social order. friend. but it was not mine. The Inquisition denunciation notebook gives us evidence of this situation: when people were asked about how they found a certain prohibited book or document. Captain Don Juan Vicente Bolívar responded: “I had La Julia. they would frequently answer that a foreign visitor offered it to them. or even themselves for the circulation of forbidden materials. but that he had returned them to the captain of an American ship who was offering them for sale. it was easier for these curious readers to blame an outsider instead of accusing a family member. Don Domingo Díaz said that it was true that he used to have some volumes of the History of the Revolution in his house. neighbor. Santo Oficio.

not only from smugglers. which after 1797 was occupied by British forces and definitely given to the English Crown in the year 1802. Arteman could have been introducing seditious papers. The Province of Venezuela had a coast wide open to the Caribbean sea. maritime maroons. 213. Antonio Arteman. The governor believed that Arteman was “infused with perverse ideas.184 This situation required more vigilant guard over Venezuela’s eastern coast. and pamphlets that entered in the mainland came from the nearby islands. “La propaganda. Don Pedro Carbonell criticized Governor of Cumaná Don Vicente Emparan for allowing a French visitor. Captain General.” 184. including the Island of Trinidad. with hateful maxims he intends to spread. Many of the gazettes. but also from political fugitives. newspapers. XLIX.” In 1793. 183 “El Gobernador a Vicente Emparan. and agents found it extremely difficult to guard the frontiers. Josefina Pérez Aparicio. la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela. 1966). Perdida de la isla de Trinidad (Sevilla: Escuela de Estudios HispanoAmericanos.” He also believed that on his trips. for example. and subversive characters who wanted to introduce prohibited books and papers to the mainland.” AGN. 184 .183 On the next chapter I will look at the presence and influence of foreigners and visitors in the province.113 foreigners visiting the mainland were responsible for the “written expansion of the revolutionary disease. to visit Cumaná from the island of Trinidad. Gobernación y Capitanía General. also quoted in Callahan.

Valecilla was supposedly living in Cumaná.” He related his frustrations about the impossibility of controlling contraband and illegal commercial activities in his jurisdiction.186 Illegal commercial activities between the island and the Province of Cumaná. and tobacco for European goods. Ibid. but after receiving the Governor of Cumaná in his house and imagining he was under suspicion. and the introduction of seditious papers from Trinidad continued throughout the first decade of the nineteenth century. because “for every door I close. Emparan even mistrusted his “subalterns who never mentioned a word about this irregularity.” AGN. and this is impossible for a single – or almost single – man. governor of Cumaná Vicente Emparan expressed his concerns to the Captain General about intensive smuggling activities with English ships that was taking place on the eastern coast of the Province of Venezuela. in this same letter. 109. his name was Don Antonio Valecilla. three or four are opened. LXVII. He also provides information about a man suspected of spreading “seditious papers” in Cumaná.114 Some months after the English occupation of Trinidad.”185 Later. escaped back to Trinidad. Emparan comments that the great number of printed materials with new doctrines and ideas that were circulating in Cumaná and the nearby areas proceeded from Trinidad and were also introduced by smugglers. a traveler who was visiting the 185 “Informe de Don Vicente Emparan al Gobernador Carbonell acerca del estado de la Provincia de Cumaná y también sobre la isla de Trinidad. 186 . In 1807. Gobernación y Capitanía General. He had heard that “Spaniards from Trinidad” were exchanging cattle and livestock. a soldier from the battalion of Trinidad. for example.

at the same time. and the bulls true or false of Pope Pius VI. which excommunicated the French nation. make copies. Trinidad.115 city of Cumaná provided clear evidence of the introduction of texts from the Island of Trinidad. and spread them in order to support a republican movement. So subversive papers entered the Province of Venezuela in various ways and with the support of both foreigners and locals interested in imparting information and. in that town [Cumaná]. one day entered the store of a grocer. 30. the Province of Venezuela. copies of the Social Contract. after having reserved some copies for making bags. . As for me. and as many by a Peruvian Jesuit. and used their position in public office to collect papers. I took mine to the governor. by which he instigated us to renounce our allegiance to our sovereign. Commercial and Political Description of Venezuela. with its vast coast. gave me a bale containing five hundred copies of these writings. foreign merchants and local traders brought boxes of prohibited books. I inquired how those papers had come to his shop.187 Frequently. Such bales are given to all traders who frequent the ports of Trinidad. who has long resided in London. In a “revolutionized” Caribbean. the following was his answer: ‘I made a voyage to Trinidad after the peace of Amiens: the Mr. I found him occupied in making paper bags and wrappers from the Declarations of the Rights of Man. provoking mobilization. and scattered papers (papeles sueltos) and introduced them secretly into the ports and cities. seemed an easy target for introducing the “republican spirit” or for persuading its inhabitants to reject the Spanish monarchy and ally with other nations. The visitor wrote: Having. &c’. and promised the assistance of England. 187 Dauxion Lavaysse. A Statistical. where they always found curious and avid readers. pamphlets. We have seen that even Port authorities were not completely loyal to the Spanish government.

a veteran of the pardo militia. Months later he also found another paper that “seemed to be a translation of some paragraph proceeding from a Gazette. It is difficult to determine the effect of seditious texts about the French Revolution and Caribbean movements among the population of color. Estado. Forbidden Texts and Readers of Color. but the names of the people who gave him the documents . free blacks.”188 Aleado demonstrated his loyalty to the Crown and the local government.” AGI. However. We showed earlier that Josef Luis Aleado. Spanish political elites and white creoles felt threatened by the circulation of these papers because they could promote political actions among lower social groups such as pardos. We don’t know who they were. who together represented more than the 60 percent of the population. 58.” and gave it to the Captain General. no.” whose content was considered “prejudicial and seditious. .or among whom he found them were never revealed. We have found some evidence that these groups in fact did have access to prohibited papers and gazettes. especially because it could create confusion among the simple people. it seems plausible to believe that he obtained the texts from someone from his own social group. 5. if we 188 “Informe que da cuenta de lo ocurrido con aquella Audiencia sobre darle el voto consultivo en un expediente grave relativo á la Introducción de un papel sedicioso de la Asamblea de Paris que se aprehendio. found the paper “Extract of the Manifest that the National Convention made for all the Nations. and slaves.116 6. but taking into consideration Aleado’s social condition and calidad.

Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. the identification of the possible “readers” could provide an idea of how far these “written diseases” were distributed. and Juan Xavier Arrambide (a white creole merchant) copied and translated documents that circulated among various social groups of La Guaira. Ranajit Guha says that: Writing was socially privileged. who actively collaborated in the circulation of Republican ideas and values among the population of color. merchants. a Mallorquian who was sent to the prison of La Guaira for participating in the conspiracy of San Blas. 247.” We know that characters like Juan Joseph Mendiri (the port official) collaborated with the collection of written materials. But there was also one of the leaders of this conspiracy. or when a few among the latter had managed. and others – participating in the conspiracy of La Guaira in 1797. In the first place. to acquire the rudiments of literacy and put these at the service of an uprising. who produced texts to help others 189 Guha. against all odds. Juan Picornell. officials and militiamen. . They represent Guha’s first kind of readers: “dissident elite readers.117 take into consideration the fact that there were – as mentioned above – diverse strategies and social spaces to orally spread and discuss written information coming to the mainland.189 In colonial Venezuela I have found both kinds of readers and writers. in Venezuela there were white Spaniards and Creoles – planters. The production of verbal messages in graphic form for purposes of insurgency was feasible only when individuals of elite origin were induced by circumstance or conscience or a combination of both to make common cause with the peasantry. Based on his studies of knowledge transmission and popular rebellion in colonial India.

In 1791. but the church official attorney ignored his petition. Juan Bautista Picornell y la conspiración de Gual y España (Madrid: Ediciones Nueva Cádiz. named Juan Bautista Olivares. “La conspiración por dentro. Olivares was also accused of writing letters containing “arrogant and seditious phrases. we should mention the case of Juan Bautista Olivares. 1955).” See “Documento relativo a la petición que hace Juan Bautista Olivares ante el Provisor y Vicario 191 . Embert”) were found in the hands of a group of pardos in Caracas. therefore these were written in a discourse appropriate to be read out aloud to the people of color and easy to memorize. a pardo who was accused of reading prohibited texts to “others of his class. “spread the seed of equality among mulattos. “the lettered plebians”.” Casto Fulgencio López. We will come back to this theme in an upcoming chapter dedicated to the Conspiracy of La Guaira in 1797 and its communication networks. Mr. Later.” These serious accusations against Olivares complicated an already confrontational situation that Olivares had maintained with authorities of the Church since 1791. had read these papers to mulattos of the city. two documents (the “Extract of the Manifest that the National Convention made for all the Nations” and “Sermon from the Constitutional Bishop of Paris. in 1794 the general-attorney of the diocese opposed Olivares’ petition alleging that the pardo was a descendent of “blacks and mulattos” and that someone with impure blood could not enter in “positions exclusive to people who are clean of all bad race. according the Captain General.191 The Captain General finally decided to put Olivares in prison and sent 190 Aizpurua.118 understand the republican movement principles and ideals. Olivares had introduced a petition to the diocesan authorities to enter in ecclesiastical order.190 The fundamental aim of various of his texts was to gain support of the population of color. Apparently a pardo musician.” Both accusations suggested that Olivares was willing to. As an example of the second type of reader.” In 1795.

”192 In August 1795. He claimed that he did write the cited phrases. febrero 1795. related with the Enlightenment perception of Light as the Republican system. and Darkness as the mortal time of humanity on Earth. the Council of The Indies. saying that he took the phrases from Father Nieremberg’s book Diferencias entre lo Temporal y lo Eterno. acusado de promover la intraquilidad pública. in Cádiz. in which he stated that “the powerful of this world triumph over the humble” and concluded that: “they will be fortunate while the dark times last. 193 . in which he complained about a priest who had not paid him for his work as a musician. capable of encouraging the same people of his own class to shake off the yoke of obedience and vassalage.” In his testimony. and Darkness as the Monarchical system of the Ancient Regime. nor anti-monarchical. 127. “Declaración de Juan Bautista Olivares. Gobernación y Capitanía General. See Juan Eusebio Nieremeberg. Olivares was making clear that his notion of light and darkness was. 126-127. and by “dark times” he meant: “the time of mortal life. Olivares answered that he did write the letter to Lauro.Olivares quoted a well-known and acceptable reference to prove that his statements were not anti-religious. 1762). On the other hand. Caracas. trasladado a Cádiz. 192 “Del Gobernador al Duque de Alcudia. almost 45% of the private libraries had it. His idea of Light/Darkness was profoundly catholic.”193 General para que le conceda licencia para vestir los hábitos clericales. crisol de desengaños en la memoria de la eternidad. haciendo circular ideas sediciosas de libertad e igualdad.” Gobernación y Capitanía General.” AGN. 16 de febrero de 1795.” AGI. by no means. named Lauro. Nieremberg’s book was one of the most popular religious books in Colonial Venezuela. 346. The judge and the oidor asked him if he wrote a letter to a mulatto. 346. postrimerías humanas y misterios divinos (Madrid: Manuel Martin.119 him to Cádiz under the accusation of being a “subversive and arrogant pardo. but his intentions were not evil. Caracas. LIV. meaning light as the immortal life with God. donde se le siguió declaración indagatoria. Diferencias entre lo temporal y lo eterno. not anything else. also AGI. Caracas. opened an inquest to determine the culpability of Olivares. LIV.

195 . and he immediately took it [the sermon] with him and he had not seen it again. Caracas. with the purpose of reading a manuscript sermon that was said to be by the Archbishop of Paris. he had never read in front of him that sermon. and he answered: “Although it is true that I wanted to copy it. a friend of his called Pedro de Silva or Arrecheguera had brought to his house another mulatto who is known only by the name Acuña. trasladado a Cádiz. it was only to feed my curiosity. and circulate papers. haciendo circular ideas sediciosas de libertad e igualdad. and that in fact it had been read by Acuña himself. donde se le siguió declaración indagatoria. but he could not recall whether he said by the Inquisition or by the Government. that the said sermon was forbidden. He answered 194 “Declaración de Juan Bautista Olivares. He answered: Although he [Olivares] knows a mulatto carpenter named Victor Arteaga. copied. I have always detested these maxims. on one occasion. called José Antonio García Mohedano. and circulated other documents on the French Revolution or containing revolutionary ideas. He was also asked if he knew that the text of the Archbishop of Paris was infused with maxims of freedom and equality. Ibid.120 Then he was asked whether he had read and explained to another mulatto named Victor Arteaga a sermon attributed to the Archbishop of Paris.194 Olivares tried to evade the responsibility of having read “seditious” papers to others. acusado de promover la intraquilidad pública. he was asked if he had read. but the truth is that his account allows us to imagine a complex scenario in which he and other pardos and mulattos (now Pedro Silva and Acuña) met to read. 346. copy. because although he asked him to lend it to him to copy it.”195 In a third attempt to understand Olivares’ literary interests. he learned afterwards from a Priest of the San José de Chacao Parish.” AGI. What did occur was that. or any other writings. but that for that reason he did not continue to request it.

197 The letter provided the Council with a clear description of the “misfortunes” and discrimination that pardos experienced in the province.198 Madrid’s decision enraged the Governor of Caracas who complained that 196 “Declaración de Juan Bautista Olivares.” 197. Caracas.121 that he had not read any other papers regarding this issue.” in “Noticias de Haití en Cuba. This . to attend seminary or to be ordained as priests. Finally. Olivares wrote a revealing letter in which he clearly explained this situation and showed himself a fervent Catholic and loyal vassal of the King. the King and the Council realized that the judicial case against Olivares was not as serious as the authorities in Caracas had argued. During his stay in the prison in Cádiz. except for “La Gazeta de Madrid and the testament of the King of France. Olivares was set free. and in December 1795. and this may have be the reason why Olivares mentioned that these and the testament of the King of France were sources where he read news on the revolutions. but in places like La Habana could have moved the readers. As Ferrer asserts “[this information] may have not caused reactions in Madrid. escrito en la cárcel de Cádiz. where they were not allowed to be educated. 197 198 This decision could show the Crown tendency to take advantage of the discriminatory situations that the majority of pardos and mixed-races experienced in Colonial Spanish America. Precisely in the year of 1795. Madrid offered a way out of the “stain of slavery” to individuals of mixed African ancestry by extending the sale of gracias al sacar (legitimation of status change) to pardos and quinterones. “Manuscrito de Juan Bautista Olivares. la Gaceta de Madrid contained information regarding the movements of Saint Domingue.” As we mentioned earlier in this chapter.” but because he was anxious to join to the clerical order and his petition created discomfort among the colonial Church authorities. 346.” AGI. He even got permission to go back to Caracas on the condition of observing prudent behavior.”196 Olivares needed to prove that the main reason the Captain General of Venezuela and the Audiencia decided to send him to Cádiz was not because he was a “subversive pardo.

.” AGN. The presence and circulation of papers containing revolutionary ideas among the white population created concern in the colonial institutions that tried to exercise social control. was “the by-product of an attempt by royal accounting officers to improve revenue collection by putting together a price list of gracias al sacar based on recent practice. Honor. 1999). 234. among others. Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia. The case of Olivares also allows us to perceive the fear of white elites.122 if Olivares came back. The circulation and reading of these materials among the population of color were considered extremely dangerous and quite unacceptable. 92. a group that felt that the racial paradigm and the social order upon which colonial society was founded were threateaned with destruction. This is why the Governor did not hesitate to send Juan Bautista Olivares to Cádiz accusing him of being a “subversive subject. 199 “El Gobernador al Príncipe de la Paz. directing a religious chorus. see Ann Twinam. Gobernación y Capitanía General. Agosto. 1796.” while ignoring Mendiri and Arrambide. Sexuality and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America (Stanford: Stanford University Press. race and status in Colonial Spanish America.” Aline Helg.”199 In 1796. 1770-1835 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. LIX.” He stated: “They always try to equal themselves to whites by any imaginable means. whose contagion would easily contaminate people of color. Regarding the theme of honorability. Public Lives. 2004). it would cheer people up in a “province covered by pestilent poison. Private Secrets: Gender. decision. both whites creoles who were involved in suspicious cases of possession and translation of forbidden texts. Olivares was back in Caracas and continuing to work as a musician.

and insubordination to the Legitimate Powers. produced by insurrections. and individuals in each locality and cultural context channeled written words and ideas through particular circuits and networks. The subject of the next chapters is the characterization and the nature of these processes of transformation and adaptation of political knowledge to the local process. by false decrees and manifests.” At the end. experience has taught us the injuries that the reading of certain books and papers written with evilness causes to the Religion. [we see] that many persons are enchanted with the novelties of these days. and an overall resentment of the local political system. share and adapt political knowledge to the local context. subversion. .” AAC. This edict warned of several texts that proclaimed “insurrection. Carpeta II. the edict concluded: In all times.123 The circulation of seditious papers and books continued in the Province of Venezuela throughout the entire first decade of the nineteenth century. 200 “Edicto del Santo Oficio de Caracas. played a fundamental role. how many persons have been seduced by the freshness of this bad seed. to the State and to the tranquility of the conscience…For our misfortune.” perhaps the last one during colonial times. People in Caracas and La Guaira found the spaces to produce and reproduce knowledge. In 1809. 1809. poetry) to disseminate. the Inquisition of Caracas issued another “Edict of Prohibition of Papers and Books. creating also oral media (songs. a process in which social notions on race and status. and they are not capable of recognizing the consequences of this danger200 Revolutionary ideas in writing did circulated among the people of the Province of Venezuela. Santo Oficio. dialogues. we see in current times.

King Charles IV and his ministers were particularly concerned about the possible influences and effects that it and its propaganda could have in his American territories. the Minister clearly recognized that written materials were not the only source of information that could contaminate the Spanish .” In this same communication. the Spanish Minister.” Immediately after receiving this warning. Fugitives and Prisoners from the French Caribbean in Venezuela (1789-1799) 1. Caribbean Communication Networks during the Age of Revolution After the start of the French Revolution. Count of Floridablanca. in which he established control over the introduction and diffusion of any paper that could “promote Independence and antireligion. issued a Royal Order to the Governors of the Spanish Provinces in America. he was informed that some members of the National Assembly of Paris had strong interests in introducing seditious manifestos in Spanish America that “could shake the power of Spanish dominion amongst its inhabitants.124 CHAPTER III Voices and Rumors in Tierra Firme Visitors. In September 1789.

“Orden del Presidente de la Real Audiencia de Caracas.” This Decree indicated that “slaves or black fugitives.” AGN. vulnerable and extremely difficult to protect. Ibid. XLIII.125 territories “with evil principles. he was 201 202 203 “Real Orden del Conde de Floridablanca.”202 In December 1790. Aware of the importance of being vigilant of the papers and ideas that were circulating in his Province. and Margarita asked for military reinforcements from the mainland. The Province was often depicted as an “open country” (país abierto). but it also added that there was “an urgent need to control the entry into the Province of black fugitives coming from the foreign colonies.201 In May 1790.” since French visitors could spread “seditious ideas” very efficiently by word of mouth. the Crown issued a Royal Decree to the Captain General of Venezuela and Governor of Caracas in which it repeated the order to control the diffusion of “dangerous papers” coming from France. 140. 198-199. On many occasions when the neighboring Islands.” AGN. 96-97. as well as persons of other colors coming from the French Islands.. with an extensive and accessible coast. could influence our vassals with ideas that are prejudicial for their due subordination. the Captain General of Venezuela wrote a letter to the Spanish Minister in which he underlined the direct connection that existed between the French Revolution and the movements and unstable situation of the French Colonies. 24 de septiembre de 1789. the Captain General expressed his fears about the danger that the proximity of the French Islands posed to the Province of Venezuela. especially Guadeloupe. Gobernación y Capitanía General.203 Similarly. like Trinidad. X. one letter from the Governor said: “How are we going to send reinforcements if we do not have enough soldiers to guard . the gateway to the Spanish American mainland. the same kind of excuses were made. Colonial authorities were always concerned about the entry of revolutionary ideas and Venezuela’s geographical location and characteristics. Reales Ordenes.

126 concerned about the possibility that a great numbers of black fugitives from the turbulent Islands might well enter the Province. 1793. that if groups of malhechores and pirates were to attack white communities on the high sea. in the local social context. . 221.” providing aid to the white refugees. Immediately after the first news arrived about the events of Saint-Domingue. and suggested that local slaves should be “entertained” and news relating to the situation in the French Colonies should not be divulged. because the upheavals of the French Caribbean incorporated both the free colored population and the slaves. “but being careful to prevent the contagion of the insurrection in the Spanish our own coasts from pirate attacks or possible invasions?” See “Carta de Vicente Emparan al Capitán General Carbonell. into a more serious menace.” AGI. Caracas. the attention that local authorities originally paid to the French Revolution and its propaganda was quickly supplanted by the preoccupation provoked about the proximity and “terrible example” of the French colonies. and were transformed. no. it added.” However. In a sense. A Royal Decree of November 1791 instructed the Viceroys. 94. The threats of the French revolution spread to the nearby islands. the Spanish authorities were directed to act in accordance with the “rules of Humanity. Captain Generals and Governors of Spanish America to maintain a neutral position with respect to the circumstances of the struggle between “blacks and whites in the insurrection of Guarico. the concerns about possible revolutionary contagion in the Spanish territories increased.

such as public squares. to organize censuses of the inhabitants in the ports and nearby cities. 70. Reales Ordenes. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. rumors played an important role in the diffusion of knowledge. the authorities in Venezuela introduced measures to control the ports. para prevenirles sobre el peligro de las Insurreciones acontecidas en las Provincias. rumors spread in public settings. to spy on foreign visitors and neighbors and to investigate the reasons for their presence in the Province. more generally. shops. any contact between Spanish soldiers and French people had to be avoided at all costs. 251. Although it is extremely difficult to determine where and when the rumors 204 “Real Orden e Instruccion del Rey a los Jefes de las Provincias en America.127 possessions. and the vigilance to limit the introduction of fugitive blacks from the French colonies and. noviembre de 1791.205 In Venezuela. pre-literate society. for example.” See Guha. economic and political stability of the Province. To prevent the circulation and proliferation of “dangerous” ideas that were originated in France and radicalized in the slave-holding Caribbean. XI. .”204 Therefore.” AGN. comments: “Rumour is both universal and necessary carrier of insurgency in any pre-industrial. of “suspicious” foreign visitors was now of utmost importance. The implementation of these measures to control the inhabitants by the local government revealed that they feared that news and rumors circulating by way of mouth represented a tangible threat to the social. 205 Ranajit Guha. The authorities believed that rumors introduced by uninvited Caribbean visitors could bring chaos and disorder to the Province. In semi-literate societies where there were no printing presses. pulperías. and outside the Church buildings.

Scott’s work was already aligned with an incipient Atlantic historiography that sought to expand its analysis beyond political territorial limits and traditional chronological divisions. 207 . studies of commerce and trade. historian Julius Scott sustains that. there are certain questions we can usefully pose: What kind of ‘revolutionary’ rumors were circulating among the inhabitants of the Province of Venezuela? Who were privy to those rumors? And how did they come to refer. quoted in Scarlett O’Phelan. not only to external. siglo XVI al XX. but also to local circumstances? 206 In his work on regional communication networks. rumors. on one hand. reincorporating it within a larger western and global context. Scott. 1987).128 of revolution emerged and vanished. Scott’s study is important for understanding the importance the role that Caribbean communication networks played in spreading the images of revolutionary Saint-Domingue. “La construcción del miedo a la plebe en el siglo XVIII a través de las rebeliones sociales. and the divulgation of revolutionary events in the Caribbean.207 Hence. they also questioned the usefulness of conventional chronological divisions between the colonial and national periods. an increasing number of 206 See Jean Noel Kapferer. 175. The Common Wind. Along these lines. traditionally. which were an important dimension of the historiography of eighteenth-century America. ed. or to identify those that put them in circulation. 2005). and on the other.” in El miedo en el Perú. sought to reintegrate the past of all the Americas. overlooked one of the most significant items that were exchanged: information. Rumeurs: Le plus vieux médie du Monde (Paris: Seuil. Claudia Rosas Lauro (Lima: Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. These historians.

“ports and port-cities gained significance as the Atlantic world developed a complex trading system with its various geographic sectors built around maritime commerce. “Economic Function and the Growth of American Port Towns in the Eighteenth Century. the early work of Jacob Price.”210 208 See.” Slavery & Abolition 30. Revolution in the Atlantic World. no. special attention has been paid to the study of port cities located in Anglo and Latin America. later. and Franklin W. for example.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 3. Knight and Peggy Liss. 2. and J. Knight and Liss. And more recent works. 3 (2009). Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. port towns and cities were the most important nodes of European expansion in the Americas during the processes of conquest and colonial settlement and.G. Atlantic Empires: The Network of the Trade and Revolution. 1983).129 works became interested in exploring issues related to commercial activities and migratory movements. (1974): 123-86. see Tulio Halperín Donghi. Economy. See Peggy Liss. such as Alejandro De La Fuente.209 As Knight and Liss comment. 2008). Rupert.208 More recent works have been dedicated to the study of the web of Atlantic interconnectedness within the Americas and. Economics and Society in Argentina in the Revolutionary Period (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Marronage. Manumission and Maritime Trade in the Early Modern Caribbean. (1972): 119-34. Klooster. Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia. Atlantic Port Cities. “Virtue and Commerce in the Eighteenth Century. also. Politics. 1650-1850 (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press. Atlantic Port Cities.A Pocock. For Latin America. In this direction. 1991). 1713-1826 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. with the purpose of examining similarities and differences and relating them to the particular characteristics of the respective cultural contexts.” Perspectives in American History 8. 209 210 . and in the Caribbean. Linda M. 1975). between the different imperial systems. as the patterns of European colonization became more solid. and Helg. Culture and Society in the Atlantic World.

I will study the repercussions that the mobilization of people from the revolutionary Atlantic had in the Province of Venezuela during the first years of the French Revolution. eds.211 In this chapter. Las Antillas en la Era de las Luces. between 1791 and 1799. Haitian Revolutionary Studies. and Le Syndrome de Saint-Domingue. ed. eds. ed. The different revolts and social movements occurring in the Caribbean islands provoked important mobilizations of people of diverse social status. social. The World of the Haitian Revolution. Liberty and Equality in Caribbean Colombia. the political perceptions and even the economic circumstances of each location. Geggus and Fiering. The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic. . González-Ripoll and others.. eds. Here. Despite all the measures that the government established and implemented in order to control the entrance of foreigners into the ports and urban centers of the Province. Fidelidad bajo el viento. Consequently. Universal Emancipation.. Nesbitt. the Guadeloupe confrontations. races and political tendencies across the American ports and cities that certainly altered the social dynamics. and political relations that were built up within Port towns and cities during the age of the Revolution. Geggus. Tree of Liberty.. Revolutions in the Atlantic World. El rumor de Haití en Cuba. Garraway. I will attribute considerable importance to the agents of these processes of knowledge transmission: the people.. Gómez. many individuals from France and the Caribbean islands entered the Province and carried news and information about the 211 There is abundant and recent historiography regarding this topic. Piqueras. Klooster.130 Historians of the revolutionary Atlantic have recognized the importance of studying the complex web of commercial. See Gaspar and Geggus. Helg. Geggus. A Turbulent Time. and the Saint-Domingue revolutions. I will center my analysis on oral transmission and rumors that circulated about the turbulent French Caribbean in cities and port-towns of the Province of Venezuela..

see Gómez. French royalists and colored militiamen. aligned with different political agendas. sailors of all colors and maritime maroons coming from different latitudes who brought information about political instability and black upheavals. colonialism. violence. as supporters of the local Government offering their services for the counterrevolutionary cause. Le Syndrome de Saint Domingue. . and to the circulation of ideas about slave insurrection. The “suspicious” people that entered the port-towns and cities of Venezuela were diverse: French visitors accused of sporadically talking out loud about the French Revolution in public places. These visitors brought stories of the revolutions with them. and freedom. on the contrary. and with the local inhabitants projecting their own fears and hopes. equality. who also had their own perceptions of the Caribbean situation and of relations between the metropolis and its colonies. slaves from foreign islands brought by refugee families who sang revolutionary songs. This chapter aims precisely to analyze this complex network of information and its multiple readings. and created a wave of rumors that contributed to the production and reproduction of several versions of the Haitian Revolution.131 political events of France and its colonies. All of them participated in the creation of an imprecise and diffuse image of the Haitian Revolution with different versions and emotional reactions overlapping. and who even participated as agents for inducing social mobilization or. 212 212 For an interesting and complete appraisal of the emotional effects of the Haitian Revolution on the Atlantic World.

racial hierarchy. 2. In this chapter. being aware that this information affected the perceptions that different subjects had about the Monarchy.” As will be seen. the Church and the most essential concepts of a harmonic and obedient society. and that progressively contributed to white paranoia and repression as well as to pardos involvement in conspiracies. Captain Generals and Governors of the Spanish territories in America received specific royal orders to impede.132 The wave of rumors that all these actors brought caused enormous anxiety to many authorities who found it very hard to control oral transmission of information. vassalage. because these ideas challenged the monarchy. the entry of French Revolutionary ideas into their jurisdictions. I seek to analyze and understand some of the versions of the Saint-Domingue Revolution that circulated in the Province in the forms of rumors. Venezuela in the 1790s furnishes interesting examples of both the contagion of revolution and the counterrevolutionary responses. and the slavery system. Controlling “Suspicious” French Visitors Viceroys. but also in all the Spanish territories required the implementation of . at all costs. and to black “rebelliousness and haughtiness. The need for establishing a “sanitary cordon” not only in the Spanish Peninsula.

”214 The most fearful and frightful aspects of the French Revolution were the regicide. Mayer. contrarrevolución e independencia: la Revolución Francesa. “España y la Revolución Francesa. 2000). España y América (Madrid: Turner. these fears became strong reasons for persecuting those individuals who were perceived as possible agents of perturbation and opposition to the monarchical system.”215 In Spanish America. the French Revolution was depicted as a “terrifying” movement. in consequence. the assassination of Louis XVI was conceived as a sacrilege committed in the most atrocious manner. Rural Panic in Revolutionary France (New York: Schocken Books. the colonial authorities developed strategies to control the entry of foreigners who could 213 Gonzalo Añes Álvarez de Castrillón. the attacks on religion and the Catholic Church.” and “threat.” in Revolución. Both political authorities and elites experienced fear in the face of a series of events that were accompanied by adjectives such as “horror. See George Lefevbre. The Great Fear of 1789. 1989). Rosas Lauro. Spanish authorities perceived the Regicide as an extremely violent and barbarous act that questioned the basis of the Monarchy as a Divine Right. and destruction of all the basic principles upon which the political. 17-39. fires. 2000). and the Terror.213 In many written pieces in Spanish and American newspapers.” “terror. religious and social order rested. 1989). Arno J. and the social order. The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press. which consisted of wave of “murders. Rumores y temores desatados por la Revolución Francesa en el Perú. and as a result. 214 215 .133 numerous strategies to avoid contagion. and Paul Newman. “El miedo a la revolución.” 149. regicide. A History of Terror (Great Britain: Sutton Publishing Limited. parricide. the Catholic Church.

see John Rydjord. See Ernest Kantorowicz. In his work on Colonial India. Rebels’ ideas were spread all over. the authorities were concerned about both the entry of foreigners and the presence of foreigners already established in the Province who could be receptive to French revolutionary propaganda and contribute as well to its diffusion.” Likewise. Ranajit Guha shows that Colonial elites used metaphors that conceptualized the state as a body. and rebellions as diseases that attack the political body. The geographical situation of the province encouraged not only the development of smuggling networks but also the entry of fugitives and “possible invaders” who always provoked preoccupation among the authorities who jealously suspected of every Dutch. and to inquire “who they are.” Hispanic American Historical Review 9. San Luis. their occupation or profession. . 1957). Elites saw symptoms of the disease in their peasant’s words and actions. he recommended finding out if these foreigners 216 Along with diverse traditional analogies that western political culture established between the State and Corporal images. A Study on Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press.1 (1929): 60-98. In 1792.216 In Venezuela. In Spanish America. English or French ship navigating close to the Venezuelan coast. after July 1789. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. and Elena Plaza. “The French Revolution in Mexico. “El miedo a la revolución. and information networks as sources of contagion. some restrictions on the presence of foreign visitors were already in place before the French Revolution. 14 (1990): 311-48.” Politeia. and led them to apply different methods of repression as a way of preventing and/or protecting themselves from rebel actions. for example. the French Revolution was perceived as a contagious disease. The King’s Two Bodies. Paraguaná. there was this conceptualization of the State as a human body. 1790-1810. issued an Order to the Lieutenants of the jurisdiction of Coro.” Izard. Rosas Lauro. to investigate the foreigners living in these regions. rebellions as diseases. Juan Guillelmi. the Captain General.134 become sources of contagion. and the reasons for their presence in the Province. the lifestyle and customs of each of them. However. See Guha. Rumores y temores desatados por la Revolución Francesa en el Perú. Casigua and Río El Tocuyo. and their fear caused them to manufacture events and actions. “El miedo a la Ilustración en la provincia de Caracas. no. contaminating the rest of the common people. no. El miedo a la revolución.

named Pedro Deo. la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela. and in the town of El Tocuyo a French doctor. He also added that if any of these foreigners were unable to demonstrate that they had a royal authorization for living in the Spanish territories. prompted a more rigid and determined position on the part of the Crown and the Church regarding the diffusion of French propaganda. XLVII. “La propaganda.” AGN. named Víctor Droin was accused of declaring in the main square of the town of Guanare .”217 Immediately. In 1793.” Laviña.”218 The assassination of Louis XVI. La mentalidad venezolana en la emancipación. in January 1793. Gobernación y Capitanía General. Colonial authorities were asked to detect any minimal sign of French influence in the Spanish American territories. 50.” and Pino Iturrieta. a French Doctor. In the town of Siquesique – an Indian town located approximately 110 miles west of Caracas . 218 . and the war outset of France and Spain months later. 36. Callahan. the rumors and news about “suspicious foreigners” began to circulate throughout the Province.a Frenchman named Jerome was persecuted for expressing opinions in public against the sacred dogma. was also under suspicion for “saying or writing something against the State and in accordance with the spirit of Independence that is found in France. and “Orden del Teniente Justicia Mayor de El Tocuyo.135 had expressed suspicious statements on paper or in conversations. Gobernación y Capitanía General.” AGN.a small town located 217 “Orden a los Tenientes Justicias Mayores de Coro. “Revolución Francesa y control social. they had to be sent to Caracas “along with all their papers and books. 68. XLVII.

220 The Crown and the Church. and destroyed sacred ornaments and symbols of the Church circulated throughout the Atlantic world. and that locals probably misunderstood him. and all the individuals that supported it. 2007). See Rosas Lauro. 8 and no. Caracas. The Furies.” Droin was also incriminated by the priest Don Pedro Hurtado for “being opposed to the Spanish King in the War against France. Ideas del partido realista de Caracas. 13.that the “French people did well in killing the King of France. and Plaza. anarchists and atheists. he did not have authorization to live in the Province. sometimes. in any way. Although he was married to a white creole woman in Coro and had two daughters with her. so he was 219 220 221 “Expediente del caso del Doctor Francés Victor Droin. the French revolution was sacrilegious and impious. and Mayer. “El miedo a la revolución.” Tomás Straka. “El miedo a la Ilustración en la provincia de Caracas. See Lefevbre. developed a counterrevolutionary discourse deeply rooted in principles that encouraged sowing the seeds of religious faith in the entire society. even against Religion.221 When Droin was questioned about these accusations.”219 This accusation of expressing phrases against both the monarchy and the catholic religion corresponded with the common characterization of revolutionaries as anti-monarchical. anarchist and atheist. La voz de los vencidos.” AGI. The stories of French rebels who chased priests and nuns. and for revealing and expressing in public attitudes contrary to the Monarchy and. In the eyes of Spanish Crown. no. were depicted as cruel. 1810-1821 (Caracas: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. The Great Fear of 1789. he answered that he did not speak the Spanish language very well. Rumores y temores desatados por la Revolución Francesa en el Perú.136 approximately 85 miles southwest of Caracas . in fact. 15.” .

all French. Pedro Canibens. it noted: “It should not be overlooked that it seems that in the Province of Venezuela. Droin solicited a pardon and brought five witnesses. and Governors.”223 Therefore. Ibid. Audiences. and particularly in its ports. They believed that his “dangerous statements. sister of the conspirator of La Guaira. shall procure to clean the land of them [the foreigners]. Caracas.” 224 222 223 “Expediente del caso del Doctor Francés Victor Droin. See López. Among the French witnesses was a French doctor.” Further it instructed: “All the Viceroys. foreigners are allowed. 13. Juan Bautista Picornell. Ramón Aizpurua. 2011. Aizpurua for alerting me about this information. in 1795. “La conspiración por dentro.” I thank Prof. because Droin found enough witnesses from his nation to support him. “Por Ley está prohibido pasar a las Indias. especially the French. February 28. Don José María España. and Aizpurua.” were clearly infected by the revolutionary disease. he was definitively expelled from the region. 224 . In 1797.” However.” Ibid. Dr. 8 and no. who stated that he was a good person with moral principles and an honorable occupation.” AGI. e-mail message to author. but once the Audiencia realized that he was working as a doctor without the appropriate authorization. 15. y permanecer en ellas qualesquiera extranjeros que no estén habilitados con carta de naturaleza y Licencia Real.222 The Council of Indies followed the case of Victor Droin and. the Council warned the local Authorities that: “It is prohibited by Law for all foreigners to enter the Indies and to settle in them unless authorized to do so by letter of Royal nature and license. decided to expel him from all the Spanish territories. the Council was also concerned by another aspect revealed in Droin’s case. Canibens worked as a doctor in the Hospital of La Guaira and was accused of participating in the republican conspiracy of Gual and España.137 expelled from Guanare. who married Josefa Joaquina España. no. and that Droin was a “harmful example to all who could hear him.

226 .”183.”225 In 1794. was accused of expressing subversive ideas.” AGI.138 The case of Droin. who was accused of celebrating the fall of San Sebastian at the hands of the French with fireworks. Combret was arrested “along with all his books and papers. 30. LIII.” AGN. “El Gobernador a Juan N. also quoted in Callahan. so he also ordered that: “any person who in words or actions expresses attachment to the hateful maxims of a misunderstood liberty.” However. 85. la sedición y la Revolución Francesa en la capitanía general de Venezuela. Caracas. Spain. produced some distress in Spain and in March 1796. Francisco Combret. vain and atheistic young man. especially those from France. Pedroza. capable of inspiring and moving others with the project that the National Assembly of Paris has spread. shall have a process opened.”226 These suspects “infused with revolutionary 225 “Real Cédula sobre presencia de extranjeros en la Provincia. noviembre de 1794. 169. among others from the rest of Spanish America. the King issued a Royal Decree in which he ordered the use of all the necessary vigilance to enforce the laws regarding the entry of foreigners. no.” and sent to Cádiz in 1795. Gobernación y Capitanía General. “La propaganda. Albi was described by the authorities as “an insolent. original of San Sebastián. especialmente de franceses que pudiesen alterar el orden y la tranquilidad pública. or tries to persuade another person. a Frenchman who worked as a tobacconist in the city of Maracay. the King also recognized that his vassals were not altogether free from revolutionary contamination. who could maintain “seductive or dangerous conversations with my loyal vassals. Accompanying Combret in the same ship was the merchant Santiago Albi.

3.807 were free and 6. Don Jose María Chacón. The counterrevolutionary actions adopted by the colonial Authorities and supported by the elites constituted an expression of their fears and the need to secure the political and social order.816 inhabitants in the Island of Trinidad. See “Sobre Ayuda monetaria a emigrados franceses en Trinidad.” and the “disorders in Martinique and Guadeloupe. proceeded from those islands of the Caribbean that had sheltered hundreds of French families escaping from the “horrors of Saint-Domingue. Also the Real Hacienda offered monetary aid for each of the refugees. there were a total of 17. 60. Los casos de Santo Domingo y Trinidad. no. Among them.009 slaves. 17 (1989): 117-33. including old people and children. 153. when the British invaded the island. while the Frenchmen provided their slaves’ labor.” Cuadernos Americanos Nueva Época 5.” AGI. Many of the French visitors who came to Venezuela.227 According to Rosario Sevilla. “Las repercusiones de la Revolución Francesa en el Caribe español. See Rosario Sevilla Soler. pillar institutions of social order and the harmony. there are many prominent individuals from the most 227 French families received diverse benefits: the Governor assigned them land for agricultural development. by the year of 1797.228 The Governor of the island.139 ideas” were often referred to as persons who challenged the colonial authorities and the Church.” Afraid of losing their slaves and their lives. 228 . In 1788 there were 9. commented: “a great number of French royalists have escaped from the persecution of the republicans. Caracas.700 inhabitants. some of these families fled to the Island of Trinidad that offered good prospects for recently arrivals. many of them had come from Saint-Domingue. the waves of immigrants that established themselves in Trinidad contributed to the much needed demographic growth in the Island during the last years of the eighteenth century. no.

but during subsequent years this tendency reverted. no. He provided him with information about the arrival of French families from Sto. Caracas. XLIII. 48. Trinidad. Gobernación y Capitanía General. and by 1795. and. and 348. See diverse communications from Governor of Trinidad. Historia de la administración española de Trinidad (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. 307. slaves represented 58% of the population.231 229 230 “Carta del Gobernador de Trinidad al Capitán General. José María Chacón to the Captain General of Venezuela. French families controlled the slave labor force – whom they had introduced in previous years – and gained the economic control of the Island. more free people than slaves from these islands arrived to Trinidad. Also AGI. 153. was particularly aware of the ideological consequences of this important presence of families and slaves. the frequent visits that some of these people made to the mainland. about the presence of foreign ships. and of the Saint-Domingue rebellions. “Inmigrantes extranjeros en América española: el experimento colonizador de la isla de Trinidad. XLVII. The Governor of Trinidad. Domingue. XLVIII. The Governor. maintained a frequent correspondence with the Captain General of Caracas. and Linda Newson. in particular. See Sevilla Soler. julio de 1793.” and Jesse A. XLVII. of course about the development of Saint-Domingue’s events. 14. 115.” Revista de Historia de América. Noel. but there are others that need aid in order to survive”229 During the first years of political struggle in Guadeloupe and Martinique. the situation of Martinique and Cuba. 1972).140 respectable families. and in several communications he alerted the Captain General about the danger of contagion.” AGI. and the possibility that Trinidad could be invaded by a foreign power. 14. most of them bring blacks and many instruments for agricultural labor. provincia de Venezuela.230 By the beginning of the 1800s and when the island was already ruled by the British. 37. José María Chacón. 297. 87 (1979): 79-103. 218. no. 231 . Caracas. “Las repercusiones de la Revolución Francesa en el Caribe español. in AGN.

the Captain General sent an order in which he eliminated the last official orders increasing tributes. which ceased to pay tributes. Caracas. missionaries of the region told Emparan that a suspicious visitor was “spreading seditious maxims in the Indian towns (Pueblos de Indios). 8. was wary of potential undesirable visits of French free people or slaves to his region. no. “Real Orden a los Gobernadores de La Guaira. 205.”233 Immediately.” AGN. no. 2. con copia a la Real Hacienda. 1.” He also decided that Indians could pay tributes in “species.234 A witness who met the “dangerous” visitor.” AGI. in the eastern region of Venezuela and separated from Trinidad only 15 miles of sea. with serious consequences.141 The Governor of the Province of Cumaná. and commercial 232 “Oficio reservado del Gobernador de Cumaná sobre haberse introducido persona sospechosa en los pueblos de Indios. and reduced Indians’ tributes to “as what they were before.” and that in some regions “Indians even abandoned the towns to go to the mountains. 233 234 .” as they used to do. Coro y Cumaná. Vicente Emparan. and the poor people will finally be able to breathe.”232 Emparan suggested that the Captain General reduce tributes. told Emparan that he had heard him say that: Someday these lands are going to be ruled by other people. 514. Puerto Cabello.” AGI. Caracas. 514. or introduce any novelty that could be burdensome. LIV. Effectively in 1795. and they will receive help to progress. 8. they will see more haciendas and sugar mills. “Reservada del Gobernador de Cumaná al Capitán General sobre persona sospechosa y de sus peligrosas máximas que se han introducido en el pueblo de San Bernardino y otros lugares de la Provincia. Gobernación y Capitanía General. because “no other time is less appropriate than the present to raise the taxes.

