Revolt of the Comuneros (New Granada)

The Revolt of the Comuneros was a popular uprising in the Viceroyalty of New Granada (now Colombia and parts of Venezuela) against the Spanish authorities from March through October 1781.[1] The revolt was in reaction to the increase in taxation to raise funds for defense of the region against the British, a rise in the price of tobacco and brandy, which were part of the late eighteenth-century Bourbon reforms.[2] The initial revolt was local and not well known outside the region of Socorro, but in the late nineteenth century, historian Manuel Briceño saw the massive revolt as a precursor to independence.[3] Prior to the 1781 revolt, residents in New Granada had protested, at times violently, crown policy implementation there between 1740 and 1779.

The revolt

On March 16, 1781, in Socorro in northeastern Colombia, grocer Manuela Beltrán tore down posted edicts about new tax increases and other changes that would have reduced the profits of the colonists and enlarged the benefits of Spain. Many other towns in New Granada began to have the same occurrences with colonists livid about the conditions of the ruling government. Local residents began to assemble and elect a body of officials known as el común, or a central committee "to lead the movement."[4] The rebels unified under the leadership of Juan Francisco Berbeo, a Criollo elite. Despite coming from the upper classes of society, the rebels introduced the idea of unifying and organising the diverse social classes comprising common people; the endorsement of the elites improved the rebels' efforts to unify, where Berbeo consolidated 10,000 to 20,000 rebel troops to march on Bogotá, the capital. Once the rebels defeated the rival soldiers sent from Bogotá, they reached a town slightly north of it, where Spanish officials agreed to meet with the Comuneros and sign an agreement stating the conditions and complaints of the rebels.[5] However, once the rebels disbanded, the Spanish government officials signed a document that discarded the agreement on the basis that it was forced upon them. Once reinforcements for the Spanish government arrived, they were sent to rebellious cities and towns to enforce the implementation of the increased taxes. José Antonio Galán, one of the leaders of the revolt, continued on with a small number of rebels, including Jose Manuel Ortiz Manosalvas, but they were quickly defeated and executed, while other leaders of the rebellion were sentenced for life in prison for treason.

The influence of the revolt led to similar uprisings, with a similar outcome, as far north as Mérida and Timotes, now in Venezuela but at the time under jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of New Granada.[6]

Interpretations of its causes

Many causes contributed to the revolt of 1781. Some were long-standing, related to the viceroyalty in New Granada in 1717. There is a debate among historians over what the main factor was, but what is clear is that the need for economic and political reform and the idea of self-government were contributors.

A series of reforms to the economy and government of the colonies, now called the Bourbon Reforms, are believed to be a factor. As the growth of the population and economy of the New World began to outgrow that of Spain, Spain began to look for ways to make the colonies more profitable. The Spanish government sought to eliminate tax evasion to reduce benefits of the colonies and created new laws and taxes to establish greater support and a larger revenue for the home country. Spain also created trading companies, allowed for agricultural and industrial "royal monopolies" and encouraged a greater amount of imports to the colonies to decrease the manufacturing capability of the colonies. These economic and social reforms increased the limitations for colonists to produce crops and changed their economy.[7] Another factor considered by scholars is the major political reforms that the Spanish government forced on the colonies. In order for Spain to benefit economically from the colonies, it needed stricter control over their government. These political changes were also part of the Bourbon Reforms. Some historians such as Brian Hamnett believe that it was the age-long battle between "absolutism versus the unwritten constitution" of New Granada that spurred on the colonists. He believes that the imperialism of the Spanish home country and its dependence upon the colonies contributed for the need of the colonies' "decentralization." In a review of John Leddy Phelan's book on the Comunero revolt,[8] Hamnett states that the revolt was started, not with the goal of an independence movement, political freedom and self-government, but only with the hope of reversing the reforms.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Richard Stoller, "Comunero Revolt (New Granada)" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture vol. 2, p. 240. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  2. ^ Mark A. Burkholder and Lyman L. Johnson, Colonial Latin America 7th edition. New York: Oxford University Press 2010, p. 351.
  3. ^ Stoller, "Comunero Revolt", p. 240.
  4. ^ Young, Ronald. "Comuneros' Revolt in New Granada.” Modern World History Online. Facts on File , 2008. Accessed 29 January 2010.
  5. ^ Phillip, Charles, and Alan Axelrold. “Comunero's Revolt in New Granada.” Modern World History Online. Facts on File, 2005. Accessed 29 January 2010.
  6. ^ See Muñoz Oraá, Los comuneros de Venezuela.
  7. ^ “Bourdon Reforms.” World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, n.d. Accessed 29 January 2010.
  8. ^ John Leddy Phelan, The people and the King : the Comunero Revolution in Colombia, 1781. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.
  9. ^ Brian R. Hamnett, (1980). "Review of The People and the King: The Comunero Revolt in Colombia, 1781 by John Leddy Phelen". The Americas. 36 (3): 415–416. JSTOR 981304

Further reading

  • Aguilera Peña, Mario. Los comuneros: guerra social y lucha anticolonial. Bogotá: Universidad Nacional de Colombia 1983.
  • Briceño, Manuel. Los comuneros: historia de la insurección de 1781 (1880) Bogotá : C. Valencia Editores, 1977.
  • Hamnett, Brian R. (1980). "Review of The People and the King: The Comunero Revolt in Colombia, 1781 by John Leddy Phelan". The Americas. 36 (3): 415–416. JSTOR 981304.
  • Loy, Jane M. (1981). "Forgotten Comuneros: The 1781 Revolt in the Llanos of Casanare". The Hispanic American Historical Review. 61 (2): 235–257. doi:10.2307/2513830.
  • McFarlane, Anthony. "Review of Los comuneros: Guerra social y luch anticolonial by Mario Aguilera Peña." Hispanic American Historical Review vol. 66, No. 4 (Nov. 1986), pp. 791–93.
  • Muñoz Oraá, Carlos E. (1971). Los comuneros de Venezuela. Mérida, Venezuela: Universidad de Los Andes.
  • Phelan, John Leddy, The people and the King: the Comunero Revolution in Colombia, 1781. Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.