206. He traveled occasionally to the Province of Venezuela to sell mules and other products. 207. his only possessions were a hammock to sleep and some papers he frequently read and wrote. He also claimed to be up to date on all the news about the situation of the French Antilles.142 activities free of rights and taxes. LIV. He said to some people that he had a partner he was supposed to meet on the coast of Caracas. Gobernación y Capitanía General. that it snaps.” Fray Blasco accused him of being French. the visitor. the man contested that he was Spanish but had been raised in France. Another witness.” AGN. Soon everybody will be rich and powerful. replied: “It is true. because a good vassal obeys his father.” The foreigner did not have any luggage. commented that he had met the visitor. but sometimes they want to pull the cord so tight. 236 .” AGN. where he currently lived. LIV.235 He ended his speech concluding: “the Spanish King has tyrannized this land.”236 Fray Blasco ordered him not to talk about these issues with the common people (el pueblo). “Representación de Fray Vicente Blasco al Gobernador de Cumaná. Fray Vicente Blasco. Gobernación y Capitanía General. 235 “Reservada del Gobernador de Cumaná al Capitán General sobre persona sospechosa y de las peligrosas máximas que se han introducido en el pueblo de San Bernardino y otros lugares de la Provincia. whose name was not revealed. and after letting him expose his “dangerous ideas. When Father Blasco told him that he was not a good vassal of the King. had lived in Mexico and then moved to Trinidad. but he later heard that the visitor was writing and sharing his ideas in public in the nearby towns.

220. have successfully theorized about the political consciousness of Indians. 9. 514. 514. 238 239 Ranajit Guha observes the same situation in Colonial India. “always inclined to follow the perverse example of the wayward French.”238 It was believed that this person proceeded from the Island of Trinidad and traveled across the region until arriving in Caracas. traveled all over the eastern region of the Province of Venezuela.” incapable of thinking politically for themselves or of rebelling in response to an unfair system.143 The Real Audiencia met in order to determine the seriousness of the case of the mysterious uninvited and unwanted visitor who. Caracas. who are easily persuaded. since this kind of individual took advantage of the “simplicity of the Indians. according to the letter of the Governor of Cumaná and some others letters written by the missionaries in Barcelona. and the happiness of the vassals. spreading dangerous ideas that impressed people. no.” They sent the order to immediately capture this person. Scholars of Latin American history like Steve Stern. their enemies describe it and deal with it as a contagion…” Guha. Apparently. Caracas. Charles Walker. Eric Van Young and Sinclair Thomson. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. He states: “While the peasants regard rebellion as a form of collective enterprise. “along with all his papers.”237 The capture and exile of this visitor was considered extremely important.” AGI. especially the Indians and blacks.239 The situation of an individual inciting 237 “Orden de la Real Audiencia sobre apresar a sospechoso que incita a los Indios a la desobediencia. “Reservada no. . among many others. The colonial State firmly believed that subaltern disobedience actions and rebellions were always inspired by external factors.” AGI. peasants and working people. and currently may produce serious bad consequences for the public order. and normally depicted Indians and blacks as “simple minded. 21 al Intendente de los Reales Exercitos de Caracas. he was never located. showing how authorities insinuated that peasants have lost their innocence thanks to the irruption of outsiders.

the situation was considered even more serious. 240 According to religious principles. 241 .” refuse to obey and to be loyal to the King. through words or actions.241 3. Resistance. increasing their interest in regional affairs capturing their political agendas and strategies. See Elena Plaza. This “sin” was considered a terrible action often committed by “false” revolutionary philosophers and any other person spreading revolutionary ideas among the “incautious” population. Smoldering Ashes. See Scarlett O’Phelan.’ 1995). and Consciousness. and John Fisher. “Vicisitudes de un escaparate de cedro con libros prohibidos. and the recent slaves upheavals in Saint-Domingue and other regions of the Caribbean. Allan Kuethe and Anthony MacFarlane. Rebellion. Reform and Insurrection in Bourbon New Granada and Perú (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.. The Presence of Fugitive Slaves and Maritime Maroons In his work “The Common Wind: Currents of Afro-American Communication in the Era of the Haitian Revolution. Thomson. but if these others were numerous subaltern subjects who.” Julius Scott shows that the events in Saint Domingue and other islands of the Caribbean provided exciting news for slaves and free coloreds from Virginia to Venezuela. a scandal was a situation in which “one person. infused with “foreign ideas.” along with impiety and blasphemy. eds. The Other Rebellion.” Politeia 13. Van Young. 1990). La gran rebelión en los Andes. See Stern. persuades others to sin.144 others to rebel was considered scandalous. Walker. De Túpac Amaru a Túpac Catari (Cuzco: Centro de Estudios Rurales Andinos ‘Bartolomé de las Casas. such as the Tupac Amaru (1780-1782) and the Comunero rebellions (1780-1781) in the Andean region. (1989): 331-60. We Alone Will Rule. 240 Two fears intersected here: fear of contagion of revolution and fear of subaltern disobedience and rebellion. The latter was based on recent Spanish American and Caribbean experiences of subaltern insurrection.

Maracaibo. In February 1792. Slaves and free people of color moved from place to place. and Margarita and to the Commanders of the ports of La Guaira and Puerto Cabello reminding them to prohibit the entry of any French ship that comes “even with the intention of selling slaves.145 and stimulating them to organize conspiracies on their own. . VI. 29.”242 Evidently. and white Spanish and creoles planters in different Provinces were well aware of the negative economic 242 “Circular reservada del Capitán General de Venezuela a los Gobernadores sobre introducción de embarcaciones francesas. for example. a regional network of communication – which he called “the common wind” – bound together the societies of Afro America. In November 1791. Given the menace that this communication network represented. in order to control the dissemination of revolutionary rumors. the restrictions on the slave trade would affect the agricultural development and economic growth of the Spanish Provinces. and helped to communicate the rumors of liberation and equality brewing in many different places during the last decade of the eighteenth century. Guayana. the first actions that the Spanish and local authorities undertook were designed to seal themselves off from the impact of the Caribbean turmoil. In his opinion. the Spanish King restricted the slave trade and the entry of French ships into the local ports. right after the news of slaves uprisings in the North of Saint Domingue began to spread. the Captain General of Venezuela wrote confidential letters to the Governors of the Provinces Cumana. Gobernación y Capitanía General.” AGN. Trinidad.

“Sobre temporada extendida de comerciante francés de negros. the Commander of the militia in Cumaná.” and Ada Ferrer.245 In October 1792. Africans newly enslaved who could not put in jeopardy the Spanish territories with the spreading of “French ideas. proposing other ways of controlling the black population. un miedo interesado: poder y fomento de la población blanca en Cuba. They tried to control the entry of slaves coming front the French Antilles. Don Antonio de Sucre. but “the ideas” that stir mobilization. El rumor de Haití en Cuba. XLVII. In April 1792.243 Therefore. “Cuba en la sombra de Haití. Mr.. for example. and they had decided to eliminate them. 244 245 . who originally went to the port with the purpose of selling slaves but who had stayed for more than two months. the Commander of Puerto Cabello requested a French merchant. for example. See Consuelo Naranjo. “bozales” often made the bulk of rebel forces in slave insurrection. 53. “La amenaza haitiana. and permit the “controlled” entry of French ships in that came to Spanish Ports with the exclusive purpose of selling “bozales. and Sevilla Soler. the King issued a Royal Decree in which he explained that the restrictions on the slave trade had been examined by the Ministers of the Spanish State Council. eds. in June 1792.” Traditionally. and for this reason they preferred the importation of slaves directly from Africa. but the Colonial authorities at this point are not necessarily controlling “the force”.” AGN.” both in GonzálezRipoll and others. communicated that he 243 See. to leave the Province together with all the slaves he could not sell. Gobernación y Capitanía General. where white planters were not completely convinced of the convience of interrupting the slave trade.”244 Different Governors and Commanders of Venezuela followed these Orders strictly. Leglese.146 consequences of these restrictions. the cases of Cuba and Trinidad. “Las repercusiones de la Revolución Francesa en el Caribe español.” that is.

avoiding. the trading of slaves proceeding from the French islands. and Ramón Aizpurua. and McKinley.246 However. Reales Ordenes. Caracas antes de la independencia. but comment that there is no clear documented evidence of this situation. XLVIII. still in November 1792. this reduced number doubtless account for the bad situation of agriculture. “Coro y Curazao en el siglo XVIII. 247 248 Both historians Mckinley and Lombardi assert that the slave trade seemed to decrease during these years. Castillo Lara.”247 So. Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento. the fleeing of slaves from the Antilles to Venezuela was a common and a frequent occurrence. we do know for certain that the King of Spain and local officials were willing to promote the slave trade from Africa. 306. slaves coming from different foreign islands in the Caribbean achieved their freedom and settled in the province. While it is unclear if Caracas’ slave population increased after the Saint-Domingue rebellions. Gobernación y Capitanía General. 68.249 Nevertheless. Ramón Aizpurua “En busca de la 249 .248 During the entire eighteenth century. he ordered planters and “hacendados” to meet and think of more efficient ways to promote the slave trade in the province. AGN. Thanks to “Reales Cedulas” that protected them. See Lombardi. the King issued another “Real Orden” in which he expressed his concern for the limited number of slaves that had been sold in his territories during the recent months. People and Places. in theory. 14 (1986): 229-40. no.147 was not allowing the entrance of French ships with loads of “creole slaves” into his ports and that he had rejected some of them. He commented that: “In almost three months only three thousand three hundred and seven slaves have been introduced. in May 1790 the 246 “Comunicación del Comandante Sucre al Capitán General de Venezuela sobre llegada de navíos franceses” AGN. XI.” Tierra Firme.

69-102. 115. 115.251 Although. Caracas. X. que conforme al Derecho de Gentes se han expedido en diferentes ocasiones a casos particulares a favor de los esclavos que se han refugiado en nuestro Dominio de América. 332. 24 de septiembre de 1750. Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento. Juan Guillelmi. the Captain General issued an order to the other Governors. 24 de septiembre de 1750. also see AGI. where slaves libertad: los esclavos fugados de Curazao a Coro en el siglo XVIII. where there is no opportunity for providing occupation for the fugitives. “Real Orden sobre Introducción de negros extranjeros. in consequence no purchased black or fugitive slave from foreign colonies will be allowed to enter the Province.… y que se suspenda entre tanto el cumplimiento de las Cédulas declaratorias de la libertad. Caracas. julio 1790. See “Real Cédula de Su Majestad sobre declarar por libres a los negros que viniesen de los ingleses u holandeses a los reinos de España buscando el agua del bautismo. the Governor and Captain General issued this order restricting the application of previous “Reales Cedulas” that declared freedom for fugitive slaves. 332. reason why the King has decided to suspend the application of the Royal Decree that conferred them freedom.” quoted in Castillo Lara. Reales Cédulas.148 Captain General of Venezuela. the clandestine introduction of fugitive blacks coming from the Islands was inevitable and continued in the subsequent years. Buen Retiro. received a Royal Order from Spain forbidding the entry of foreign slaves to the Province250. 252 According to Ramón Aizpurua. Buen Retiro. This order interrupted a previous Royal Decree of 1750 that granted freedom to slaves coming from foreign Colonies.” AGN. 2002). In July 1790. 115. X. who agreed to convert into Christianity.” AGI. during the eighteenth century in the Province of Venezuela there were three different regions through which the entry of foreign slaves was possible: in the south. Caracas. See also “Real Cédula de Su Majestad sobre declarar por libres a los negros que viniesen de los ingleses u holandeses a los reinos de España buscando el agua del bautismo. Caracas. Caracas. which stated: It has been observed that creole slaves or slaves educated in foreign colonies are harmful for these Provinces.” in II Encuentro para la promoción y difusión del patrimonio de los Países Andinos (Bogotá: Fundación Bigott. 250 251 “Real Orden reservada del 21 de mayo de 1790. 252 . The Governor contends: “Por ahora cese el uso de la libertad de los esclavos que se refugían en nuestras colonias.” AGN. 600. Reales Cédulas.” AGI.

Noviembre de 2007).” “El Gobernador de Caracas informa sobre la situación con esclavos luangos viviendo en la Provincia de Coro. entered the region of Cumaná. Wanstanckemberg also demanded the retroactive application of the order. Pedro Bernardo Wanstanckemberg. He demanded their immediate return by the official authorities.Debate América Latina Ayer y Hoy. a white master from Curaçao. in the western region where slaves from English and French colonies.” Governor Guillelmi responded that. although he was able to order the return of the seven slaves. “En busca de la libertad. asking the Governor to return “all the slaves that had escaped from his and other people’s land in Curaçao from the year 1751. In 1791. Barcelona.” AGI. was intense and permanent. and in the eastern area of the Province where a migratory movement of slaves from Curaçao to the Coast of Caracas. Interestingly.149 from the Dutch Essequibo entered the Spanish province of Guayana.”254 This would awake in them a desire for rebellion that the authorities feared. navegación y fugas de esclavos en el Curazao del siglo XVIII” (paper presented at XI Encuentro. 254 . like Grenada and Trinidad. see also Aizpurua. “Esclavitud. and particularly to the area of Coro. 2-1. for example. The colonial authorities 253 Ramón Aizpurua.253 The suspension of the Royal Decree that granted freedom to foreign slaves in the Spanish territories gave hope to some planters of the nearby islands who visited to Caracas to demand their slaves back. visited Caracas claiming that seven slaves had escaped from his plantation in Curaçao and were living freely in the region of Coro. Estado 58. it was truly impossible to return the rest of them because “it would be very difficult to reduce to slavery again the great number of free blacks who live in the towns of the Jurisdiction of Coro.

the Governor of Curaçao added that in the case that Venezuelan slaves escaped to his Island. LVIII. Finally. he would collaborate with the Venezuelan planters. 256 . “Comunicación del Gobernador de Curazao suplicando apoyo y asistencia para retornar a Curazao unos negros esclavos de Casper Luis Van Nytrech. XLVI. for example. 43.255 In these circumstances. Don Casper Luis van Uijtrecht. 308 and 311.” AGN. and that they had brought their own slaves who spread news about the black insurrection among the population. but this time local officials captured them. they were also concerned because among those slaves there could be some coming directly from Saint-Domingue.” AGN. he comments that it is known that some families of Saint-Domingue have escaped to the island of Curaçao. The Governor of the island wrote to the Captain General asking him for support for the returning of these slaves to their owner. Gobernación y Capitanía General. In a communication of the Captain General to the Governors of the Province. who would pay for their relocation. and became more vigilant on the introduction of slaves coming from Curaçao to the Coast of Caracas.256 255 “Borrador a los Gobernadores sobre las circunstancias de las Islas Francesas y la llegada de familias a la Isla de Curazao. eight slaves escaped from Curaçao to the coast of Coro. 20 de diciembre de 1791. They not only feared that slaves from Curaçao could spread information about the revolutionary events of the French islands.150 collaborated with the returning of these seven slaves. local authorities in Venezuela began to supervise and put some restrictions on the entry of maritime maroons from Curaçao. In January 1796.

According to the document “all the songs contained the same chorus: Long live Republic. He sang various songs in French to the authorities. named Josef. 259 . 257 258 Castillo Lara. slaves and maroons in Barlovento.” AGN. and Curaçao and the circulation of their stories could have provoked some of the most feared black rebellions of the region. Francisco Diego Hernández .258 An interesting case reveals the kind of information and knowledge that these foreign slaves brought with them. Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento. 1795. See also the next chapter of this dissertation “Menacing Discourses: Representations of Saint-Domingue in the Black Rebellion of Coro. Santo Domingo. 1-4. See Castillo Lara. Grenada. Trinidad. LXXI. Long live Equality.257 Unfortunately. and the Valleys of Curiepe. They demanded that the little boy – held as a slave by a white creole from Curaçao. Capaya and Caucagua.151 Several other communications issued by white planters from 1794 to 1797 reveal the presence of former slaves from the Antilles living in black communities of Coro and Barlovento. but we certainly know that in the eyes of the political and social elites.repeat the French songs he had been singing on the bridge. Martinique.”259 The little boy. Like the black rebellion of Coro and different movements free black people. Long Live Liberty. Gobernación y Capitanía General.” “Sobre extrañar de estas Provinicias a los negros extranjeros que no sean de Guinea. the presence of slaves from Saint-Domingue. During the evening of July 25th 1797. y providencia observada contra de Don Francisco Diego Hernández por su inobservancia. it has been difficult to find documentation and evidence regarding the kind of stories and rumors that these fugitives slaves from the Antilles brought. Apuntes para la historia colonial de Barlovento. a mulatto boy who was walking over a bridge in the Port of La Guaira was suddenly taken prisoner by the local authorities.

. 260 We have to bear in mind that this is a transcription of a song sang in French by a small boy to Spanish-speaking authorities. la liberté et Egalité Française. The authorities decided to transcribe some lyrics of the songs. probably because the kid boy not pronounced them correctly.” The literal transcription of some of the verses: “Sansculote republicain amie de la Liberté/ Vive la République Français. Little Josef also added that two other slaves of Hernández.” “Let’s go. Marcos and Domingo .. French liberty and Equality. y providencia observada contra de Don Francisco Diego Hernández. French citizen and form your troops. and that he even visited the Mail Administrator of the Port who also heard him sing.” 261 . march with our cannon. In the text there are also incomplete verses and words.” “Comba mourir pour sa Patri France.260 These songs contained verses like: “The Republican ‘sans-culotte’ is a friend of Liberty.” and “Come and die for your homeland France.” “Long live the French Republic. There are illegible verses. also knew many songs and used also to sing them to others. and although it was not easy to establish the precise content of all the verses and chorus. “Sobre extrañar de estas Provinicias a los negros extranjeros que no sean de Guinea. They decided to keep the little boy with them until they were able to find his master and proceed with further inquiries.”261 The authorities agreed that the little mulatto did not sing “with evil intentions. or because the authorities were not sure about the correct spelling.” but they considered that the act of “singing this kind of verses in the streets” was extremely dangerous and could have terrible effects on the population.who like himself were natives of Curaçao -. it seems clear that the boy was singing French revolutionary songs.” “Aller sitoyen français formé vos bataillon/ A vos cannon marché (…) marché.152 commented that he had learned the songs and that his master frequently sent him to other houses in the port to sing them to friends and family members.

262 The Captain General also considered it important to remind the people of Caracas and La Guaira that “reading and circulating texts containing ideas offensive to Religion and to the Government” was strictly forbidden. Commanders and officials to maintain a vigilance over the kind of songs or verses that went against “the good manners. 6. in the first place. Carbonell encouraged Governors. Gobernación y Capitanía General.” AGN.153 The Captain General of Venezuela. He also commanded that Don Francisco Hernández. . refusal to do so would result in a 50 pesos fine for every prohibited book discovered in their possession. pay a fine of one thousand pesos for. He ordered local authorities to fix “Posters in every public space visited by people” with the order that everyone possessing books and printed materials containing Revolutionary ideas must give them up to the local authorities. The Captain General ordered the officials of La Guaira to visit the houses were Josef said he sang. for ordering the slaves to sing “dangerous” songs on the streets of the Port and even in private houses. and proper respect for the Legitimate 262 “Acuerdo del Gobernador de Caracas sobre esclavos de Curazao en el Puerto de La Guaira. Finally. became particularly concerned about the spreading of French revolutionary songs in the Province and ordered the immediate exile of the three slaves. disobeying the laws and bringing foreign slaves to the Spanish Port and. 27 de julio de 1797. who normally made trips between Curaçao and La Guaira. and demanded Hernández to pay a fifty pesos fine for every house where the songs were heard. in the second place. Don Pedro Carbonell. LXXI.

and in the case of Josef it was. As we mentioned before.263 Three days later. an innocent vehicle. Since 1798. also generated preoccupation among local authorities. the masters. . the Magistrates and the King). This episode shows the kind of media and messages that slaves and colored people divulged. but surprisingly also shows that there could have been some masters that used slaves as vehicles to spread “revolutionary” ideas among the population. specifically the region of Cumaná. were put on board on a ship going to Curaçao. Marcos and Domingo. several families from Saint-Domingue fled to the island of Trinidad where they settled with their slaves. would have to pay a significant fine on his return to La Guaira. The Governor in Cumaná was particularly concerned that those maroons might share rumors and stories with locals. several letters of the Governor of Trinidad – now under the rule of the British – had requested support from the Captain General in capturing and 263 Ibid. The Captain of the ship received orders to return the slaves to their master who while presumably on the Island. little Josef along with his mother María. The existence of maritime maroons from Trinidad in the Province of Venezuela. indeed. the fathers of family. and the two other slaves.154 Authorities (the clergy.” The punishment and fines to be applied will depended on the quality (calidad) of the transgressors.

284.155 returning fugitive slaves belonging to Trinitarian planters. the recently appointed Governor of Trinidad. Ibid. Lieutenant Picton. against my will. he added: “I would appreciate if you could oblige your subjects to respect the people and the properties of the mainland. He said: “I expect you to be reasonable on this matter. on the contrary you will force me. It is evident that on top of the problem of maritime maroonage between Venezuela and Trinidad. 124. LXXXIII. the Captain General asked for a complete list of all the slaves that had been returned from Trinidad to the mainland under the supervision of Picton. Then. to take reprisals that could have disastrous consequences for which your excellence will be exclusively responsible. LXXXII. requested reciprocity in the matter of the returning of maritime maroons.”266 The Captain General had heard that French and British bandits assaulted the ships of locals and then found refuge in Trinidad. 265 266 “Reservada al Gobernador de Trinidad sobre retorno de esclavos prófugos de Trinidad. Gobernación y Capitanía General. the Captain General responded that he and the Governor of Cumaná were well disposed to collaborate with the returning of the slaves. y de los que de Venezuela pudiesen haber escapado a Trinidad.”265 In February 1800. diciembre de 1799. there were other 264 “Original y copia traducida de Carta del Gobernador Pictton para el Gobernador y Capitán General de Venezuela sobre varios negros esclavos que se han fugado a la tierra firme. But in relation to Picton’s offer and with cynical humor. Gobernación y Capitanía General.264 Like the Governor of Curaçao. .” AGN.” AGN.

he argued that: 267 “Para el Gobernador de Curaçao sobre 18 negros fugados de Cumaná por seducción de dos holandeses. some families of Spanish Santo Domingo also migrated to different ports located in the Capitanía General de Venezuela. once back in Venezuela.156 problems related to economic and commercial power. local authorities received them and made arrangements to settle them in the Province or relocate them in other regions. At the end of the eighteenth century. . Don Antonio Sotillo and Doña Rosa Alcalá. However the authorities were especially concerned about the introduction of their slaves into the Province. 106.” AGN. the Capitan General sent a confidential letter to the Commander of La Guaira ordering him to control the entry of slaves coming with families proceeding from Spanish Santo Domingo. black insurrection and freedom. had escaped in a British boat to the Island of Curaçao. such as smuggling. for example.267 These cases allow us to appreciate that local slaves also traveled to the islands of the Caribbean where they could have heard rumors of revolution. Literally. two local hacendados in Cumaná. and political control of the region. demanded that the Governor of Curaçao to help them locate and return eighteen slaves who. Gobernación y Capitanía General. There were also exceptional cases in which slaves from Cumaná moved to more distant regions: in February 1800. Following the laws of hospitality for inhabitants of Spanish territories. which generated problems for local authorities. In 1796. febrero 1800. persuaded by two Dutch men. LXXXIII. these slaves also became oral sources of transmission of political knowledge among the people of color.

LIX. 268 “Carta del Gobernador de Caracas al Comandante Interior de La Guaira. the Commander of La Guaira responded that he had not yet identified any French slave among the people from Santo Domingo. a town shopkeeper.157 Amongst the slaves that arrive or are sent by the immigrants from Santo Domingo there may be some who are French or raised and educated in the French colonies. 256.269 The bodeguero (shopkeeper) seemed like the right person to ask about the presence of foreign slaves. 268. Gobernación y Capitanía General. prisoners and slaves from Saint-Domingue in the port of La Guaira some years earlier had created an extremely difficult situation that the Captain General wanted to avoid by all possible means. [Therefore] your Lordship shall. 269 . and in the case that you find any of the mentioned types you will detained them and inform me immediately268 Three days later. Why was the Captain General of Venezuela so concerned about the introduction of these slaves in the Province? Apparently. LIX. the presence of hundreds of officials. he mentioned that he had visited Juan de Andueza.” AGN. proceed to investigate and examine. one in Caracas and the other one in La Guaira. “Reservada entre el Comandante Interior de La Guaira y el Gobernador de Caracas. Gobernación y Capitanía General. Andueza answered that he had never been in Santo Domingo and that his two slaves had been bought in the Province.” AGN. and asked him if he had been in Santo Domingo or had slaves proceeding from there. with the utmost care and discretion. since his job allowed him to have daily contact with foreigners coming to and leaving the Port. The Commander also request Andueza to give him any news regarding the presence of foreign slaves in his shop or in the town. Additionally.

prisoners and slaves from Santo Domingo. People in Venezuela responded differently to the news and information. more that 1. Others.000 French militiamen. They also felt threatened by the possibility that this information could incite people of the lower orders to rebel and follow the model of the French. Some responding to a profound “francophobia.158 4. and written materials. black insurrection. opened spaces for discussion and debate regarding the recently arrived ideas. news. rumors “sometimes provide a broader interpretation of various puzzling features of the environment. the abolition of slavery and equality that rapidly spread among the local population. As a classic psychological work suggests. on the contrary. All of them brought stories and rumors of republicanism. and so play a prominent part in the intellectual . and adapting them the local context. The rumors that arrived were diverse and ambiguous. Martinique and Guadeloupe arrived and stayed in different port-towns of the Province of Venezuela. and the reactions they produced among their receivers and reproducers were likewise different and contrasting. The Impact of French Caribbean Militiamen and Colored Prisoners in the Coast of Caracas (1793-1796) Between1793 and 1795. and even planning political actions aiming to produce transformations.” rejected them and firmly opposed the influences and rumors coming from the turbulent Caribbean.

Riviere was originally part of a royalist squadron that had been sent from France to Martinique in 1790.159 drive to render the surrounding world intelligible.” 271 272 In fact. stir mobilization and even become a clamor. O’Phelan. “Le décret d’emancipation imaginaire. royalists.52 officials.” Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française (forthcoming. M. and 59 marines . 34 subofficials. no. Allport and Leo Postman. . and Gómez. 38. quoted in Wim Klooster. See Ángel Sanz Tapia. As the situation become critical. The Commander of the squadron. some contents and ideas of this web could become more significant and relevant than others. but when the Colonial Assembly repudiated their loyalty to the Metropole and it was impossible to control the many upheavals and confrontations that developed in the French islands of Sotavento. “Refugiados de la Revolución Francesa en Venezuela (1793-1795). While some rumors can pass unnoticed. The Psychology of Rumor (New York: Henry Holt and Co. Riviere presented himself to José María Chacón. Riviere. 181 (1987): 833-67. others could alter the prevailing order. Fidelidad bajo el viento. He also offered his services to the Spanish King to combat the French revolutionaries who he said represented a great menace in the Caribbean. a total of 145 militiamen .272 According to historians Angel Sanz and Alejandro Gómez. a squadron of four ships with an important number of Frenchmen proceeding from Martinique arrived to Port of Spain in Trinidad. he and his men believed that a better way to oppose the revolutionaries and be loyal to the Bourbon family was moving to Spanish territories and offering their services to the Spanish King. It is precisely the reflection of people’s perceptions.arrived in Trinidad. “La construcción del miedo. While Riviere waited for a response 270 Gordon W..” Revista de Indias XLVII. 2011). and asked to be received with his men in the Spanish territories. like M. lost all support from the colonists of Martinique. fears and desires in this web what makes some rumors more powerful than others. 1947).271 In January 1793. Governor of Trinidad.”270 Rumors represent a complex web of information and representations about certain events. Monarchisme et esclavage en Amérique du Nord et dans la Caraibe au temps des Révolutions.

XLVI. The rest of the infantry – 122 officials . “Capitán General de Venezuela acusa recibo de la Real Orden que aprueba la Buena acogida que dió el Gobernador de Trinidad al Brigadier de Francia M. no. 1793. 37. Aristizabal notified them that the French marine officials would be incorporated into his Squadron. Caracas. specifically port of Puerto Cabello in Venezuela. sobre lo ocurrido con los buques del Mando de M. 174.” AGI. 308. who was named Commander of immigrant officials. de Riviere. where they contacted Don Gabriel Aristizabal.273 In May 1793. requesting that he proceeded to the mainland.274 M. “among them. no. julio de 1793. he traveled again to Guadeloupe and Martinique with the intention of investigating the political situation in the French islands and to persuade its inhabitants to support Spanish rule. Joaquin Fressinaux. arrived at Puerto Cabello. “Refugiados de la Revolución Francesa. Riviere returned to Trinidad with two thousand five hundred more colonists who had left Martinique. Rivere. Gobernación y Capitanía General. Riviere and another French royalist. Sanz Tapia. acompaña copia traducida de carta de Rivere. Admiral of the Spanish Squadron.”275 In August 1793. 274 275 . Caracas.were to remain in Puerto Cabello at 273 “Correspondencia entre el Gobernador de Trinidad y el Capitán General de Venezuela. with war declared between Spain and France. there were soldiers from the garrison regiment of Martinique and neighboring islands.” AGI.” AGN. See also “Comunicación de Don Vicente Emparan al Capitán General Carbonell en la cual da parte de los realistas que se han refugiado en Trinidad.” 839. 94. 153. he received news from the Governor of Trinidad that.160 from the Spanish King regarding his petition. the King had offered his Royal protection to his squadron and militiamen. and also a group of marine officials who had been at the service of the royal family.

Gobernación y Capitanía General.277 The Captain General suggested that Fressinaux and his men come to Caracas where he could decide about their responsibilities and provide them with better living conditions. “Refugiados de la Revolución Francesa.” 841.” AGN. 45. Apparently. 116 and 119. the town of Puerto Cabello did not offer favorable climatic conditions. septiembre de 1793.” AGN. then.276 After some months living in Puerto Cabello. for example. because there were surrounded by marshlands and swamps. to Caracas. people in the towns and ports of the Province did not accept the presence of these French royalists and snubbed them. The majority of them moved to La Guaira and. it was too hot and humid. commented that he was treated in a contemptuous way in La Guaira where “the word French is a pretext for refusing 276 “Carta del Gobernador de Pedro Carbonell a M.” the number of ill men increased and they even complained about the high prices they had to pay for drinking water. “Representación de Joaquín de Fressineaux. Fidelidad bajo el viento. and the military barracks were “unhealthy. X. Fressinaux complained to the Captain General about the inactivity of his militiamen and the difficult living conditions they were experiencing in the port. The inactivity of these officials was another aspect that concerned Fressinaux who even suggested they return to France. 307 and 348. julio 1793. 277 278 .161 the disposition of the Governor and Captain General of Venezuela. Also quoted in Gómez. Apparently. Sanz Tapia. Riviere. XLV. teniente coronel del regimiento del mariscal de Turena al Gobernador.278 But there was another problem that made the stay of these militiamen in the Province unbearable: the discourtesy of the inhabitants of the Province. Fressinaux. Gobernación y Capitanía General.

“Oficio del Capitán General para el Exmo. In a letter addressed to the King.” French royalist militiamen also had to face unfavorable characterizations of their origin and to the difficult circumstances they endured in France and the Caribbean islands. Sr. 280 . the Captain General of Venezuela had to explain the reasons for this general rejection on the part of local neighbors. quoted in Gómez. X.162 us entry to a place to eat and drink. and to plead you to order this intolerable humiliation to cease. and this event had a great impact on the neighbors of the town and reinforced their perceptions of the French as irreligious people.” “atheistic.” In addition to confronting social rejection for being “foreigners. excesses and anti-religiosity that had been directed at these Frenchmen. he stated that although he could not corroborate the accusations of disorder. and [also] little respect for our religious ceremonies have been observed.” “anti-monarchical. “some lack of modesty and freedom and moral laxity. Fidelidad bajo el viento.”279 The truth is that during these years the counterrevolutionary discourse promoted by the State and the Church had created a strong negative image of the French in some social groups of the Province of Venezuela.” Disappointed. quoted in Gómez. 122.”AGN. Gómez remarks that one official committed suicide in Puerto Cabello. Fidelidad bajo el viento. diciembre 1793. 114.” and “evil. Conde del Campo de Alange. I see myself forced to seek from Your Lordship. 328-330. 123. where “French” was synonym to “republican. Gobernación y Capitanía General. he commented: “I have done nothing to deserve this kind of misfortune in a friendly country. octubre 1793. in some places they were not even allowed to enter the Church. the protection the King of Spain has granted us.” AGN. Gobernación y Capitanía General.”280 279 “Oficio de Joaquín de Fressineaux para el Capitán General. In his work. X.

” AGI. the members of the Junta agreed on the importance of sending these officials to Europe. but there were also some difficulties regarding their 281 “Reservada de la Junta de Guerra convocada por el Gobernador para tratar los recelos que a la tranquilidad de aquellas Provincias ocasionan los oficiales emigrados de la Ysla de Martinica. the Junta decided to send the officials to Santo Domingo. the Quartermaster General. The report asserted: “Of the 122 militia men. Caracas. different members of the Audiencia. who believed that these men could be useful in Santo Domingo to fight against the revolutionary French. only 8 are Catholics. there is no confirmation of their preferred political system or regarding their attitudes towards the current Revolution in France. In December 1793. and the Church to discuss the presence and influence of the royalist militiamen of Martinique in Venezuela.”281 Finally. an extraordinary meeting was held by the Captain General of Venezuela. After several meetings. 505. there were remarkable disagreements between the Junta and Admiral Aristizabal. and that their example could be scandalous. no.163 Likewise. 13. There were rumors that these officials evidenced an irregular conduct regarding politics and religion. and there are indications that some of them are antiroyalists. In addition. provoking dangerous consequences for the tranquility and security of the Province. it was believed that the presence of the French royalists created a tense and prejudicial situation because some of them were ambiguous and often maintained open political and religious discussions that evidenced disagreement and therefore propagated seditious ideas amongst the population. However. among other things. diciembre 1793. .

282 They waited some more months. as well as the reasons for their immigration283 282 283 Sanz Tapia. and after I proceeded to reprimand them verbally with little result. and I noticed that the immigrants had differences amongst themselves. and the last official finally left the Province of Venezuela in November 1795. but even this was not enough. these royalists officials seemed to have had better relations with high ranking officials. 30 de noviembre de 1793. than with the population at large. the scandal increased.” AGI. 3.” 845. then. . In general. and also by information that I received from different trustworthy persons. I seriously reprimanded Mr. “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. to Puerto Cabello while they waited for their definitive exit from the Province. whose intentions and political positions were never clear. and after facing many additional difficulties. such as the Governor of Trinidad and the Captain General.164 transportation: some believed that Aristazabal’s Spanish Squadron should be responsible. I noted by regularly observing them. The Captain General asserted: Since these 119 officers and immigrant French sergeants arrived to the city. people showed mistrust of these officials. their lack of moderation and modesty with respect to religious. the evil continued and grew. no. but the Admiral suggested using commercial ships. During their stay in Venezuela. Carbonell believed that the presence of these officials in Caracas was harmful and ordered them to move back to La Guaira and. In the meantime. 58. they departed in different ships during the summer 1795. Fressinaux. Estado. moral and political matters. and offered declarations capable of gravely questioning the true system. “Refugiados de la Revolución Francesa.

.” quoted in Gómez. there was another element that did not favor the perception of these militiamen. They were located in the dungeons of the Port and. Fidelidad bajo el viento. As I will show next. according to the terms of their capitulation. The presence of this important number of Frenchmen from Saint-Domingue was considered disruptive and extremely dangerous for the harmony and tranquility of the Province. Don Joaquín García. sent five hundred and thirty eight French prisoners to the port of La Guaira in Venezuela. In fact. when suggesting the final destination of Santo Domingo to Fressinaux. I could consider their case and give them a passport.284 However. while sergeants and soldiers received one real and a half for their expenses. added that “if some of your militiamen want to go back to Trinidad or to another island. Aunis. Bassigny and Turena). in different informes. Thus on November 2nd 1793. more that seven hundred prisoners and slaves from Santo Domingo had been located in the Port of La Guaira and were causing strong reactions among the white population who feared the ideological contagion of the colored population. an extraordinary Junta was held by the Captain General of Venezuela. the Governor of Santo Domingo. the 284 Even the Captain General. by the time of their stay in the Province. the officials received four reales daily. In August 1793. They maintained contrasting positions that did not go unnoticed by Venezuelans.165 The truth is that this was a heterogeneous group made up of Colonial regiments (Guadeloupe and Martinique) and other regiments proceeding from the French Metropolis (Forez. members of the Junta stated that they were not sure that these officials should go to Santo Domingo because some of them did not show clear royalist inclinations. 130.

” AGI. produced in this first meeting of the Junta. no.”287 Another witness denounced that he heard one slave saying to another that “this was the right moment to 285 “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. no. a person who was in a bakery of La Guaira saw and heard two slave bakers “were conversing while kneading the bread. Ibid. 3. . free blacks.” AGI. Estado. some members of the Audiencia. and members of the Church to discuss the problem posed by the presence of these men and the potential solutions. 30 de noviembre de 1793. who desperately seek to extend their ideas among local slaves. 58. 286 287 “Que dos negros esclavos en la Guayra ocupados de amasar pan. For example.” in “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. Estado.286 The informe. Members of the Junta shared the same perception that white elites and different authorities of the Ports had of the French prisoners and slaves coming from SaintDomingue as “people infused with pernicious maxims and doctrines. local slaves and free coloreds were misbehaving and being disobedient and had an unacceptable arrogance towards their masters and employers.”285 Members of the Junta stated that neighbors from La Guaira and Caracas were preoccupied because. and mulattos. and – confident that no one was hearing – saying that within a year they would be as free as those in Guarico. 58. since the arrival of these prisoners to the Port. diciendose en confianza de no ser oydos: que dentro de un ano serian tan libres como los del Guarico. se animaban al trabajo. 30 de noviembre de 1793. compiles a number of interesting complaints about the attitude of free blacks and slaves.166 Quartermaster General. 4.

Estado. 289 290 “Respondió descaradamente que no habia entre las dos desigualdad que la del color pues en lo demas eran iguales. the mulatta commented airily that “there was no inequality between the two of them except for their color. Saint-Domingue had become a very present reality evoked not only by foreigners. but showed how the ideological and political tenets of the Revolution were applicable to the local context. after offering a domestic job to a free mulatta. 4. there were others denouncements in the informe that did not necessarily refer directly to the Revolution as an event. as for the rest they were equals.”288 These denouncements were clear evidence that Saint-Domingue rebellions were being taken as examples by the slaves and coloreds of La Guaira.” AGI. in the same way the blacks of Guarico had shaken the authority of the French. “Que un esclavo no debia serlo ni hombre alguno de otro. a lady in La Guaira complained that.” Ibid. Likewise. but more importantly that the elites perceived the menace that these discourses represented. commented that he heard a black French official saying to a slave that “no man should be the slave of another.”289 In the same way. A Spanish official. for example.” Ibid. 30 de noviembre de 1793. no.”290 288 “Esta es buena ocacion para sacudir la esclavitud y yugo de los españoles. .” in “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. 58.167 shake the slave system and the authority of the Spanish. como han sacudido el de los Franceses los Negros del Guarico. but also by local slaves who used it as a reference for freedom and equality.

many slaves and people of color have been contaminated with dark expressions related with the imagined equality and liberty that these prisioners 292 wanted to preach. were described as “irreligious” and out of order in their moral and political behavior. The officials were accused of not respecting religious ceremonies. 58. and the French officials. In the informe. Finally. For their part. the informe comments that during the last three years. 30 de noviembre de 1793. Many of them were accused of being anti-religious and not attending Church in Sundays. no. turning their back to the sacred ornaments. insulting our government and lauding the fact that they are free men. 4. 30 de noviembre de 1793. no. 4. groups of prisoners. where the majority of the French prisoners remained. “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. they blaspheme against the most sacred. and particularly in the city of Valencia. The city of Valencia was located 60 miles away from Caracas and La Guaira. the prisoners from Saint-Domingue in La Guaira “break all the limits of good behavior. and using their time in the Church to look at the ladies up and down.” AGI.” AGI. and only ten miles from Puerto Cabello. Estado. all three.168 In the Informe.”291 This informe also contends that the ideas regarding the liberty of slaves and equality among all the population are spreading irremediably and surpassing the “frontiers” of the port of La Guaira. specifically from 1790 to 1793. It was surrounded by haciendas in the Valleys of Aragua. 58. The informe comments: In the Valleys of Aragua. causing distractions and generally being a bad example. there had been increasing evidence of disobedience and arrogance 291 “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. 292 . the slaves. Estado. the authorities mentioned that even women in la Guaira freely talk about freedom and equality.

nor will they be able to escape. According to the informe. where the prisoners and some officials were being held. it would be . and hide from the authorities. La Havana offered two important advantages that La Guaira and Caracas did not posses: in first place. from there. They believed that it was too difficult to send them to Europe. did not fulfill the conditions necessary to prevent the spreading of the “dangerous voices” of the prisoners that had been heard beyond the walls of the dungeons. This recent misbehavior of the colored was perceived as evidence that the news regarding the events of the French colonies had a real impact on blacks and the mixed races: the presence of this crowd of people from Saint-Domingue has brought “to life their [slaves’ and free blacks’] desires for equality and freedom. Finally. than Venezuelan hacendados.”293 Therefore. and more important. they had to implement urgent strategies to control the influence of these prisoners. it will increase the chances of their escaping and hiding and favor the circulation and 294 influence of their perverse determinations. comfortable enough and with absolutely no communication with the population. there was this idea that the Province of Venezuela was a vast mainland where the prisoners could easily escape. nor will their influence be feared as it is in this province and mainland. whose Governor could receive them and try to sell them to the local hacendados or use them for public service. while the island of Cuba seemed to have a more “controllable” geography. so they decided to send them to La Havana. Ibid. In any case. for the time that Your Majesty desires. 293 294 Ibid. to expel them from the Province.169 on the part of the black slaves of the Province. On the other hand. spreading the ideas of liberty and equality everywhere. If we delay this decision for too long. The members of the Junta asserted that the fort of La Guaira. not even if they yell will their pernicious way of thinking be heard. the informe suggests that: These prisoners and many others may remain in the Castle of La Cabana or in other [forts] that defend the city and the island of La Havana. seemed that Cuban hacendados were more open and interested in buying these slaves at advantageous prices.

local Authorities believed that the situation was getting out of their control and that they needed to take a rapid decision to expel these unwanted and “dangerous” people from the Province because their presence was significant. There were a total of 969 people from Saint-Domingue located in the Port town of La Guaira. However. The first problem they confronted was extremely interesting to fully explore the reasons why these slaves and prisoners were more easily accepted in some regions of Spanish America than in others. This time there were 431 men – 188 French prisoners of war. amounted close to 7500 inhabitants. and 14 regular black prisoners -. In the beginning. by that time. In the meantime. and problems began to arise. no. this number represented more than 10 percent of the total population of the town of La Guaira that. could be rapidly sold for a good price among the local hacendados. while the slaves were to be offered for sale to the landowners and planters of the Province. 220 slaves for sale. Estado. 58. neither of these two solutions came as easily. 30 de noviembre de 1793. .295 The French prisoners were supposed to join their countrymen in the dungeons. 295 Idem. nor as soon as they had expected. or could be sent to other cities and ports of Spanish America. 1793. 4. See “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo. for example. another load of prisoners and slaves from Saint-Domingue was received in the Coast of Caracas on November 3.” AGI.170 While the authorities discussed what to do with the 538 prisoners that had arrived in August. local authorities thought that this would be a temporary situation and that the slaves.

The informe contends that the slaves and prisoners were uneducated and disobedient. lack of religion. the informe contends that the fortifications and dungeons in La Guaira were too small to contain all these people. the Real Audiencia met again in an extraordinary session to discuss the situation regarding the slaves and prisoners that had been recently introduced into the Province.”296 As we mentioned before. and the corruption of good habits into his home. supposedly.”297 At the end of November 1793. Nevertheless the hacendados rejected the offer: “there is no possibility that these slaves would be bought by the hacendados and neighbors of this country. because no one will bring the stimulus of insubordination. Domingue. whatever the price. In addition. Ibid. blacks who had seen and experienced the “atrocities that blacks committed against whites in the rebellions of French Sto. local planters did not want to buy slaves educated in the French Antilles. known for its “a tranquility and sincere obedience. . even worse. challenging local authorities and aiming at disturbing the order of the town.171 that. slaves were seen as agents of contamination of revolution and insubordination in a Province that was.” These slaves were brought to La Guaira with the condition that they could be sold to the local hacendados and that the money from their sale will would go directly to the Real Hacienda of the Province. and that it had been impossible for Spanish officials to control 296 297 Ibid. or.

The fate of the two hundred and twenty slaves from Santo Domingo was less clear. At the beginning. Estado. and between the local authorities. It was fairly clear that the more than seven hundred prisoners of war would be sent to La Habana. the colonial authorities managed to expel the greater part of them by the end of 1795. . since they had heard that St. Several communications with other Governors of the Spanish islands. Dominguans slaves would be easily sold there. where there was more space to hold them in the dungeons and fortifications and where there was less danger of a contamination of the rest of the Spanish territories. 58.”298 After several months trying to control the interactions and influence of these prisoners and slaves from Saint-Domingue in the port of La Guaira.” AGI. donde da cuenta de haber concurrido la Junta Extraordinaria convocada por el Gobierno para tratar sobre los recelos que a la tranquilidad pública de aquellas provincias ocasionan los oficiales franceses. the Captain General and the Quartermaster General tried to find the most convenient ways of sending them elsewhere. 505. the Governor of Cuba and the Governor of Puerto Rico.” AGI. 4. but the Quartermaster of this Island replied that this was not possible 298 “Informe de la Junta extraordinaria convocada por el Gobernador de la Provincia para tratar problema de los prisioneros de Santo Domingo.172 “the bad example and the dangerous doctrines of these desperate and uncontrolled men. In first place. no. allows us to perceive their desperation to get them out of the Province. see also “Reservada del Intendente del Ejército Don Esteban Fernández de León. They sent several communications to the Governor of Santo Domingo. the Venezuelan authorities believed that they could send the slaves to Puerto Rico. 30 de noviembre de 1793. Caracas.

1. no.173 because these slaves would be sold at very low prices and they would cause damage to the public order. mayo de 1794” and “Real Orden sobre traslado de esclavos franceses. “especially the pardo.299 In December 1794. and the authorities of the Province also had to find the ways to prevent upheavals and social movements that could have been inspired by the presence of these prisoners and slaves from Saint-Domingue. 1 and no. As a consequence. and the characteristic haughtiness continue to increase apace. whose uncontainable need to emulate the whites. . the colonial authorities in Caracas had decided to confine to 299 “Reserveda del Intendente de la Isla de Puerto Rico al Intendente de Reales Ejércitos de Caracas. for example. and 514. He argued that after a year and a half of “contamination. no. Señor Don Diego de Gardorqui. nor to other foreign islands. the island could not receive any more. no. sobre medidas necesarias para que no se propaguen las doctrinas francesas por parte de los prisioneros y esclavos franceses que se hallan en La Guaira. Caracas. the interim Quartermaster of Caracas.2. Don Antonio López de Quintana al Exmo. diciembre de 1794. your Lordship should send them to the Island of Cuba where if they are not bought by private individuals. Caracas. 472 and 514. 1.” AGI. febrero de 1795. sent a letter to Spain in which he mentions some measures taken to contain possible uprisings. In January 1795. Don Antonio López Quintana. the King of Spain issued the Order in which he states that “as it is not possible to send the slaves to Puerto Rico. “Real Orden sobre traslado de esclavos franceses.”300 Getting rid of the “unwanted immigrants” proved to be a very difficult task.” they had become aware that “dangerous doctrines” had influenced the colored population.” AGI. diciembre de 1794.” AGI. 506.”301 For this reason. Caracas. they could be employed in Public Service. 300 301 “Representación del Intendente de Caracas. 596.

and with La Havana as their final destination. Of those 220 slaves. He believed that the close supervision of the Magistrates should be enough to control the spread of any “perverse plan.” However. different ships carrying large numbers of French slaves and prisoners departed from the port of La Guaira in direction to Puerto Cabello. and guarantee the security of the Province. sobre medidas necesarias para que no se propaguen las doctrinas francesas por parte de los prisioneros y esclavos franceses que se hallan en La Guaira. In April 1795. “Lista de los esclavos franceses prisioneros que se embarcan para Puerto Cabello con destino final Cuba. 506. he alerted: “We cannot count on a true security until all these prisoners and immigrants get out of the Province.”302 During the years 1794 and 1795.174 the barracks two and a half of the companies of whites in order to prepare and alert them about possible uprisings. 303 . Every time one of these ships left. febrero de 1795.303 Among them. 220 imprisoned slaves and four “free French men” left the Port of La Guaira for Batabanó (Cuba). Caracas. 472 and 514. in the second place. 160 were men and 60 were women and children. no.” AGI. they recognized the economic burden that these prisoners represented to the government budget that had to provide them with maintenance expenses. four white French officials were sent to La Havana and later shipped to Europe. the 302 “Representación del Intendente de Caracas. the Spanish officials experienced a feeling of relief for various reasons. they thought that with them. Caracas. Señor Don Diego de Gardorqui. 16. In the first place. Don Antonio López de Quintana al Exmo. They also decided to establish “neighborhood mayors” (Alcaldes de barrio) whose responsibility was to control any news or circulation of rumors among the population as well as to do rounds to watch out for any suspicious meetings and movements.” AGI.

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“dangerous ideas of liberty and equality” were being expelled from the territory. However, those prisoners and slaves had left “the seed of disobedience and haughtiness” among the local pardos, free blacks and slaves who did not only know about Saint-Domingue and its brave colored rebels, but who also understood that they could stir mobilization. The ideas that someday they would be free and equal to the whites remained in the minds of the slaves and free blacks of the Province for various years. On July 1797, for example, a black slave named Luis and a white man named Don Josef Bustamante who lived in La Guaira had a violent fight. The white man strongly accused the black man for saying that “whites and blacks were all equal.”304 Apparently, the black slave, Luis, and another worker, went to the Don Josef Bustamante’s warehouse in order to weigh some cacao. Don Josef did not want to attend them at that moment because he was busy. Apparently, the slave replied that they must do it, to which Don Josef replied that a slave could not rule in his house, and that they were not “equals,” furious the slave took his steelyard balance, and left saying out loud: “My master, we are all whites.” The majority of those who witnessed the fight, commented that those were the exact words Luis used: “My master, we are all whites,” but Luis himself stated that what he said was: “We are all white because no one black enters the Court of God.” In his confession, the slave tried to ascribe a religious connotation to his phrase, stating
304

AGI, Caracas, 430.

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that he believed that in order to enter into the court of God, all men must be white or “equals.” However, all the witnesses believed Luis was shared the “revolutionary” maxims of freedom and equality that were circulating among population of color of La Guaira, and Luis was finally condemned to two years of shackles and hard labor at the public service.305 Apparently, the echo of the Saint-Domingue rebels’ voices was not only resounding in elites’ and official’s heads, but also among free blacks and slaves who, like the boy Josef, sang revolutionary songs and uttered phrases of equality and social justice, like Luis. The authorities not only had to confront and control the presence of the numerous slaves and prisoners coming from Saint-Domingue to the Province, there were other kinds of “colored visitors” who represented a real menace to order and to the subordination of the colored population. In 1797, the Governor of Caracas encouraged his officials to look for and arrest some “educated” French blacks and mulattos who were living in the city of Caracas. He had heard that a person referred as “the black Ballegard,” and described as “a protagonist of the first movements of the colony of Guarico and later in Martinique,” and another mulatto from the militias in Trinidad, named Constant, together with two other subalterns, met local free mulattos and “infused them with maxims opposed to our system of Government,” spreading

305

“Expediente a Luis Alejandro Espinosa por mostrar públicamente expresiones subversivas relativas a la igualdad,” AGI, Caracas, 430. Adriana Hernández also studies this case in “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España. Una mirada desde el expediente judicial,” in Gual y España, la independencia frustrada, eds. Juan Carlos Rey, Rogelio Pérez Perdomo, Ramón Aizpurua and Adriana Hernández (Caracas: Fundación Polar, 2007), 345-428.

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their “dangerous” ideas among the simple people (gentes sencillas) who could be easily convinced to follow them. 306 The Governor ordered their arrest and expulsion from the Province. For the elites and the colonial authorities, there was nothing more dangerous than an “educated” mulatto or black spreading ideas among the population; in their opinion, these individuals spread the seed of disobedience and rebellion amongst the blacks and mulattos, who were avid to get to know about these ideas and to promote their freedom and equality. Slaves and free colored were always ready to listen to these “dangerous” people, with whom they shared both their color and their status, and who represented a model to follow and a reference for the possibility of changing their destiny. All these cases show, as Ramón Aizpurua suggests, the emergence in different towns of the Province of Venezuela of socially diverse spaces where revolutionary ideas from the Atlantic were welcome and adapted into the local context.307 Especially in port towns, such as La Guaira, Puerto Cabello and Cumaná, and in nearby communities it is possible to perceive a “revolutionary environment.” In the case of La Guaira, the presence of almost one thousand immigrants from Saint-Domingue could
306

“Se dice ser uno de ellos el Negro Bellegard actor en los primeros moviemientos de la colonia Guarico, y despues en la Martinica, otro el mulato llamado Constant que sirvio en las milicias de Trinidad,”“todos ellos verosimilmente imbuidos de opiniones y maximas opuestas á nuestro sistema de gobierno, y por tanto peligrosos en la seduccion que podran adelantar de ora en ora sobre las gentes sencillas, senaladamente sonre los esclavos, y los negros, y mulatos libres,” in “Reservada del Presidente y Gobernador cumpliendo orden de vigilar introduccion de papeles y libros, y extranjeros que pudiesen esparcir ideas sediciosas. junio de 1797,” AGI, Caracas, 434. Aizpurua, “La conspiración por dentro.”

307

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not pass unnoticed and had, in fact, an evident repercussions in every-day conversations, songs and fights. The Colonial authorities and the white elites introduced different measures in order to limit the expansion of the “revolutionary disease” and the “example of SaintDomingue,” but the cases presented in this chapter, also allow us to perceive that slaves and free colored were indeed following the events of Saint-Domingue: they not only knew about what was happening on the island, about the struggles and the bravery of the blacks and mulattos of Saint-Domingue; more importantly, coloreds of the Province of Venezuela knew about the significance of equality and freedom, and increasingly began to use these terms in their local contexts. The knowledge that elites and subalterns shared about the Revolutionary event of the islands was, in my opinion, a circumstance that connected these groups: the elites feared the discourses and social violence of Saint-Domingue, and slaves and colored people recognized white fear and used the representations of Saint-Domingue to manipulate white fear, express their anger and make their demands. The common spaces of communication they shared should lead us to look at the processes of negotiation, transaction, imposition and contestation in which these social groups engaged in their struggle for power. The need for implanting night patrols, neighborhood mayors and prophylactic white militias clearly indicates how the fragile bonds of trust between different social groups were easily broken by the revolutionary rumors and threaten.

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The turmoil of the Caribbean islands and the struggle of the people of color functioned as a mirror in which slaves and free blacks could see themselves fighting and demanding freedom and equality. Evocations and representations of the “revolutionized Caribbean” recreated a certain feeling of identification of local slaves and free people of color with the slaves and free blacks of the Islands. Despite the regional and “cultural” differences that separated them, they shared a common situation of oppression in a hierarchical racial order, and a common need to overcome and fight against the slavery system and the unequal social order. In the next chapters, I will examine how these representations of the Caribbean movements had repercussions in two of the most important insurrectional and subversive movements in Venezuela at the end of the eighteenth century.

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CHAPTER IV

The Menace: Representations of Saint-Domingue in the Black Rebellion of Coro, 1795

During the last decades of the eighteenth century, different black and slave rebellions revealed the vulnerability and unstable character of the economic system and of the social order established in colonial Venezuela. Like other South American societies under the dominion of the Spanish monarchy, Venezuelan society was built upon a heterogenous economic system in which the hybrid nature of the labor force (which involved slaves, but also free blacks and Indians) complicated its functioning and its social relations, and encouraged conflicts and upheavals.308 In the year 1795, hundreds of slaves and free blacks, together with some Indians rebelled in the Serranía of Coro, an area in the northeastern region of Venezuela mainly devoted to the production of sugar. Traditional Venezuelan historiography understands the insurrection of Coro as a “black” (free and enslaved)

308

McKinley, Caracas antes de la independencia; Aizpurua, “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro,” Brito Figueroa, El problema tierra y esclavos. Many free blacks and indians worked as employed personel in the haciendas (jornaleros), others rented plots of land to the hacendados were they produced crops such as cotton, indigo, and tobacco. These small-scale producers are known as arrendatarios. So in colonial Venezuela there was heteroguenous work relations, a hybrid system of slavery, free workers and arrendatarios. For a complete and concise study of this relations se José María Aizpúrua, Relaciones de trabajo en la sociedad colonial venezolana. (Caracas: Centro Nacional de la Historia, 2009)

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rebellion that sought to transform the social and political situation. The rebellion not only aimed to abolish commercial and transport taxes (alcabala) and to reduce Indian taxes (tributo), but it also sought the freedom of the slaves and the creation of a “Republic” while applying what rebels themselves denominated the “Law of the French.”309 In order to attain their goals, colored people - slaves and free - who participated in the rebellion revealed their hatred for white people by sacking and burning their houses, beating and killing white males, setting fields on fire, assaulting travelers, and congregated on the outskirts of the city of Coro with the purpose of directly expressing their demands and political intentions to the local government.

1. The Historiography of the Rebellion of Coro

Since the 1940s, when the first academic work on the rebellion of Coro was published,310 this rebellion has mesmerized and intrigued scholars of Venezuelan slavery, anti-colonial insurgency, and Afro-Venezuelan culture. It is a rebellion that has come down through Venezuelan popular memory steeped in bloodshed, persecution, and uncertainty, making it one of the most studied episodes of slave resistance in contemporary Venezuela. However, the reasons this rebellion was largely ignored for more than a century - between 1810 and 1940 - are still no less intriguing.
309

“Ley de los Franceses.” Arcaya, La insurrección de los negros.

310

Focusing on studies on Aponte’s rebellion. See Trouillot. Palmié follows subaltern studies group critiques to the tendency of both colonialist and post-colonialist historiographies “to elude the question of subaltern consciousness by assimilating its presumed content to a totalizing discursive opposition defined by historical narratives that merely reverse each other’s terms (so that the dastardly deeds of one genre merely mutate into glorious feats. and vice versa). 312 . see Palmié. the rebellion of Coro has been an expressive symbol for diverse political and social movements in Venezuela. It is possible that the same ideological and political forces that silenced and camouflaged the Haitian revolution in the western hemisphere.182 This is probably due to the fact that the late-nineteenth-century political elite – firmly entrenched in its colonial discourse – inherited an unconfessed fear of racial war and social confrontation. as a Venezuelan pre-independentist movement. It served as a kind of canvas on which different social groups depicted their demands and illustrate their frustrations and political ideals. 85. Many of the contemporary inhabitants of the sierra de Coro. Silencing the Past. Modernity Disavowed. Contemporary elementary and high school history texts in Venezuela describe the rebellion of Coro. 79-158. For a rich discussion on how slave rebellions before and after the Haitian are concealed by totalizing colonialist and post-colonialist discourses.”311 also silenced the rebellion of Coro. and Fischer. later described and transformed by twentieth-century patriotic and nationalist discourses into “one of the first movements for the independence of Venezuela.”312 Since its “rediscovery” in the mid-twentieth century. indicate that they first learned about the rebellion of Coro in the 1950s when political scientist and high school teacher Dr. along with the Gual and España conspiracy of 1799 and Francisco de Miranda’s conspiracy in 1806. as well as the motivations and demands of its participants. 4. for example. 1-38. Wizards and Scientists. depicting it as “not a commendable model of emancipation. The archive and the Atlantic’s Haitian Revolution. 311 Fischer. Modernity Disavowed.” in Tree of Liberty. 21-3. “Talk about Haiti. This overarching category ignores the rebellion’s meanings and particularities.” Ibid. For a critical view of Trouillot’s powerful argument about the silence around the Haitian Revolution see Ada Ferrer.

and revisionist historians. La insurrección de los negros de la sierra coriana. and his brutal execution. plays. 1996). Las insurrecciones de los esclavos negros en la sociedad colonial. Aizpurua.313 Yet. have engaged in the production of historical texts. ex-members of demobilized guerrilla fronts and other local intellectuals of the sierra drew cultural and historical associations between their actions and the rebellion of Coro. Acosta Saignes. on his strength. See Arcaya. his persecution. festivals. 10 de mayo de 1795 (Caracas: Universidad Central de Venezuela.183 Mario Briceño Perozo visited the communities of the sierra in order to collect oral narratives and identify the places where the events of the rebellion took place. The main historical project of these organizations is to revive and disseminate the memory of the “zambo” José Leonardo Chirino. and with studies of positivist. the Asociación Cultural José Leonardo Chirino and the Asociación Rescate de Tradiciones José Leonardo Chirino.” 7112. La insurrección de los negros. since the 1970s. Since then. “Indios y negros sublevados.” Pedro Gil Rivas. More than eight cultural organizations of afro-descendants have emerged in the northern sierra of Coro since then. and Laviña. free blacks. Marxian. and historical sketches related to the rebellion of Coro. and Indians. Briceño also found support for building the first commemorative plaza to José Leonardo Chirino in Curimagua in 1954. More interestingly. these organizations challenge traditional and positivist historians who have depicted the movement as merely a local 313 This personification contrasts with representations of colonial authorities. who have depicted the movement as a collective movement of slaves. the representations of the rebellion have focused on the figure of this leader. . Luis Dovale and Luzmila Bello. Brito Figueroa. songs. In particular. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. Vida de los esclavos negros. leader of the rebellion. performances. both located in the Valley of Curimagua.

where the rebels blood was poured. Moreover José Leonardo’s body is also spacialized in the historical landscape of the sierra. the rebels directly evoked the influence of the Haitian Revolution and asserted the necessity of organizing a similar 314 Representations of the rebellion of Coro in contemporary Venezuela is the central topic that anthropologist Krisna Ruette develops. songs. that reconstructed and developed a historical route which shows the specific places where José Leonardo was captured and betrayed. as well as the Caule (Indians) of Cabure and José Leonardo. where the main battles took place. To support their argument. official historiographies. One of the members of these organizations told Ruette during the days before the national presidential referendum in 2004 that “When José Leonardo was killed. she refers to a historical organization that has emerged in Coro. See Krisna Ruette and Cristina Soriano. He explained that this is why today the serranos keep fighting and supporting the process [of the Bolivarian revolution]” These voices show how José Leonardo’s representations have been become in the construction of political frames of mobilization and in local narratives of indigenous and black processes of resistance today.. exploring how rage and abuse and other pervasive emotional tropes such as pain. his hands were later placed to the west as an example. and where José Leonardo’s hands were exhibited. persecution. According to Ruette “The dramatic death of José Leonardo and his dismembered body infuses most of the oral and written contemporary representations of the rebellion.” Moreover. if we are going to surrender and they are going to kill us anyway…they shall kill us while fighting…” Another leader emphasized “ … we. and myths. Instead. Venezuela” (paper presented at the annual meeting for the American Anthropological Association.184 political revolt prompted by imported ideologies from the French and Haitian Revolutions.C. “Memories and Historical Representations of the Black Insurrection of Coro. in their discourses. The jirajaras resisted for more than 90 years. poems. members of these organizations gathered evidence from different sources such as colonial documents. the falconians have an ancestral and moral burden of fighting. fear and betrayal emerge in José Leonardo’s contemporary historical representations. they took his head off.314 Numerous historiographical works that reconstruct and analyze the insurrection of Coro. you say we have to die fighting (hay que morir peleando). November 30 – December 4. The image of the public display of his dismembered body is key for articulating emotional memories of rage and pain. D. they argue that the rebellion was a movement seeking social justice and reacting against the colonial system. suggest that. When you hear these things. with its high taxation and the abuses of Spanish tax collectors (alcabaleros). . Washington. 2005). they fried it and placed it in the Guaira [sic].

315 Traditional Venezuelan historians such as Arcaya and Brito Figueroa considered that the circulation of “French” revolutionary ideas in the Province. 2009). and Herman L. Brito Figueroa historiography follows a traditional Marxist approach. Brito Figueroa says: “The rebels proclaimed the ‘Law of the French.”318 315 British and North American authors would include Lynch. who had met [colored people from Saint-Domingue] years before and knew that they were no better than he was. 36. “Slave Insurgents and the Political Impact of Free Blacks in a Revolutionary Age: The Revolt of 1795 in Coro” (paper presented at the Interdisciplinary Seminar of Atlantic Studies. In this sentence. Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (New York: Vintage Books. Brito Figueroa evidences the influence of C. the law of Toussaint Louverture’s and Dessalines’ black Jacobins – and recruiting soldiers for his troops. José Leonardo Chirino and José de la Caridad González (whose participation in the rebellion is still unclear) traveled to Saint-Domingue and through other colonies of the Antilles.L.R. contends that “rumors about the upheaval of the blacks of Haiti were circulating. the freedom of slaves and the exoneration from taxes”. Las insurrecciones de los esclavos negros en la sociedad colonial. Genovese. James’s The Black Jacobins.’ the Republic. for example. The Spanish American Revolutions. Las insurrecciones de los esclavos negros en la sociedad colonial.316 Arcaya. were among the principal motivations for the insurrection. Bennett. and El problema tierra y esclavos. The Spanish American Revolutions. Brito Figueroa. See Arcaya. Arcaya. From Rebellion to Revolution. convinced himself that he could lead a revolution. as well as the visits made by some of the rebellion’s leaders to SaintDomingue. La insurrección de los negros.185 one in the local context. Lynch. 69-71. 316 317 318 Brito Figueroa. and José Leonardo. and even if some of . These authors contend that both. 1989) in his work. He further contends: “Jose Leonardo remained in the ‘sierra’ applying the ‘Law of the French’ – or better said.”317 While describing the first events of the rebellion. March 24. University of Pennsylvania. La insurrección de los negros.

Aizpurua suggests that the French or the Haitian revolutionary models were not explicitly and directly evoked by the rebel discourse. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. with the leaders and members of these movements as people incapable of having sufficient political consciousness or agency. but rather by a perturbed and apprehensive elite. along with some of the current cultural afro-descendant organizations in Coro bring significant quieries into the debate regarding the motivations of the rebellion of the free-colored and slaves of Coro. his works remain an important reference for any historian of colonial Venezuela. rather than to circumstances created by the local colonial and slave systems. or instruments to organize themselves. 319 Aizpurua. Historian Ramón Aizpurua proves that rebel demands aimed more at solving socio economic challenges – through exoneration from taxes. Bello and Dovale. such as a Republic or the “Law of the French. reacting to a hemispheric ideological force.rather than imposing a new political ideological regime. Historians Aizpurua.320 Yet they also reject simplistic and his claims and perspectives need to be revised in light of more recent research. Guha criticizes Indian radical and colonial historians who overlook the specificity of rebel consciousness when viewing . Here. See Guha’s Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. Laviña.” 320 Traditional and official histories reproduce elite perceptions of subaltern rebellions as movements that needed to be motivated from the outside. Gil. In their critique they recognize the elites’ discursive influence on historical accounts that describe the rebellion as a movement mainly motivated by outside influences. or wisdom. positivist perspectives and politically interested views.186 More recent historical works suggest that the rebellion of Coro has been misinterpreted and that its main goal has been concealed by the official discourse.” 319 Through his analysis. for example .

It had always seemed more appropriate for the authorities and elites to depict social movements as an illogical reaction from “ignorant” and genuine people. Images of the Haitian Revolution in Cuba’s 1812 Aponte Rebellion. including C. “‘A Black French General Arrived to Conquer The Island’. as we mentioned before in note 9. The Black Jacobins. See. slaves and working classes. and Laviña conduct academic historical research. with their different agendas and motivations. and Viotti da Costa. 321 Ramón Aizpurua.187 exaggerated patriotic discourses that enthusiastically depict the rebellion as a protorepublican movement imbued with liberal values. I attempt to disentangle this intricate set of social representations in order to uncovering the possible motivations that led slaves and free colored people to rebel and to express their anger violently against the local system.” in The impact of The Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic. Gil. In this chapter. Carolyn Fick. Numerous historians of slave insurgencies in Latin America and the Caribbean have dealt with the notion of subaltern political consciousness. .R. James. Characterizing a rebellion as a response solely to local junctures would imply the recognition of that the colonial system itself had problems. 321 Historic events such as rebellions are generally mediated by discourses that represent and give them new and different – sometimes contradictory. 135-56. See James. Childs. These revisionist historians. or by acting “spontaneously. such as subaltern consciousness and actions embedded in the colonial dynamics of power. The Making of Haiti. Despite the methodological limitations of attempting to study the thoughts and desires of historical actors who could not leave all rebels as replicating one another in their commitment to the cause. Crowns of Glory.meanings. Coro’s cultural organizations and societies aims to enrich and support the collective memories of the people of la Serranía. Dovale and Bello. for example.” Scholars of Latin American history have long challenged notions of prepolitical conciousness among peasant. and Emilia Viotta da Costa. Matt D. Fick. but. they pursue their own political and ideological agendas. The rebellion of Coro was represented through a multilayered and fragmented set of ideas and images expressed by different social and political groups. force us to look at the unexplored dimensions of the rebellion.L. Tears of Blood.

seeking to connect them with the rebels of Saint-Domingue –. 93. honor. and Saint-Domingue was a “language” they chose to use in order to be heard. Wizards and Scientists. Rebels in Coro did not seek to restore an African order nor to establish a Black republic. the most significant ones occurring during the twenty 322 I share Palmié’s frustration when trying to “reconstruct a history that never was and whose creator was killed in the act of its enunciation.” See Palmié. In this chapter. it is still possible to reconstruct some of the motivations that slaves and colored free people expressed through actions and declamations that were rapidly silenced by repression or by omission.322 I argue that the socio. and were accompanied by other social demands.188 their own records. like the abolition of slavery. and to justify repression. I also analyze the possible threads that connected SaintDomingue social movements with the slave insurrection of Coro in Venezuela. It is well known that the frequency of slave revolts and conspiracies in the Americas reached a peak in the 1790s.economic demands made by the black rebels were rapidly transformed into a radical political proposition by the fearful elites. I read the rebellion of Coro as a privileged window through which power dynamics and social structures -represented in terms of categories of race. but the language they used allowed the elites to exaggerate the blacks’ violent actions . In the voices of the rebels Saint-Domingue seemed more a menace than a reality. . their demands responded to economic and administrative pressures. and class – can better be understood.

“The French and Haitian Revolutions and Resistance to Slavery in the Americas: An Overview. (1989): 107-24.323 Most historians of slavery in the Americas would agree with David Brion Davis’ conviction that the Haitian Revolution “marked a turning point in the history of New World slavery.”324 Nevertheless. The Impact of The Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. Aponte’s conspiracy in Cuba in 1812.” 3-9.189 years that followed Saint-Domingue uprising in 1791. “Impact of the French and Haitian Revolutions.” throughout this chapter I will 323 Curaçao’s slave rebellion in 1795. From Rebellion to Revolution.” Revue Française d’Histoire d’Outre-Mer 76.325 Nevertheless following once again Fischer and Ferrer’s suggestions that we should used a more nuanced notion of “influence. David Geggus suggests that abolitionism. as well as on the implications and uses of the Haitian events in every city. David Patrick Geggus. 324 325 Genovese. See Geggus. from being “restorationist” movements based on traditional African forms of social organization and cultural practices to rebellions inspired by modern discourses and the values of equality and freedom. Denmark Vesey slave conspiracy in Charleston in 1822. or community of the American hemisphere. Barbados slave revolt in 1816. Maracaibo and Cartagena’s conspiracies in 1799. most frequently became the impulse of these rebellions. most of them differ on the nature and character of the connections established between the Saint-Domingue movements and slave rebellions elsewhere. ed. While Eugene Genovese argues that the Haitian revolution produced a decisive change in the motivations and political determinations of slave revolts. and that the fundamental role of the Haitian Revolution has been exaggerated. not the Republican ideologies of the French and Caribbean revolutions. and Haitian Revolutionary Studies. to mention some of the most studied. Deslondes’ slave rebellion in Louisana in 1811.. town. . See Davis.

326 I have found that for black rebels..190 address the repercussions that Saint-Domingue rebellions. Governors of different regions tried to impede the diffusion of the information coming from the French Caribbean that could jeopardize the harmony of their communities. sociedad y esclavitud.Domingue was an instrument for menacing. free blacks. while for elites it was a fearful reference to what they wanted to prevent at all costs. as a common “knowledge” and discourse.. Modernity Disavowed. the proximity of the revolutionary events prompted the planning of new mechanisms of control in order to prevent the diffusion of “seditious” ideas among the Province’s free blacks and slaves. after all the Haitian revolution not 326 Fischer. in part. I understand “language of contention” as William Roseberry defined it: a common material and meaningful framework.” See Roseberry “Hegemony and the Language of Contention.” 361.327 I have found that in Venezuela. The Saint-Domingue rebellion was also an example that produced fear among elites who started to question their relationship with their slaves and free black workers. and masters of the Serranía of Coro. As Cordova Bello contends. controlling the introduction of knowledge through: texts and people. and Ferrer. discursive: a common language or way of talking about social relationships that sets out the central terms around which and in terms of which contestation and struggle can occur. For the official authorities and elites of Caracas.Domingue functioned as a language of contention. written and oral channels. Saint. “Talk about Haiti.. respectively. In this sense.” and “Cuba en la sombra de Haití: noticias. 327 . had among the slaves. Saint. the Saint-Domingue rebellion had varied repercussions.

329 The most important compilation of documents to emerge from the rebellion of Coro.” AGI. especially to represent an understanding of “others” and themselves. La independencia de Haití y su influencia en Hispanoamérica. the Haitian Revolution became “knowledge” that circulated through the Atlantic world. being used by different social groups for different purposes. attracting the attention of earlier and contemporary historians.”330 is composed of several reports issued by colonial authorities and 328 Córdova Bello. The expediente was published as Documentos de la insurrección de José Leonardo Chirinos (Caracas: Ediciones “Fundación Historia y Comunicación”. The Common Wind. The record. 1994). and a powerful discursive reference that they used to express their anger against the regime. Caracas.328 At the same time. Saint-Domingue became an inspiration for free blacks and slaves of the region. and the possibility that the latter could assume political roles. 329 For an interesting and comprehensive approach to the dissemination of rumors and information about the Haitian Revolution in colonial America see Scott. In a sense. 426. entitled Expediente la Real Audiencia de Caracas and from now on denominated “Expediente. “Testimonio del Expediente formado sobre la sublevación de los negros sambos.191 only signified emancipation and republicanism. is the record produced by the Royal Court of Caracas from 1795 to 1797. 330 . but it also implied absolute freedom for slaves. mulatos esclavos y libres de la jurisdicción de Coro. equality between whites and colored people. Looking at the rebellion of Coro allows us to understand these representations and uses of Saint-Domingue by the elites and by subaltern groups.

pardos and Indians.192 officials of the Province of Coro to the Captain General of Venezuela. a large number of the rebels had already been convicted and executed by the Coro authorities and therefore we have very few testimonies from suspected rebels. the General Captaincy of Venezuela was created. brothers. rebels and non-rebels. The record also contains population censuses. In light of a categorization developed by Aizpurua. parents. 332 . This is clear evidence of how rebels’ voices were abruptly and indiscriminately silenced by the royal authorities of Coro. plans and concerns of their rebellious husbands. The second kind 331 In 1777. although they did not participate directly in the rebellion. and daughters. it is possible to recognize three distinctive kinds of sources in the documentation on the Coro insurrection. compadres. witnessed. and the Province of Coro belonged to the Province of Caracas. and geographical descriptions of Coro. landowners and their wives. men and women.331 letters from inhabitants of Coro to Justicia Mayor of Coro and the Captain General in Caracas. and the officials who directly confronted the insurrection. who. reports from the Captain General of Venezuela to the Spanish Monarch and his Ministers. witnessed the events and articulated the motivations. or suffered the effects of the rebellion. over which the Captaincy exercised its authority. Unfortunately. co-workers and friends. when the members of the Audience decided to initiate the trials. these people include blacks slaves. and also letters written by the Justicia Mayor to his subalterns. free colored.332 There is more interesting testimony from free blacks and slaves. The first is testimony of people who actively participated. sisters. sons.

the third kind of sources contain testimonies and documents issued by the Official Authorities – Real Audiencia. 334 The city of Coro is located in a region currently known as the “Estado Falcón. I have found that the use of Saint-Domingue as a language of contention changes depending on who is using it and the purpose of the reference. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Government of Caracas. in 1777. the area was described by a foreign traveler as a mountainous region with plenty of rivers and unique for its “pleasant and healthy” climate: “These soils are apt for cultivating 333 Aizpurua. Governors.333 This chapter will show how apparently overlapping and.” 713-14. contradictory stories and testimonies become clearer and more coherent as the motivations and role of the “producers of stories” and actors are analyzed and understood.334 In 1770. such as colonial officials. and later. . priests. a hilly area located to the south of the city of Coro.193 of evidence was produced by people from Coro and its surroundings who “heard” and reproduced information and rumors about the rebellion. In the eighteenth century the whole region was called “Provincia de Coro. 2.” a state located in the northeast of Venezuela. of the General Captaincy of Venezuela.to the Spanish King and authorities with the purpose of giving detailed information about the insurrectionary events. La Serranía de Coro in 1795 The black insurrection of Coro took place in a geographic region known as the Serranía de Coro. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. but were not directly involved in it.” with the city of Coro as its capital. and vecinos of the nearby regions. And lastly. and Captain General. even.

and the commercialization of leather. 1767-1768 (Caracas: Presidencia de la República. there seemed to be a clear geographical and agricultural distinction between the Serranía de Coro and the rest of the Coro regions. October. e-mail message to author. 2009. including Caracas and its coastal area. and leather. El Carmen. quoted in Aizpurua. such as the surroundings of the city of Coro and the northern haciendas.”335 Other areas of the province.” 711. Ángel de Altolaguirre compiled a description made by Pedro Felipe de Llamas in 1768 when he was Teniente de Justicia Mayor de Coro. yucca. which were distributed to other regions of the province. plantains and variety of roots). the Serranía de Coro was considered the most productive agricultural area of the Province of Coro for its production of sugar cane for the manufacture of Panelas and sugar derivates. Therefore. During the entire eighteenth century. At the beginning of the colonization in sixteenth century. including: San Joaquín. and mules. Santa Lucía. . 191. the Province of Coro also became an important center for the raising of herds of cattle. cattle breeding (especially goats).194 appetizing and tasty fruits. corn. By the end of the seventeenth century. cheese. agricultural crops were introduced and by the eighteenth century. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. goats. Ramón Aizpurua. Relaciones geográficas de Venezuela. coffee. except for cocoa. the lands of Coro were used for raising cattle. San Diego. Macanillas and Curigmagua. Coro was a fundamental area for the 335 Ángel de Altolaguirre y Duvale. There are some “haciendas de trapiches” (small sugar plantations) in the region. The soil is good for everything. were known for a relatively reduced production of diverse agricultural crops (rice. and for the production of milk. 1954).

It possessed a number of tracks and paths that allowed good transportation and distribution of diverse products. instead he believes that the transit through the Sierra must have been too expensive. where they were sold by Dutch pirates to supply the sugar plantations. cotton.337 In 1795. In the introduction to his report. It is also known that the province of Coro played a significant role in the smuggling networks between the mainland and the Caribbean islands. to the western inland regions of Venezuela. 337 . Curaçao. and leather products. Ramón Aizpurua.336 However. Don Manuel Carrera issued a report to the Governor of Caracas informing him about the insurrectionary events of Coro. 14 (1986): 221-27.” Tierra Firme. Aizpurua thinks that the Serranía was not the most appropriate route. “Coro y su espacio geohistórico en la época colonial. such as SaintDomingue. Jamaica.located in the Serranía . e-mail message to author. Aruba. he stated that the Valley of Curimagua . According to Lovera Reyes. October. 2009. and Bonaire. salt.was a fertile 336 Elina Lovena Reyes. especially with Curaçao. sugar cane. such as corn.195 economic exchange of local products between the hinterland and the coast. and that other paths on the foothills of the Sierra must have been used to transport products from the coast to the mainland cities and viceversa. cattle. no. the advantageous location of the “Serranía de Coro” allowed the circulation of Caribbean products to the mainland and viceversa. Cattle and mules from the distant plains of Guanare and San Carlos found paths to the Caribbean islands.

however.196 and rich valley with desirable crops. This means that 56 percent of the population was colored and African-descendant. In any event.339 In the “Expediente. and inhabited by some landowners. there were some isolated “haciendas” and conucos (small plots of land where people cultivated for domestic consumption) not necessarily attached to those small towns. 339 340 Free blacks included mulattos and zambos who worked as artisans in the urban areas or as peasants in the local haciendas. .160 Arcaya. According to Arcaya. In the jurisdiction of Coro. their slaves. This census only takes into consideration the population living in the twenty-three small towns that presumably composed the region. during the eighteenth century. only two were of outstanding importance: the Hacienda de la Caridad and the Hacienda de la Concepción de los Güeques. of all the haciendas of Coro. the census allows us to have a general idea about the social composition of the region. free colored workers (creoles and luangos) and some indigenous communities. the region was composed of approximately twenty-three small towns.” in Documentos de la insurrección. there was a population of approximately 26. while approximately 13 percent were enslaved.” there is also a detailed account of the population of the Coro region in 1795-1796. 26 de septiembre de 1796.309 individuals. The rest were small and medium size haciendas where sugar derivatives were produced.338 Indeed.340 338 “Informe detallado de Don Manuel Carrera al Capitán General de Caracas. 20. La insurrección de los negros. almost 43 percent of these were free-colored people.

the Indian population worked as free jornaleros and lived in Indian communities (Pueblos de Indios). These families possessed lands in the Serranía.197 From the time of the colonization of the region of Coro. almost 14 percent of the population was white. expanding their haciendas and their enterprises. Historians of Coro recognize two family groups who entered into conflict during the eighteenth century: the Zárraga-Zabala families.” in Documentos de la insurrección. and Arcayas. About twelve rich white families (representing less than 1 % of the total population) monopolized the economy of the region of Coro. on the other. Chirinos. on one side. The first of these arrived in Coro as 341 “Testimonio del expediente formado sobre la sublevación de los negros. Among these whites. there were poor families (blancos de orilla) that ran small businesses and stores or worked as artisans.341 Finally. such as the Jirajaras and the Ajaguas. 1796. they enriched themselves in a notorious fashion. these encomiendas belonged to important Spanish families who commanded tribute and labor from the indigenous groups. and the Tellerías. mulatos esclavos y libres de la jurisdicción de Coro. and thanks to the advantageous economic development of this region during the eighteenth century. sambos. these families also competed among themselves in order to control the economy and the commerce of the region. However. however by the eighteenth century most of these encomiendas had disappeared. also controlling the Cabildo and the most important public offices of the city. 158-59. Originally. there also existed encomiendas of indigenous groups. The census shows that approximately 29 percent of the population was “Indian” (27 percent exentos and 2 percent tributarios). .

La insurrección de los negros. he returned with a Royal Decree that authorized luangos to continue using the lands. an increasing number of free blacks participated in the field labor.198 agents of the well known Compañía Guizpucoana of Caracas. an African black who lived first in Curaçao and later fled to Coro. and Arcaya opposed the monopolistic nature of the company and frequently engaged in conflicts to oppose the interests of the Zárraga-Zabalas. 343 .” 108. By the year of the insurrection.343 The social scenario mentioned above allows us to imagine the hybrid nature of labor in the region. after traveling to Spain. One of the most recognized notorious conflicts to emerge between the Zárragas and other white families. and Laviña. free coloreds 342 Luango was the name given to ex-slaves coming from Curaçao. 22. obtained a Royal Decree that declared the land to be realengo (land that belonged to the King. yet the Luangos. important families of Coro. represented by their leader José Caridad González and supported by the families Tellería and Chirino. but as the eighteenth century developed.342 The Zárraga claimed the lands of Macuquita. See Arcaya. Chirino. who could decide the use of it and the people who could live in there) and allowed them to continue cultivating and living on it. assuming responsibilities even in the public administration of Coro. He become the militia leader of the luango community which lived in Macuquita when. and their control over the commercial operations of Coro allowed them to achieve a privileged position in the city. “Indios y negros sublevados. José Caridad Gonzalez. The haciendas of the Sierra were originally cultivated by Indians and black slaves. was related with the occupation and use of uncultivated lands in the Serranía of Coro by Luango communities. such as the Tellería. However. spoke different languages and helped other Curaçao slaves to move to Coro. who settled down in communities in the region of Coro.

The proximity of Curaçao. during the eighteenth century. due to the economic marginality of Coro regarding official circuits.” in Laviña. Slaves had the right – often called “coartación” or “manumisión” . In his opinion. “Indios y negros sublevados. and the closeness to Curaçao. in the Haciendas.to buy his/her freedom by paying his/her price to the master through a system of periodical deposits. Coro played a fundamental commercial role in the economic development of the island.” 99. this phenomenon was.344 This situation poses interesting questions regarding social relations between slaves and free colored people: who were those free blacks? Why were they free? Where did they come from? Were they manumitted. For a historic discussion on this topic see Lucena Salmoral. ex-slaves from non-Spanish colonies. Laviña comments: “The composition and social structure of Coro notably differed with that of the rest of Venezuela. Recent research by Ramon Aizpurua has focused on the study of the economic and social relations between the Province of Caracas and the Caribbean. Aizpurua provides interesting and convincing evidence of the economic and social significance that Coro had for the island of Curaçao. There was a big mass of free blacks that contrasted with the higher proportion of slaves in other areas of the General Captaincy (of Venezuela). the relative tolerance of the local authorities towards illicit commercial activities between the two regions. whose maroons became part of the free blacks who worked. in part. and could shed new light on our comprehension of the social groups involved in the rebellion of Coro and their motivations. In his book Curazao y la Costa de Caracas and in numerous articles. along the slaves. particularly Curaçao.” 345 .199 doubled the number of slaves. “El derecho de coartación del esclavo. or local maroons? 345 How were they related to other minorities and subaltern groups? These are questions that are only partially answered. and viceversa. during the entire eighteenth century. as well as the increasing interest that 344 On this.

“El comercio curazoleño-holandés. slaves from Curazao fled to the region of Coro. earn a living as free workers. A Royal Decree of 1750 gave freedom to slaves coming from Foreing Colonies (Dutch. Maritime marronage was also a social practice that contributed to recreating social and cultural realities in both regions.” The term is developed by N. Reales Cédulas. during the eighteenth century.200 Curazoleños showed in acquiring Venezuelan crops and products such as tobacco. heavy sea and piracy. Hillary Beckles and Verene Sheperd (New York: The New Press.” Anuario de Estudios Bolivarianos X.T Hall in his article “Maritime Maroons: Grand Marronage from the Danish West Indies. among others. 387-400. eds. where they settled.” in Caribbean Slave Society and Economy. 1993). 346 However.348 With some frequency. 1993). He contends that. these slaves of built or stole small boats in which they crossed the sea that separated them from the mainland. automatically obtaining their desired freedom. 24 de septiembre de 1750. 11 (2004): 11-88. navegación y fugas.A.347 Aizpurua has focused particularly on the presence and influence of the black population from Curaçao in the region of Coro. salt. and also work small plots of land for 346 Ramón Aizpurua. “Santa María de la Chapa y Macuquita: en torno a la aparición de un pueblo de esclavos fugados de Curazao en la sierra de Coro en el siglo XVIII. these ex-slaves were free to settle down. no. leather. Curazao y la costa de Caracas. 347 348 . no. 345 (2004): 109-28. Introducción al estudio del contrabando en la provincia de Caracas en tiempos de la compañia guizpuzcoana (1730-1780) (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia. Aizpurua shows that the economic aspect was not the only one to bring the realities of Coro and Curaçao together. “Coro y Curazao en el siglo XVIII. 332. and cattle were.” 69-102.” in Boletín de la Academia Nacional de la Historia. facing storms. 1700-1756.” AGN. X. and “Esclavitud. French and British islands). Buen Retiro. Once in Coro. See “Real Cédula de Su Majestad sobre declarar por libres a los negros que viniesen de los ingleses u holandeses a los reinos de España buscando el agua del bautismo.” “En busca de la libertad. the reasons Coro and Curaçao maintained strong economic bonds during that century.

The author also notes that a significant percentage of the men. …. and the rest were field workers (24 percent). protected by the lack of interest of colonial authorities in benefitting their Dutch neighbors or helped by their blood-brothers who had preceded them (from the island or from Africa). (32 percent) were skilled artisans. approximately 581 slaves fled from Curaçao to Coro. practically obtained their freedom when they arrived in Spanish territory.350 Almost 86 percent of those maroons were men. according to Aizpurua. since it helped in solving the labor shortage that the region experienced during those years.” . these fugitive slaves. “En busca de la libertad. minas or curazaos obtained their freedom and formed a significant chain of small communities of luangos in the region. minas or curazaos. After arriving in Coro. grouped and under the leadership of a charismatic character. Approximately 26 percent were sailors and fishermen. Aizpurua contends: It is known that those fugitives. and ironworkers. bricklayers. commonly called luangos. or dedicated to other various activities such as music. such as shoemakers. “Coro y Curazao en el siglo XVIII. carpenters. commonly known in the colony of Venezuela as luangos. See Aizpurua. domestic slaves (9 percent). and 14 percent were women. glassmakers. 350 Aizpurua notes that there are exceptional years. barbers and surgeons. arts. because of their African or Caribbean origin. Frequently. cooks. and 349 Aizpurua.349 As we mentioned in the previous chapter. an average of approximately 22 per year. where they struggled against local blacks for the control of their newly-born towns. they settled in their own communities. bakers. Coro’s local authorities did not show any particular interest in controlling the flight of slaves from Curaçao. like the years 1769 and 1770 when an impressive number of 125 slaves flew from Curaçao to Coro.201 their own benefit and consumption.” 232. between 1749 and 1775.

and cultural relations in the region. The impact of this migratory movement is still to be studied in full proportion.” in Aizpurua. These numbers allow Aizpurua to assert that a significant percentage of the slaves proceeding from Curaçao were skilled workers who doubtless found the means to develop their respective trades in the region of Coro. culinary practices.” “costureras”). they must have settled in the city of Coro or in nearby areas.202 crafts (9 percent).” . and in deeper aspects such as the religious and mythic worlds where the origin and roots of Coro’s population relies. there are some assumptions that we may develop: in the first place. “En busca de la libertad. costumes. in its peculiar aspects such as songs. and speech. there was an elevated number of domestic slaves (71 percent) dedicated to cooking. as to assert that there was a permanent. Currently there are no comprehensive historical studies that analyze the social and cultural influences of the Luango communities in Coro. and sewing clothes (“lavanderas. abundant and diverse migratory flow. the flight of Luangos to Coro increased the population of free colored workers in the region. music. dances. the labor system. Taking into consideration the great number of slaves who fled from Curaçao to Coro during the eighteenth century. in the light of information provided by Aizpurua. cleaning.351 Nevertheless. Aizpurua contends that this migratory wave must have had a great influence on the social dynamics. while domestics and field slaves settled in the more rural areas – in or close to the Serranía of Coro –. while field workers represented only 9 percent and those dedicated to marketing another 9 percent. skilled workers must have settled near the city but 351 Aizpurua comments: “It is not the same to assert that some escaped slaves from Curazao arrived in Coro in the eighteenth century. In the opinion of Aizpurua. In the case of women.

Usually. slaves worked for certain hours in their masters’ plantations. free colored people (local and luangos) and slaves shared common social environments. and Blackburn. was based upon a hybrid labor force (slaves and free workers). such as their work in the fields. Therefore there would have been a portion of free workers who created Luango communities in the northern region of Coro. In this sense. finishing their work early in order to spend some afternoons and weekends working the small plots of land (conucos) that their master had given them in order to avoid maintenance expenses. he allowed his slaves to develop their crops in small conucos. the agricultural development of the region of Coro. like the rest of the Province. but at the same time there were significant differences that affected their relation. “Since the master really produced just a small plot of land. but 352 See Acosta Saignes. There was the land of the Lord surrounded by smaller ones. Vida de los esclavos negros.’ So it was considered normal that slaves only 353 .352 In this way. slaves preserved some economic “independence” from their masters. According to Pedro Arcaya. belonging to the ‘serfs.353 Free field workers did. the subjugation of slaves being the most important one. 497. The Making of New World Slavery. the high proportion of males who fled from Curaçao to Coro during the eighteenth century allows us to assume that Luango men probably established family ties with local free colored or slave women. the same kind of tasks as slaves. basically. slaves and the free colored of the Serranía shared some similarities in their work. Consequently. above which he believed he had entire dominion. and established family ties. Secondly.203 fieldworkers probably settled in the Serranía. in towns like Macuquita and Santa María de la Chapa.

a local free zambo. other than their labor obligations. Javier Laviña shows this when he mentions that colored free workers normally cultivated the haciendas of Corianos. while Luangos worked on the royal lands of Macuquita. did not have any kind of relationship with their masters. slaves and free blacks found the ways to live together and have families. On the other hand. masters did not support. masters had the right to control their slaves’ marriages. there is enough evidence to believe that Luangos formed separate and isolated communities apart from those inhabited by local free blacks. Slaves perceived the free colored population as “privileged” people who. Legally. who belonged to the hacendado José Tellería. 17. and this could have been an significant personal reason that motivated José Leonardo to rebel. unlike them. Vida de los esclavos negros. free coloreds who had family ties with slaves would have perceived them as unfortunate.” Arcaya.204 received payment for their hours or days of work. . was married to an enslaved woman.354 While it seems clear that some bonds existed among free coloreds and slaves. Chapter XI. received money for their labor and. 354 Generally in the Province of Venezuela. This situation must have created a significant contrast between free colored people and slaves. La insurrección de los negros. because they believed it had negative effects on the “natural submission” of slaves and also because they believed that the need to get money to support the family frequently drove slaves to steal. and frequently impeded. since the colonial judicial system declared that children of enslaved wombs were to be slaves. See Acosta Saignes. but despite this. The inhabitants of worked the time necessary to finish the job that was assigned to them. The leader of the rebellion of Coro. Their children were condemned to live in the same condition as their mother. José Leonardo Chirino. María Dolores. marriages between free blacks and slaves.

” . “Indios y negros sublevados.357 However.” 99. the increasing presence of Luangos in the region and the fact that they even received favors and privileges from the Crown to cultivate and live on royal lands created some sort of example for local free blacks and slaves who believed they could also forward claims to the Crown. See “Autos sobre disensiones y bullicios de los Negros Esclavos fugitivos de la Isla de Curazao a la Jurisdicción de Coro. In Coro. conflicts among hacendados. local free blacks and luangos occurred long before 1795. that blacks from Curaçao were allowed to formed in the mountains a confusing incorporación (company).” AGN. 1770. Diversos.” in Documentos de la insurrección.205 La Serranía – especially white hacendados – perceived the use of royal land by Luangos as an “irregular” situation with which they were not comfortable. commented in a written communcation that “it was rather bizarre and negligent. 2 de junio de 1795. with the consequent elimination of the company of Luangos and their relocation from Santa María de la Chapa to Macuquita. See “Informe detallado de Don Manuel Carrera al Capitán General de Caracas. XL. in part. who declared that they were not aware that their husbands had any kind of relation with local free blacks. promoted by hacendados and official authorities who preferred to divide the colored population than to have them making joint demands and attempting to shake the colonial system. a luango uprising revealed a struggle for land and access to water among these groups. 355 In addition. Laviña comes up with the interesting testimony of the wives of some Luangos suspected of collaborating in the rebellion.356 Discrepancies among creole free blacks and luangos were. In 1770. 45. Also analyzed by Aizpurua in “Santa María de la Chapa y Macuquita. Laviña. or by the formation of separated “militias:” such as the pardos company and the luango company in Coro. a hacendado who collaborated in hunting black rebels. 356 357 This is demonstrated by the creation of diverse black “cofradias” in various cities of the Province of Venezuela. with a Captain”. for instance. 355 Manuel Carrera.

206 Like slaves. and who commonly passed through Cajuarao (the southern entry to Coro). Since the people who went down to sell agriculture products from the Serranía de Coro. the free colored population. free colored people and slaves were required to pay taxes (derechos de alcabala) on the transportation of agricultural commodities on the roads and in the customs houses of the region and at the main entrances to the towns. Prompted by the Bourbon reform spirit and arguing that the system of tax revenues was disorganized and poorly administered.358 In the alcabala system. used. This decision provoked great displeasure among the hacendados. people who perhaps previously did not have to go through that transaction. Iturbe decided to establish a rigorous control over the Indian tribute and to locate new alcabalas in the region of the Serranía. as Iturbe mistakenly thought. as represented in the numbers who joined the upheaval. in many cases. most free blacks of the Serranía possessed. were mainly small producers. White landowners. was even greater than the price at which the products were sold. and the slaves of the region who were economically affected by the measure. and free blacks and slaves.” See Aizpurua. This situation must have produced anxiety in 358 Aizpurua argues: “It seems evident that the increase of what was collected had its origin simply in the increase of the population who payed the alcabala tax.” 712. Indians who paid or did not pay taxes. . or rented plots of land on which they cultivated different kind of crops that they sold in urban centers or in the nearby areas. Iturbe’s tax agents evaluated the crops to be sold and charged an anticipated tax that. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. During the last decade of the eighteenth century. it is obvious that the discontent did not come only from three or four people (probably the important inhabitants of the region). Don Manuel Iturbe. was assigned to Coro. but from more people. a new tax collector. “Alcabaleros” were perceived by small merchants and produce sellers as corrupt and arbitrary agents who took advantage of their position to extract money and enrich themselves.

maroons. Chapter 4. Crowns of Glory.” In his report. On several occasions. In her study of the Haitian Revolution. “Le décret d’emancipation imaginaire. The recognition of this privilege confused local slaves who believed that 360 . especially those paying tributes. Chapter 5.360 359 Several studies about slave rebellions in the Americas and the Caribbean have shown that. the rumor that the King had declared freedom for the slaves spread among diverse black communities throughout Spanish America. slaves created alliances with different groups – free blacks.” In the Province of Venezuela. According to the planter Manuel Carrera. Carolyn Fick shows that slaves on the plantations saw maroons as fellow slaves lucky enough to have gotten away. some months before the rebellion. See Viotti da Costa. Viotti da Costa also shows how in certain circumstances nonconformist evangelical missionaries supported Demerara slaves in their demands and even gave them spaces for debate and for the planning of a rebellion in 1823.207 slaves and free colored communities that would see each other as potential allies in confronting government pressures and their masters’ exploitation. Tears of Blood. See Klooster. which stated that the royal lands of Macuquita were to be occupied and used by luango communities. in order to preserve their benefits and privileged positions. and the same story was told again and again. and the maroons saw their plantation counterparts as potential allies on whom they depended. The local indigenous population. Manuel Carrera contends that this false idea spread in Coro thanks to a Royal Decree given to the luango Captain José Caridad González.359 It was in this setting that a powerful wave of rumors began to circulate. and those alliances were based on common concerns and prerogatives. a black healer (curandero). Indians and even missionaries -. spread the news that the King had declared freedom for all the slaves in the Province. See Fick. named Cocofío. the rumor circulated from one slave to another. depending on the circumstances. causing them erroneously to believe that they had been made free. who circulated freely in the haciendas of the Valley. this rumor was linked to different sources such as the “Código Negrero” of May 1789 and the “Real Cédula de Gracias al Sacar. inciting rebellious tendencies in the Serranía. The Making of Haiti. also shared some of their concerns and actions. According to Carrera. but local authorities and masters were hiding the papers – and the truth – from the population.

the same decree had given freedom to them. 3. many officials. and even blacks recalled some verses and songs that were pronounced in public gatherings before the rebellion and that included expressions of vengeance and suppressed hatred that could have reflected the planning of the rebellion.” The demands seemed clear: they wanted the freedom of the slaves and exemption from commercial taxes. and of the conflicting worlds in which they lived. planters. or that at least sought to intimidate whites. he probably did not hear about other word of mouth expressions that reflected opinions about blacks’ perceptions of whites. 45.208 While Carrera pays special attention to this rumor as a clear cause of the uprising. tactical maneuvers. Narratives of an Event: The Rebellion According to most official testimonies. neighbors of the city of Coro heard and passed on terrible news: slaves and free colored people of the Serranía of Coro had risen against their masters.” in Documentos de la insurrección. killed livestock and were aiming to reach the city to continue with their “murderous actions. In the next section. early in the afternoon of May 11. wounding and killing them with fire arms and machetes. they had sacked and burned their houses and fields. . and intentions of negotiating with the local government. See “Informe detallado de Don Manuel Carrera al Capitán General de Caracas. we will see how these expressions were channeled into economic demands. After the rebellion of Coro. 1795.

33-4.have killed white hacendados and have sacked and burned their houses. Lieutenant Don Mariano Ramírez Valderrain. In this letter. Additionally. the Governor of the General Captaincy of Venezuela. he commented that he had ordered “vecinos” (white and pardo neighbors) to arm themselves and be prepared to confront the uprising. wrote an urgent report to Don Pedro Carbonell.”361 Complaining about the lack of military force to protect the city. Ramírez explained that some groups of Indians had responded positively to his demands and were also prepared to defend the city from the colored rebels. Ramírez Valderrain wrote a second report to Carbonell in which he announced that the rebellion was under control. On May 15. four days after the uprising. He indicated that on the night of May 11. Coro’s highest official. “The rebels . he sent some officials to approach one of the customs houses to 361 “Oficio de Ramírez Valderrain. In the letter. accompanied by some free blacks and mulattos.” and finally concluded that their purpose was “to damage all the plantations and to go to the city of Coro in order to demand their freedom and tax exemptions. the lieutenant narrated his encounter with the rebels.” He also mentioned that “black slaves were clamoring for their freedom.” in Documentos de la insurrección. Moreover. . he said that he had been informed four hours earlier that a black and mulatto rebellion had taken place in the Serranía of Coro. 11 de mayo de 1795.he continued .209 That same afternoon. Ramírez Valderrain asked for arms and troops to be sent urgently to help him defeat the rebel attack and defend Coro.

appeared in the plain. 363 . 362 Unlike Indians from the Sierra. [The rebels] waved their flag and sent an envoi stating that freedom should be granted for the slaves. with the city given to them. me bastieron su bandera y hicieron una embajada expresiva de decir se les concediese la libertad a los esclavos y la excepción de derechos de alcabala demas impuestos a los libres. The officials effectively confirmed that the rebels had been there and had killed three soldiers who guarded the gate. entregandoles así la ciudad. y acercandome a la proporcionada distancia. Ramón Aizpurua. even more.” in “Oficio de Ramírez Valderrain. and still others were sent to prison and interrogated by the authorities. they were “exemptos”. forasteros. They waited until seven o’clock in the morning of May 12.”362 and waited for the rebels to appear.210 verify if the rebels were nearby. and some Indians who came from the town of Carrizal. e-mail message to author. and as they were about to retire. retrocedí con presteza marchando con los cañones de campaña. “se presentaron al llano trescientos cincuenta hombres.” in Documentos de la insurrección. whites. marching quietly with the campaign canon and approaching them at a prudent distance. algo mas. Ramírez Valderrain went during the middle of the night to a road that divided the city from the plains and gathered troops formed by “neighbors. The battle ended in a bloodbath. and that they would do nothing. as well as exemption from the alcabala and others taxes for free men. y que nada se ofreceria.” while 24 others were wounded and then beheaded that same afternoon. Indians from Carrizal did not pay tribute. and the Indians of Guaybacoa shot innumerable arrows that provoked panic among the rebels who started to run in different directions. “three hundred fifty men.”363 Local officials answered with a cannon shot. October. 34-5. Knowing this. [and he] quickly turned back. 25 blacks were killed on the “battleground. 2009. 15 de mayo de 1795. mulattoes.

to convince them to rise up and rebel. they would later rule a ‘Republic. apparently. José Leonardo was to lead the rebellion in the countryside.211 The lieutenant explained that. at this point. José Caridad. due to lack of time. José Caridad González and twenty one luangos appeared at the armory of the city of Coro. He comments that imprisoned rebels confessed that the rebellion had two chiefs: a luango named José Caridad González and a free black named José Leonardo Chirino.” Ibid. there was no uprising in the city.’”365 Ramírez commented that. he supposedly tried to escape from jail during the night and was 364 Ibid. They also mentioned that they were told that “a Real Cédula ordering the freedom for all slaves had come from Spain and had been concealed by the local officials in order to maintain slavery. contradictorily he asked for weapons to support Ramírez’ actions against the rebellion. 365 “que si los libres ayudaban a los esclavos en su sublevación ellos sería los que mandasen luego en Republica.”364 This information was used by the luango. turned down his request and captured him and the other luango suspects. That same night. The lieutenant contended that after José Caridad was declared a suspect in the rebellion and sent to prison. He also added that “José Caridad had stated that if free blacks supported the slaves in rebellion. while José Caridad was supposed to organize the fight inside the city but. but Ramírez who suspected that José Caridad was one of the leaders of the rebellion. . testimony from the rebels was taken only orally (“a la sola voz”).

Carbonell knew that Ramírez was not fulfilling the requirements of the law which. in order to “clarify the events. y siendo mucho lo que hay que obrar executo a la verdad savida son forma de juicio escrito. His capture and that of the rest of luangos accompanying him. Captain General of Venezuela.” in “Oficio de Ramírez Valderrain. confirmed as criminals. I acted based on the known truth without any form of written trial. However he encouraged him to follow the ordinary judicial process and to send him copies of the testimonies of the accused.367 Responding this report.366 At the end of his report. by a Royal Decree of 1774.” in Documentos de la insurrección. 37. because this is what was called for because last night the women of the luangos tried to bribe the jailer and because there is a great deal to be done. the fifteenth.212 killed with two other luangos. 26 de mayo de 1795. established that authorities should “allow those sentenced to give evidence and have legitimate self defense. pues la noche del dia de ayer me habian coechado la mujer de los negros Luangos al Carcelero. porque asi ha convenido. Don Pedro Carbonell. as well as of those who were still in prison. were the only arrests that happened in the city of Coro. with no trial other than an oral one. Ramírez concluded: This same day. sent a letter to Ramírez Valderrain. 15 de mayo de 1795. the number of dead and sentenced blacks. Ramírez Valderrain never showed any written or signed testimony by José Caridad or any other luango or slave. 35. congratulating him and his troops for their actions and for the “favourable” results of the encounter. consulting final sentences with the criminal chamber of the respective districts or with the Council. and information about the declarations that in voce were taken from some with other news and facts that Your Mercy may consider necessary for clarity’s sake in the case. “En este mismo día quince he degollado nueve de los aprehendidos confirmados reos en la delinquencia. …. On the contrary Your Majesty will feel unserved and will proceed against those who become transgressors of his sovereign intentions.” in “Oficio del Capitán General Don Pedro Carbonell. it seems rather strange that he would put himself in risk of being captured by the authorities. sin otro proceso que el de la voz. Carbonell wrote “I consider important for this case that Your Mercy send a report on the dead and sentenced. I beheaded nine of the prisoners.” in Documentos de la insurrección.”368 It is clear that Ramírez Valderrain did not 366 If it were true that José de la Caridad was a ringleader of the rebellion.” in “Disposición general de las Leyes y demas reales 367 368 .

the small number of whites (Spanish and criollos). .213 take a written record of testimonies nor of the acts of sentencing and execution.”369 Twelve days after the uprising. and the urgent need to restore order. In a third report.” in Documentos de la insurrección. no. he provided more detailed reports and asked other white witnesses to send their testimonies to the governor. Instead. the houses all burned and sacked. 17 y 18 de mayo de 1795. and patrolling the region. and “that those men did not even respect the sacred ornaments of the religious chapels. The following days. exile from the resoluciones sobre los artículos diecisiete y diecinueve de la Real Pragmática de diez y siete de Abril de 1774. and Indians) to physical punishment. 57- 8. the animals killed. 22. the lieutenant confirmed that he had controlled the rebellion and also that there was no longer any need for more troops since he had more than six hundred men. discipline. Estado 58.” concluding that the haciendas were in a pitiful state. and justice. slaves. divided between the city and the mountains. Still. the “atrocities” that the colored had committed. Ramírez sent more reports regarding on the capture of suspects and the executions of those sentenced. 369 In “Oficio de Ramírez Valderrain. Ramírez Valderrain sentenced fifty more people (free blacks.” AGI. Those testimonies always evoked the exceptional circumstances of the encounter: the size of the rebel force. he never provided the governor with any written documentation or proofs. He simply added that he was sure that the blacks he had captured were the most “furious and atrocious. arresting suspects.

and also upon their characterization as an accused or suspect. Ramírez Valderrain justified the irregular and illegal nature of his decision. y poner en execucion sus designios de matar a todos los blancos. eliminate tax payments. In his firsts reports. take control of the entire city. apoderarse del todo de la ciudad.” in Documentos de la insurrección.214 Province of Coro or death. “Venían los sublevados a coger la Ciudad. beat. He also contended that the people who participated in the rebellion had intentions of taking up arms in order to “take the city and execute their plans to kill all the whites.” however.370 Claiming that the local prison was overcrowded and that there were not enough people to protect it and control the flight of prisoners – which represented a great danger for the region –. Ramirez Valderrain specifically sentenced twenty-two free black militiamen to death because they allegedly participated in a rebellion in which they burnt and sacked houses. the lieutenant contended that the main demands of the black rebellion were the freedom of slaves and exemption from taxes. y seguir de resto la Ley de los Franceses. it seems that he believed that burning and sacking houses. Presumably. 371 . as well as killing white people was closely linked to the application of the “Law of the French.” There is a clear shift in Ramírez’s perception of the rebel’s motivations. and follow the ‘Law of the French. quitar la contribución de Reales derechos.’”371 It is not clear what exactly Ramírez Valderraín meant by the “Law of the French. 23 de mayo de 1795. injured and killed white men. 30.” in “Oficio de Ramírez Valderrain. but after interrogating the 370 The sentence depended upon their race and/or condition. the lieutenant was preventing the flight of prisoners and the possibility that seditious ideas could spread all over the region. by sentencing the “accused” and even the suspects to exile or death.

the shadow of revolutionary republicanism had invaded Coro. feeling the need to restore order rapidly. On the other hand. Therefore. the killing of whites and the sacking and burning of masters’ houses and fields evoked the stories of the events of SaintDomingue that circulated in the Atlantic world. about the oral trials he only mentioned the exemption from taxes. once Carbonell asked him to follow the proper legal procedures. surely.” In a way. if the rebels’ first actions in Coro and Saint-Domingue were similar. he implied their final designs were too. . Ramírez emphatically alleged that the final goals of the rebellion were to create a Republic and follow the French Laws without providing any proof.” but subsequently these appeared to be the most important motivations of the rebellion. when he reported on May 15. we must remember that Ramírez Valderrain did not respect the proper judicial processes. and the consequences of the rebellion [often referred by them as a “revolutionary movement”] also assumed revolutionary proportions. We may well believe that Ramírez Valderrain decided to dramatize the events by replacing the original rebel demands for “freedom and taxes exemption” with that of “applying the Law of the French.215 suspects on the afternoon of May 12. and emphasized the rebels’ desires to follow the “Law of the French” and form a “Republic. He desperately took justice into his own hands. Why would Ramirez change his account of the motivations? Several reasons might be entertained here.” In other words. When he initially described his encounter with the rebels he did not mentioned that they proposed to apply the “Law of the French” or to establish of a “Republic. For the elites.

and after receiving the order from Carbonell to comply with the law. made up the group of rebels. introduced by Ramírez in his subsequent reports. Yet.” . but in his second report he implicates José Caridad González.372 He comments: “Primary sources confirm that 200 luango men lived in 372 According to Manuel Carrera’s brief. only one luango. In Aizpurua. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. In the first report. as one of the ringleaders of the rebellion. he asserted that slaves. José Caridad González was the Captain of a Luango militia who was engaged in a conflict over land with the ZárragaZabala family in Macuquita. involving the participants and leaders of the rebellion. was officially recognized to have actively participated in the rebellion. he may have sought the means to justify his legally unjustifiable measures by dramatizing and exaggerating rebel actions and demands. Nicolás Flores.216 Once he achieved this. there is another new element. José Caridad had become an uncomfortable figure for some white families with important properties in the Serranía. the chief of the Luango militia. Since his arrival. with a royal decree in hand that allowed Luangos to live on and use the land. Aizpurua shows that the presence of Luangos in the rebellion was particularly reduced taking into account the large number of them who lived in Macuquita. Implicating him in the rebellion could have been an astute political move to get rid of the Luangos in the area or at least to restore some order regarding social and racial privileges and power in relation to the Luango communities. Venezuelan historians are still debating whether José Caridad was indeed head of the rebellion. supported by some free colored.

This maroon community was never found. His implication in the case could have been based on accusations by free blacks and slaves who knew about the conflict between some white families and José Caridad. official troops were sent to Macuquita in order to destroy a supposed maroon community that had allegedly contributed to the rebellion. and they could have decided to place the blame on an “outsider. why would José Leonardo rebel without the direct collaboration and participation of these Luango militiamen?”373 Most of the Luango who were executed without testimony.217 Macuquita – in the Valley where the uprising occurred – If José Caridad González and José Leonardo Chirinos were allied.” 712.” 374 See Aizpurua. and Laviña.” or based on the accusation by white families who influenced Ramírez to suspect and implicate him. The official colonial record defined the rebellion as an event highly influenced by external forces: the influence of the Saint-Domingue slave movements expressed in the rebels’ motivations. and the leadership of foreign free blacks like José Caridad and the participation of the Luango militiamen. “Indios y negros sublevados. There is in fact no conclusive evidence about the participation of José Caridad in the rebellion of Coro. All these characterizations indicate a military campaign that emphasized ideological and 373 In Aizpurua. on the one hand. on the other. after José Caridad’s execution.” . “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. and their participation in the rebellion is doubtful.374 In any case. were captured in the city along with González.

Just as they explain the Haitian Revolution as the extension of French revolutionary politics to the Caribbean. “‘A Black French General Arrived to Conquer The Island. The governor exposed the main intentions of his Informe. one that stymied criticism and judgment of his leadership. in others words. or economic prerogatives such as the the abolition of estanco (tobacco monopoly) and the alcabala (commercial taxes). he gives special attention to the creation of a republic in order to construct a more radical and extreme account. they insisted that the Aponte Rebellion resulted from the external influence of the Haitian Revolution. See. for example.375 But the actions and testimonies of Ramirez also allow us to perceive an erratic procedure fueled by fear. Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. Because of their refusal to consider criticism of the slave system they commanded. 142. In this Informe.” Ibid. to present the rebellion as a “revolutionary” and seditious event. Don Pedro Carbonell sent a report to the war Minister of Spain.218 political forces proceeding from the exterior. 71-3. and that constantly used fear of contagion to justify repressive decisions. “Informe del Gobernador y Capitán General de la Provincia de Venezuela. Guha. Carbonell narrated the events of Coro.” in Documentos de la insurrección. 375 A similar case occurred in Cuba with the Aponte Rebellion.’” There he states: “The response by Cuban elites to the Aponte Rebellion echoed their explanations of the success of the Haitian Revolution. also praising the decisions and actions taken by Ramírez Valderraín in controlling the situation. Childs. 220. Guha observes the same situation in colonial India. One month after the events of the rebellion. who intended to create a republic and receive exoneration from royal tributes. Multiple accounts show how authorities insinuated that peasants had lost their innocence thanks to the influence of outsiders.”376 Clearly. and that gave far less attention to local political demands such as freedom for the slaves. then he presents the exoneration from taxes as a secondary demand. 376 . which were “to narrate the insurrection of the black slaves and free people of Coro. del 12 de junio de 1795. planters proved unable to examine rebel’s motivations for revolt.

there are references to the creation of a “Republic. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. The Governor then began with the description of the rebellion. He contends: “The truth is that. Nevertheless. How would black people claim for both the formation of a republic and the exoneration of taxes? It seems obvious that the control of the city and the creation of a republic would implicitly reduce or eliminate those taxes. the two sets of demands were being made by different groups of rebels. In this sense. slaves and free blacks from the Serranía planned to kill the masters and ruin the haciendas in order to take control of the city later. looking it objectively.219 However. For Carbonell. one or the other of the two contradictory groups of demands were being invented or imagined by the official discourse. from the beginning. but not as a Republic exclusively governed by blacks. . the rebel demands expressed by Carbonell seem contradictory. second. and this rejection amounted to sedition. there is a evident contradiction between direct demands (freedom for slaves. the rebels would have belied their loyalty to the King. In a sense. He affirmed that.” 715. the demand for the exoneration from the royal tributes itself could also have been read as a rejection of vassaldom in relation to the Spanish Monarch. taxes exemption) and that of creating a Black Republic. or third. both demands were being made by rebels at different times. these represented the 377 Aizpurua highlights this contradiction.” as being part of rebels demands. Carbonell also seemed to justify the irregularity of Ramírez Valderrain’s procedures.377 Several possibilities allow us to understand this ambiguity: first. Presenting these two demands as the fundamental purposes of the Coro rebellion. claiming freedom and exoneration of commercial taxes.” in Aizpurua. it seems important to note that a Black Republic is not explicitly mentioned in the documents.

were demanding freedom for slaves. at this initial level.220 original purposes of the rebellion. obviously but not exclusively. In the next two paragraphs. the rebels were already clamoring for the formation of a republic. . When he mentioned it. he does not mention the creation of the republic as an original demand of the rebels. Particularly interesting is his narration of the events when the lieutenant confronted “more than 350 militiamen. there are no allusions to the formation of a republic as a demand being made at the moment of confrontation. he put it as a possible menace but not as a substantial demand made by rebels. the rebels. The Governor’s description of events was. we should ask: Did Ramírez Valderrain mention the creation of a republic as a fundamental demand of the rebellion? The lieutenant did allude to the “Law of the French” as a pattern or model that the rebels wanted to follow or apply. In fact. and the actions and decisions “brilliantly” taken by Ramírez Valderrain.” At this point. but he did not explicitly mention the republic as a main goal of the rebellion. exoneration of alcabala taxes and “other benefits for the free people. Taking into consideration the Governor’s Informe.” seeking to control the city in order to establish a republic. based on previous Informes of Ramírez Valderrain or other officials. in previous reports that Ramírez Valderrain sent to the Governor. the Governor recounted the actions of his officials in order to control the uprising: the sending of troops from Caracas and Puerto Cabello to Coro. in the Governor’s opinion. we may well assume that at the moment of the confrontation with the official troops. Curiously. Thus.

even more. 23 de mayo de 1795. and procured with the ferocity of their hands stained with the blood of their masters and other whites destroyed by the rage of the disgrace”379 378 “Oficio de Ramírez Valderrain. [the rebels] waved their flag and sent an envoi stating that freedom should be granted for the slaves.” in “Informe de Pedro Carbonell en que alaba al Teniente Justicia Mayor con motivo de la rebelión de los negros esclavos de Coro.” in Documentos de la insurrección. the Governor Carbonell wrote to the War Minister of Spain: “More than three hundred fifty men appeared on the plain. in order to establish the republic that rudely and criminally they imagined in their minds. we ask: How and why did Carbonell add “the formation of a republic” as a one of the purposes of the uprising? The comparison between a previous report of Ramírez narrating the moment of the confrontation and one paragraph of the “Informe” in which Carbonell details the battle reveals interesting discursive transformations. manchadas con las sangre de sus amos y otros blancos destrozados ya la feroz de su ignominia. en que pedía libertad de esclavos y exención de alcabalas y demás contribuciones para los libres.221 Therefore. and the exemption from alcabala and other taxes for free men. 379 “se le presentaron en número de más 350 y batiendo la bandera le hicieron embajada. and waving their flag. 72. 12 de junio de 1795. The city offered to them. they sent an envoi requesting that freedom for slaves.” in Documentos de la insurrección. marching quietly with the campaign cannon and approaching them at a prudent distance. . The two paragraphs share noticeable similarities but intriguing adaptations.378 On June 12 of 1795. 15 of 1795. and that they would do nothing with the city given to them. 33-4. lieutenant Ramírez Valderrain had written to the Governor Carbonell: “three hundred fifty men. appeared in the plain. entregándoles la ciudad con el fin de establecer la república que torpe y delincuentemente envolvieron en su idea y procuraban con la atrocidad de sus manos. On May. as well as exemption from the alcabala and others taxes for free men. [and he] quickly turned back.

after exemption of commercial taxes and freedom. The documents issued by official authorities frequently allude to the “Law of the French” and to the “Republic” as the main claims of the rebels. 73. But what about the rebels? What did other witnesses have to say about the possible reasons of the rebellion? In witnesses’ testimonies we find that the “formation of a republic” frequently appears in second place. Official narratives transformed the events.222 Here we can perceive the Governor’s transformation of Ramirez Valderrain’s account. we certainly do know that they asked for their freedom and for exemption from commercial taxes. In his account of the events. . by adding the “creation of the republic” as one of the rebellion’s demands at the moment of the confrontation. Carbonell exaggerated and added a dramatic touch to the story by describing the rebel hands stained with blood and by appending adverbs such as “rudely” and “criminally.” He also pleaded in favor of Ramírez’ decisions and actions: “if he had not acted in this manner. immediately punishing such criminal and disgusting offenses. but also the discourses produced during the rebellion.” in Ibid. Therefore we certainly know that “revolutionary” ideas and movements from France and Saint-Domingue had clear repercussions in the official narratives of the black rebellion of Coro.”380 Did black slaves and free people demand the formation of a republic? It is not known. his tolerance would have had dreadful and ruinous consequences. However.. su tolerancia huviera sido de unas consecuencias temibles y ruinosas. On May 380 “si no hubiese obrado con la resolución anunciada castigando inmediatamente unos delitos tan criminales y detextables.

Magistrate of Indians. el atrocimiento y la invasion de la Ciudad de Coro. el pillaje universal.” in Documentos de la insurrección. He affirmed that the night of May 11. Don Hilario Bustos. Don Andrés Manuel de Goribar who collaborated in the capture. Clearly. blacks. and invasion of the city of Coro. he heard that they were “proclaming freedom for slaves. 41. wrote a brief description of the events of Coro. la insolencia. Don Juan Hilario de Armas y Castro. the servitude of white women. wrote to the Governor of Caracas informing that while he was held captive by the rebels. However. insolence. universal pillage. again.” On the contrary these words allow us to appreciate the Corregidor’s interpretations. the rebels could not proclaim “pillage and insolence. another witness. slaves and free people and a few Indians assaulted diverse 381 “Proclamando la libertad de esclavos. interrogation and execution of rebels.”382 On May 31. el exterminio de los blancos. outrage.”381 In the light of the corregidor’s communication. mulattoes. exemption from royal rights. at least. “Informe de Don Andrés Manuel de Goribar del 22 de mayo de 1795. wrote that the goal of the rebels was simply to “take the city and kill all the whites. freedom for the slaves and taxes exemption for the free colored. it seems that the “original” demands of the rebels were. and zambos. in the middle of this group of demands – the concrete (freedom and tax exemption) and the imagined (“pillage and insolence. 39 382 .” in Documentos de la insurrección. as a plan of action. la extinción de los derechos Reales. the extermination of whites males.223 15. la servidumbre de las blancas. Another neighbor.”) – we find “the destruction of white males and the servitude of white women” as an important purpose of the rebellion or.

to say that they would not do anything if we removed the ‘alcabalas’ and gave freedom to the slaves. Apparently. a tiempo que por parte de ella se le esperava mandaron un emisario a decir que no se ofrecia novedad siempre que se quitasen las alcabalas. y se diese livertad a los esclavos. Don Juan Hilario de Armas commented that the rebels’ purpose was to obtain freedom for the slaves and tax exemption. taking their wives and children. In addition. 42-3 “Los designios fuera de la libertad a los esclavos y exemcion de derechos eran matar todos lo blancos y gente de color. In other words. the rebels threatened the city – surely continuing their actions against whites – in the event that they did not receive what they desired. there were some pardos who opposed to rebel’s actions and demands and who fought along the whites against the rebel troops. 31 de mayo de 1795. and to “kill all whites and colored people. during the morning of May 12 “four hundred and twenty five militamen came ‘en son de Batalla’ to the city entrance.” in “Informe de Juan Hilario de Armas al Gobernador de Caracas. Carora. 384 . para quedarse ellos con las mujeres blancas. we answered with a cannon shot. la respuesta fue dispararles una piesa de canon.”383 In the light of this testimony. nevertheless Don Hilario de Armas notes that rebels’ actions were framed in terms of following the “Law of the French. 43. freedom and taxes exemptions represented the first goals of the rebellion. it seems that at some point the rebels decided to negotiate with the officials.” It is not clear what the “Law of the French’” 383 “Presentados en son de Batalla a la entrada de la Ciudad. They sent an emissary to the city. in order to be left with their women. 31 de mayo de 1795.224 haciendas. killing white males. y seguir la Ley de los Franceses. and apply the ‘Law of the French.” in Documentos de la insurrección.’”384 Once again. apparently they offered not to do anything in exchange for the fulfillment of their demands. and sacking and burning their houses. According to him. Carora.” in “Informe de Juan Hilario de Armas al Gobernador de Caracas.” in Documentos de la insurrección.

Since their plans were supposedly to kill all the white males. On June 2. and taking their white wives in order to marry them. The death of all whites and the possession of their wives in order to marry them. As 385 “Informe de Don Manuel Carrera.” each rebel proclaimed different ideas and goals. the death of all whites regardless of age or name.”385 What Carrera reported allows us to ask whether there were some rebels interested in exterminating the white men and taking the city. appears again as a powerful and violent discourse that expressed a program that whites – having heard the stories of Saint-Domingue – feared considerably. it appears as general and undefined program.” in Documentos de la insurrección. the elimination of the tobacco monopoly and suppression of the alcabalas. Carrera commented that while comitting “their atrocities. Don Manuel Carrera. These assertions by witnesses that repeatedly represent slave rebels as people who wanted to rape white women and “take them for themselves” during the rebellion were not new or original.225 meant. For the elites witnesses. . tax exemption. and whether others were using this discourse as a threat to obtain what they really desired: freedom and tax exemptions. elaborated a long and detailed report regarding the events of the Rebellion of Coro. a local hacendados. 51. even in the Saint-Domingue rebellions of August 1791. those laws were to be imposed by colored people while white women would have to adapt to them. Nevertheless all of them coincided in demanding “absolute freedom for slaves. the shadow of Saint-Domingue seemed to cover all possible explanations concerning the rebellion.

387 However during the events of the Haitian Revolution. at worst. as during several revolts in Jamaica and at Stono in South Carolina in 1739. Tumult and Silence at Second Creek. and also Indian. The Haitian Revolution was generally described in violent terms. for example. protective patriarchs were absent figures or. This discourse was often used by British and Spanish colonists to characterized the “cruelty” and/or lustful nature of Indians. and Peggy Sanday. able to use their status to sexually oppress with impunity.” See Alonso.”386 Such emotionally driven accusations were a traditionally established discourse – frequently unspecific and repetitive – that accompanied whites’ characterization of slave. free blacks. The case of black women in the Americas was a little different. An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. for women of color. there were no such actual instances during the myriad excitements over slave plots in the entire history of the Anglo American colonies and nation. the taking of ‘civilized’ women by the ‘barbarians’ was viewed as an insult to the honor of the colonist. 150. 1996). 96. See Sharon Block. The same stories of an impaled 387 388 . rebellions throughout the Atlantic World. shows how in Northern Mexican warfare. Jordan. Accounts about slave cruelties and barbarities filled the pages of travelers’ diaries and witnesses’ writings.226 Winthrop Jordan shows. and “uncivilized” others. and from South Carolina to Jamaica. Rape and Sexual Power in Early America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina. Thread of Blood. “The capture of ‘barbaric’ women by ‘civilized’ men was represented as the redemption of these beings from a life of savagery. these representations of rebels as potential rapists of white women had circulated since the seventeenth century from Barbados to New York. these discourses of sexual violence took on important dimensions and became a recognizable violent feature of the black Revolution. 2006). White women had the advantage over women of color in every aspect of sexual coercion.388 386 Winthrop D. both the colonists and the Apache captured and enslaved women and children. A Woman Scorned. 1996). As Jordan comments: “Even when slaves were able to seize temporary local control. Ana Alonso. Jordan asserts that in most of the cases there is a lack of evidence that such rapes actually occurred within the frame of the rebellious movements. Acquaintance Rape on Trial (New York: Doubleday. By contrast.

Thread of Blood. 2007). women were a medium through which men could be dishonored. virility. during the rebellion. could have helped them to achieve their real objectives. and he wrote: “I showed them [two blacks guards] how astonished I was at everything they told me. white child. the chastity of women was what ensured the integrity of the patriarchal domain. Numerous eyewitness testimonies about the Saint-Domingue rebellions recounted stories of white women who were raped by the blacks. Universal Emancipation. Eyewitness Accounts of the Haitian Insurrection (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. they thought. but I didn’t make any response to it. 111-24. and the women. See Laurent Dubois.” 53. the attacks on the sexual purity of women (mothers.227 The motivation of sexual rivalry was constantly evoked in the account of Saint-Domingue that circulated throughout the Caribbean. Chapter 3 and Chapter 5. La vivencia del honor en la Provincia de Venezuela. 390 It seems possible that. Within the Iberian logic of honor. See Alonso. the honor of the family as well as ethnic purity. Pellicer. 389 See Jeremy Popkin. sisters. increasing the fear of white planters – especially fathers and husbands – and of the authorities.389 This violent characterization of the Saint-Domingue rebellions traveled throughout the Atlantic World. wives and daughters) were insults that put courage. Facing Racial Revolution. Laurent Dubois invites us to explore the politics of violence in the Haitian Revolution by looking also at the politics of representation and on how black leaders themselves sought to channel and contain revolutionary violence. Popkin analyses an interesting account of an anonymous author who survived the insurrection. Therefore. and also stories of black rebels who stated that they wanted to murder only white males and that they did not want to kill white women but to get them pregnant. “Avenging America: The Politics of Violence in the Haitian Revolution. and also Nesbitt. the surgeons to heal their maladies. and virtue into question and had to be avenged if honor was to be restored. They replied that they were keeping the priests so that religious services could be held. creating a particularly cruel and bloody characterization of rebellious blacks. and the women to take for their own and get pregnant.” in The World of the Haitian Revolution. the massive rapes of white women and the opened wombs of pregnant women were repeated over and over. 390 . Coro rebels used these discourses as effective threats which. I simply asked them why they were sparing the priests. the surgeons.

” in “Tercera pieza de Audiencia sobre Sublevación de los Negros Esclavos y libres de aquella ciudad. reported that Father Pedro Pérez. Nicolás Coronado. corta la cabeza. que caveza de blanco: candela arriba. meaning “cutting the white’s head.228 Francisco Jacot. a captain appointed by Carbonell to control the military situation in Coro. Contiene las declaraciones de su Teniente. Curiepe. and had replied that those were “seditious songs. 41. death to the white. told Captain Jacot about similar verses that blacks sang at dances.” in Documentos de la insurrección. 16-29. cut off his head. the zamuros eat. Curiepe.”391 Captain Jacot could not believe what he had heard.” quoted in Castillo Lara. beva la aguardienta.” He remembered one in particular that said: “A black with placa is worthier than a white’s head: flame up. gathers the blacks at La Macanilla. 392 393 . come los zamuros. flame up.” See Joséfina Jordán “Acercamiento a la rebelión encabezada por José Leonardo Chirinos en 1795. orígenes históricos. orígenes históricos. commented that weeks before the uprising blacks attended dances or “zambas” in which they danced “a thousand obscenities” and sang “dishonest verses.392 Another neighbor in the region. and “Machaca” is an instrument to cut or smash. candela abajo. According to Josefina Jordán. “Placa” was the name they used for certain coins from the Netherlands. Don Josef de Zavala. flame down. Some verses were in a “language that he could not understand. life to the black: and Josef Leonardo with his gang. bring out the machaca. Ibid. Don Francisco Jacot y algunos más. one in particular caught Jacot’s attention: Flame down. Castillo Lara.”393 but others were divulged in Spanish. and with his 391 “Mas vale negro con placa.” The Priest answered that black people sang them publicly some days before the upheaval. drink the aguardiente. saca la machaca. a priest in the region.

black remain for the seed. quien viviere lo verá. 90-6. lo negro viva: y Joséf Leonardo con su pandilla. Curiepe. Jacot explained that free blacks were used to dancing during religious festivities. However. Don Francisco Jacot y algunos más. and taking control of a new social order that did not include pure whites.395 and that they normally had permission from the Magistrates who sent officials with the purpose of maintaining order. black for the seed: white dig. death to the white. Contiene las declaraciones de su Teniente. Don Joséf de Zavala. Thread of Blood. In the verses. junta a los negros en Macanilla. just mixed-races such as pardos and mulattoes. white women were not only the vehicles of male honor and dishonor. This ability was seen to be crucial to the maintenance of social form and order. negro queda para semillan. negro semillan: Blanco cava.” and that it was precisely after the uprising took place that he heard and understood “that with this expression the blacks wanted to say that they would try to extend their offspring through white women.”396 These rumors and songs not only revealed racial hatred by blacks towards whites. muera lo blanco. one official concluded that he was particularly concerned with the phrase “black for the seed. and a bolero was a kind of hat made of fibers of palm. “que con esta expresión querían decir los negros que trataban de extender su generación en las blancas. they are doing both: dishonoring white males. 395 396 . Easter Sunday and “Cruz de Mayo. orígenes históricos.394 In the report.” among others. orígenes históricos.229 volero made of ‘royal palm’. When black rebels reveal intentions of getting white women pregnant. such as Christmas. the ones who live will see. They also represented the most valuable point of male’s identity: the ability to reproduce themselves. the word candela (“flame” or “fire”) could have been 394 “Candela abajo. they seemed to reveal the planning of an uprising that was by no means a spontaneous event. 43. In this case. Contiene las declaraciones de su Teniente. See also Alonso. Don Joséf de Zavala.” quoted in Castillo Lara.” in “Tercera pieza de Audiencia sobre Sublevación de los Negros Esclavos y libres de aquella ciudad. candela arriba. Curiepe. These parties were usually permitted during catholic festivities.” quoted in Castillo Lara. La Macanilla was the name of a hacienda located in the Serranía of Coro. muera lo blanco. y con su volero de Palma Real. Don Francisco Jacot y algunos más. 42.” in “Tercera pieza de Audiencia sobre Sublevación de los Negros Esclavos y libres de aquella ciudad.

” This association made by the officials was also based on the several times that witnesses had heard rebels alluding to the idea of “exterminating whites.” Some historians have argued that it is evident how colonial elites fabricated and invented evidence to support the idea of the influence of the Saint-Domingue insurrection in Coro. As we showed in previous chapters. Hence. However it is interesting to note that it was only after the rebellion of Coro occurred. the songs functioned as hidden . violent stories from Saint-Domingue found their way to the mainland before the year 1795.” probably establishing retrospective connections between the Coro black movement and Saint-Domingue stories.230 used to refer to the uprising itself. before the uprising of Coro. However. being left with the women to get them pregnant. Saint-Domingue may have been a “violent image” of a situation as yet not thinkable in the Province. Saint-Domingue rebellions were transformed into a “feared reality. that officials said that they understood the meanings of these “seditious songs. and at this moment were not intended to be understood by authorities and/or priests. the officials reported that these verses were sung in public before the rebellion. and establishing the law of the French. Before the rebellion. But after it. The verses may also have contained geographical references to the Serranía (“flame up”) and the city of Coro (“flame down”) and demonstrated a clear motivation: that of exterminating whites and extending the offspring of blacks through white women. The second song talked about an uprising with recognized participants like José Leonardo – as a leader – and his people.

She affirmed that between 8 and 9 pm on May 11. see Guha Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency.” perpetuating the black line and establishing a new social order with new laws. On September 7. and their meanings were addressed to free blacks and slaves. When not receiving any response. 1795. decided to go out to find out what was going on. Doña Nicolasa de Acosta. the transparency and opacity of messages. see James Scott. It also merits our attention. they decided to burn the house. on rumor see Allport and Postman. and he was immediately 397 For a rich discussion about instruments of transmission of messages in social movements. widow of Don Sebastian de Talavera and survivor of the rebel attacks. the members of the Audiencia asked some witnesses from Coro to go to Caracas to testify. wrote a letter in which she described the events as she lived them. But during the rebellion the phrases were used several to threaten whites. such as songs. In order to clarify the chain of events. and asked her to open the door. that these verses did not explicitly demand the exemption of taxes or freedom for the slaves. The Psychology of Rumor. 1990). which is expressed in a violent image of extermination of all white males and sexual possession of white women to get them pregnant with black “seeds. drumming and whistles.231 transcripts: they were voiced in black dances. Chapter 6. yelled at her. Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University. they could not all be invented by the elites. 397 Therefore. while ordering others to send their testimonies. Don Joseph María Manzano. They clearly demonstrated blacks’ desire for revenge and alteration of the social order. a friend who was accompanying her that evening. the Real Audiencia de Caracas decided to initiate an investigation into the events of Coro. Domination and the Arts of Resistance. some colored people came to her house. on hidden discourses and transcripts. . In August of 1795.

When the enslaved woman asked her brother why they were doing that to innocent people. which took her by surprise. que ya no havia esclavitud.232 killed by the rebels.’ that slavery was over and so were the alcabalas. . not even for their seeds. On September 23. with a view of forcing them to concede economic and political concessions. was interrogated by the Real Audiencia. 112. A slave smashed one of the windows of the house in order to provide an exit for an enslaved sister who served there. These expressions of vengeance and suppressed hatred seem to constitute a discursive strategy either to attract black people to the movement or to threaten the white elites. testigo de la insurrección de Coro” in Documentos de la insurrección.”398 It demands our attention that at this point.” in “Informe de Doña Nicolasa de Acosta. some rebels contended that “new laws” had been established. ni Alcabalas. and shows clear connections between the aforementioned verses sung in black dances and the rebels’ discourses during the uprising. Through that same window all the women of the house escaped from the fire. she affirmed that she did not know about the rebellion. he answered “no white male will remain. ni para semilla. She 398 “Que no había de quedar blanco barón. previous to the confrontation with the official troops. que las hembras se havían de acomodar a sus nuevas leyes. slave of Don Joseph de Tellería and Jose Leonardo Chirino’s wife. After explaining details about the way some rebels came in to the house of her master. that white women would have to adapt to their ‘new laws. The idea of exterminating whites males and their “seed” as an action to be taken by the rebels appears again. and freedom for slaves and tax exemption were part of these laws. María Dolores Chirino.

he answered her: “Come on. For the people of Coro. the plan of action or the precise nature of the menace. they were all murdered by the rebels. like María Dolores. but they ignored or probably denied.” in Documentos de la insurrección.” contended that the main purposes of the rebellion were freedom and tax exemption. we have found a contrast between an “official discourse” that highlighted the rebels’ intentions of following the “Law of the French” and of creating a republic and the witnesses’ discourses that. esta no sabe lo que hay. in order to avoid suspicion of complicity. . From witnesses’ testimony.” This testimony allows us to suspect that. but that she did not know the real motivations behind this “weird situation. María Dolores contended that she had heard in her neighborhood that colored rebels were demanding freedom for slaves and exemption from loyal taxes. that is a joke. Chirino and his allies began a fight with the slaves.233 said that she had heard her husband drunk and fighting outside the house where she served.” in “Declaración de Maria Dolores Chirino. and when white men came out of the house. this woman doesn’t know what is going on. 116-17. the rebels’ actions of killing whites and burning houses were evidence of the application of the “Law of the French”. and that when she warned him about the proximity of her master.”399 Later. other black women were aware of a general discontent and demands regarding taxation and social injustice. even when mentioning that rebels wanted to follow the “Law of the French” by “killing white males and taking their wives to marry them. 23 de septiembre de 1795. yet we can still wonder whether the rebels wanted to follow this law and 399 “Bamos no me vengas con bromas.

His hands were sent to officials in Coro who had been ordered to display them at particular sites in the countryside. On the morning of December 17. Their actions reveal that they were not really seeking to create a “Republic” or an independent state. accused of being the head of the rebellion of Coro. to Coro. In the end. Did they really want to create a republic? From official reports. This same representation of Saint-Domingue was perhaps used by Government authorities to repress the rebellion violently and cruelly. more than twenty-five black men were killed on the battleground. was placed at the beginning of the road that connected Caracas. at the moment of the confrontation with Ramírez’s troops. They would have confronted the troops in order to take control of the city. the free black. the rebels sent an emissary to negotiate their demands for freedom and tax exemption. José Leonardo Chirino. we know that. In my view. The head. The violent representations of Saint-Domingue functioned as a way of demanding and provoking changes in their local circumstances. 1796. they would hardly have sent an emissary to negotiate. where Spanish lives had been extinguished by the black rebels. If the rebels were particularly interested in forming a republic. this situation reveals that the rebels used their actions killing some whites and burning their houses and fields .234 establish a republic. His hands and his head were removed from his warm body and placed in separate boxes. A similar number were executed without . center of the province. and to punish its instigators and leaders. impaled on a pole. was executed.and discourses – menacing plans of killing white males and taking their wives – to threaten.

and punished suspects in order not only to express the sovereign’s power and restore the social order. but also to set an example and demonstrate the high cost of insurgency. Thinking of the rebellion of Coro in terms of Genovese’s model seems problematic because the slaves and free colored people did not want to recreate an African-based order nor a black republic. aimed to eradicate the white power structure and create a black independent state. According to him. Several dozens of slaves. 4. while others were exiled to different provinces of the Captaincy and several women were publicly flogged. Spanish officials executed rebels. like the Haitian Revolution. Saint-Domingue as a Language of Contention Eugene Genovese argues that slave’s uprisings in the Americas underwent a transformation from “restorationist” to truly revolutionary movements around the time of the Haitian revolution. Genovese assigns importance to those rebellions that. brutalized the leader’s body.235 proper legal procedure. The scores of testimonies stating that . from separatist movements based on African political and social patterns to subaltern interpretations of the modern and bourgeois independent state. Fifty-five free black militiamen and nine of their sons were sentenced to naval impressment for a period of ten years. this trajectory explains how rebel demands and goals changed over time. free blacks and Indians were sentenced to hard labor for periods of five to ten years.

as they had their own experience of suffering the exploitation.” 717. and also as a language of contention. as a mere possibility. as a way to call attention in part of the whites. Ramón Aizpurua suggests that “to kill whites. with a new racial and social order.”400 I quite understand that.236 rebels killed white men. . abuse. However. 400 Aizpurua. blacks rebels [of Coro] did not need the example of the haitians. on the other hand. and yet it is clear that the rebels sought a fundamental restructuring of society: one in which they could be free and would not pay taxes. it seems clear that the rebels could have used the “creation of a republic” or the intention of “exterminating all whites males” as discourses to threaten their enemies and “negotiate” their demands. “La insurrección de los negros de la serranía de Coro. and damaged and sacked their properties in order to demand freedom for slaves and taxes exemptions carried an implicit understanding that slaves and free people of color sought to create a new society. But. but as a menace. simply taking in account their own experiences and sufferings. Apparently. throughout this chapter I have shown that blacks rebels certainly needed and used Saint-Domingue and its violent references also known to white elites . and insults for more than two hundred years.not necessarily as an example or model. slaves and free coloreds everywhere had sufficient reasons to resist and to rebel. none of the witnesses testified to a rebel’s desires to create republic or to restore an African-based society.

. and rebellions as diseases that attack the political body. The 401 Gaspar. rebels’ ideas were spread all over. D. Indian elites created metaphors that conceptualized the state as a body. their fear manufactured events and actions and applied different kinds of repression to these groups because this was the only way to prevent and/ or protect themselves from rebels’ actions.401 White fear and paranoia existed and manufactured many things. Elites saw symptoms of the diseases in their peasant’s words and actions. propaganda. Gaspar contends that the existence of a cultural distance between black slaves and white masters could lead the latter to read “planned subversion” into innocuous activities of slaves. The cultural distance between masters and slaves was not great enough to isolate elites’ rumors and fears from the slaves’ ears and perceptions. and the abolitionist disease that aimed to end slavery and eliminate the traditional social and economic order. and free colored people and slaves did so too. Guha Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency. By controlling the entry of texts and people from France and Saint-Domingue. Ranajit Guha argues that peasant rumors. and was used to justify repression. the elites sought to prevent the spread of the republican disease in the provinces.B. and “subversive utterances” could be read as sedition and planned subversion by imperial authorities. SaintDomingue was a close reality and a close example of what could happen in a racebased society. Like a disease. Chapters 9-10. the Saint-Domingue rebellion was the breeding ground for many problems: the “republican” disease that sought to overthrow the monarchical system.402 Nevertheless. contaminating the rest of common people.237 In Bondmen and Rebels. News and rumors about Saint-Domingue spread all over the provinces of the captaincy. Elites read and talked about Saint-Domingue. like peasants. 402 In his work regarding colonial India. Bondmen and Rebels. but could not slaves read that fear in their master’s eyes? How large could the cultural distance between the two be? For the Spanish authorities in Venezuela.

403 Therefore. in the subsequent years after the rebellion. ha sido la negligencia de los dueños de las Haciendas del mismo Valle en la educación y cuidado christiano y politico de los esclavos y dependientes.” AGI. no. . and slaves and coloreds recognized white fear. therefore. SaintDomingue. 26 de diciembre de 1796. arrasaron violentamente todo lo que encontraban.the Governor of Venezuela. the recommendations to prevent other possible slave uprisings continued to be the control of seditious ideas coming from the revolutionized Atlantic. recognized that the real cause of the rebellion of Coro was The negligence of the masters of the Haciendas of the Valley.” which is when 403 “Que el unico origen de aquella sublevacion (…). violently razed to the ground everything they encountered. que abandonados a sus pasiones.” in “Informe de Carbonell a la Real Audiencia. 1796 – one year and a half later . but also the need to increase control and vigilance strategies – also in the subtle form of “education” . 46. Elites definitely did not trust their slaves anymore.over the black population. and used Saint-Domingue to express their anger and make their demands. In the period of 1750-1810 there were a total 289 cases of manumission in Coro. functioned as a language of contention. who have not provided slaves with the necessary Christian and political education and care. several measures were taken by the authorities and the elites of the region of Coro in order to impede black insurgency. In fact. Estado 58. they [slaves] abandoned in their passions. In a letter written to the Real Audiencia. in December. and this even affected manumission.7 percent of these cases were “manumission by testament. 7.238 knowledge of Saint-Domingue was perhaps a hinge that connected elites and subalterns: elites feared Saint-Domingue.

or as a way of punishing slaves for their rebelliousness. the treatment of the slaves by their masters. Julio – Diciembre.404 Colonial authorities also promoted important changes regarding the establishment of a new Military Command in the region of Coro. political and civil order of the region. XII.239 in the will. 2004. and personal communication with author July. mayordomos. or as an ultimate expression of Christian charity. These articles were directed to different individuals such as the shopkeepers. and the presence of the Church in the Serranía of Coro. In October 27 1798. the slaves should talk and sing in our language. Between the years 1795-1799 the cases of manumissions were completely suspended in the region of Coro. which is well- 404 Blanca De Lima. no. If the commander give them permission to do so. “Libertades en la Jurisdicción de Coro. a Real Cedula assigned Andrés Boggiero as the new Commander of Coro. Vol. 1750-1850. probably as a way of showing the lack of confidence in the part of whites to their slaves. fathers of family. whose responsibility was to maintain the military. free blacks and slaves. an individual decided to grant freedom to his/her slaves as an expression of gratefulness. .” Mañongo. and to apply the forty-seven articles of the Real Cedula. the rebellion made masters less prone to freeing their slaves. hacendados. and the promulgation of new articles addressed to control the functioning of haciendas. In this sense. 23. 2007. One of the articles stated that the Commander should restrict the festivities of blacks “who every Saturday night and even on weekdays get together to dance and sing.

Diversos.” Likewise. 406 407 . LXXV.240 known by them.”406 In the following article. Ibid. However. preventing the planning of an insurrection. so these communities “could live in order and appropriate subordination. the Real Cedula suggested masters to control the meetings between slaves and free blacks of the region. 139-153. administrators of the Cajas 405 “Real Cédula sobre el establecimiento en Coro de una Comandancia Militar.”405 In this way. como consecuencia del Movimiento Revolucionario de José María Chirino. Another article. as well as encouraging free blacks to live in the recently founded town of Caburo. This influence was the main cause of the black insurrection of 1795”407 It is clear that the response of the colonial authorities to the black insurrection of Coro was the increase of control and vigilance over the black population of the region. “where there is a Church. the decree states: “The Commander will take all the necessary measures to prevent that free mulattos. especially if they are not married. and from were they could go everyday to the Valley in order to earn their jornales. zambos and blacks pervert the slaves of this region. 27/10/1798” AGN. the authorities intended to control the communicational strategies and codes to be used among the slaves. there was also a group of measures that were directed to controlling the authorities of the region. ordered the establishment of a Catholic church in the Valley of Curimagua – where the insurrection took place – and the frequent presence of priests to give mass and to teach the Christian doctrine to the black population. upon which they had have great influence until recently. especially tax collectors. Ibid.

It is still not clear whether the rebels of Coro wanted to follow the “Law of the French” to its ultimate consequences.needed to be controlled and reprimanded. and lawyers who should be vigilant of appropriate execution of legal procedures. and also demanded the Commander to keep an eye on the abuses that tax collectors might commit. and rebels used those interpretations to threaten them and pursue their goals. In February 1801.” All these articles allows us to appreciate that the new Captain General.white elites. an hacendado in la Serranía wrote a report in which he stated that the news of the invasion of Toussaint to the Spanish part of Santo Domingo spread. Don Agustín Yraola. These articles ordered tax collectors to retrieve from the population the exact amounts of commercial taxes. An article stated that “secretaries must elaborate written testimony of any civil or criminal case. What it is clear is that the elites interpreted the rebellion as a local expression of Saint-Domingue influences and Republican values. giving a central role to the Real Audiencia. colonial authorities and subalterns . which must be vigilant that everyone implicate in any case should follow the appropriate legal process. Several articles were established to control judicial procedures.241 Reales. knew that blacks were not the only social group to blame of the events of Coro. especially in criminal cases. and the report should be sent directly to the Real Audiencia. tributes or aranceles approved by the King. Manuel Guevara Vasconcelos. and that all the population . and that local blacks joyfully cheered each other with refrains about .

408 In March. they feared those “blacks celebrations.” AGN. They celebrated the circumstances while the elites only felt terrible fears. 409 . 1801 the same hacendado wrote a letter to the Governor of Coro in which he expressed his worries: “slaves and colored people of La Serranía were joyfully celebrating the invasion of Santo Domingo by black Toussain”409 and white families of the Serranía were moving to the city because. XCV. 115. 152 and 225.” Slaves and free colored people were indeed aware of the latest events occurring in Haiti and Spanish Santo Domingo. 24/2/1801” AGN. since the events of the rebellion. 217. 408 “Carta de Andrés Boggiero al Capitán General de Venezuela. Gobernación y Capitanía General. XCVI. Gobernación y Capitanía General. “Sobre recibimientos de las noticias de Santo Domingo por los negros de Coro.242 Toussaint and his triumphs.

that there was a group of people in La Guaira and Caracas planning a republican movement based in the principles of equality and liberty. and a participant in the conspiracy.410 What Montesinos did was not particularly risky or delicate because in the porttown of La Guaira. The rumor of the conspiracy had traveled by way of particular channels that are worth commenting. a merchant in Caracas. told his barber. Readings and Social Networks in the Conspiracy of La Guaira. 1797 On July 13 1797. the Captain General and Governor of Venezuela. On this occasion. where the movement had a significant number of supporters. a militia pardo who worked in the barbershop of José Antonio Landaeta.243 CHAPTER V Texts. . and encouraged him to copy it and pass it along in order to gain more people to join the movement. Montesinos even provided Chirinos with a copy of a republican song. Juan José Chirinos. 149. Manuel Montesinos y Rico. Montesinos probably thought that the barber in Caracas would also be interested in participating in the movement and would be 410 López. Juan Bautista Picornell. the Soneto Americano. barbers and artisans were among the social groups attracted to a political project that was based on social equality and justice. Don Pedro Carbonell heard the first rumors about the planning of a republican movement in which hundreds of people from Caracas and La Guaira were supposedly implicated.

former dean of the University. while he communicated the news to the Governor and decided on a course of action. 22/03/1798. Montesinos was wrong to think that he could win the “fidelity of the people of Caracas” for the revolutionary cause. 58. ex-provincial of the Convent of San Francisco. Don Domingo Lander. That same afternoon. The Priest recommended them to keep the rumor in secret. There.411 Chirinos shared the rumor of insurrection with two other barbers and militamen. and told him about the plans of the insurgent movement.244 eager to share the news and the text with those of his class and calidad. and told him everything he had heard. accompanied by the three barbers. 24. Franciso Javier de León and Juan Antonio Ponte. Ibid. Montesinos was wrong. Juan Antonio Ponte went to Fray Juan Antonio Ravelo. the three priests told the Bishop everything they knew about the conspiracy and the danger it represented to the Catholic religion. Estado.. 412 . Ravelo went to the house of the priest Juan Vicente Echeverría. 150. Unfortunately for him and his co-conspirators. Chirinos also shared the information with another priest. the priest José Ignacio Moreno commented that many people in La Guaira were influenced by the revolutionary ideas of liberty and equality that easily entered the coast.412 411 In a report about the causes of the Conspiracy of La Guaira.” AGI. They all decided to communicate the news to Governor Carbonell. who together with Echeverría and Ravelo went to the Bishop’s house. However. the Monarchy and the people. no. y de los medios a que ocurrir el Gobierno para asegurar en lo sucesivo a sus habitants de iguales insultos por José Ignacio Moreno. See “Observaciones de un ciudadano sobre la conspiración descubierta en Caracas. el día 13 de Julio de 1797. but he said that in Caracas “the seed of republicanism” had not yet been planted. In his opinion.

434.413 Immediately after the conspiracy was uncovered. they decided to capture Don Manuel Montesinos and to begin a formal inquiry process in order to discover the conspiracy’s participants. Right from the beginning. Caracas. 233.” Ibid. the Regent of the Real Audiencia.415 413 414 Ibid.. their origins. ideals.414 They also believed that the movement was the result of several circumstances. members of the Real Acuerdo discovered that the conspiracy had three main leaders: the Spanish prisoner Juan Picornell. Harris Gaylord. “The Early Revolutionary Career of Juan Mariano Picornell.” “Informe de la Real Audiencia de Caracas sobre sublevación. 8/8/1797. 415 . Don Juan de Pedroza – and. 149-50.” Concerned about the danger that this republican movement represented. and procedures.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 22. the “political confusion” created by the struggles occurring in the Caribbean region. a group of oidores and commissioners entrusted with the responsibility of undertaking the inquiry and discovering the participants. the dimensions. he called some of the highest colonial authorities – the Lieutenant of the King. Don Antonio López Quintana and the oidor. “La conspiración por dentro. and the white creoles Don José María España and Don Manuel Gual.245 The night of July 13. no. and Aizpurua. “La conspiración por dentro.” AGI. Carbonell received the “terrible news. including the influence of the French and American Revolutions. 1 (1942): 57-81. no. and significance of the subversive movement. their motives. Don Joaquín de Zubillaga. several members of the Real Audiencia and other colonial Authorities formed what was known as the Real Acuerdo. as well as. also Aizpurua.. jointly.

18/7/1797. In an informe written one week after the discovery of the movement.246 Soon they also found out that the conspiracy had its origin in the port of La Guaira. no. it was clear from the beginning that the flexible and liberal atmosphere of La Guaira was fertile ground for the emergence of a movement that followed the French model. 232.”416 For the colonial authorities. and that the establishment of free trade. written texts from France and Saint Domingue spread the “false seeds of equality and liberty. Also.” “introducing an anarchy presented as the source of an imaginary happiness that seemed real to all simple people. members of the Real Audiencia contended that the entry and exit to and from the port of many foreigners who carried ideas of “liberty and equality” generated a permissive and liberal environment that allowed revolutionary voices to be heard frequently on the streets and in public spaces. Caracas. slavery and the “harmony and order of society. Members of the Real Audiencia had a suspicion that one of the roots of the conspiracy was the significant presence and influence of foreigners that came from different regions of the Caribbean to the Port of La Guaira. 434. the abolition of slavery with compensation to slaves owners. . and went against the Monarchical system. and this reconfirmed their idea that the coast of tierra firme had been ideologically contaminated. the elimination of Indian tributes and 416 “Informe de la Real Audiencia de Caracas sobre la sublevación que se ha descubierto en aquella Capital.” AGI.” Historians of the “Conspiracy of Gual and España” agree that the main goals of the movement were various.

stories. small merchants. The enormous quantity of documents produced by the Colonial State in the inquiry revealed that the conspirators produced and shared a considerable number of documents designed to instruct their followers in the Republican principles of the movement. and artisans from La Guaira and Caracas.” Gual and España.” as well as other interesting revolutionary documents from France. pardos. songs. section Caracas. “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España. and blacks. Aizpurua mentions that the Archivo General de la Nación in Caracas also has several copies and originals of these records. 417 These court records. 418 Based on the examination of the modes of communication. royal officials. known as Expediente de la Conspiración de Gual y España. bounds 427 – 436. Spain. but that also provide a favorable vantage point for understanding the diverse strategies used to impart political knowledge to the population and prompt their mobilization. are housed in the Archivo General de Indias (AGI).” Through an analysis of diverse texts written by the conspirators. the “Declaration of the Rights of Man. See Hernández. Adriana Hernández offers an interesting study on the local adaptations of republicanism and the ideals of liberty and equality. The movement also argued in favor of harmony between whites.417 Among these documents were proclamations of insurrection. because all of them were seen as “brothers in Jesus Christ. poems. equality. soldiers. both white creoles. with whom they shared a rich network of information related to the ideas of revolution. obtained remarkable support from a group of pardos and whites.” 418 . Indians. See Aizpurua. were among the most important ones. Saint Domingue and Guadeloupe that represent fundamental sources for an understanding of the political roots of the conspiracy.247 the abolition of taxes. and republican principles. “La conspiración por dentro.

as a preindependence movement.248 political knowledge and popular movements during the Age of Revolution. many of these works have oversimplified the conspiracy depicting it. . Derechos del hombre y del ciudadano (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia.. 1959). Historia constitucional de Venezuela (Caracas: Ministerio de Educación. Caracas: Archivo General de la Nación . basically. However. Manuel Gual y José María España: valoración múltiple de la conspiración de La Guaira de 1797 (Caracas: Comisión Presidencial del Bicentenario de Gual y España. Also see books and articles compiled in the CD-Rom: Doscientos años: conspiración Gual y España. Alí Enrique López Bohorquez. Joseph Pérez. as Ramón Aizpurua has recently suggested. this chapter seeks to analyze the social dynamics and the processes of transmission of knowledge that could have promoted the emergence of the subversive movement of La Guaira in 1797. 1997). 1977). CD-Rom (1997. 1997). but also leaves aside important aspects regarding the unique social composition and 419 See José Gil Fortoul. ed. Pedro Grases. I aim to look into the way in which written materials were adapted to local conditions for the transmission of knowledge. There is a significant number of works in Venezuelan historiography that have studied the conspiracy of La Guaira of 1797 from different perspectives and with diverse purposes. intersecting with social networks of communication and with the colonial political context. 1954). studying the Republican conspiracy of 1797 under the shadow of the subsequent movement of Independence not only obscures its real motivations. Los movimientos precursores de la emancipación en Hispanoamérica (Madrid: Alhambra.419 As happened with the Black rebellion of Coro. more radical and republican than the independence movement of 1810 itself. and Lynch. plan of action and achievements. and La conspiración de Gual y España y el ideario de la independencia (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia.Comisión Presidencial del Bicentenario de la Conspiración de Gual y España). The Spanish American Revolutions.

its social complexity.249 complexity of the movement. and its political base. and frustrations of diverse groups of men and women that gathered to discuss their political and economic concerns and social conceptions. and Adriana Hernández analyzes. and paints an extremely interesting picture of the social composition and networks upon which the movement was structured. its ideological force and its significance for the Colonial State. In this volume. one by Ramón Aizpurua and the other by Adriana Hernández. eds. the political roots of the movement. offer interesting perspectives that examine the movement from within. and that ended up generating alliances based on apparently 420 Rey and others. two works. Gual y España. His work allows us to understand the motivations. connecting it not with subsequent events. 420 A recent study made up of four essays by historians Juan Carlos Rey. Ramón Aizpurua offers us a detailed analysis of all the testimonies of the Conspiracy’s participants. and provide a more cautious. for example. . Rogelio Pérez Perdomo. strategies. Ramón Aizpurua. In his work. detailed and particularized interpretation of the conspiracy itself.. but with the local colonial context and analyzing it taking into account the larger Caribbean political scenario and social context. aspirations. More recent studies have cut away these artificial threads that link “the conspiracy of Gual and España” and the Independence movement. its ideological influences and procedures regarding communication networks.

“La conspiración por dentro. While not underestimating the limitations of these records. See Aizpurua. Tumult and Silence.250 common cause. New York University. 1841-44” (PhD diss. for example. Also see. social confrontation and resentments. 1 (2002). the stories of the insurgents chose to tell can be instructive in their own right. Juan Rusiñol. his note on the testimony of one of the conspirators. and Aisha Finch’s study on the Cuban conspiracy of La Escalera. of what he thought he heard some slaves say under unusual and extremely stressful circumstances. Aizpurua invites us to revisit the conspiracy from the perspective of an insider. See. 28. subtly inviting us to see movements. note 22.422 Although it is pointless to characterize the conspiracy as a pre-independence movement.” 228. See Jordan. Aizpurua shows that examining such evidence responsibly can make a critical difference in accounting for the activities of political agitators visible and legible. his minucious study provides us with a realistic picture of racial rivalries.” 422 Aizpurua suggests. after reading Aizpurua’s work. and political aspirations in Venezuela during the Age of Revolution. I use Aizpurua’s 421 Aizpurua. and. and the impact it had in the colonial state and among the population at large. no. as have other historians. 2007). In this way. although he recognizes the limits and problems that testimonial sources represent.” Jordan emphasizes that readers are not hearing the direct voices of slaves.. The historiography of slave conspiracies has produced interesting debates on the use of reliable sources. who seemed to have been under the threat of torture.421 Aizpurua argues that the incompatibility of the different political agendas advanced by each group of conspirators could have been one of the reasons for the failure of the movement. “Insurgency at the Crossroads: Cuban Slaves and the Conspiracy of La Escalera. Winthrop Jordan. for example. for example writes: “the central document is a written record. but rather their voices filtered through the hearing and writing of a white elite. produced by a white planter in his own handwriting. it seems impossible to understand the independence movement itself without considering his hypothesis that the conspiracy’s failure was the result of diverging agendas. that might not otherwise be heard. In this chapter. . the debate over the Denmark Vesey Conspiracy of 1822 in the special issue of the William and Mary Quarterly 58. In fact. “La conspiración por dentro. communicational strategies and social networks. that court records are a valuable and necessary source for recovering subaltern voices from the past.

“Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España. I share Hernández’s interest in dissecting the political base of the movement through the reading and analysis of some of the texts the conspirators produced. social status and educational backgrounds. I am interested in understanding the communicational strategies and discursive formulas that these groups used in order to recruit people of different races. Adriana Hernández’s essay offers an interesting analysis on how Republicanism was adapted to the Venezuelan context. here I argue that not only the French and the American Revolutions.251 work as a starting point for analyzing the distinctive ways in which different actors and social groups participating in the movement produced a common language and shared the same webs of information. Like Hernández. goals and procedures of the movement.423 Her work is particularly focused in the study of the “programmatic documents” of the conspiracy. with the necessary regeneration of a civic corpus that integrates the whole population.” . but I also aim at uncovering the influence of political ideas from the “Revolutionary Caribbean” in the La Guaira conspiracy. that is: all the documentation that the conspirators produced in order to explain the motivations. In this chapter. Hernández explains how pivotal revolutionary concepts such as liberty and equality suffered transformations at the local level. I believe that the La Guaira Conspiracy offered a new view of racial and social equality. but also the Haitian Revolution was used to enrich the 423 Hernández. to recruit people and to build the Republic. Her work also allows us to explore how conspirators felt and perceived their realities and the conspiracy itself.

especially bounds 430. 432. Although these trial records have been examined by previous historians. and particularly from the Expediente of the Conspiracy. Most of these works assume that the conspirator’s leaders (Juan Picornell.424 In this chapter I work with historiographic sources and primary documentation. prisoners and refugees could have influenced people in different towns of the Province of Venezuela. and continue to be examined by current historians who are offering new and refreshing interpretations. Most of the primary documentation has been drawn from the court records housed in the Archivo General de Indias. but they do not mention anything about the groups of people of color that participated in the movement and their sources of knowledge. nor anything about how French colonial visitors. I have particularly revised documentation that contains information regarding written materials and reading practices. but also show that the written materials that conspirators of La Guaira produced were influenced by Caribbean revolutionary events and representations. 434 and 436.252 political landscape and spark the curiosity and imagination of the people of color in the Province of Venezuela. in this chapter I aim to offer a new focus centered on the written materials that fed the movement. I would like to show not only how the insurgents used specific narrative formulas to spread knowledge among different social groups. For this chapter. AGI. 425 . 427436. and also on the texts produced and shared by the conspirators. Manuel Gual and José María España) were directly influenced by French revolutionary ideals and republican ideologies. Caracas. 425 424 Venezuelan traditional historiography has not paid enough attention to the influence that Caribbean turmoil had in the Conspiracy of La Guaira.

therefore the company’s emergence was closely related to the Dutch presence in Curaçao and their illegal trade with the Province. 1728-1784. almost devoid of land to be developed. During the eighteenth century. transforming the port of La Guaira into an important trading center in the region. the port of La Guaira became an important trading center: through this port. The Caracas Company. The influence of this sourceintensive commodity on the economy of the region was impressive. the Guipuzcoana Company was established in la Guaira with a monopoly for shipping and commercializing cacao in the Spanish market and with the idea of curbing the prevalent contraband. the crown received reports that described contraband activities between Venezuelan merchants and the Dutch. Eugenio Piñero.426 During this period of time. and tropical agricultural products such as tobacco. cacao were sent overseas.253 1. became one of the most important ports of the Province Venezuela during the seventeenth century.” . when cacao constituted one of the main export staples of the Province. “The Revolutionary Port of La Guaira:” Social Groups. See Roland Dennis Hussey. “The Cacao Economy of the Eighteenth-Century Province of Caracas. In fact it has been demonstrated that the connection Spain-La Guaira represented 90 percent of the legal 426 At the beginning of the eighteenth century. manufactured goods. indigo. cloths and wheat entered the Province of Venezuela. especially. and. and bathed by the Caribbean. Reading Circles and the Emergence of a Conspiracy The coastal port-town of La Guaira.

During the eighteenth century. and Piñero. Economía colonial de Venezuela. 2. but where people with different backgrounds and origins. some historians argue that Caracas received European goods through La Guaira that were either consumed in the city or distributed to others towns. including African slaves. p. met and exchanged information and ideas. Atlantic Port Cities. in fact.428 427 See McKinley. Atlantic historiography has recognized the importance that ports and port-cities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had for the consolidation of the Atlantic commercial economy and for the social-political integration of the Americas .254 commercial activity of the Province of Venezuela during the last decade of the eighteenth century.especially Latin America and the Caribbean regions – into the broader western economy. Vols. Caracas also provided storage for local agricultural products that were transported to La Guaira to be exported to Europe. information arrived permanently and spread easily. “The Cacao Economy of the Eighteenth-Century Province of Caracas.427 La Guaira was a major setting for social interaction between people of different origins and nationalities. it was a place where not only merchandise was traded. La Guaira was. As we mentioned in previous chapters. of course. 428 . See Catalina Banko. where commercial exchanges took place and where. 1728-1784. 2th ed. 340-43. 1990). Caracas antes de la independencia. the Port of La Guaira followed this model. El capital comercial en La Guaira y Caracas (1821-1848) (Caracas: Academia Nacional de la Historia.” In fact. also received products directly from other areas such as the coast of Barlovento and the central coast (Litoral Central). ports and port-towns were places where different languages and cultures intersected. The Caracas Company. Hussey. The port of La Guaira. 97. (Caracas: Italgráfica. Eduardo Arcila Farías. People from different regions of the Atlantic world arrived to La Guaira in order to pursue commercial activities or to settle in the General Captaincy of Venezuela. See Knight and Liss. 1973). Chapter 4. the legal port of the Province of Caracas.

between 1660 and 1700 various fortresses were built. and the Commanders in the ports of Puerto Cabello and La Guaira. La Guaira played a fundamental role in the military protection of the region: in fact the highest rank military posts in Venezuela were the colonel of the Caracas Battalion. 429 Quoted by Luis Enrique González. From the seventeenth century. Attacked by buccaneers and by the English. such as: the fort of Catia La Mar. and for controlling smuggling activities promoted by buccaneers and pirates. La Guaira was also transformed into a fortified and walled city. fort El Zamuro and fort el Gavilán. La Guayra. and French armadas. colonial authorities recognized the importance of protecting La Guaira from possible invasions. the Governor and Captain General. La Guaira expanded as a result of both its central position in Venezuela’s legal trade. fort El Colorado. and its military role in the defense of tierra firme. In 1764. Don José Solano. 1982). conquista y colonia (Caracas: Grafarte. and these projects brought employment to hundreds of local workers and artisans. All these military constructions transformed La Guaira into a great fortress that allowed it to control an important extension of the coast from the hills where the fortresses were located.255 Like many other Caribbean cities. Dutch. . Located at the entrance to tierra firme and being the most important port serving the city of Caracas. The eighteenth century also represented a period of major investment in the fortification of La Guaira. the fort del Peñon. while also leading to the recruitment of many slaves. and these are connected by a wall to two more batteries on the hills of the town. wrote: “the port of La Guaira is defended by several batteries on the shore.”429 Between 1790 and 1799. 157.

it was governed by the commander of the fortress. “Status and Royalty of Regular Army Officers in Late Colonial Venezuela.256 approximately 800 militiamen (infantry and artillery officials. Dauxion Lavaysse. According to him there was a population of approximately “seven thousand souls in 1807. a far greater proportion being people of color. 55-6. and González. A Statistical. By “Revolution. Sketch of the Present State of Caracas. of all colors. Referring to its population. Trinidad. visited the port-town of La Guaira during the first decade of the nineteenth century and described it as a “badly built town. La Guaira did not have a Governor. Jean François Dauxion Lavaysse.”431 The British merchant and traveler. saying “before the revolution. non-commissioned offices and paid soldiers) served in La Guaira. 4 (1986): 667-96. or even white creoles. but tolerably well fortified.”432 In general terms.” He mentioned that La Guaira was the commercial port of Caracas. the population of the region of La Guaira during the last decades of the eighteenth century resembled the social composition of the rest of Province of 430 Gary Miller. Commercial and Political Description of Venezuela. La Guayra. 35. Of these comparatively few are Europeans.” he meant the movement of Independence in 1811. no. Semple. he wrote: “The population of La Guaira is reckoned to be about eight thousand. spent some days in La Guaira in 1810.” He ends his short description of La Guaira. separated from it by a distance of five leagues.430 The French agent.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 66. 431 432 . who united [in] his person the civil and military authority. Robert Semple. and a garrison of eight hundred men.

Caracas antes de la independencia. while in urban centers and towns the proportion of white population and free mixed-races increased. Francisco Sinza.. and José Montesinos Rico. The number of Spanish and white merchants increased rapidly once free trade was established and the Guizpuzcoana company ceased its operations. Juan Xavier Arrambide. but they were also occupied in commercial activities. Also Agustín García. also see González. With Free trade established. 35. For example. commander of La Guaira.” . and Joaquín Sorondo. Martín Antonio de Goenaga. gained economic independence and political power. “La conspiración por dentro. approximately 10 percent were Indians and 15 percent were whites (Spanish and Creoles). an employer of the Real Hacienda. morenos and mulattos). all of them merchants of the Port. many of these white men. royal accountant and guardamayor of the port. former employees of the Basque company. and McKinley. La Guayra. 433 Most of the white elite families were occupied supervising the production of their haciendas in the nearby areas. Juan José Mendiri. See López. and Fermín Medina were hacendados in La Guaira. José María España. and Aizpurua.257 Venezuela: there was an important proportion (approximately 50 percent) of free colored population (pardos. more than 20 percent were black slaves. were to control the operations of the Port and exercise decisive military influence.434 433 434 Ibid. The proportion of white and black populations varied between rural regions and urban centers: nearby haciendas of cacao located in the coast had an important number of black slaves and less white population. The population of La Guaira was diverse and heterogeneous: travelers noticed however that there were less white Europeans and white creoles than people of color. Juan Bautista Picornell.

Slave men. envied the privileges of the Spanishborn. and barbers – and small merchants – pulperos and bodegueros – that directly and indirectly participated in the economic development of La Guaira. There were free women of color who worked as domestic service. masons. sharecroppers.” . Josefina Acosta (domestic in La Guaira). for example. Juan Bautista Picornell. and also transported goods and people from La Guaira to Caracas. Narciso Del Valle (barber in La Guaira). and Aizpurua. women and children worked in agriculture in the nearby haciendas. Gobernación y Capitanía General. Martín Amador and Juan de Andueza (both bodegueros). See “Reservada entre el Comandante Interior de La Guaira y el Gobernador de Caracas. and viceversa. pardo and zambo carpenters. goods and provided services in La Guaira. or as domestic service. as well as on racial distinctions and inequality. but when the philosophy of the Enlightenment and the circumstances of the French Caribbean islands made their way into the port-town of La Guaira. but at times these two groups were brought closer together by their common economic and commercial interests.435 Like in other cities of the Province of Venezuela.” AGN. all of these social groups experienced tensions and frictions. Many elite creoles. Andrés Renoir (hairdresser and jeweler in La Guaira). tensions that were based on the differentiated participation in political decisions and social status. petty trade and port activities in the town. There were artisans of color – black. laundresses and seamstresses. “La conspiración por dentro. and muleteers that cultivated and transported fruits and vegetables close to La Guaira.258 There was also an important presence of free people of color who autonomously produced food. There were also independent peasants. See also López. pardos resented the way whites treated them. as well as in construction. 268. In the same way. LIX. both 435 For example.

and used these examples to express their inconformity with the system. For example. especially the young population of both sexes and from all classes. this was not enough to impede their contact with the Spanish. some of these [Spanish] loved them. I showed that the presence of almost one thousand prisoners. commented that during the time of his stay in La Guaira he noticed that it was necessary “to control the vices so typical of port-towns. con mas extensión y documentos lo que va resultando del proceso concerniente a la conjuración que se empezó a descubrir en la noche del 13 de julio de 1797.M. disorder and 436 “Real Audiencia informa a V. no. refugees and slaves from Martinique and Saint Domingue during the years 1793-1795 did not pass unnoticed among the inhabitants of La Guaira.” AGI. 434. . espousing the ideals of equality and liberty.”436 Also.259 these groups started talking openly about revolution. and the enunciations and phrases of these prisoners influenced them. Several reports of observers of La Guaira mentioned that the presence of these unwanted French and Dominguans visitors created the ideal environment for a conspiracy. Caracas. In a previous chapter. adding “although they were isolated. a report sent by the Real Audiencia to Spain in August 1797 – three weeks after the conspiracy was uncovered – stated that La Guaira was affected by the presence of “more than eight hundred” prisoners and slaves that had been sent by the Governor of Santo Domingo. where the diversity of nationalities promotes corruption. and finding a common interest in uniting and planning an insurrection. emphasizing the need to transform it. who frequently held discussions about the events of the French Islands. accountant of the Port in 1796. 233. José María Reina.

for example. In this text. also recommending measures to prevent new conspiracies. white creoles and pardos confirming that different people in La Guaira had contact with the prisoners and were receptive to their political ideas. 58. Moreno clearly stated that the prisoners and slaves sent from Santo Domingo to La Guaira inflamed the fire of sedition among the population of La Guaira. Aizpurua. “but what ended opening up the floodgates of popular passion was the arrival of more than nine hundred French republican prisioners from Santo Domingo who. commented that he saw a “general inclination of the people of La Guaira to embrace the maxims of liberty and equality. 430. despite the vigilance. which since 1794 had been receiving news and texts from France and the turbulent French colonies. 24. 44. . el día 13 de Julio de 1797.” AGI. José Ignacio Moreno wrote a long statement about the motivations of the Conspiracy of 1797. sergeant of the Battallion of Caracas stationed in La Guaira and one of the ringleaders of the conspiracy. no. no. the priest and dean of the University of Caracas. observing that people talked openly 437 438 “Informe de José María Reina.438 Numerous declarations and testimonies of the accused and witnesses of the conspiracy confirm this idea of the influence of the French visitors on the conspiracy of La Guaira. had relatively free relations with the general public. José de Rusiñol. 1797” AGI. Caracas. offers several accounts of Spanish. See “Observaciones de un ciudadano sobre la conspiración descubierta en Caracas.” He observed that the colonial rule was flexible and permissive. y de los medios a que ocurrir el Gobierno para asegurar en lo sucesivo a sus habitants de iguales insultos por José Ignacio Moreno.260 insubordination. Estado. Agosto. 15 de agosto de 1797.”437 In 1797.

witnesses and suspects of the conspiracy of La Guaira noticed that some people in the port even had friendship with the prisoners. In a revealing testimony. “La conspiración por dentro.” 250. Caracas. “one Monsieur Franquá and another one named Rouseau. “La conspiración por dentro. 433.” AGI. 51. España mentioned the names of individuals that were part of social groups that held meetings and discussions about political matters. “Declaración de José María España del 2 de mayo de 1798. “Declaración de Manuel del Pino. a pardo involved in the conspiracy. people who shared readings. 430. no. Don Joseph Antonio and myself.”439 Likewise. Don Joaquin Sorondo. declared that Narciso Del Valle. Most historians agree that a 439 “Declaración de José de Rusiñol. José María España asserted that when the French prisoners of Santo Domingo arrived They started talking favorably about the Republican government and about the new system adopted by the French. and he knew this because his friend Monsieur Fronquá had told him so. quoted in Aizpurua. In this way. they expressed themselves to the pueblo. no. Caracas. or Rossel.441 In this testimony.” AGI. José Cordero. 64. declared that Del Valle commented that some of the French prisoners had the intention of provoking a revolution in this Province. copied and circulated texts. such as Narciso Del Valle. but particularly to those who were in direct contact with them. José Manuel Del Pino. no. 91. 431.” AGI.”440 Another pardo. a pardo barber of La Guaira.261 and without any caution about the establishment of a Republic. 440 441 . del 10 de noviembre de 1797.” 253. and who were involved in the planning of the republican conspiracy in La Guaira and Caracas. was friends with two French officials who were imprisoned. 14 de noviembre de 1797. José de Rusiñol. about the articles that emanated from the convention. and consequently they showed their hatred for our constitution. Don Manuel Gual. quoted in Aizpurua.

However. and having discussions about the French and the American revolutions. led by José María España and the group of Caracas. and . he owned and managed some haciendas of cacao and coffee in Naiguatá and possessed several houses in the towns of Macuto and La Guaira. He was recognized as an educated and enlightened person with a copious library and diverse intellectual interests.262 socially heterogeneous group planned and supported the conspiracy of La Guaira.La Guaira and Caracas -. High-ranking white Spanish and creole officials. led by Manuel Gual. but to other criteria such as occupation. España was the Corregidor of the town of Macuto – a small town near La Guaira –. In first place. conforming reading circles where books and texts circulated. Aizpurua shows that these groups not only responded to geographical areas . a closer look at the expediente and its considerable number of testimonies. racial identity and calidad. a white creole born in La Guaira in 1761 but temporary raised in Bayonne (France). there was a group of people in La Guaira who were in contact with Jose María España. The study of Aizpurua provides us with a fairly clear idea of how the different social groups were conformed. According to Casto Fulgencio López. hacendados and merchants of La Guaira met around España. there were two main groups of supporters: the group of La Guaira. what kind of threads connected them as well as their roles in the conspiracy. reveals a more complex web of social relations. upon which the conspiracy was built.

6 de junio de 1797. Among the texts they read were: The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine. second Lieutenant of the Royal Army ships. slavery and class distinctions. 430. an employee in the Real Hacienda. an Irishman Lieutenant of the Royal Corps of Engineers and Extraordinary commander in La Guaira. and Aizpurua. but proposing various dispositions against religious institutions. “La revolución de Caracas. “La conspiración por dentro. a Frenchman who was captain of the corps of engineers of La Guaira. 51. There were also other lower rank characters who belonged to the military body of La Guaira that also attended the meetings and contributed to the conspiracy by recruiting people and connecting different groups. the interim accountant and Guardamayor of the Port. and the Constitution of Pennsylvania. This was the case of José Rusiñol. Caracas. See “Declaración de José Rusiñol.442 Among these were high ranking officials like Don Agustín García. second Sergeant of the Caracas veteran battalion stationed in La Guaira.” AGI. among others. the Declaration of Independence of the united thirteen provinces of America. commander of La Guaira who used to attend these meetings until his promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.263 about the turbulence in the French colonies. Juan Bautista Picornell. Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. In a declaration. and Juan Lartigue de Condé. Patricio Ronán.444 The white creole Manuel Gual also attended some of these meetings and exchanged information and news between the different regions. “La conspiración por dentro. an account in the Cause of death of Louis XVI.” in “Declaración de Rusiñol. and Joaquín Sorondo. a History of the Revolution in North America. 430. Gual used to be a 442 José Rusiñol declared that in these meetings they read diverse texts. Grases.” 232. no.443 Juan José Mendiri. quoted in Aizpurua. no. 51.” 24. Bonifacio Amezcaray. from history books to political proclamations.” 443 444 . La conspiración de Gual y España. López. Also quoted in Gómez. a man from Cataluña. preserving the nobility. José Rusiñol asserted that in previous years he had seen a paper in the hands of García’s secretary that contained “several articles referred to the planning of an Aristocratic republic.” AGI. among others. 31 de octubre de 1797.

like Juan Xavier Arrambide. the elder Gual decided to remain in Venezuela. he retired from the army with the rank of Captain in 1796 in part because his repeated pleas for promotion went unanswered.264 captain of the veteran battalion of La Guaira but retired from his military service. there were also other informal groups of white people. named Doña Ana de Castro.445 In Caracas. he remained a lieutenant colonel for nearly 30 years until his death in 1777. López. connected by family ties or by their national origin. Although he served interim appointments as commander in Puerto Cabello and as governor of Cumaná. each time noting that officers who entered the service when he did were by then generals in Spain. See Miller.” 683. 20 miles away from Caracas. and dedicated himself to the administration of a Hacienda in Santa Lucía. Juan Bautista Picornell. and the crown rewarded him by granting him the title of Lieutenant Colonel. or by their occupation: some were merchants. Francisco Sinza.” Manuel Gual suffered the same fate as his father. 446 . Doctor Juan de 445 Manuel Gual was the son of a lieutenant colonel Mateo Gual who arrived in Venezuela in 1743 with the Victoria Regiment. he mainly met with white elite families to discuss texts and revolutionary ideas. Gual was also in charge of supervising with Patricio Ronán the building of forts in La Guaira. and was in part responsible for establishing communication among the group of conspirators of Caracas and the one in La Guaira. while he floundered in Venezuela as lieutenant colonel. located in the Valleys of El Tuy. Miller notes: “He repeatedly asked the crown for a promotion. Doctor Luis Peraza. “Status and Royalty of Regular Army Officers. others were professionals. Caracas and La Guaira.446 Accompanying high-rank militiamen in La Guaira. like Doctor Pedro Canibens (España’s brother-in-law). In 1744. Gual and other white creoles such as Don Juan Manuel Salas. He made frequent trips between his hacienda. Don Nicolás Ascanio met with Don Vicente Estrada in the bodega Los Traposos in Caracas and in the house of a white lady. Martín Antonio Goenaga and Montesinos Rico brothers.

on other occasions they went together on walks to the river where they had lunch and enjoyed a fresher climate. Don Pedro Canibens. All of them used to attend some of the meetings that José María España and Patricio Ronán arranged. 431.” He comments: “We talked about news in Spain and France brought by the Gacetas and papers that came from Spain and Trinidad. the rights for burying and for baptisms.” “Declaración de José María Salas. Aizpurua contends that a considerable number of the pardos who participated in the conspiracy were recruited by Del Valle. listened to oral readings and discussions. José Manuel Del Pino.” The location of these meetings varied: sometimes they met in the houses of Ronán and España. and was also responsible for establishing relations with José Rusiñol. José María Salas comments that he attended some of these meetings. all of them soldiers of the battalion of La Guaira. Narciso Del Valle. Domingo Sánchez (also España’s brother-in-law). the lieutenant of the free blacks in Carayaca. Caracas.” 262. “La conspiración por dentro. the leader of a group of veteran white militiamen. and even gave him money to recruit people for the revolutionary cause of La Guaira. and Manuel Granadino.447 In La Guaira there was a group of pardos that met around the barber and official of the pardo battalion. . and Aizpurua.” AGI. 59. and Don Manuel Gual. no. close to the Church and the military barracks that pardos and “common people” visited. the rights. In his shop. Del Valle had a barbershop. José Cordero belonged to this circle. La conspiración de Gual y España. “La conspiración por dentro. 447 Grases. Del Valle told him that they were planning a Republic to “get rid of the alcabalas. quoted in Aizpurua. Juan Moreno. Del Valle also established a relatioship with Lorenzo Acosta. attended also by “Don Agustín García. According to Acosta. when he was in town. Juan Bautista Picornell. the estanco of tobacco. 17 de agosto de 1797. they read diverse texts. pharmacist Tomás Cardozo and an employee in the Real Hacienda. Don Patricio Ronán. López.265 la Tasa. and debated the updates they heard about European and Caribbean politics.

266 and that everyone will be equals. José Cordero. are hardly mentioned either. Aizpurua recognizes that the social groups that. leaving aside the important voices and participation of lower rank officials and people of color. quoted in Aizpurua.” 307. were to be involved in the conspiracy were connected thanks to the activities of six ringleaders: Narciso Del Valle.” traditional historiographic narratives of this political movement have emphasized the role that white creoles played in the planning of the conspiracy. however. merely to say that he was condemned. the configuration of a common cause among 448 “Declaración de Lorenzo Acosta. recruited people to attend their discussions. Caracas. but he was not successful recruiting and organizing them to go down to La Guaira.” AGI. and Juan Moreno. They were humble soldiers who paid with their heads the beautiful purpose of giving us liberty. the names of Narciso Del Valle. formally or informally. Regarding the leadership and participation of social lower groups in the conspiracy. like they are in France. they will be ruled by judges elected by themselves. “La conspiración por dentro. 449 . 30.”448Acosta spread the news of a possible revolutionary movement in La Guaira among the people of Carayaca. López. no. Manuel Gual and Patricio Ronán. José Manuel Del Pino. and get rid of those who are bad. José María España. Agustín Serrano. and sought to communicate with each other with the purpose of elaborating a political plan. 5 de agosto de 1797. All of them encouraged people to read and circulate revolutionary texts.449 With the title “Conspiracy of Gual and España. Juan Bautista Picornell. historian Casto Fulgencio López affirms: In the history of this revolution the name of José Rusiñol is barely mentioned. 429. 90. José Rusiñol.

like many other Spanish academics of his time. Juan Manzanares. All of them produced texts to induce people to unite. “The Early Revolutionary Career of Juan Mariano Picornell. more than three hundred people in Spain were part of the conspiracy. arm themselves and join the revolutionary cause.267 these groups was in great part promoted by another participant: Juan Baustista Picornell. by the beginning of 1796. Apparently. however it was uncovered in February 1796. and López.” Ibid.451 450 451 Gaylord.450 The Conspiracy of San Blas aimed at overthrowing the Monarchy and planned the establishment of a Republic. 1796 a Spanish prisoner was sent to the already turbulent Port of La Guaira. Sebastián Andrés Aragón and José Lax. Juan Bautista Picornell.. . and a teacher and writer. had ties with the masonry which imbued him with the philosophy of the French Revolution and which offered a critical posture towards the rule of Charles IV and the absolutist government of Manuel Godoy. and the conspirators condemned to die on the gallows. among others. A member of various scientific and literary societies in Spain. The plot was planned with the assistance of other professionals and students. Juan Bautista Mariano Picornell was the leader of a group of plotters who had planned a revolutionary movement to take place in Madrid on San Blas day. Picornell. 1796. On December 3. February 3. known as the Prince of Peace. such as Manuel Cortés de Campomanes.

José Lax. José Rusiñol. after this.452 In prison. the conspirators of San Blas won the confidence of some officials who gave them special treatment and favors.” . and by May 1797 the San Blas conspirators were together again. his jailers became his friends and confidants. a doctor at the Hospital in La Guaira and España’s brother in law.268 The Spanish government later decided to sent the accused. and he frequently brought his practitioner Juan de la Tasa. Sergeant José Cordero. and Captain General Carbonell ordered him imprisoned and held without communication until he could be sent on to Panamá. including the privilege to communicate freely with the people of Caracas and La Guaira who wanted to see them. to the American colonies to complete sentences with the idea of preventing the contagion of their ideas in the Peninsula. Juan Picornell discovered that he was not an unwelcome visitor. Manuel Cortés and Juan Manzanares) arrived to La Guaira during the next year. Juan Picornell arrived in La Guaira in December 1796. he continued to have frequent communication with him. a young man of color attached to 452 Gaylord. Seen as victims of Spanish persecution and the object of Godoy’s injustices. “The Early Revolutionary Career of Juan Mariano Picornell. but this time in the colonial port. for example. Don Pedro Canibens. also used to visit Picornell with the excuse of examining him. and held conversations in which the discussion about republican and liberal ideas was common and gained supporters. was the one responsible for escorting Picornell from the Port to his prison cell when he arrived and. one by one. The rest of the conspirators (Sebastián Andrés.

in which all would be equals and commerce would be opened up to all nations. in particular. Picornell also learned a lot from the locals. For Picornell. 75. Picornell had to confront the particularities of the colonial world. Juan Bautista Picornell. However. Spain gained unfair economic benefits from America. this environment seemed ideal for stirring a new mobilization with the same cause as the frustrated San Blas conspiracy. According to López. had been affected by the presence of more than nine hundred French prisoners and slaves from the Caribbean colonies that remained in the port from 1793 to 1795. as were the social divisions and 453 López. slavery was an outrageous imposition. reading circles where ideas were exchanged. the political and economic circumstances in Venezuela were different from those in the Peninsula. However.”453 In these visits. . as well as by the great number of visitors who carried information and news about revolutionary events. was also allowed to visit Picornell on different occasions.269 the Caracas battalion. La Guaira. they learned about Picornell’s revolutionary opinions also expressed in his writings: Spain had tyrannized America. and a new more equalitarian and liberating government needed to be established. at the beginning of 1797 “Picornell had been interviewed in his jail by almost everybody involved in the conspiracy. He soon realized that the Spanish colonies were by no means unaware of French revolutionary ideas. by the circulation of written materials and the emergence of social spaces for political discussion. The barber Narciso Del Valle also visited Picornell to shave him.

adapted to the local political and social contexts. therefore these were written in a style and discourse appropriate for reading outloud to the people of color. and economic grievances accumulated over the years made many people in Venezuela keen to receive revolutionary ideas. friends and neighbors. Juan Bautista Picornell. a young soldier at the service of the King of the ñapoleses – an anagram for “españoles. So. and he knew that he needed information from his “pupils” in order to write appropriate texts.” and Aizpurua. but adaptations to local circumstances needed to be made. abandoned his military career and 454 See López. in prison Picornell began to write different texts that he shared with all of his visitors with the idea that they circulate these among their families. One of these texts was entitled The Life of the Admirable Bitatusa.270 tensions. short and easy enough to be memorized and to be retold orally. “La conspiración por dentro.” truth –. dialogues and stories. Gaylord. “The Early Revolutionary Career of Juan Mariano Picornell.” . for him it was not difficult to realize that political. an autobiographic text that narrates the story of Bitatusa – an anagram for Picornell’s middle name Bautista -. The fundamental aim of various of his texts was to gain support from the population of color. Picornell needed to listen to his visitors in order to understand their frustrations and aspirations.454 Picornell was a prolific writer of revolutionary texts. but he was also a teacher. influenced by the ideas of a philosopher Dadver – an anagram for “verdad. social. using familiar narrative formulas such as epistles.” Spaniards – who.

and another entitled ‘Letter from a grandfather to his grandchild. in which the zambo martyr José Leonardo. and the priests. The priest told the Bishop about the miraculous apparition.” AGI. historians have had to rely on the numerous declarations that describe the texts. and enjoying liberty and equality. is canonized. Picornell sought to eradicate the idea people had about republicanism as an anti-religious and atheistic movement. principal accused for the rebellions in Coro. a text in which Picornell told the story of a priest who received a visit from the spirit of José Leonardo Chirinos. for example. the leader of the black rebellion of Coro of 1795. José María España. The lesson was clear: the pueblo must study because education was the practice capable of granting them liberty. 49-49v. Bitatusa learned that in order to stop bowing down before the King and his tyranny he had to instruct himself. no. and where the Americans are incited to declare their freedom.” See “Declaración de José María España. the nobility. but he ended up in jail. In this text. the spirit of José Leonardo is in heaven because he died as a martyr. presenting God as 455 Unfortunately substantial part of these papers were burned or hidden. [Picornell] produced a text in jail entitled ‘The life of Vitatusa’ that was basically directed against the King. 91. so he began writing an Exhortation to the Americans.’ in which the grandfather exhorts the child to follow the cause of freedom in the event that an upheaval should take place in the Americas.455 There was another paper entitled Revelation to Fray José María de la Concepción. Joseph de la Concepción. the priest asked God for help. he appeared to the Fray to tell him in the name of the Father that Americans must recover their liberty and that they will count on the support of almighty God. and miraculously he received pen and paper. In this story. . a text in which he presented the Rights of Man and the benefits of abolishing slavery. 433. Caracas. once the colonial authorities uncovered the conspiracy. many of the conspirators sought to destroy any written evidence. commented: “In order to prepare the spirits.271 dedicated his life instead to reading and enlightening himself. In order to learn about their content. Desperate. 2 de mayo de 1799. another one entitled ‘Revelation of Father Fr.

In this sense. also writen by Pirconell. 457 .457 456 See Ibid. This was a text written as an epistle from a grandfather who lived in Cádiz in Spain to his grandchild living in America. Tropes of rage and abuse infused representations that people produced about José Leonardo Chirinos and his frustrated insurrection. but that he had heard that a revolutionary movement was being planned some place in America. He also commented that he knew that America also experienced oppression and misery. entitled Letter from a Grandfather to his grandchild. he merged this representation with the characterization of José Leonardo as a martyr: instead of showing him as a disloyal rebel. who also escorted and accompanied Chirinos in La Guaira.. Picornell perceived these feelings and articulated them in his writings.” 239. Juan Bautista Picornell. See Aizpurua. commerce and the arts were devastated by the tyranny of the King. and López. He must have heard about José Leonardo in La Guaira. after he was captured and submitted to Caracas.” and where agriculture. Juan Bautista Picornell. and he exhorted his grandchild to participate and be part of the important changes that were about to take place in America. “La conspiración por dentro. circulated in La Guaira. his political discourse was articulated and transformed by the emotionalization of the recent memory of black insurrection. The old man describes the tough circumstances that Spaniards experienced in la Peninsula.456 Another paper. López. he used the recent memory that people had about the zambo leader and his striking death as a rhetorical strategy to evoke powerful emotions of empathy and compassion in the people of color. where they were all oppressed by a “bad government. 80-1.272 someone who would support the new order and its values. Additionally. probably from José Rusiñol.

These papers circulated among the population of La Guaira and became an important media for transmitting knowledge about revolutionary movements in Europe and America. highly benefited the people of color. about the Republican system. 27 de octubre de 1797. and as such they could attain both military and political positions.459 Interestingly. 459 . insisted in the idea of responsibly defending the American fatherland – patria americana -. no. 25. These papers Created conscience of how the King and his functionaries oppressed. In this text. and its political maxims and values. the American grandchild and the Spaniard black) and 458 “Declaración de José Cordero.” AGI.273 Picornell also wrote another paper entitled: A Dialogue between a black Lieutenant-Colonel of the French Republic and a Black Spaniard. these texts also used references taken from the local context (such as José Leonardo. these propagandistic texts contained repetitive ideas and motivations. As Adriana Hernández comments. “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España. Caracas. Picornell tells the story of what happened when these two characters saw each other. written as a dialogue containing questions and answers. Hernández.458 Obviously. his cousin. the black Spaniard impressed by the way his cousin is dressed up as a French Officer asked him about it. this text sought to transmit how the republican system.” 365. and the Black French answered that in France all men were equal and free. 428. and legitimated the idea of rebellion as a resource to identify revolutionary equality and fraternity with the Christian love for others and divine justice. based on the prerogatives of liberty and equality.

” AGI. Juan de la Tasa. especially the people of color. but afraid of being discovered there. These texts were read and listened to numerous inhabitants of La Guaira. but that he burned. also quoted in Hernández. Del Pino also commented that he saw the text about the “black cousins” in the hands of the merchant José Montesinos y Rico. However. but that this was later burned. The medical practitioner. 23. the sermon of the Fray. he gave them to José Cordero who kept them in a drawer. and the letter from the grandfather to his grandchild” and that Rusiñol had given these to Del Valle.” 363. for example. With this rhetorical strategy its author created a mirror in which Venezuelans could see themselves as agents of revolutionary political change. once the news that the conspiracy had been discovered by the Authorities arrived in La Guaira.”460 The pardo. no. Several declarations allow us to appreciate the care that some of the participants of the conspiracy took of these texts. Caracas. Narciso Del Valle – who possibly received them from Rusiñol or Picornell himself circulated them in his barbershop. “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España. José Cordero and Narciso Del Valle appear as the main agents in charge of spreading these texts among their own groups of people. Cordero gave the writings to Miguel Granadino with instructions to 461 . and another song that a fray from Santo Domingo gave to him. commented that he read some of the papers that Rusiñol had given him “the one about Bitatusa.461 460 “Delación de Juan de la Tasa. he read a “paper about the apparition of the spirit of José Leonardo to a priest.274 incorporated them into the Atlantic revolutionary circumstances. along with the writings that Del Valle had provided him. and also as beneficiaries of these transformations. 428. who represented the majority of the population. José Rusiñol. José Manuel Del Pino also declared that at Del Valle’s barbershop. In fact.

he even instructed others in how to do so. 64. 428. dialogues. and stories. no. Caracas. Picornell had clear ideas about how to capture the attention of different kinds of readers (and listeners) and use effective communicational resources. All of them quoted in Aizpurua. decided to write a text to recruit the black people of Curiepe. in this letter Del Valle exhorted them “to unite in order to make of this province the same that the French and the British Americans had done in their countries […] commenting also about the natural equality and the other rights of men. however.” AGI. because this was a work that had taken Don Juan Picornell six months of work. that facilitated reading out loud and the comprehension of their contents among the less educated groups.275 Taking into consideration that the majority of the population was non-literate. 428. Narciso Del Valle. but he instead decided to burn them. it is difficult to determine the effects and results that the texts achieved. no. such as epistles.” See “Declaración de José Cordero. Del Valle previously sent the paper to Picornell and to Manuel bury them. . no. Caracas. In this sense. 25. “La conspiración por dentro. 15 de noviembre de 1797. and by making substantial adjustments in the discourse narrative in order to reach different sectors of the population. 23. Being a teacher. for example.” Apparently. According to Rusiñol. the transmission of principles of freedom and abolition. and Cordero got mad with Granadino and told him that he “acted badly. 431. del 2 de agosto de 1797.” AGI. Following the example of Picornell. “Declaración de José Manuel del Pino. and “Declaración de Miguel Granadino. Caracas. these were written in familiar discursive formulas. republicanism and equality was transformed in two ways: by adapting the contents of the writings to the local environment. del 16 de agosto de 1797. producing a feeling of empathy and identification. especially the vast majority of non literate people of color.” AGI.” 243. tales.

”462 Taking into consideration Picornell’s effort in producing a good number of texts to instruct people of La Guaira on the revolutionary cause and the numerous conversations he had with his visitors. 430. decided to ask Picornell for his experience and support to coordinate and give shape to an insurrectionary movement in the Province of Venezuela. and that they should be addressed in a more comprehensible way. Books and Manuscripts in the Conspiracy of La Guaira. 4 de noviembre de 1797. creating a common language of political debate and confrontation among diverse social groups. In the next section I will look on some of these texts in order to understand the rhetorical strategies used and how they were adapted to the local context. no. . some individuals. 1797-1799 One of the first decisions that members of the Real Acuerdo took after identifying the main leaders of the conspiracy was to go to their homes in Caracas. La Guaira and Santa Lucía in order to seize all the manuscripts and written sources that 462 “Declaración de José Rusiñol.276 Gual who agreed that this letter should not be sent to the zambos of Curiepe because “its style and instruction was more elevated than the intelligence of these men. This group of people helped Picornell escape from jail and worked closely with him in the elaboration of a political plan. 2. including the production of a number of texts that continued seeking the support of the people of La Guaira and Caracas. Caracas. 51. organizers of the frequent meetings and reading circles.” AGI.

the conspirators also produced their own body of documents. Fernández ordered his officials to seal all the chests found in the house and carry them to Caracas. in secret compartments. That same day. They found out that Gual had left his hacienda two days earlier. The conspiracy of La Guaira was devised by people initially inspired by French enlightened literature. numerous documents showed that a group of people had planned the movement for months. but fed with ideas. Moved by their own concerns and interests. such as songs. some of the most important manuscripts and texts of the conspiracy were to be found. and began to search for documents and texts in his desk and in his library. the Caribbean and Spain who visited the Province shared and spread. . and by manuscripts from the French and American revolutions.277 could provide them with additional indications about the motivations and character of the insurgency movement. On July 17 1797. constitutions and political plans that gave shape to the movement to local circumstances. At the bottom of one of them. The Colonial authorities discovered that the conspiracy was not improvised. instructions. the official Francisco Espejo and his secretary went to the house of José María España. manuscripts and information that foreigners from France. motivations and characteristics of the movement. who had escaped from La Guaira the night before. the oidor Don Antonio Fernández de León and his secretary were searching the house of Manuel Gual in Santa Lucía. and they decided to look for documents that could shed light on the participants.

and several books about geography. As historian Casto Fulgencio López wrote.278 2. 427. I thank Ramón Aizpurua for sharing these documents with me. and Tratado del Cultivo de Tierras by an French author. Manual de Trigonometrica by Pedro Manuel Cedillo. There are many books about Maritime matters and sailing. French and English dictionaries. 8 1797. thirty were in French.463 This library was inspected by Francisco Espejo in August. Of the ninety titles. such as the Descripción Geográfica de la Region Magallanica by Francisco Saija. but rather their taste for French literature and Enlightenment currents. agriculture. The presence of these French books did not necessarily indicate an inclination to revolutionary ideas. 16-26. Caracas. “Prohibited Books” in the Libraries of the Conspirators Both José María España and Manuel Gual were “educated” white creoles that possessed libraries containing several French titles. as well as Spanish. Naturaleza y virtudes de las Plantas by Francisco Ximenez.1. . so common among men belonging to their social group. a library of approximately 90 titles in 200 volumes. The list of books includes one of the most popular reformist Spanish authors such as Feijóo and his most famous works the: Teatro Crítico and the Cartas Críticas. and among these there were some books about French politics and the Revolution that were immediately 463 AGI. and many others about geographical descriptions of America and the Antilles. mathematics. José María España had one of the “most qualified” libraries in the town of La Guaira. 3.

431. others to Manuel Gual. except the sixty two copies of “The Rights of the men and the citizen.279 seized by Espejo and upon which I will comment later on. A box. containing thirty-eight volumes and sixty two copies of the text “The Rights of men and of the citizen. geography and dictionaries. Caracas.464 The list contains eighteen titles. The books apparently remained in the hands of the members of the Real Audiencia. The library of España was the typical among any modern reader in the Americas. a captain in La Guaira who did not necessarily participate in the Conspiracy. and yet others to José Rusiñol and José María Salas. but who attended some meetings and shared readings with some of the conspirators. and commerce and “useful subjects. “Declaración de José María Salas del 23 de octubre de 1797. 434. no. no.” AGI. but also the kind of texts that were considered dangerous and promoters of insurgency by colonial officials.” was sent by the Real Audiencia to the King in September 1802.” were written in French and 464 This list contained books belonging to different libraries. See. This list not only allows us to recognize some of books that these leading characters possessed. and remained in the hands of the Real Audiencia until they decided to send them to Spain. These books had been collected by the commissioners Antonio Fernández de León and Francisco Espejo in the houses of the conspirators in July 1797. for example. mathematics. 352. In addition. “Libros que se recoxieron a los reos de la Sublevación descubierta en 1797. I found a list of the books that were seized from the libraries of the conspirators by the officials after uncovering the plot and that were sent to Spain afterwards. Caracas.” such as agriculture. economics. . some belonged to José María España. who used them in their investigations until they sent them to Spain in 1802. All of the books. 59. with lots of books about politics.” AGI.

marine engineering. women. contenant des anecdotes interessantes et des Histoires curieuses tirées des meilleurs auteurs (Paris: Chez Duchesne. marriage and infidelity. a book written by Jean Pierre Niceron and François Joachim Duport du Tertre. . politics. The book. agriculture. Bibliothèque amusante et instructive. the authors explored differences between people of different nations and regions. Topics such as beauty. Here is a description of the books seized during the investigation of the conspiracy and sent by the Real Audiencia to Spain in 1802: 1) One volume of the work Bibiothéque amusante et instructive. 465 2) Two volumes of the Dictionnaire de la Marine Françoise avec figures. death and predictions are studied comparatively with the intention of offering to the readers a general knowledge about the people of different nations and regions. justice. such as history. par Charles Romme. and philosophy. health and medicines. travelers chronicles. vengeance.google. festivities. 1755): http://books. contains several essays about the diversity of human nature.280 belonged to diverse fields. chastity. From a comparative perspective. This is a dictionary that emphasizes the importance of maritime sciences for the development of nations and the improvement of 465 Jean Pierre Niceron and François Joachim Duport du Tertre. Indigenous communities of the Americas are mentioned several times to show how they differ from Europeans in their nature and the way they live.com/books. memory. found inside a drawer of España’s desk. contenant des anecdotes interessantes et des Histoires curieuses tirées des meilleurs auteurs.

Dictionnaire de la Marine Françoise avec figures. These volumes represented an encyclopedia in which information 466 Charles Romme.L.LangEN. The book was thought of as a guide for any reader to have a general idea of maritime notions and basic concepts.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k57125662. which makes it really hard to identify.466 3) Two volumes of the book Histoire General D’Amérique. par Charles Romme. Correspondant de L’Academie de Sciences de Paris et Professeur de mathématique e d’Hydrographie au Port de Rochefort (Paris: Chez P. Histoire de L’Eglise (Paris: Chez Christophe Davi. politics and commerce. written by Abbé Guillaume Raynal.bnf. 1701-1723): http://gallica. Raynal was a French writer and philosopher who wrote several books on philosophy. 467 . and about the Americas. Abbé De Choisy. Chauvet.281 commercial activities. I could not find any reference for this book.r=Dictionnaire+de+Marine. This is a book written by the Abbot de Choisy between the years 1700 and 1723. Ten volumes compiled the history of the Church from the year 100 BC until the year of 1715. Unfortunately. The title mentioned on the list is incomplete and no additional information is given about authors or printing house.bnf. The Holy Office prohibited these volumes because they considered that the author committed many historical mistakes and imprecisions regarding the history of the Church.467 5) Seven volumes of the book Histoire Philosophique et Politique des établissements et du commerce des européens dans les deux Indes.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k54250306/f2. 1792): http://gallica. 4) Ten volumes of the book Histoire de L’Eglise.

the Chevalier de Bayard. 468 Abbé Guillaume Raynal. 1770): http://gallica. 469 .d. In this work. According documentation provided by the commissioners. Guyard de Berville. The complete title of this book is Histoire de Pierre du Terrail.” 244.” AGI. M. san peur et san reproche (Lyon: Chez Barnuset. This book. is a biography of a French knight. dit Chevalier Bayard. Historie philosophique et politique des établissement et du commerce des européens dans les Deux Indes (Amsterdam: n. the book was included in the French and Spanish Index of Prohibited books in 1774. See also “Auto de Antonio Fernández y Francisco Espejo. “La conspiración por dentro.. Caracas.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k109690m. 8) One volume of an unidentified book entitled Catechism de Bayonne. dit Chevalier Bayard. Histoire de Pierre du Terrail. Raynal praises commercial activities and trade but clearly denounces slavery and calls into question the principles of colonization. 3. some including virulent attacks against despotic powers. The book could be considered a Chivalry book that praises French blood and braveness.bnf. After three successful editions.468 6) One volume entitled Histoire de Bayard. 427. these volumes belonged to José María España. quoted in Aizpurua. written by M. san peur et san reproche. del 23 de agosto de 1797. who fought in the war between France and Italy in 1504. The volumes are considered the most significant work of Raynal in which he made a contribution to democratic propaganda.282 on the New World was accompanied by philosophical reflections about slavery and colonialism.469 7) Two volumes of an unidentified book entitled Examen des Finans. Guyard de Berville. 1786).

and On The Social Contract represented cornerstones in modern political and social thought and made a strong contribution for democratic government. 1793-1800).” AGI. 471 . ou Correspondance philosophique. he declared that during his stay in La Guaira. This book belonged to the captain José María Salas.471 His books were prohibited is Spain because they were considered anti-monarchical and contrary to social harmony. Rousseau’s writings such as Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. This book seems to be the first volume of the approximately eighteen volumes that compiled the entire written work of the French philosopher and political thinker.” 262.283 9) One volume entitled Lettres Juives. Oeuvres Complets (Paris: Chez de Maisonneuve. Jean Jacques Rousseau. offering interesting comments about the changes in political and social relations. historique. who was interrogated for sharing some of his books with the conspirators. et critique entre un juif voyageur á Paris et ses correspondans en divers endroits. Caracas. this book offers a general description of life in Paris. no. 470 “Declaración de José María Salas del 23 de octubre de 1797. 59. de l’imprimerie de Didot Le Jeune. 431. he attended several meetings with the insurgents “but not those in which the virtue of the Republics of France or North America were a topic of conversation. “La conspiración por dentro. Jean Jacques Rousseau. This book also belonged to the captain José María Salas who had lent it to the conspirators. also quoted in Aizpurua. Written by Jean-Baptiste De Boyer D’Argens.”470 10) The first volume of a book entitled Oeuvres de Rousseau.

Recueil de pieces galantes en prose et en vers (Lyon: Chez Antoine Bondet. Odes. labor and new occupations. allegories. This book had nineteen volumes. It was written by Jean Baptiste Rousseau. 473 . the third and fourth. This is a book of Belles Lettres that includes stories and poetry on human feeling such as love. although he was also accused 472 Jean-Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent. Bibliothéque Phissico Economique Instructive et Amusante (Paris: Chez Buisson. 1695). poetry and epistles. a French poet and writer who acquired great reputation during the eighteenth century for his poetry and comedies. This book. odes in music.ark:/12148/bpt6k2057380/f2. Comtesse de la Suze and Monsieur Paul Pelisson. of the book Recueil de pieces galantes en prose et en vers. joy and jealousy. Madame Henriette de Coligny. first and second. Comtesse de la Suze and Monsieur Paul Pelisson. but the Real Audiencia possessed only one. offers a general appraisal of the latest improvement and inventions in agricultural production. domestic economy and administration. ét poesies diverses. Cantantes.bnf. healing and diseases. written by Jean-Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent. of an unidentified book Histoires de Tamerdam.472 13) Two volumes.284 11) Two volumes. written by Madame Henriette de Coligny. 12) One volume of the book Bibliothéque Phissico Economique Instructive et Amusante.B.fr. Rousseau. This is a book divided into five parts: odes. Epitres. 1782-1793): http://gallica.473 14) One volume of the book Oeuvres Choisies de J.

Les Moeurs. Grenada and Saint Domingue. Rousseau. His book pays special attention to the history and everyday life of black people. et les moyens de les augmenter (La Haye: Chez P.474 15) The seventh volume of the book Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de L’Amerique contenant L’Histoire Naturelle de ces Pays. was a treaty that compiled his observations on the West Indies. Les Guerres sur les evenemens singulaires qui y son arrivez pendant le long séjour que L’auteur y a fait: le Commerce et les manufactures qui y son établies. et les moyens de les augmenter. 475 . Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de L’Amerique contenant L’Histoire Naturelle de ces Pays. 1823 [1723]). Oeuvres Choisies de J. vegetation and animals of islands such as Martinique. La Religion et Le Gouvernment des habitants anciens et moderne.B. with a special chapter on “Black wizards” and the system of slavery. especially the production of sugar cane with several illustrations made by the author. Les Moeurs. Epitres. Les Guerre ser les evenemens singulaires qui y son arrivez pendant le long séjour que L’auteur y a fait: le Commerce et les manufactures qui y son établies. Husson. The book also provides a complete description of the different crops produced in the islands. laws and the obligations of men. Jean-Baptiste Labat. L’origine. 1722-1724). Cantantes. Guadeloupe. La Religion et Le Gouvernment des habitants anciens et moderne. ét poesies diverses (Paris: Janet et Cotelle Libraries.475 474 Jean Baptiste Rousseau. L’origine. a French Dominican who was appointed procurator-general of all the Dominican convents in the Antilles in 1696. The book gives a general description of the geography. Odes. This book written by Jean-Baptiste Labat.285 of writing obscene and libelous verses. he wrote several odes dedicated to social values such as justice. In this work.

La Police de http://gallica.286 16) One book entitled La Police de Paris dévoilée.d. written by Pierre Manuel.. written during the French Revolution and adopted by the French National Assembly as an important document for the Revolution. Paris dévoilée (Paris: n. 18) Sixty two copies of a text entitled Derechos del hombre y del ciudadano. property. and access to public office based on talent. The 476 Pierre Manuel. La Police de Paris dévoilée (1791).fr/ark:/12148/btv1b84120585.bnf." The declaration called.476 17) One volume of an unidentified book entitled Les Contemporaines ou Aventuresdes Musjotier temmes de l’age present. security and resistance to oppression. He wrote several revolutionary pamphlets such as La Bastille dévoilée (1789). freedom and equal rights for all men. In this declaration. According to the Real Audiencia this was a small notebook (librejo or cuadernillo) printed in Trinidad or Guadeloupe. and Lettres sur la Révolution (1792). procurator of the insurrectionary Paris commune in 1792 and member of the national assembly of Paris during the first years after the Revolution. This is the Spanish translation of the original French text Déclaration des droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen. it is argued that “the natural and imprescriptible rights of man" are "liberty. among other things. for the destruction of aristocratic privileges by proclaiming an end to exemptions from taxation. of a type that commonly circulated in the French colonies and that was introduced in Venezuela through Trinidad. 1791): .

the Histoire Philosophique and Politique by Raynal. through numerous artificial.” AGI.477 The volumes collected by the Authorities in the houses of the conspirators allow us to perceive the kind of knowledge and information that officials believed were the source of inspiration for the conspiracy. 427. The commissioners Antonio Fernández de León and Francisco Espejo declared that they seized “books prohibited by the State and others worth of being prohibited because they contain maxims contrary to our government.287 monarchy was to be limited. and confuses.” AGI. 23 de agosto de 1797.”478 However. and all citizens were to have the right to take part in the legislative process. no. 478 . The sixty two copies of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. weak and dangerous phrases. the Recueil de pieces galantes written by Madame Henriette de Coligny. “Auto de Antonio Fernández de León y Francisco Espejo. Caracas. the list shows that by the time they seized the volumes a wider set of motivations intervened: in first place we can perceive a sort of francophobia that made any book written in French a source of revolutionary contamination. the reason of men. the Oeuvres of Jean Jacques Roussseau. 85. no. 3. 432. and the text of Pierre Manuel were evident sources of French revolutionary contamination. in this sense officials were looking for evidence that could help them build connections between the conspirators and the French revolutionary movement. Caracas. but the Oeuvres Choisies of Jean Baptiste Rousseau. Colonial authorities believed that this text corrupted the order of society. y cualquier otro papel sedicioso. and the Histoire de 477 “Real Audiencia de Caracas prohibe la lectura del librillo titulado Derechos del Hombre y del Ciudadano. 18 de diciembre de 1797.

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Chevalier Bayard by Guyard de Berville were not revolutionary texts, they were rather eighteenth century French literature dedicated to enlightened topics, although some of them promoted favorable views of France and the French people that must have produced concern among the Spanish authorities. Secondly, the officials also collected a group of books that referred to topics such as the geography of America, agriculture, technology, commerce and administration. These books were seized not because they were considered “revolutionary” but because they broached certain topics such as slavery, exploitation, free trade and taxes, that were matter of concern for both French and Caribbean revolutionaries. The Bibliothéque Phissico Economique Instructive et Amusante by Jean-Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent, the Dictionnaire de la Marine Françoise avec figures by Charles Romme, the Bibiothéque amusante et instructive by Niceron and François Duport du Tertre, as well as the Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de L’Amerique by Jean-Baptiste Labat, are included in this group. The latter in particular contained a section dedicated to a description of the Caribbean islands, the production of sugar and other crops, the slave trade, the slavery system and the everyday life of free blacks and slaves. Therefore, the volumes collected by the colonial officials responded to a pattern: they were all written in French, some contained information about the French revolution and its principles (such as the texts of Raynal, Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Declaration of Rigths of men), while others were simply about general

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enlightenment topics in literature, theater and agriculture. Various of these French books contained information about the agricultural exploitation of America, and indirectly denounced the slavery system. Most of these books were to be found in the libraries of accommodated white creoles, such as José María España, Manuel Gual, the brothers Montesinos Rico, and José María Salas, individuals that had the economic resources to buy books, as well as the education to read them in French, and even translate them into Spanish. We know that characters like Juan Jose Mendiri – the port official - collaborated with the collection of written materials in the port, and that the white creole Juan Xavier Arrambide and the pharmacist José Cardozo copied and translated texts and documents that circulated among various social groups of La Guaira.479 The pardos Narciso Del Valle and José Cordero, however, also had some French books – borrowed from someone or bought in the port - and asked the French hairdresser André Renoir to help them translate some of these.480 Nevertheless, these pardos represented rather an exception; pardos and free blacks had more easy access to brief texts, commonly manuscripts, such as the ones that Picornell used to write. Considering the evidence found in the lists of books and documents, I believe French revolutionary books were read by some of the conspirators of La Guaira, but locally produced texts adapted to local situations were much more popular and accessible than
479 480

See Chapter I.

According to Renoir, he only helped them to translate French books on medicine, comedies and grammar. See “Declaración de André Renoir, 4 de agosto de 1797,” AGI, Caracas, 428, no. 23.

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the Rousseaus and the Raynals, only to be found in a reduced number of libraries possessed by the white elite.

2.2 Texts and Manuscripts produced by the Conspirators of La Guaira, 1797

The chests that the authorities confiscated from Gual’s hacienda in Santa Lucía contained several revealing documents: a text in french, entitled “Instruction about the Civil Constitution of the Clergy” by Mr. Mirabeau, written in January 1791, a text that contained recommendations on the adaptations that the Church and the clergy must make with the establishment of the New Republic and its Assembly; “The Declaration of Independence of the thirteen United Provinces of America presented to the General Congress, July 10 1776;” and a “Letter of Don Miguel Rubín de Celis, a Spanish official living in Bayonne who wrote to others in the Peninsula, in November 1792,” a text in which the author criticized the Monarchical system, and praised the values of liberty and equality. The Authorities also found a number of manuscripts that they had not seen before: several letters, lists and papers containing instructions, recommendations, proclamations, songs and illustrations related to the planning of a republican conspiracy in La Guaira. At this moment, the colonial authorities understood that the conspiracy was not an improvised or spontaneous movement, they discovered that a group of people had been working together to produce a body of documents designed to give shape to the movement.

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White Spaniards and creoles, like Juan Bautista Picornell, Manuel Cortés, and Manuel Gual, leaders of the Conspiracy of La Guaira collaborated actively in the circulation of Republican ideas and values among the colored population; they especially took time and effort to produce a body texts to help others understand the republican movement’s principles, motivations, procedures and plan of action. In fact, once Juan Bautista Picornell accepted being one of the leaders of the conspiracy, he started writing different documents addressed to the rest of the conspirators and to the population in general. Some of these texts were written in jail, others while he was in hiding in a house in La Guaira. Three texts, in particular, are worth mentioning: the “Ordenanzas” (Constituciones), the Instructions, and the Exhortation to the Pueblo. Drafts of these documents circulated between Picornell and his co-conspirators, in fact, on several different occasions individuals copied these texts and produced different versions of them. Nevertheless, the substance of the documents remained the same.481 The “Ordenanzas” (or “Constituciones”) is a document that contained 44 articles regarded as essential by the revolutionary commanders in the Province of tierra firme in order to restore liberty to the pueblo Americano. In general, these articles encouraged revolutionaries to follow an organized plan of government that contemplated the preservation of tranquility and order in society together with unity
481

Different versions of these texts are to be found in the archives. In his book López, for example, referred to the copies that belonged to Montesinos Rico (AGI, Caracas, 427, no. 1. which differed slightly from the copies to be found at the Archivo de la Academia Nacional de la Historia (Caracas). See López, Juan Bautista Picornell, 347 - 56.

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and loyalty between individuals. The “Ordenanzas” emphasized the importance of following a plan while conforming a Government Board (Junta Gubernativa), taking possession of public offices, buildings, and documents, and determining the responsibilities, and salaries of the new public posts. Regarding the election of the Junta Gubernativa, the seventh article of the “Ordenanzas” said: “Only those neighbors hacendados that beforehand have proven their constant patriotism, love for the poor and knowledge in the matters of Government can be elected as individuals to this Board.”482 Likewise, the “Ordenanzas” attributed importance to respecting the Church and the clergy, as well as all religious buildings, adornments and images. It also clarified that priests and nuns should receive the same payments they received before the revolution, but in the event that they should act against the “general happiness” they would be treated as traitors. The “Ordenanzas” contained several articles designed to control the payment of taxes. It proclaimed the unrestricted cultivation and commercialization of tobacco, and the abolition of food taxes (specifically rice, bread, fruits, vegetables, and roots). Other items were to be automatically reduced 25 percent while the new government adopted its definitive decisions. Likewise, the text abolished commercial taxes paid by shopkeepers, and all the alcabala taxes that muleteers, hacendados and small
482

“Ordenanzas,” AGI, Caracas, 427, no. 1, in López, Juan Bautista Picornell, 347-56. For an interesting and detailed analysis of the political and social implications of the “Ordenanzas” see Hernández, “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España.”

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cultivators had to pay. With these articles, the movement responded to a traditional demand of the eighteenth century popular movements: the payment of taxes. This issue was constantly regarded as a expression of monarchical oppression and the cause of many of the miseries that common people suffered.483 Regarding the social question, the articles for thirty-two to thirty-six introduced new depositions to establish the value of natural equality. Article 32 says:
Natural equality among all the inhabitants of the Provinces and Districts is declared: and it is mandatory that the greatest possible harmony prevail among whites, Indians, pardos and morenos, treating each other as brothers in Jesus Christ and equals in front of God, establishing distinctions between one and another only on the basis of merit and virtue, the only real basis for distinguishing between one man and another.484

It is interesting to note that the text does not explicitly mentioned “Blacks,” but “morenos.” Strictly speaking “morenos” were the result of the combination of whites and blacks, but the word “morenos” was frequently used to denominate free blacks as well. In the text, it seems as though “morenos” was used as a euphemism; considering

483

In this sense, the conspiracy of La Guaira responded some of the same motivations as many of the eighteenth century popular movements in Latin American: especially due to the economic pressures caused by the Bourbon rationalizing project. The mounting economic grievances that followed increases in taxes and commercial monopolies produced several social protests one of whose main goals was the elimination of taxes or tributes, such as the Túpac Amaru rebellion, the insurrection of Aymara highland communities from La Paz, the Indian uprising of northern Potosí, the comuneros rebellion in New Granada, and even the black rebellion of Coro, all occurring during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. See Lester D. Langley, The Americas in the Age of Revolution, 1750-1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998); Serulnikov, Subverting Colonial Authority; Thomson, We Alone Will Rule. “Ordenanzas,” in López, Juan Bautista Picornell, 354.

484

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that for a significant number of white persons it would have been particularly hard to be considered equal to a black.485 The declaration of equality among the entire population implied the elimination of two colonial institutions: Indian tributary taxes and slavery. Article number thirty four declared the abolition of slavery because it was considered a “system contrary to humanity.” In this sense, it was presented as an obligation for all masters to present their slaves to the General Board in order to determine their monetary value, adding that the masters would be economically compensated for them.486 Social equality and the abolition of slavery were both important distinguishing features of the conspiracy, whose leaders hope for the integration of the vast majority of people of color into the movement. However, the articles show that there were also concerns regarding the occupation of the newly-liberated slaves. Two solutions are mentioned: the new citizens could join the military, or could – and should –continue to work as peasants and jornaleros, in order to collaborate with the agricultural and commercial development of the region.

485

There were other texts, such as songs, dialogues, and tales where the word “blacks” was explicitly mentioned. So, we should leave open the possibility that depending on the public to which texts were directed, the authors decided whether or not it was convenient or not to write “blacks” or “morenos.” López, Juan Bautista Picornell, 354. As Hernández comments, it is clear that the conspirators had to consider seriously the issue of the abolition of slavery and its economic effects: they proposed an interesting solution, similar to expropriation: the “justa compensación,” which would apply only for those masters who voluntarily present their slaves to the junta. See Hernández, “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España,” 375.

486

was responsible for composing and adapting lyrics from revolutionary songs to the Venezuelan reality.” where liberty and equality played fundamental roles. In one of his pieces. For the first case. it also implied the application of the same laws to whites. some of the concepts expressed in “the Rights of Man and the Citizen” were adapted to fit into the Dialogue between the French and the Spanish black cousins. and the “Ordenanzas. professionals or merchants. abolition. and equality were introduced into Venezuela. In Venezuela equality meant the elimination of the racial distinctions that had been constructed by the elites to maintain hierarchy and reinforce the social distinctions no longer reflected by economic differences. The proclaimed equality not only implied the application of the same law to peasants. the Revelation of the Fray. “dialogues. but they were interpreted.295 The principles of freedom. and tales that provided a narrative appropriate for teaching revolutionary principles to the “semi-literate” people of color. transformed and adapted to fit local social and political contexts.” songs. But also the contents of these texts were adapted to respond American social reality. Indians and blacks. pardos. revolutionary texts were transformed in two ways: in their discursive narrative and in their contents. he underlines the brotherhood that . I have found that many of the texts produced in the local context transformed revolutionary writings into letters. Another conspirator. the white Spaniard Manuel Cortés. entitled the Soneto Americano. In fact. As we mentioned before.

this song was sung at the celebrations and meetings that the conspirators attended. In revolutionary France. another song composed by Manuel Cortés after he escaped from La Guaira to Guadeloupe. 2. and made up the bulk of the revolutionary army during the first years of the revolution.488 “The French Sans culottes Had shaken the world. in sum. 1793-1794 (Princeton: Princeton University Press. According to López. no. See Albert Soboul. Indians and Pardos. The song said: “The Whites. Some of their demands were popular democracy. depicted as people that have been tyrannized by the Monarchy. Juan Bautista Picornell. 434. and social and economic equality. Blacks. The Sans-Culottes: The Popular Movement and Revolutionary Government. the sans-culottes were the radical militants of the lower classes. 1980). But the shirtless here Would hardly be less successful 487 “Soneto Americano. 488 . the people of color are called “the shirtless” (descamisados) and are clearly compared with the French revolutionary sans culottes. López. the Blacks Indians and Pardos. 375.”487 In the Carmañola Americana. Caracas.296 should prevail between people of the new republic.” AGI. Let’s admit all That we are brothers That we are all united With a common interest To make war against Despotism Long live our Pueblo. which would be composed of Whites.

” notably where it stated that every citizen will be incorporated into neighborhoods (barrios) and will elect two persons to be part of 489 “Carmañola Americana. the “Instructions” differed in some respects from the “Ordenanzas. Long live the Pueblo Americano.297 The Shirtless are already Dancing!”489 The song also mentions that equality and fraternity among men of all races will prevail. in this case.” AGI.to be followed by the conspirators while taking control of the Province such as: the proclamation in public settings (“Long live the Law of God. the formation of patrols by the neighbors and inhabitants of each town. and the conformation of a Government Board. equality. 434. . The principal aim of these texts was to gain the support of the pardos and free blacks that represented the large majority that suffered injustice and the inequality of the racial system. 85. Regarding the election of the Junta Gubernativa. no. Although the abolition of slavery was one of the conspiracy’s demands. Caracas. the slaves and their abolition are barely mentioned in these songs. The “Instructions” was another text written by Picornell that contained twenty two steps – or articles . Death to the Bad Government”). the information of the French and the Haitian Revolutions that had arrived in La Guaira during the previous years experimented adaptations that revealed the racialized nature of local political tensions and social confrontation in Venezuelan society. In this way. not only refers to social status but to the color of the skin and the purity of blood. taking possession of public offices and buildings.

Number fourteen says that after the Government Board is established and sworn in. no. 35.” This is the one that Hernández quotes. two by two. no. despite his preference for an equalitarian republic. number fourteen and fifteen. 16. for being particularly enlightened and prudent. in the main square of the town. and their masters will present a brief written information about them. 434. There was another paper entitled “Borrador de plan globo de Revolución” also written by Picornell. see Hernández. 429. “they will have on their arms a chain easy to remove. allow us to appreciate the importance attributed to the abolition of slavery in the movement but not necessarily to the role of the slaves in achieving it. “Doctrina y gobierno en la conspiración de Gual y España. together with any other symbol of their enslavement. López quoted another version found in AGI.298 an election board that will appoint the Junta Gubernativa.”490 In this case. 491 .” 490 “Instrucciones para el Comandante en Xefe del Exercito Revolucionario del Pueblo Americano de Caracas.491 Two articles of the Instructions.” 370. the slaves living in town will present themselves in the square.” this text contained the same articles as the “Instructions. which leave us with the question: why do these two documents present this fundamental discrepancy? Hernández believes that the “Instructions” could have be written before the “Ordenanzas. Caracas. there is no allusion to the “hacendados” as those most appropriate for joining the Junta. Caracas.” AGI. “Everyone – it says – will give his vote to a person known for his affection to the fatherland. had to make adjustments to count on the approval of the white creole hacendados who would have not been comfortable with the idea of having people of color in the Juntas. without regard for his color or for any other feature that could have the most minimal influence.” and probably Picornell.

Here. give us enough evidence to ask: What kind of example was the revolution of Saint Domingue for the Conspiracy of La Guaira? Depending on the social context. and by way of contrast. the abolition of slavery is represented in a ritualized act in which the united Pueblo Americano is not just a witness. a person will remove the symbols of enslavement and.299 then. the abolition of slavery is not the result of the struggle of slaves – as it would have been in the case of Coro – but the consequence of the determination of a supposedly mestizo government to eradicate the slavery system. a beneficiary that grants liberty to the slaves. but passively wait until someone removes slavery from them. hugging them. 492 Ibid. “the secretary will announce in the name of the fatherland. the reluctance to use of the word “blacks” in some texts of the conspiracy. and the vision of slaves as passive recipients of a freedom granted by someone else. the ambiguity regarding the participation of black people in the conformation of the Juntas.”492 In the text. the president and the other individuals that they are free and will be recognized as citizens. . as recipients of a prize: their liberty. Saint-Domingue was both a feared and an admired model. They don’t remove the chains by themselves. the slaves are depicted as passive characters. but rather an actor. At the same time. While it is true that rumors and texts coming from the turbulent French colonies permeated the environment of the Province and gained significance within the emerging social spaces for political debate.

6 de septiembre de 1797. 24 de julio de 1797. People of color participating in the conspiracy. as Aizpurua comments. no. 431. as 493 “Declaración de Manuel Montesinos y Rico. Saint Domingue. pardos mistrusted their white co-conspirators. 427.” AGI.” Likewise. Martin de Goenaga. they could become the victims of blacks and zambos. on the other hand. 4 de agosto de 1797.” Another participant of the conspiracy. Manuel Montesinos Rico. said that in a meeting in España’s house. Caracas.” 264-65. 21. . All quoted in Aizpurua. However. we will die as victim of their fury. “Delación de Jean Lartigue. 62. Caracas.” AGI.”493 Also as the plan of the conspiracy developed. no. remembered a conversation in which Gual asserted that “it was necessary to abolish slavery to prevent events as unfortunate as those of Guarico where whites were victims of the people of color. for example. he heard someone saying: “if we don’t unite with the people of color. Jean Lartigue.300 Several declarations show that white participants feared the fate of Saint Domingue and convinced themselves into joining the conspiracy because they feared that people of color could reproduce the same actions as their counterparts in Guarico.” AGI. declared that Manuel Gual persuaded him to convince other friends to join the movement because “if they do not accept. 16. “Declaración de Martín de Goenaga. no. many whites also expressed the fear that the revolution would incite violent responses from slaves and people of color against the whites. “La conspiración por dentro. 428. Caracas. looked at the revolutionary movements of Saint Domingue with admiration and as an example to be followed in tierra firme. where they were victims of inequalities and discrimination.

Alejandro Gómez and Ramón Aizpurua argue that the revolution led by Victor Hugues in Guadeloupe could have been an appropriate model for the whites of the conspiracy. no. Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean. no. In La 494 See “Delación del sargento Miguel Granadino. 427. Caracas 428. as they were not apprehended as monolithic political structures.” AGI.” 267.”494 An understanding of the specific politics and social conflicts in Venezuela allows us to see how representations of the French and Saint Domingue revolutions refracted and reformulated events and ideologies. vol.” AGI. “La conspiración por dentro. Caracas. Gómez. and “Declaración de Narciso Del Valle. 2004. at some point.301 they had doubts that the conspiracy would be a success and feared that in case of failure “the whites will remain free.” 284-87. 495 . even agreed to support the revolution in tierra firme. and by others – whites creoles . 187). but as meaningful moldable frameworks within which differentiated social groups in colonial Venezuela found space to produce their own representations and interpretations. “La conspiración por dentro. 23. Saint Domingue was understood by some conspirators – mainly pardos and people of color . See Aizpurua.” See Laurent Dubois. In the conspiracy of La Guaira. in fact. In this sense. del 29 de julio de 1797. Gómez shows that Manuel Gual and Patricio Ronán had. As Dubois argues. 1. Hugue’s system condemned slaves to a permanent political incapacity “as it prevented them for becoming anything other than plantation laborers. “La revolución de Caracas.” Akademos no.” and “Las semillas de la libertad lanzaron su precioso grano más allá de los mares: la ley de los franceses. who agreed to grant freedom to the slaves but recommended that they remain in the Haciendas while the General Board decided their final destination. and will put the blame on us. 2006. 7. but individuals in each locality and cultural context channeled words and ideas through particularized circuits and webs.495 Revolutionary ideas did travel.as a model. both quoted in Aizpurua. 31 de julio de 1797. A Colony of Citizens.as a menace to be deflected by assuming the leadership of the conspiracy and providing some “controlled” benefits for the people of color. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 7. a relationship with Victor Hugues who.

The incompatibility of these two postures could have been one of the reasons for the failure of the movement. the authors of the written propaganda had to deal with the ambiguity that the example of Saint Domingue represented: they tried to offer the promise of a “multiethnic” political movement to the people of color. while guaranteeing political control and social order to white elites. .302 Guaira.

because they knew what they were capable of doing. I fear anarchy and revolution even more. It would be better to remain another century under the barbarous and senseless oppression of Spain. For Venezuela. 1990) 12. Studies in European and Spanish-American Social and Political Theory 1513-1830. .303 CHAPTER VI The Intesification of the Haitian Revolution and its Impact in Venezuelan Colonial Society “I confess that much as I desire the independence and liberty of the New World. the response by whites to black insurrection 496 Francisco de Miranda. 1798496 1. God forbid that other countries suffer the same fate as Saint-Domingue.” Francisco de Miranda. (New Haven: Yale University Press. Quoted in Anthony Pagden. not only increasing their fear of them. but undermining a sense of confidence that appeared to have existed before 1791. Rumors of revolution made them suspicious about people of color. a Venezuelan white creole who led the first movement for Independence of Venezuela. the “disorder of the French islands.” and rumors of “chaos and atrocities” made white elites reconsider their relationship with their slaves and with free colored people. “We can not trust black slaves anymore:” Contestation and Negotiation between White Elites and Black Subalterns. The revolutionary events of Haiti. Spanish Imperialism and the Political Imagination.

Diverse strategies were developed in order to offset the possibility of black insurrections and movements in the region during the last decade of the eigheenth century. and repression in proportional doses. the Captain General Carbonell emphatically stated: “Experience and reflection have made me recognize the danger of putting firearms in .304 and the Haitian Revolution was fear. here I will show that elites also used more subtle measures of control amd made concessions to improve the material conditions of slaves. Slaves and free colored. and later Guevara Vasconcelos. Pedro Carbonell first. both Captain Generals. They asked them not to give firearms to their slaves or to free blacks. In contrast with the naked coercion employed in the case of the rebellion of Coro. curtailing the abuse by masters and local authorities. In this way. perceived the shift in colonial authorities’ dispositions and took advantage of the new spaces of negotiations to demand attention. control. white elites resorted to a multiplicity of responses to the perceived threat of black subversion. for their part. and their officials issued orders requiring greater vigilance from white masters and local authorities. they also showed their willingness to make concessions that could calm the “spirits” of blacks who expressed their discontent in a number of uprisings throughout the last decade of the eighteenth century. and also to recommended masters to moderate their punishments. However. make accusations and elevate petitions. to establish hunting squads to capture and control black fugitives. to restrict manumission. For example. In orders issued in 1795. to prohibit free people of color and slaves from working as foremen (mayordomos) on the haciendas.

tomo LV. the process of collecting. Carbonell.305 blacks’ hands as their haughtiness has increased in intensity in recent years. the mayordomos replaced the master when he was absent. except for the knives and machetes they used for working in the fields. and often they were responsible for determining and even 497 “Comunicado del Capitan General de Venezuela. A mayordomo was the person entrusted with the task of controlling the slaves’ and the free workers’ labor. during most of the year. In Venezuela. is it convenient to trust the black slaves anymore.”497 therefore he prohibited masters and mayordomos from providing slaves and free people of color with firearms. the Captain General concluded: “With this understanding. and storing crops or producing merchandise. Idem 498 .”498 One of the first things that the colonial authorities demanded from white hacendados and masters was to examine the social composition of the power structure in their haciendas. In a way. Gobernación y Capitanía General. many hacendados lived between their haciendas and the houses they owned in urban centers. a los Gobernadores de la Provincia” AGN. 235. In the last line of this document. masters were absent from their haciendas. Generally. as well as for the transportation and commercialization of the products. For the administration and control of the haciendas they designated a mayordomo. under no circumstances.

(Caracas: Fundación Bigott. figures in the haciendas. One example was a captured runaway slave named Juan Alexandro who had escaped from José Antonio Bolívar. Diversos. Bolívar harshly punished him. 481v. He argued: “It is convenient to have the haciendas. quoted in José Rafael Lovera. Their higher social status in relation to the population of free blacks and slaves. he was forced to do it. he had differences with a slave mulatta. his credit. Colonial authorities and elites needed to maintain the subordination of the colored communities of the haciendas and plantations. managed and ruled by their own owners or.” and although he did not want to do the job. the Captain General warned the hacendados not to employ people of color as mayordomos and not to give them any sort of authority.306 administering the punishment of slaves. Bolívar “had proposed he be mayordomo of the hacienda. 2009). by white mayordomos. the mayordomos were usually whites or pardos. 469-569.500 In 1801. and kept free blacks and slaves 499 A document from the eighteenth century described the role and importance of mayordomos in the haciendas: “In his job the mayordomo takes on the role of the master and the father at the same time. With the purpose of maintaining the tranquility of his conscience. who was one of the master’s mistresses. 500 .” This decision was coherent with the lack of confidence and suspicion in blacks that the authorities felt and promoted after the development of the Haitian Revolution. and also put in his hands the subsistence of his family. Juan Alexandro escaped from this “atrocious punishment. reinforced mayordomos’ authority to rule the hacienda. and she invented the charge that Juan Alexandro had stolen cacao. the mayordomo should comply with his obligations” in Documentos para la Diócesis de Mérida. However. it was not easy to find a good mayordomo. especially those close to the coast. treating him like an animal (literally making him live – sleep and eat – with mules and horses). As mayordomo. if this is not possible. and frequently masters employed free blacks and even slaves they trusted in the position. In social terms.499 For this reason mayordomos often constituted one of the most feared.” “Procedimientos contra esclavos fugitives en los montes de Capaya y sus declaraciones” AGN. The master put his confidence in him. I have found several cases of free blacks and slaves that served as mayordomos. a resident of Caracas and owner of a nearby hacienda. 290. but also most hated. and his reputation. LXVI. Vida de Hacenda en Venezuela. Siglos XVIII al XX.

As I showed in the chapter on Coro. the colonial authorities easily blamed French visitors and fugitive slaves for transmitting “false” information and stirring mobilizations among slaves. free people of color. As I have showed in previous chapters. Cumbes and palenques502 had long provided refuge for fugitive slaves and thieves: in fact. but they also attempted to prevent communications or family bonds between slaves and the maroon communities. African Ethnicity. and chapter IV of this work. and also on the fringes of indigenous worlds. and the Evolution of Free Black Towns in the Spanish Circum-Caribbean” in Jane Landers (ed.Black in Colonial Latin America (Alburquerque: University of New Mexico Press.” See “Cimarron and Citizen. and Indians.307 under strict control and vigilance. 123. cumbes were seen by the 501 502 See Acosta Saignes. Vida de Esclavos Negros en Venezuela. it was not easy to control the relationships between slaves and maroons. As Jane Landers contends: “Located on the peripheries of European cities. maroons communities borrowed elements they found useful from both the dominant and native cultures. 2006). and from fugitive slaves who were seen as transmitters of rumors.): Slaves. and traditionally authorities had been always inclined to think that slaves upheavals were frequently stimulated from the outside. away from the possible arrival of people from other nations. and required the designation of white mayordomos. they also asked masters to keep slaves and free blacks away from any foreign or unknown visitors.501 Runaways were a matter of concern for Venezuelan authorities and elites during the Age of Revolution because they could have provided encouragement and material support to potentially rebellious slaves. Corporate Identity. or urban centers. Subjects and Subversives. especially by maroon communities. Cumbe and palenques were the names given to the relatively autonomous maroon communities made up of fugitive slaves that were established near the haciendas. . The authorities not only prohibited the use of firearms among slaves.

It was common for whites to assume that the maroon communities contributed to slave uprisings. Runaways were seen not only as sources of inspiration and communicators. In fact. The rumors of conspiracies and insurrection between 1794 and 1796 in Venezuela had the effect of encouraging the flight of slaves. firearms. but also as supporters who helped insurgents to hide and provided them with resources. and “reestablish order among 503 See Jeremy Adelman. Chapter 2. and maroons were characterized as robbers. smugglers. the Captain General ordered the establishment in different regions of Venezuela of squadrons of soldiers – some squads were paid by the merchant guild and others by hacendados themselves – to monitor slaves zones. provided shelter and support to recent runaways or to others of their type. often depended on their haciendas to steal crops. the government and white elites feared that the haciendas of the General Captaincy would get wiped out not only as a result of slave uprisings but also through continuous and pervasive defections from the slave order. food. and carried on contraband trade with pirates. weapons. animals – and people. and criminals who stole away other slaves. instruments for agricultural work. with resources – for example. Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton: Princeton University Press.308 authorities as uncontrolled communities where vices accumulated. dismantle maroons communities. or animals.503 In 1794. . 2006). living on the borders of colonial life. Hacendados feared cumbes for many reasons: one was that they knew that these communities.

I had access to a large expediente that has the declarations of twenty-four runaways. Guapo. Maracay. Puerto Cabello. and the products and/or animals they supposedly had stolen (generally cacao. Gobernación y Capitanía General. LXVI.”504 In September 1794. because the lists seem incomplete. These squadrons operated in the following departments of Caracas: Caracas. LXIX. Sabana de Ocumare.309 the colored population in the rural regions. Petare.506 The declarations of these runaways provide valuable material for a construction of the history of the everyday life of these maroon communities in Venezuela. the years they had been living under these conditions. and to decide on their sentence. and “Lista de los esclavos cimarrones aprehendidos por las Patrullas. Members of the squadrons wrote lists with the names of the blacks. Capaya. 37-38. Real Consulado. 505 506 . and La Guaira. sobre establecimiento de milicias urbanas para controlar alzamientos de esclavos y de gente de color. Diversos. Turmero. LV. See “Procedimientos contra esclavos fugitives en los montes de Capaya y sus declaraciones. de las que se han presentado a sus dueños después de su establecimiento. LXIX. 353. 113. in the Province of Caracas the merchant guild created five patrol squadrons of twenty-four soldiers each to monitor slaves zones. Mayo 1795” AGN. 2526. Caucagua. In the subsequent months more patrol squadrons started to function in the province: three more in January 1795. Guarenas. tobacco. Actas. I do not have a definitive number of apprehended runaways. and horses). These documents show how maroons drew on a variety of 504 “Sobre establecimiento de patrullas de vigilancia en Cracas. 113. where they were kept during several months in order to continue an investigation of their circumstances and their purposes. San Felipe. “Del Capitán General de Venezuela al Justicia Mayor de Carora. de las que se han presentado a sus dueños después de su establecimiento. seven others in March 1795. One of the runaways assured that there were more than fifty runaways in the area. Agosto 1794” AGN. Mayo 1795” AGN. Dversos. See “Lista de los esclavos cimarrones aprehendidos por las Patrullas. Diversos. They were sent to jail in Caracas. Cupira. but others contradicted him.” AGN. the area where they were captured. 469-569.505 Many runaways of the Province of Caracas were captured by these squadrons. junio 1795” AGN. Río Chico.

how did they live and organize themselves in the forests. . four declared that they had escaped mainly because working conditions were unbearable – they had to work when they were sick.” AGN. LXVI. the ways they established their authority. a look into this source has allowed me to understand the reasons why slaves resisted white oppression by escaping. and whether they were willing to initiate a black insurgent movement. and severe labor exploitation. deprivation. y sus declaraciones. and humiliations.one said that he was discontented because his master did not give him enough tobacco -. 469-500. Of these twenty-four maroons: thirteen declared that they had escaped because of the humiliations and severe punishments they suffered in the hands of their masters and mayordomos. and how they became stable communities based on small-scale settled agricultural production. not necessarily dependent on theft. and of the rest. They lived in small houses made by themselves. sexual abuses on the part of the mayordomos and masters. more or less. However. and how the authorities and the white elites related the maroons to slave insurrections and even to the Haitian Revolution. and one said he was lost because he was a “Dutch” slave and he could not speak Spanish. in the context of my research. terrible living conditions – such as lack of food or of an appropriate place to sleep –.507 A proportion of the twenty-four investigated runaways were working as free laborers (jornaleros) on haciendas in the area. See “Procedimientos contra esclavos fugitivos en los montes de Capaya. two were free blacks captured by mistake. Diversos.310 African cultural models. The most frequent questions that these runaway men and women confronted during the investigation were: why did they escape. Most of them escaped from their haciendas for. but ten of them declared that they lived in a small maroon community. the same reasons: heavy physical punishment. and 507 I studied twenty-four declarations of runaway men and women in the Province of Caracas. four others said that they fled because they did not receive enough food or clothes .

479. that “instead of stealing he preferred to cultivate his own crops. Idem. . and others were assigned to new masters. One slave women was punished so severely by her masters. free from the tyranny of our masters.”508 Althought authorities were not completely convinced by his declaration. and followed a captain.311 surrounded by fields cultivated by them and for their own consumption.” In the fields he encountered other fugitives.” Miguel Gerónimo was asked if he was seeking to provoke an upheaval among the fugitives and slaves of the area. that she asked to go back and live in jail. they assigned a punishment for each of them for having escaped: some were whipped in jail. 476v. and he clearly answered: “We did not have any other intentions than living there. Miguel Gerónimo was punished in jail with fifty strokes and given the order to return to his master. They organized their work in the fields.509 508 509 Idem. who was to put shackles on one of his feet. Everyday. I made him leave the place. and if “someone refused to do so. and they decided to cultivate produce together. In May 1795. He said that he had never stolen anything. Guacamaya called them to pray the rosary in the afternoon. The same happened to those who did not want to work properly. each of them taking care of a conuco (plot of land for small-scale agricultural production). The captain named Miguel Gerónimo (alias Guacamaya) had escaped six years before because of the severe living conditions he suffered on the hacienda. others were delivered to their masters with permission to whip them.

Idem. which has been 510 511 Idem. of the members of the squadrons. but because they wanted to flee “from their condition as slaves.”511 But the rumors and accusations of black insurrection in the province of Caracas started to flow more intensely in 1795 and 1796. as an example so that “slaves can see what would happen if they tried to escape.312 Some members of the squadrons did not agree with the judge’s decisions. the slaves escaped in order to provoke slaves uprisings. .” The judge maintained that his decision was final. based only on “rumors and suspicious accusations. They alleged that fifty strokes were nothing. Domingo Antonio and Silvestre. and made serious accusations against Miguel Gerónimo and two other slaves.”510 In the opinion. and that those were the proper punishments for maroons whose only fault was to have escaped from their masters and remain fugitives. Several hacendados and members of the squadrons declared that the slaves of Caucagua and of the Valleys of El Tuy intended to rise up in order to “recover their freedom. and that these slaves deserved more severe bodily punishments in public and even the death penalty. He added that he could not sentence a capital penalty for these men. these slaves escaped not for the reasons they expressed. and not because they wanted to escape the punishments of their masters. According to them. 545. producing tumults and shaking off the yoke of subordination. freedom that they heard had been granted to them by the King through a Royal Decree. 544.

sent a communication to the Captain General saying that these rumors should not be ignored. the reference to the “slaves of Guarico” was powerful and attracted the attention of local authorities. But still. 548v. Blacks perceived both the fear of local whites and the discursive power of Haiti. The threat of killing the chief of a squadron was a clear enough indication that the prospects of slave insurrection seemed to respond more to the increased vigilance than to the Haitian revolution. Miguel José Sanz.elites felt that these were all evidence that a tumult of 512 513 Idem. 548. LXVI. La Guaira. a song. and took advantage of these to threaten. Diversos. . and that they must be wary of any movement or signal of insurrection. Sanz clearly felt threatened by the menacing rumors. Sabana de Ocumare. La Victoria and Turmero.313 published in the Valleys of Caucagua. 26/8/1796” AGN.513 These rumors suggested that blacks of the region could have resented the pressure and control that the relatively recent squadron raids represented. Rafael Heredia. He was the chief of ten squadrons in Caucagua. whites perceived the danger of insurrection in even the most innocent black expressions.” Another squadron chief. the sound of drumming at night. A conversation.”512 Rumors spread that the blacks of the region had intentions of killing one of the chiefs of the squadrons. For their part. in order to quickly take control of the situation. Petare. “Carta de Miguel José Sanz al Capitán General de Venezuela. Guarenas. Capaya. “in order to be free. in the same way that the slaves of the Guarico (Haiti) did. or a opinion critical of whites . Barlovento.

Juan Agustín de La Torre decided to visit the region immediately in order to head the inquiry into a case that was clearly related to the rumors. and maroons and slaves. spread by hacendados some months before. and what the relationship was between whites and blacks. He also took the 514 “Comunicación del Gobernador interino. they could over time produce the fatal consequences of preparing their spirits for an uprising. a strong rumor spread among the population that a slave. Diversos. free workers. in September 1796. con respecto al rumor del possible alzamiento de los negros esclavos de Caucagua” AGN. observing blacks (slaves. Domingue’s rebellions had already awoke in the authorities That same month. mulattos. According to Joaquín Zubillaga. .514 With this concern in mind. LXVI. and zambos. Zubillaga ordered Juan de La Torre to undertake an investigation with the support of the members of the squadrons in the Valley of Caucagua to find out whether there were intentions of planning a black uprising. 549. en respuesta a la carta de Miguel José Sanz. like the one that took place in Coro a year ago. in the Valley of Caucagua. that a black insurgent movement was emerging in Caucagua. Don Joaquín Zubillaga. these expressions should not be underestimated Because although they were no more than obscenities or isolated voices among the slaves. named Anselmo had injured a mayordomo on the hacienda of Blanco Uribe. and fugitives) as well as their relationship with whites. Interestingly. De La Torre spent two months in the Valley.314 blacks was being planned. the mentioning of Coro in the text of Zubillaga allows to appreciate that Coro reinforced the concerns and fears that the St. Lieutenant of the King and Interim Governor of the Province of Caracas.

as a signal for the start of the uprising. 515 516 Idem. the blacks got away with it (se salieron con la suya). urged the slaves to rebel. located in Caucagua. this slave was willing to lead the insurrection. are hiding it from them. and of one slave who had supposedly seen the confrontation between the slave Anselmo and the mayordomo. referred to Haitian blacks. The first person to declare was the hacendado Diego Muñoz. Diversos. and he proposed beginning by killing one of the chiefs of the squadrons. Heredia. involving the black visitor who came at night. and were now free. Muñoz shared his concerns with a free white worker named Carlos Hernández who told him that he had been told that a black from the Hacienda of Camejo usually visited the slaves of other haciendas during the night in order to spread the news that “in Guarico.” AGN. 554-565. the whites. LXVI. He said that he was fairly sure that the slaves of his hacienda. and encouraged them saying that they were stronger and could achieve the same ends.” and that they themselves could do the same because “they were stronger. . “because someone told them that a Royal Decree from the King had given them their freedom but that we. The white worker practically repeated the same story as Muñoz. 21/9/1796.”516 According to Muñoz. “Expediente del caso del delito del esclavo Anselmo que hirió al mayordomo de la Hacienda de Blanco Uribe.”515 Apparently. De La Torre decided to request a formal declaration from Hernández. were looking forward to an uprising.315 declarations of two white men (a hacendado and a free worker).

or anything about maroons and leaders (cabecillas). Capaya. if the slave did have information and had heard the rumors. because “he was not sure about the slaves’ knowledge of a black insurgency. he concluded that he knew nothing about insurrections or about the slaves of Guarico. he decided to remain in silence and not to comment on them. In view of the apparent ignorance of Hilario. De La Torre called the slave Hilario to declare.” Hilario also added that the only black who had visited them was a slave named Vicente who came to the hacienda for a baptism because he was the godfather of the child. In his declaration. de La Torre decided to keep quiet too and stop the investigation. and believed that together they could achieve their purposes. and Curiepe that shared the same goals.”518 517 518 Idem. Idem. Asked what were the reasons that drove the slave Anselmo to injure his mayordomo.316 Hernández also said that this black was willing to lead the rebellion and suggested killing Heredia. He also mentioned that this man had connections with others black groups in La Sabana de Ocumare. and did not want to exchange more information with them that could give them hopes or inspiration to plan a movement on their own.”517 In the end. Hilario answered that “Anselmo was injured too and he was defending himself from the mayordomo. 558. Evidently. Hernández recommended asking more questions to a slave named Hilario who had probably heard the black visitor himself in one of his visits. He met him but did not hear a word about “any royal decree. .

he believed that there was a general “disorder of customs” (desorden de costumbres). but that he could not find any clear evidence or motive for a black movement.317 In this way. in a way. but also submitted a long report about the general situation of slavery and of free blacks in the region. Sociedad y Esclavitud.”520 He believed that there were some measures that could be taken by masters and colonial authorities to impose some restraints on the slaves. Instead. 25/09/1796. Some slaves escaped from one hacienda to work in another just like a free worker. sobre sospecha de sedición en los Valles. and without inquiring where they came from. landlords did not control their workers. In his opinion the blacks lived in a “general disorder and responded with insolence. Haiti seems to have functioned as a model that blacks used theoretically but not necessarily in practice. and a lack of authority and control on the part of the whites.519 De La Torre closed the case. in this case in particular. in theory but not in practice. it allowed them to get the attention they wanted. the silence of the slave forced de La Torre to remain in silence about the rumors of the blacks of Haiti. LXVI. without asking for a card of liberty (carta de libertad). For example. by the revolution of Haiti. employing blacks regardless of their condition. “Cuba a la sombra de Haití: Noticias. She argues: “It is evident that the majority of slaves that declared felt attracted. 520 .” AGN.” 219. without necessarily taking up arms and rising up. Diversos. 566-568. he argued 519 Regarding the use of Haiti as a “theoretical” but not “practical” reference in Cuba see Ada Ferrer. and about the aspirations of the blacks of the region.” 214-219. However. He concluded that he had only heard rumors and “voices” of insurrection. “Informe de De La Torre al Gobernador interino Joaquin Zubillaga.

you do not know if he will inspire them to rebel and to shake off the yoke of subordination. and sold these same products to slaves and free blacks at very high prices. He recommended the authorities open new roads that could connect the 521 Idem.318 that there should be restrictions on the consumption of alcohol which “incited slaves to be disobedient and disrespectful with their superiors. he suggested for example. these pulperos “did not use measures or weights. who are very attracted to eating meat” can only eat it occasionally during the course of the year. With stores in the small towns of the area. and to have seditious conversations.” De La Torre noticed that the slaves who went to the town to buy some products they lacked on the haciendas or in their conucos felt frustrated by the abuses committed by these shopkeepers. . For him. the happiness of the slaves assured the tranquility of the province. as some hacendados had done in the Valley. the controlling of the activities of local shopkeepers (pulperos). or even worse to a black woman.” He also recommended not to give the role of mayordomo to a black. and that “blacks. Therefore. gaining more than fifty percent of the value of the product. and sold everything just the way they wanted. these “tyrants” – he said – bought agricultural products from thieves – usually maroons – at very low prices.”521 But de La Torre also argued that there were other concessions that should be taken to keep the slaves contented and calm. because “the moment you give a black the authority to rule others. De La Torre also noticed that the price of meat was very high. Likewise.

He suggested the supervision and improvement of tobacco crops in the valleys. In this way. hacendados could provide their slaves with better food and they would consequently be more contented to work.319 central valleys with the plains where cattle were raised. 568. so the slaves could consume tobacco of better quality.”523 So he recommended importing the tobacco from other regions to the central Valleys. he confessed: “I have always noticed the bad quality of the tobacco grown in these valleys. and this is something that creates great displeasure among the slaves. but that better times would come. De La Torre also argued that these roads could be used to control the contraband of cacao from the valleys to the plains. However. he will prefer tobacco to meat. De La Torre made a fourth recommendation that calls our attention. .522 The observer was impressed by the many times that slaves had complained to him about tobacco.” De la Torre felt the need to calm these slaves by arguing that they had a bad year with tobacco. If you ever find a slave lacking both. and in this way provide the population of the valleys with better-quality meat at a more reasonable price. 522 523 Ibid. It is undeniable that these slaves prefer tobacco to meat. an activity that was supposedly controlled by maroon communities. and also because of the bad quality of that which grows in the valleys. He wrote: I believe that blacks get upset when they don’t have tobacco. Idem. “Slaves thought that I had the authority to remedy this.

469-500. Diversos. allows us to notice coincidences and to get a clearer idea of the situation of the blacks in the Valley of Caucagua. tightening control and increasing submission of the slaves and maroons. LXVI.” AGN. “Procedimientos contra esclavos fugitivos en los montes de Capaya y sus declaraciones. Why did de La Torre not mention anything about the punishments and the cruelty? My interpretation is that a claim for better treatment for the slaves would have contradicted de La Torre’s recommendations to establish greater control over the slaves.” AGN. LXVI. y sus declaraciones. 525 . In a sense.525 It was unlikely that slaves and maroons complained more about the quality of tobacco than about the mistreatment by their masters. 524 But what about the cruelty and punishment imposed by masters and mayordomos? According to our records about the maroons of the Valley. mistreatment and physical punishment represented 50 percent of the complaints by runaways. demanded better living conditions in terms of the food they could buy.” Another said that he never got water and one day he was so hungry that he ate the food of the beasts. Heavy punishments would be part of 524 Some runaways said that they never had the chance to eat meat on their haciendas. See “Procedimientos contra esclavos fugitivos en los montes de Capaya. Runaways and slaves. Diversos. “not even grains or bread. 481v. indeed. the consumption of meat.320 Comparing the runaways’ reasons for escaping mentioned above with the observations and recommendations of De La Torre. and also complained about the lack of tobacco or the poor quality of it. while at the same time improving living conditions (food and tobacco) which did not necessarily endanger due subordination and order. his recommendations were two-pronged: on the one hand. One said that his master only gave him plantains and corn to eat. 469-569.

Gobernación y Capitanía General. but not others that might have compromised or undermined their authority over the black population. while others did not prompt an immediate response because they implied recognizing the problems and failures of the system. the free blacks and slaves of Curiepe sent a letter to the Captain General of Venezuelan denouncing that they were treated in a miserably way by the white hacendados of the region and by the Justicia Mayor of Curiepe. the Captain General sent a letter to José Anís. Immediately. Considering this.526 Enraged. alerting him that “in the current circumstances” he was “not to oppress or allow anyone to oppress” the blacks of the region.321 maintaining order. 240. Free blacks and slaves appreciated this inclination on the part of the authorities and manipulated it for their own purposes. . In December 1797. as a way of decreasing slaves and free blacks’ motivations for rebellions. The cases mentioned above show us that fear of black insurrection not only justified more control. They also complained that the commercial taxes were too high. I believe that some complaints of blacks caught the attention of the authorities. Justicia Mayor of Curiepe.” He also 526 “Comunicación del Gobernador y Capitán General al Justicia Mayor de Curiepe. José de Anís answered that all those denunciations were “lies made up by a group of blacks who don’t want to work and who live miserably because they do not accomplish their tasks. 11/1/1798” AGN. So the authorities were willing to recognize and negotiate certain demands. LXVII. so he did not even need to mention this in his report. but also the search for consent and the recommendation for “better treatment” on the part of the masters.

fulfilling his responsibilities and preventing complaints from anyone in town. who seeking to improve the situation of black people in the town. Anís assured that he was aware of the importance of keeping people of color contented. Anís commented that he had heard that the real origin of the blacks’ discontents was that they were treated by pardos with contempt. 528 . who did not lose any opportunity to speak up and make clear their demands in order to win better material conditions. stir up hotheads and spread false rumors that seriously damage the population. Ibid. because he had witnessed blacks and pardos having a friendly relationship and attending public celebrations together. showed that Haiti brought more attention in part of the whites to slaves and the colored population. For the elites the situation was completely different. acusa recibo de su carta.527 Additionally. In the end. “believing that they depend directly on your Government and Captaincy. The cases mentioned above. but that he could not control the “malicious intentions” and rumors of some of the blacks who “in order to provoke fear. Gobernación y Capitanía General LXVIII. 261-63.322 added that these blacks did not show any respect for his authority. 22/1/98” AGN. but that he was not even sure about this rumor either. the Haitian Revolution made them 527 “Comunicación de Don José Anís al Gobernador y Capitán General. Juan Pablo Castellanos.” In the end. supposedly went to Caracas in order to directly express his protest to the Captain General. Anís assured the Captain General that “he was a good man (hombre de bien)” and he had always treated them gently.”528 Such was the case of a black man from Curiepe. 264.

” Blade had left Puerto Cabello at the beginning of December 1800 with a load of foodstuffs and cacao which he transported to Spanish Santo Domingo. The next section will analyze the kind of stories that these immigrants shared and their impact on the authorities and elites. in particular. became more aware of the need of keeping blacks of the region contented while controlling the potential emergence of new subversive movements. The colonial authorities. he and all the population of the city of Santo Domingo received the news that “the Black Toussaint and his people were . and especially to any complaints rised by the latter. heightening their suspicions and underminining their confidence in their slaves. 1801. The shift of local authorities relationship with free blacks and slaves will become more evident as increasing negative and fearful views of the blacks uprisings arrived in the region of Venezuela thank to the great number of Spanish Dominican who migrated to the region and shared their own fearful and horrifying stories of the invasion of Toussaint and his troops. 2. Toussaint Invades Santo Domingo: The Presence of Spanish Dominican Families in Venezuela and their “Stories of Chaos” On January 20. 1801. This concern led them to pay more attention to the relationshiop between masters and slaves. Captain Josef Blade arrived in the Port of Puerto Cabello on his ship “Nuestra Señora del Carmen.323 reconsider their relations with subalterns. On January 6.

” Blade also told Miguel Marmión. 1789-1803” (República Dominicana: Fundación García Arévalo.” Immediately after hearing the news. such as Puerto Rico. Gobernación y Capitanía General. Teniente de Puerto Cabello. most of them were white women from the city of Santo Domingo who wanted to escape “from Toussaint and his blacks. Maracaibo. ordered all men (older than 16 years and younger than 60 years) to organize themselves and be prepared to defend the city from the “atrocious actions that the black troops of Toussaint could commit. Commander of Puerto Cabello. Cuba. and the different ports on the coast of Venezuela. 21 de marzo de 1801” quoted in Fernando Carrera Montero. He was sure that in the next months many more ships would come to Venezuela bringing people from Santo Domingo who were afraid of the invasion of Toussaint and his people. that many people in Santo Domingo were boarding ships with different destinations.”529 Blade left the port of Santo Domingo on January 14. Las complejas relaciones de España con la Española: El Caribe hispano frente a Santo Domingo y Saint-Domingue.324 heading to the city of Santo Domingo in order to take it. así particulares como de los Cuerpos Político y Militar.530 Blade was right. more than one thousand emigrants arrived at different ports and cities of Venezuela. XCVI. 505. the governor of the Spanish section of the island.” in AGN. 2004). . al Capitán General de Venezuela. 530 531 See “Estado que manifiesta el número de personas emigradas en este Puerto. 20/1/1801. y de la Real Hacienda procedentes de la Ysla Española de Santo Domingo.531 529 “Comunicación de Don Miguel Marmión. 229-234. Don Joaquín García. Twelve passengers accompanied him. between January and May of 1801. Ibid.

” French Historical Studies 23. University of South Louisiana.532 The stories that these refugees told and retold have provided interesting ways for historians to restore the connection between the French and Haitian Revolutions. . and free people of color from Saint-Domingue to ports in other Caribbean islands. The historiography that has studied the impact that these people had on each location is vast and rich. 1792-1809 (Louisiana: Center for Louisiana Studies. “Etrangers dans un Pays Etrange: Saint-Dominguan Refugees of color in Philadelphia. Spanish America. freedom. Ashli White. Throughout the last decade of the eighteenth century and during the early years of the nineteenth century. 1789-1825” (PhD diss. and North America. Susan Branson and Leslie Patrick. “Las repercusiones de la Revolución Francesa en el Caribe español”. The Road to Louisiana: The Saint-Domingue Refugees. eds. British. and the rest of the Atlantic World. 193-208. 1 (2000): 67-102. David P. Revolution. and republicanism in the western world during the Age of Revolution. their slaves. ed. 2010). 2001). As Ashli White contends: “Saint-Dominguan exiles raised as many questions about being a republic as they did 532 On Saint-Domingue refugees. and thousands of residents fled. Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. ships carried thousands of white refugees. 2003) and Encountering Revolution. 1791-1820” (PhD diss. “Engineering Exile: Social Networks and the French Atlantic Community. and has raised interesting questions regarding the complex web of representations and images that these refugees produced and reproduced about race. R. Jennifer Pierce. see Carla A. Europe. Soler. and their stories. their mobilizations.325 The Haitian Revolution provoked an incredible mobilization of people in the Atlantic World. 1992). no. Plantations went up in flames. and French armies invaded. Conrad. and Empire.. Geggus (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press. Spanish. Meadows.. hundreds of people of all colors were killed.” in The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World. “A Flood of Impure Lava: Saint-Domingue Refugees in the United States. Columbia University. “Discourses of the Dispossessed: Saint-Domingue Colonists on Race.D. 1789-1809. State University of New York at Binghamton.. 2005). Basseaux and Glenn R.

2003) and Robert Elias. See Natalie Zemon Davis. the danger of pirates. a wave of Spanish Dominican refugees. their possessions. Politics and the Past: On Repairing Historical Injustices (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. Torpey. they become masters of the narrative. The Cheese and the Worms. Victimology. 533 534 White. these questions forced Americans to confront the paradox of being a slaveholding republic.533 When Toussaint decided to invade the Spanish section of the island. Haiti and the Making of the Early Republic. and forced them to leave their land. and the pain of separation from their families. and cultural forces that shape them. 1987) and Carlo Ginzburg. in the case of the United States. These refugees became masters of the narrative: they provided detailed descriptions of how they had to confront the fury of the sea. but also of common people who met them in the streets and in the market. carrying with them the stories of terror about the Haitian Revolution and its black leaders. Fiction in the Archives: Pardon Tales and their Tellers in Sixteenth Century France (Stanford: Stanford University Press. and Human Rights (New York: Oxford University Press. invaded their hometowns. Their accounts were framed in a narrative that depicted them as victims of a revolution that leaped across the territorial borders. republicanism. Natalie Zemon Davis and Carlo Ginzburg have shown us that when the condemned seek to portray themselves as victims. Like the Saint-Domingue refugees. 3. .534 The circumstances that these refugees had endured attracted not only the interest of colonial officials who tried to offer them support. 1986).326 about slaveholding” and. fled to other Caribbean islands and to different ports in Spanish America. see John C. Both historians have proven that the study of narrative strategies is a valuable model for understanding the relationship between individuals’ perception and the broader political. For interesting discussions of the politics of victimization. and their slaves. The Politics of Victimization: Victims.. Encountering Revolution. and slavery. race. social. ed. these Spanish Dominican refugees also brought their stories and interpretations of the invasion of the black troops.

sociedad y esclavitud. disorder and devastation. while they stayed in Venezuela.” . in fact. these refugees spread a radical version of the Haitian revolution as an extremely chaotic event that brought disorder and destruction to the political and and the social order. these refugees were also a clear and direct evidence of the expansionist intentions of Toussaint and 535 About Dominican refugees in Cuba. 1989) and Ferrer. “Cuba en la sombra de Haití: noticias. The island of Cuba was among the most popular destinations of these families who wanted to recreate the same political. economic and social conditions that they had enjoyed in Santo Domingo before the revolutionary turbulences occurred.535 However. violent. Many of the refugees who came to Venezuela during the Haitian revolutionary events were Spaniards from the colony of Santo Domingo. but the most significant wave of refugees arrived during the first months of 1801. see Carlos Esteban Deive. They shared powerful representations of what happened when a territory became ruled by blacks who were depicted as savages.327 and who came face to face with a powerful and fearful version of the Haitian Revolution: a version which reduced it to chaos. Las emigraciones dominicanas a Cuba (1795-1808) (Santo Domingo: Fundación Cultural Dominicana. In addition. naturally prone to authoritarism and anarchism. as a result of the occupation of the Spanish section of the island by Toussaint Louverture. Most of these families began to move from Spanish Santo Domingo to Venezuela by the end of 1795 (when the Spanish section of the Island was ceded to France). and insolent subjects. Most of these families did not have Venezuela as their final destination. many of them visited different places in the greater Caribbean until they found a definitive place to settle.

Nevertheless.328 his revolution. harsh. the fact is that the cession of this section of the island to the French never took place. Laurent. As we mentioned before. Among these men were: Mr. the French government appointed a commission to undertake the civil administration of the Spanish section. nor did it count on the economic resources necessary to establish a government. In 1795.” The Hispanic American Historical Review 29. see Wendell G. different circumstances delayed the official cession. and Deive. already Governor of the French section of the island. “The Delayed Cession of Spanish Santo Domingo to France. General Etienne Lavaux. named to a similar post in the Spanish section. did not follow any political plan and did not respect territorial boundaries and sovereignty. . 1795-1801. named as the French agent in Spanish Santo Domingo. one of the most important was that France lacked the military force to replace the Spanish military personnel. Schaeffer. General Rochambeau. In this sense. The Treaty stated that the colony was to be ceded in exchange for the evacuation of territory occupied by the French troops on the Iberian Peninsula. the refugees’ narratives generated a more negative. Las emigraciones dominicanas. 1 (1949): 46-8. in the refugees’ opinions. and fearful version of the blacks and the subaltern politics than had existed previously in the province. the Spanish section of Santo Domingo had been ceded by the Spanish Crown to the French Republic in 1795 with the Treaty of Basle. no. Roume de St. Although it was official. and reinforced the increasing suspicions that elites developed on their slaves and free colored workers.536 536 For a complete description of the cession of Santo Domingo to France. a movement that. and General Kerversau.

many Spanish inhabitants left the island because for them it was evident that there was no going back. for example. such as textiles. several families from Santo Domingo arrived in the port of La Guaira and the port of La Vela de Coro. I have found that some families reached the coast of Venezuela in 1796 with the intentions of settling and developing commercial activities there. and alcohol that they intended to sell in the province. Many of these people were merchants. Venezuelan colonial authorities were reluctant to accept the presence of these refugees from Santo Domingo on the mainland because their slaves could become a source of revolutionary contagion among other slaves and free people of color. one of the Dominican merchants. In a communication to the Captain General. sacrificing everything he owned for his loyalty to the King. many of the richer Spanish proprietors and merchants had fled with their goods and their slaves to other Spanish American destinations. He added . José Peralta. they did not have to pay such taxes when they left Santo Domingo and they believed that their special condition exempted them from paying commercial taxes in Spanish ports. stated that he had left the comfort of his home and his land to follow the Spanish flag. By this time. According to them. and brought with them agricultural and manufactured goods. In May 1796. They demanded exemption from the 22 percent of commercial tax that the Real Hacienda applied to anyone importing merchandise into the Province of Venezuela.329 In spite of the delay in carrying out the provision of the Treaty of Basle. tobacco.

991. and in consequence they requested the payment of taxes for commercial products. Caracas. Fernández de León stated that it was preferable to create “some difficulties” for the Spanish Dominicans to enter the province. no. but not to Venezuela. as a way to dissuade others like them from coming to Venezuela.” would grant them these favors. and all of the other Dominican merchants. . Puerto Rico. solicitando se les declare libres de impuestos los efectos que traen por su emigración a la Provincia de Venezuela. expected exemption from commercial taxes as a way of compensating them for their fidelity to the Crown. as 537 “Testimonio del Expediente de Don José Peralta y varios vecinos del comercio. and Trinidad.330 that he was sure that the King. 5/1796. 507. people who have abandoned their island and have followed the flag. listing the number of sacrifices he had made and the number of risks he and his family had taken when putting their health in jeopardy and leaving everything for their loyalty to Spain. “who is willing to relieve the pain of his beloved vassals. except for those goods that were for personal use and consumption. Roume arrived. Local authorities considered that only the Crown could make a final decision about any exemption from taxes. Peralta used a discourse of victimization. He argued that “most of them bring slaves contaminated with the ideas of freedom. In a report to the Crown.537 Quatermaster General Esteban Fernández de León argued that the exemption of commercial taxes for Dominican merchants only applied to other Spanish islands like Cuba. driven by their loyalty and love. especially since the French agent Mr. These ideas could cause a terrible impression in this country. He.” AGI.

In 1798. no. Joaquín García – and Toussaint Louverture changed the fate of the Spanish section of the island. However.” AGI. women.”538 Fernández de León’s response shows that the colonial authorities did not favor the entrance of these refugees and their “contaminated slaves” on the mainland. Toussaint had made up his mind to invade Santo Domingo. Toussaint also needed to control the eastern part of the island which could be used as a base for French military operations against him. By this time. 991. 6/1796. when Toussaint invaded the Spanish section of Santo Domingo in 1801. to issue a decree calling for the occupation. considering his confrontation with the French government. Caracas. the colonial authorities responded positively to the entry of refugees in the province. and sold as slaves.331 the population is made up in large proportion by slaves. the tensions between the legitimate French authorities – assisted by the Captain General of Santo Domingo. 507. and children who were “French citizens” were kidnapped. taken to Santo Domingo. Toussaint forced General Roume. as they came in larger numbers and brought “stories of terror” that could not be ignored. where ideas spread more easily and quickly. Toussaint had sufficient reasons to invade: in the first place. . and 538 “Comunicación de Esteban Fernández de León a Don Diego de Gardoqui. In the second place. the Franch agent in Santo Domingo. he wanted to abolish slavery and the slave trade on the entire island because he was sure that men. According to many historians.

“Pasaporte otorgado por Joaquín García a Antonio Chanlantte. rumors circulated among the population of Santo Domingo that Toussaint and his troops were close to the city. Generals Chalantee and Kerversau left the city. 13/01/1801. Chapters 10 and 11.332 under huge pressure Roume signed the capitulation.539 Eight months later. Toussaint led his troops to San Juan de la Maguarán and divided his army of 20. Avengers of the New World. ordered them to stay on board and leave for the port of La Guaira. Miguel Marmión. and the other. led by his nephew Moyse. 1800. General de Brigada francés en la parte española de Santo Domingo. and after defeating Rigaud in the south. entered the northern region. “The Delayed Cession of Spanish Santo Domingo to France. 540 . Manuel Guevara Vasconcelos. In order to prevent Toussaint from capturing the French officials. Toussaint ordered the occupation of the Spanish part of Santo Domingo. politics. and on January 13. no. 1801. On April 27. the commander of Puerto Cabello should listen to the voice of humanity. 3. 14. Estado. pleading for their entry into the province. Upon their arrival.000 men into two groups. Joaquín García gave them passports.” and Dubois. in accordance with the law that prohibited the entry of French people into the province.” AGI. On January 10. The French generals sent a letter to the Captain General. One group entered the southern area of the Spanish section. and the 539 Schaeffer. 59. the commander of Puerto Cabello. arguing that “instead of rigorously applying the laws.540 The French generals arrived in Puerto Cabello (Venezuela) on January 18.

See Schaeffer. 3/1801.” AGN. and that he understood the importance of Spain and France becoming allies against the terrible menace of Toussaint. “Comunicación de los Generales Franceses al Capitán General de Venezuela. The archives contained valuable documents regarding military. Guevara Vasconcelos.” AGI. Estado. 85-87. he authorized their landing. 14.” The generals were sure that Toussaint’s intentions were to extend his dominion beyond the limits of the island.333 common cause that today unites Spain and France. Following the Treaty of Aranjuez. 59. and the following November a war started between Spain and England. 1796. and to control all the communication networks such in a way that “soon France would not have any direct information apart from those that which Toussaint – the enemy – communicates. XCVI. Therefore. and expressed his willingness to safeguard the archives that these generals had brought with them.”541 They also explained the circumstance of the invasion by Toussaint Louverture of the Spanish section of Santo Domingo and the need to receive the Venezuelan government’s support in order to continue their trip to France. on January 23. In France they would communicate to the French government “the deplorable state to which the horrible ambition of Toussaint had reduced the entire Island of Santo Domingo. Gobernación y Capitanía General. administrative and political affairs for both the French and the 541 “Carta de los Generales Chanlantte y Kerversau al Gobernador y Capitán General de Venezuela.” 55. no.”542 Captain General. “The Delayed Cession of Spanish Santo Domingo to France. sent the Generals a reply in which he stated that in the current circumstances they would receive them in the province. Spain became the active ally of France on June 27. offered his hospitality. 542 . 51-52.

no. Toussaint used the “republic” as an instrument to establish the tyrannical rule. of an ambitious and haughty caracter. In this report. Kerversau again contended that Toussaint was a traitor who had assumed different positions and allied with different parties. 544 545 .” and as a tyrannical ruler who had submerged the island in the worst state of anarchy. no. Gobernación y Capitanía General.” AGI.543 Among these documents there was a long report written by Chalantte that showed how the relations between Toussaint and the French generals had deteriorated in 1799 and 1800. 14.” AGI.544 While in Caracas. 316 – 324v. General Kerversau wrote another report with the intention of explaining the procedures and the general nature of Toussaint’s political actions and their effects on the island. Toussaint was described as a traitor. He wrote: I have witnessed Tusain (sic) oppressing whites while persuading them to join him. precisely. 23/01/1801.545 In the opinion of Kerversau. with the sole intention of pursuing his personal ambitions.” AGN. 8/5/1800. He concluded: 543 “Comunicación del Capitán General de Venezuela autorizando el desembarco de los Generales Franceses. 14. Estado. a strategy to eliminate the presence of the French in the entire territory. 59. The invasion of the Spanish section was.334 Spanish sections of the Island. and ruling blacks after having killed some of the chiefs that had influence over the population. por Antonio Chalantte. exterminating people of color while listening to their sacred songs and clamors for piety. “usurper of the Antilles. 317. “Extracto de la principal relación sobre los acontecimientos de Santo Domingo por el General Kerversau. LXXXV. “Relación sobre el estado de la parte francesa y de la parte española de Santo Domingo. General de Brigada y Comisario del Gobierno Francés en la parte española. Estado.

carrying two hundred seventyone Dominican refugees arrived at the Port of Maracaibo. On January 20. These accounts could only have aggravated the racial and social tensions already existing in the Province of Venezuela. but only his…. there will be authority. Fernando Mijares.546 In this last paragraph. because this is what happens in a colony ruled by an unruly and traitorous black. and the urge to control and repress on the part of whites. was surprised by the unexpected arrival of these refugees. In the following months. several accounts and reports written by the Dominican refugees who came to Venezuela reinforced this negative image of Toussaint and of the black men who made up his troops. one of the most important cities in the northwestern region of Venezuela. 1801 three ships. but because blacks have a “haughty and arrogant character” and are prone to authoritarianism. forget your illusions: as long as the colony continues he alone will rule. and 23. but these simply reflect his will. Although the governor of Maracaibo.” not because blacks don’t know what republicanism is and how it works. Kerversau argues that “republicanism” in the hands of blacks like Toussaint become a “tyrannical system. 322. 22. Kerversau allows us to perceive his racial prejudice against Toussaint.335 For those of you who do not know Toussaint. There will be laws. he soon made arrangements to receive them and ordered the neighbors of Maracaibo to welcome them in their homes and provide them with food and shelter. He also decided 546 Ibid. promoting greater resistance on the part of the colored people and increasing fear. .

The reason why Dominican husbands did not board the ships was that Joaquín García. had ordered that the men should stay to confront Toussaint’s troops. everyone in Santo Domingo tried to flee from the city with their families. once García capitulated on January 27.” AGI. January 1801 – March 1801548 Ship Ventura 01/20/1801 Santa Cecilia 01/22/1801 Soledad 01/23/1801 Ntra. This table compiles 13 reports in “Relaciones del número de personas emigradas de la Isla Española de Santo Domingo y llegadas al Puerto de Maracaibo (enero – marzo.547 The Governor noticed that the great majority of the refugees were women. Table 1 Number of Dominicans in Maracaibo. 1801). Governor of Santo Domingo. 23/01/1801. Of approximately twenty-five families. and domestic servants. 60.336 to send two of these ships back to Santo Domingo carrying food from the region. no. 3.” AGI. Estado. 3. 548 . there were only four male heads of household. However. and with orders to pick up more people willing to escape from Toussaint. Señora del Carmen 01/29/1801 Ventura 02/4/1801 Dinamarquesa549 02/14/1801 547 Whites 53 11 55 33 101 85 “Criados” 43 6 28 54 68 12 Slaves 0 11 64 0 0 0 Total 96 28 147 87 169 97 “Comunicación del Gobernador Fernando Mijares al Capitan General de Venezuela. no. children. Estado 60.

550 . He arrived in La Habana on July 20 1801.337 San Cristobal 02/23/1801 La Elisa550 02/22/1801 Soledad 02/27/1801 Nuestra Señora del Carmen 02/27/1801 Americana 02/27/1801 San Quins and Santa Julita 03/02/1801 Nuestra Señora del Rosario 03/28/1801 Total 295 4 90 32 14 289 21 1.’ Del Monte was a Magistrate of the Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo. Apparently he stayed in Maracaibo until 1809. In this ship arrived the governor and Captain General of Santo Domingo. and accused of participating in the Conspiracy of La Escalera in 1844. He argued that he could not allow the exit of the people upon whom the agricultural development of 549 In this ship arrived Don Leonardo Del Monte y Medrano with his family and five ‘criados. when he and his family moved to Cuba. Don Joaquín García. he strictly prohibited Dominican masters to take their slaves with them. 1804. García stayed in Maracaibo for three months and a half. Deive explained this situation: once Toussaint entered the city. His son Domingo del Monte was born in Maracaibo on August 4. This was exceptional because in subsequent ships the proportion of slaves decreased significantly.083 4 6 0 0 2 14 0 237 1 0 0 0 300 10 90 32 16 7 0 83 310 21 1. and his family.403 It is interesting to note that the first three ships that arrived in Maracaibo (see table 1) brought a total of one hundred fifty-two slaves (seventy-five plantation slaves and seventy-seven domestics) that represented 56 percent of the emigrants aboard. Domingo del Monte was a recognized man of letters and critic.

” in order not to call the attention of the authorities. The table shows how the number of criados significantly increased as the prohibition of taking slaves took place. In Latin America. This was the situation that the refugees on board the ship Ventura confronted when an English frigate captured them. a poor relative. the Priest Valverde bravely opposed them. since Toussaint prohibited the exit of field slaves. and separating them from their families and communities. the term criado usually referred to a person raised by the family. However.”551 White refugees portrayed themselves as victims of Toussaint Louverture. broke everything else.” Another ship also carrying families from Santo Domingo suffered the impact of strong winds and a heavy sea. took everything they could from the families – including twenty four slaves –. which they surely did. 95. as almost 17 percent of the refugees were named as “criados. whose invasion forced them to leave their homes and haciendas. García tried to persuade Toussaint. claiming that they would have to kill him before committing these atrocious actions against the women. but he only allowed the Dominicans to take their domestic slaves (who were included in he category “criados”) with them. The term did not normally applied to the slaves. and “when they tried to fondle the women. or someone from the hacienda who depended on the family. Las emigraciones dominicanas. and its capitan was forced to 551 Deive. and allowed only the exit of domestic slaves. Their narratives also described the dangers they faced in the Caribbean sea. but also because of the presence of pirates who pursued ships in order to sack them. not only because of the bad climate and strong winds. See table 1. . abandoning also their slaves and possessions.338 region depended. The pirates boarded their ship. Dominicans masters seemed to have included his/her domestics slaves under the category “criados.

220. 60. the commanders of Santo Domingo. 219. and for himself and his family. The ship reached the land in the middle of the night and entire families had to walk along the beach in the dark. Magistrates of the royal court. important militiamen of Santo Domingo. suffering hunger and fatigue. “Comunicación de Joaquín García al Capitán General de Venezuela sobre situación de Santo Domingo. Deive. 552 Maracaibo was the destination chosen by García for the Cantabria Regiment. 24/02/1801. According to Deive. and the Secretary Nicolás Toledo in Maracaibo on February 22. 60. he got in contact with the governor of Maracaibo and shared with him his impressions of Toussaint Louverture’s invasion. la toma de la plaza por las tropas de Toussaint. and he wanted to bring to safety all the papers. 24/2/1801 and 3/2/1801. six domestic slaves.553 García landed with his family.339 change course. Estado 60. Las emigraciones dominicanas. and took “everything that belonged to the king. 553 554 . secretaries. Estado. and setting a terrible example for the people of color and for the slaves.” AGI. García believed that the maritime route from Santo Domingo to Maracaibo was more secure than the others. 14/02/1801. 13. 13. no. breaking all the terms of the Treaty of Basle. García contended that the black leader had taken the island violently. some ministers of the Real Hacienda. no. “Comunicación del Gobernador Mijares al Capitán General de Venezuela.”554 552 “Comunicación del Gobernador Mijares al Capitán General de Venezuela.” AGI.” AGI. In a letter addressed to the Captain General. no. 218. and books that belonged to the Crown. until they found help. He obliged to leave. 3. 211. Immediately after his arrival. 93-6. Estado. establishing an authoritarian rule. money.

1801. ya tienen cerrado el Puerto. suerte que nuestra salida mas ha parecido una fuga precipitada que una emigración arreglada.555 These testimonies of the refugees from Santo Domingo strongly condemned the actions of Toussaint and his black troops. The Dominicans became citizend of the Republic. They reported: The consternation that from that awful moment invaded our hearts was such that there was no longer order nor agreement in Santo Domingo. Everyone tried immediately to abandon the unhappy fatherland with all their goods and possessions: each person borded a ship wherever and however he could. Ministers and the Regiment of Cantbria. Tomo XCVI. 473. None of these accounts mentioned the “political plan” or goals of Toussaint.” AGN. or for republicanism. Toussaint forbid any inhabitant of Spanish Santo Domingo to leave the island. Las complejas relaciones de España con La Española. y están sufriendo las vejaciones y aprobios que son consecuentes al Gobierno de un negro déspota. See Fernando Carrera Moreno. 102-103. with the exception of the Governor. todos trataron inmediatamente de abandonar una patria infeliz y con ella todos sus bienes. Domingo. With this decision. Toussaint clearly violated the terms of both the Treaty of Basle and the Capitulations. it was not possible to imagine blacks and mulattos fighting for the political ideals of liberty and equality. these accounts depicted the actions of the blacks and mulattos in Haiti as chaotic and destructive. eighteen Dominicans who had settled in the city of Maracaibo signed a letter sent to the Governor of Caracas in which they offered a narrative of the events of Toussaint’s invasion to Santo Domingo.” “Comunicado de los emigrados de Santo Domingo residentes en Maracaibo. because for white Dominicans these blacks and 555 “La consternación que desde aquel fatal momento se apoderó de nuestros corazones. Gobernación y Capitanía General. For the Dominican refugees. y posesiones: cada cual se embarcó donde pudo. full of ambition and desire. Therefore our exit resembled more a precipitous escape than a planned emigration. y como pudo. and those who have managed it are fortunate. without responding to any political plan or ideological purpose. lleno de ambición y de codicia. .340 On March 11. because the unfortunate who were not able to leave now find the port closed and are suffering the humiliations and shame that are the consequence of the Goverment of a despotic black. In general. In February 8 1801. y […] dichosos los que lo hemos verificado! Pues los desgraciados que no han podido efectuarla. fue tal que no hubo mas orden no concierto en Sto.

received the news that a ship proceeding from Santo Domingo had run aground in the Port of La Vela de Coro. On January 27. acclaimed him when he abolished slavery in August 1801. 1801. or the invasion of Santo Domingo. destroy their possessions. I have not found any testimony from the slaves that allows me to assess their opinions about Toussaint. Boggiero was not sure whether to welcome these families that could bring . where small groups of refugees also arrived. During the months of January through April. as slaves and free blacks of Coro who celebrated the news of the invasion.341 mulattos were just “ambitious” people whose only purpose was to kill whites. according to Deive. free people of color favored Toussaint and celebrated his invasion. In Santo Domingo. Commander and Magistrate of Coro. while the slaves that remained on the island. On board the ship were approximately one hundred twenty people who had “fled from the revolution of blacks in Santo Domingo. and would probably have spread favorable rumors about the black rebellion and about freedom and equality in Haiti. other ships carrying refugees reached different ports in Venezuela. Andrés Boggiero. the Revolution of Haiti. such as Barcelona in the Province of Cumaná where Governor Emparan received approximately thirty-one refugees. I would think that black Dominican refugees would have felt the same as their counterparts in Santo Domingo. Although records show that 320 slaves (domestics and from plantations) arrived with their masters in Maracaibo.” and who had walked from the beach to the city of Coro for more than twenty-four hours under the sun and arrived extremely tired. and Paraguaná de Coro. and take absolute control of the city.

557 For them Toussaint represented chaos and disorder. In March. 24/01/1801. Estado 60. no. no. The truth is that Toussaint did not abolish slavery in the Spanish Part of Santo Domingo until August 1801. 472. 181. Las complejas relaciones de España y La Española. He did prohibit the sale of slaves as well as their exit from the island. Estado 60. 176. See Fernando Carrera Montero.” AGI. while keeping an eye on any “French individuals” entering into the province. because the whites had not saluted him. he took everything he could from the royal treasury. he did not respect the terms of the Treaty of Basle or of the capitulations. the capitulation of García. they commented: It seems that the disorder is so extreme that these blacks do not even respect women. but he soon received the official order to do so. Slaves had to stay and remain under the custody of the Republic. and insult white officials.556 These refugees also brought their own stories about Toussaint’s invasion. who whipped the hats off their heads with a 558 bayonet. and general reports regarding the presence and actions of the black troops in the city. Boggiero sent four accounts written by these refugees who had temporally settled in Coro to the Captain General of Venezuela. The accounts described the events of the invasion: the number of Toussaint’s troops. 557 558 . and declared freedom for all the slaves on the island. 3. Their descriptions followed the same pattern as those told by the rest of the Dominicans refugees: Toussaint was a traitor.342 rumors and information to the mainland. 18/03/1801. Apparently two white militiamen passed by a guard of Toussaint. To show blacks’ lack of order and respect. All four accounts argued that Toussaint had breached the Treaty of Basle and 556 “Comunicación de Andrés Boggiero al Capitán General de Venezuela.” AGI. 3. which they shared with Boggiero. “Comunicación de Andrés Boggiero al Capitán General de Venezuela. as a way of preventing their dispersion and the loss of agriculture.

and installed “barbarism.” 561 559 “Información que remiten los emigrados de Sto.” Don Domingo Díaz Páez asserted: “the situation of our island is monstrous. Domingo habitantes en Coro. may be expected in view of his ambition and his daring nature. The city. asserted that Toussaint had come into the capital with “2. disorder. destroying everything – like they did in the French part –.”559 Don Andrés Angulo affirmed: “Toussaint is determined to take absolute control over the Island and all its possessions. sensuality. these blacks will increase their boldness and abuses. “Las miras de Tousain es de creerse que podran senorearse en toda la Ysla como dueno absoluto de esta.” AGN. as its absolute masters in order to destroy it and anhiliate it.343 his troops had established anarchy and chaos in the capital of Santo Domingo. 66-67.200 hungry and naked blacks” who violated the capitulations.560 Another witness. […] Everyday. and even spread its fire to the neighboring possessions. Angulo concluded: The purposes of Toussaint are that they [the blacks] should become masters of the entire island. 560 561 . has been reduced today to the most astonishing anarchy.” Ibid. Tomo XCVI. I think. destruirla y aniquilarla y aun extender el fuego por defuera de sus posesiones vecinas. Don Bartolomé Segura. Then they would be willing to expand it to other islands. Esto digo puede esperarse de su ambicion y genio. and others vices. 1801. destroying and eliminating all the rights and properties of the people.” At the end. This. Gobernación y Capitanía General. provoking lamentable misfortunes. Don Fancisco Mosquera y Cabrera stated: “The purposes of the blacks are doubtless to extend their evilness all over the island. despotism. Ibid. for example. which before was a center of harmony and good order.

Along these lines. their haughtiness. This new wave of rumors and information brought by Dominicans refugees created more concerns among colonial authorities and the local elites. French agents clearly separated “French republicanism” from “black republicanism. But the more conservative perspective of Spanish Dominicans saw republicanism as the seed from which chaos and disorder grew.” depicting the latter as a system corrupted by the vices of blacks. Guevara Vasconcelos. promoting ambition and insolence among the people of color. propensity to vengeance. and their desire to extend their revolution and rule to neighboring regions. The Captain General and Governor of Venezuela. wrote a letter to the Spanish minister of state in which he argued that it was extremely important for European nations to unite to . They not only worried about the possibility that local slaves and free colored might imitate these actions and movements. their incapacity for living under any political order.344 In general. the discourses and representations of these “victims of the Revolution” underlined the “violent nature” of blacks. but because they were seen as naturally prone to violence and authoritarian rule. the narratives of victimization that French agents and the Dominican refugees produced. radicalized the view of blacks as incompetent rulers. not necessarily because of their ignorance. but also feared the possibility of suffering the same fate as their counterparts in Santo Domingo who suffered the effects of the territorial expansion of the Haitian Revolution.

“Carta del Capitán General de Venezuela. 28/01/1801” AGI. Estado 61. Primer Secretario de Estado. Guevara believed that the blacks in Spanish America were not as insolent and rebellious as those in the Antilles. n. because in Venezuela “they 562 “Carta del Capitán General de Venezuela. Reflecting on this argument. Of course. Guevara Vasconcelos. a Urquijo. and that brutally abusing the laws – they can’t even understand – that the French Republic has established. reservada no.345 confront and oppose the menace that Toussaint represented to all the American possessions.3. a Urquijo. Estado 61. or to make those who do not leave suffer in revenge for the suffering that blacks think they were subjected to before. Guevara Vasconcelos.562 Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo were used as terrible examples of what happened when a territory became dominated by blacks. 48. Guevara Vasconcelos shows a revealing interpretation of the Haitian events.3. manifest without restraint a furious desire to expel all white men from the island. He believed that the blacks’ actions responded to a desire for vengeance. 28/01/1801” AGI. surely Guevara Vasconcelos could well have concluded that the best ways of decreasing the risk of rebellions in the region of Venezuela would be by reducing the blacks’ discontent and desires for revenge.563 In this paragraph. n. 48. 563 . Primer Secretario de Estado. In a revealing paragraph the Captain General contended that they must keep a close eye on the actions of Toussaint. and to the need of blacks to produce suffering in those (white masters) who had made them suffer before. reservada no. in order to avoid a terrible fate: Falling into the hands of a barbarian horde of blacks who until recently were slaves.

and the fear they felt about Haiti not only led them to justify repression in case of an evident insurrection – as happened in Coro. The violent image of Haiti. 1801. Gobernación y Capitanía General. the Captain General recognized the importance of controlling the masters’ irrational punishments. but without loss of respect and subordination. They also sought to establish more “rational and gentle methods. “helping to establish a gentle and rational method for maintaining harmony and happiness among their slaves. the accumulated fear that the rumors spread by Dominican refugees produced. and subordination. the denunciations and complaints from the people of color. for example.”564 But since the ideas and feelings of the “blacks of Guarico” were contagious.346 generally look upon their masters with love and gratefulness. the Captain General issued an order to the hacendados and mayordomos blancos of Haciendas located in the Valley of Rio Chico. Colonial elites and authorities recognized the danger of having discontented slaves. the menace of the emergence of new black insurrections like the one in Coro. Paraquire and Tapipa (Province of Caracas) requesting they to maintain their haciendas in good condition. order. and the need to maintain social order encouraged the Captain General to impose certain restraints on the masters’ treatment towards the blacks.”565 With this order. “A todos los Dueños de Haciendas de los Valles de Rio Chico. Tomo XCVI. .” satisfying 564 565 Idem. On March 19. Paraquire y Tapipa” en AGN. 25. it was still necessary to maintain control of the situation and the vigilance over any suspicious movement on the part of blacks.

and controlling any excessive violence in order not to waken feelings of revenge among the colored population. and acquisition of merchandise. the Haitian revolution was a victory for their race and for the people of their same condition. The stories of Toussaint and his black troops fueled their hopes of freedom and equality.347 slaves in some of their demands. The events of Haiti definitely changed the way Venezuelan slaves and masters perceived themselves and each other. the web of rumors that circulated among the elites and the slaves not only fed their respective fears and hopes. Haiti was also evoked for other purposes. but also provided them with an awareness of the perceptions of the other. Black slaves and free coloreds embraced not only the events and the heroes of Haiti. The fear that the colored population sensed among the colonial authorities. They became more aware of the need to keep blacks contented while controlling any movement that potentially could give power to blacks. For them. . Haiti brought more visibility to slaves and the colored population. For the elites the situation was completely the reverse. who did not lose any chance to make clear their demands and win better conditions regarding commercial taxes. treatment from their masters. the Haitian Revolution heightened their suspicions and undermined their confidence in their slaves. However. allowed them to be heard. In this sense. particularly when these were easy to accommodate. but the principles that were sustaining the Revolution.

5.”566 Then. his concern about the difficult political circumstances in Haiti. the book was sold out in Caracas bookstores. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez expressed. he added that he highly recommended all Venezuelans to read this book because this was a story barely mentioned in Venezuela’s schools.L James. in Haiti. He commented that he felt the need to know more about Haiti. “I have learned” he said “that there. in his weekly radial program “Aló Presidente” (“Hello President”). Moreover. blacks organized themselves and formed military troops to get their freedom. but this time he went a little further. and generally speaking an event that seems completely erased from Venezuelan collective memory. having read and revised the voluminous quantity of 566 Hugo Chávez. . I believe Venezuela should be included on the map of the Western historiographies that have silenced Haiti and its revolution through different formulas of erasure and banalization. “Alo Presidente. and that for this reason he decided to read an “interesting book”: The Black Jacobins by C. 248.R. and later to defeat Napoleon and obtain their independence. 2006. In this sense.348 Epilogue The Political Use of The Haitian Revolution in Colonial Venezuela In March 2006. A week later. President Chávez had always shown a sympathetic and supportive attitude towards the people of Haiti. no. Chávez was right that the Haitian Revolution is a historic event scarcely mentioned in Venezuelan history textbooks.” March.

349 documents from the eighteenth-century Venezuela that did mentioned SaintDomingue and its blacks rebels. and power 567 568 Michel Trouillot. Silencing the Past. a fear that was “a valuable political commodity with plenty of potential consumers. These written materials were also read and discussed by different social groups. regardless of their level of education. João José Reis and Flávio dos Santo Gomes. the silence of the contemporaries towards Haiti was tied to white fear. The World of the Haitian Revolution. but their own fears that another Haiti could emerge in Venezuela and that Venezuelan blacks could become key political actors. 1791-1850. 97. “Repercussions of the Haitian Revolution in Brazil. 289. Venezuela not only received many written communications.”568 However. I have provided examples of how colonial authorities sought to keep in secret all information coming from or about the black rebellions in Saint-Domingue. In this way. . political values.567 Here. where discussions and debates concerning racial identities. I have also shown that reference to Saint-Domingue and its rebellions was inevitable and unavoidable.” in David Geggus and Norman Fiering. However what they most tried to hide was not only the knowledge and information about SaintDomingue. reports and pamphlets that openly commented on the political circumstances of Saint-Domingue and the french colonies. and on the different social and political actors involved in them. These written materials developed alongside the emergence of new spaces for socialization. I agree with Michel Trouillot’s observation that the acts of silencing did end up hiding the political significance of the event for its contemporaries and for the generation immediately following.

Colonial Venezuela was also invaded by the numerous individuals who. in which the authorities viewed the rebellion as a duplicate of those in Saint-Domingue. the Haitian Revolution became a frequent and powerful reference used by different social groups for different purposes. The chapter about the conspiracy of La Guaira shows how the spaces for political discussion emerged. In some cases. I have shown how official narratives transformed the events of Coro into a “revolutionary event. and these versions nourished white fear and. the authorities of Coro took justice into their own hands. black revolutionaries. This is particularly clear in the case of the rebellion of Coro. had been affected by the Haitian Revolution. and French. fueled the hopes of slaves and free blacks. and not only condemned many blacks to death. or exile. The plot was clearly inspired by republican values. and Spanish refugees shared their version of revolutionary events with the local population. torture.350 relations took place. Royalists Frenchmen.” with the production of discourses that frequently alluded to the “Law of the French” and to the “Republic” as the main claims of the rebels. without . the colonial authorities and white elites deployed Haiti as a rhetorical tool to justify more control and even overt repression of the black population. and the role of slaves in the configuration of the new Republic. I have offered numerous examples of how in colonial Venezuela. at the same time. who participated in them and how they functioned as platforms for planning a conspiracy. slaves. directly or indirectly. Based on these representations. but in ambivalent fashion. Throughout this work. it also sought to put limits on the political participation of blacks.

and solicit better treatment or living conditions. seemed well-disposed to listen to blacks in order to keep them satisfied with the clear intention of preventing black insurrections. or a discourse to justify repression. Guevara Vasconcelos. the Captain General. But Haiti was also used by the population of color to manipulate white fears and to threaten elites. and even the bad quality of tobacco. and used the shared reference of the “rebels of Guarico” to denounce bad treatment on part of the part of their masters. It was more than a discourse used by people of color to threaten whites and make . or an excuse to plan a conspiracy. make demands. who identified white fear and the authorities’ concerns with potential black uprisings. poor living conditions. although promoting the silence about Haiti and its blacks rebels. the new commander of Coro Andrés Boggiero. Colonial authorities like de La Torre. but they also found an excuse for killing the leader of the Luango communities who had been pressuring local elites.351 applying the appropriate legal procedures. This same situation was repeated with the slaves of Curiepe and the maroons in the Valleys of Caucagua. The significance and singularity of theses cases reside not only in the fact that blacks spoke up. The presence of Saint-Domingue prisoners and slaves in La Guaira for more than a year seemed to have clear repercussions on the people of color of La Guaira who used the example of Saint-Domingue in everyday conversations and as a tool to threaten the elites. but that there were spaces in which they were actually heard by the colonial authorities. All these cases have allowed me to show that Haiti was more than a feared possibility.

Elites. for their side. while coloreds. here I have shown that Haiti emerged as a common code of communication among diverse social groups that provided spaces for negotiation. functioned as a common framework that allowed elites and subalterns to communicate and negotiate their relationship. Haiti was a common and meaningful framework that has allowed me to examine both the power and the fragility of the colonial state. above all. they could have a voice. ambiguous. in their own ways and codes. Haiti. overlapping. their own rebellions. found strategies to control subalterns. the colonial state in Venezuela both oppressed and empowered the population of color in specific realms. The polysemic. continued pressuring and finding spaces for struggle.352 demands. it offered blacks a vocabulary and examples with which they could speak politically. confronted the state through open forms of rebellion and subtle resistance. Through of the common representations of Haiti and its revolutionaries. and sometimes concealed. . a language of deliberation that connected rulers and subalterns. and the ways subaltern subjects. that autonomy does not mean isolation. representations of Haiti functioned as a common framework. On the one hand. it provided blacks with visibility in front of the elite and the colonial authorities and on the other. specifically free blacks and slaves. fearing the repetition of Haiti in the local context. and these strategies included the accommodation of certain complaints in part of subalterns. We have to bear in mind. Although there are plenty of examples that have allowed us to evidence the presence of autonomous domains where subalterns imagined and organized.

The new nationalist codes and frameworks that replaced the language of the Haitian Revolution allowed subalterns and rulers to continue their struggle.353 This relationship nevertheless. Social inequality and slavery survived despite the burst of liberal and abolitionist initiatives that emerged during the Independence war. . but ended up silencing the black revolution politically and historically. was not a static one but part of a field of forces within which struggle and negotiation between rulers and subalterns took place unceasingly in times of profound political destabilization. This process continued during Independence when the ruling white creole elite resisted both the aspirations of equality from pardos and the desires for freedom of the slaves.

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