External sources

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Campaign Against Home and Water Taxes

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The campaign launched on 22 December 2011. It has a national presence, and is supported by numerous national representatives, including Joe Higgins, Clare Daly, Joan Collins, Séamus Healy, Richard Boyd Barrett and Thomas Pringle. While it has support from some Sinn Féin members, it is not supported by Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael Environment Minister Phil Hogan, who is charged with implementing the taxes, having openly criticised the campaign.It has established a "national anti-household tax" phone line and organised meetings in every major town in the country. The Irish Times said in April 2012 that the campaign had been "built with lightning speed."On 1 May 2013, gardaí arrested five members of the group, including Ted Tynan and Mick Barry, during a midday protest inside the Patrick Street branch of the Bank of Ireland in Cork city. Tynan said he felt a need to stand up against austerity.On 6 May 2013, the Revenue Commissioners reported that 1.2 m households (74%) have paid the property tax. In August 2013, the Revenue said 1.58 m households have paid the tax, and over €175 m has been collected.

Colombian Declaration of Independence

The Colombian Declaration of Independence refers to the events of July 20, 1810, in Santa Fe de Bogota, in the Spanish colonial Viceroyalty of New Granada. They resulted in the establishment of a Junta de Santa Fe that day. The experience in self-government eventually led to the creation of the Republic of Gran Colombia.


Comunero may refer to:

Comunera Province, a province in Santander Department of Colombia

Villalar de los Comuneros, a town in Castile and León, Spain

Comuneros (TransMilenio), a bus station in Bogotá

History of South America

The history of South America is the study of the past, particularly the written record, oral histories, and traditions, passed down from generation to generation on the continent of South America. South America has a history that has a wide range of human cultures and forms of civilization. The Norte Chico civilization in Peru is the oldest civilization in the Americas and one of the first six independent civilizations in the world; it was contemporaneous with the Egyptian pyramids. It predated the Mesoamerican Olmec by nearly two millennia.

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Nonviolent resistance

Nonviolent resistance (NVR or nonviolent action) is the practice of achieving goals such as social change through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, satyagraha, or other methods, while being nonviolent. This type of action highlights the desires of an individual or group that feels that something needs to change to improve the current condition of the resisting person or group.

Nonviolent resistance is largely but wrongly taken as synonymous with civil disobedience. Each of these terms—nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience—has different connotations and commitments. Berel Lang argues against the conflation of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience on the grounds that the necessary conditions for an act instancing civil disobedience are: (1) that the act violates the law, (2) that the act is performed intentionally, and (3), that the actor anticipates and willingly accepts punitive measures made on the part of the state against him in retaliation for the act. Since acts of nonviolent political resistance need not satisfy any of these criteria, Lang argues that the two categories of action cannot be identified with one another. Furthermore, civil disobedience is a form of political action which necessarily aims at reform, rather than revolution: its efforts are typically directed at the disputing of particular laws or group of laws, while conceding the author of the government responsible for them. In contrast, political acts of nonviolent resistance can have revolutionary ends Finally, according to Lang, civil disobedience need not be nonviolent, although the extent and intensity of the violence is limited by the non-revolutionary intentions of the persons engaging in civil disobedience. For example, Lang argues, the violent resistance by citizens being forcibly relocated to detentions, short of the use of lethal violence against representatives of the state, could plausibly count as civil disobedience but could not count as nonviolent resistance.Major nonviolent resistance advocates include Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Te Whiti o Rongomai, Tohu Kākahi, Leo Tolstoy, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr, Daniel Berrigan, Philip Berrigan, James Bevel, Václav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, Lech Wałęsa, Gene Sharp, Nelson Mandela, and many others. There are hundreds of books and papers on the subject—see Further reading below.

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Many movements which promote philosophies of nonviolence or pacifism have pragmatically adopted the methods of nonviolent action as an effective way to achieve social or political goals. They employ nonviolent resistance tactics such as: information warfare, picketing, marches, vigils, leafletting, samizdat, magnitizdat, satyagraha, protest art, protest music and poetry, community education and consciousness raising, lobbying, tax resistance, civil disobedience, boycotts or sanctions, legal/diplomatic wrestling, Underground Railroads, principled refusal of awards/honors, and general strikes. Nonviolent action differs from pacifism by potentially being proactive and interventionist.

A great deal of work has addressed the factors that lead to violent mobilization, but less attention has been paid to understanding why disputes become violent or nonviolent, comparing these two as strategic choices relative to conventional politics.

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Saminism Movement

The Surontiko Samin's challenge is an Indonesian social movement founded by Surontiko Samin in north-central Java, Indonesia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Saminism rejected the capitalist views of the colonial Dutch, who predominately forced taxes upon the people of Indonesia, including the poor, and monopolized their free public forest lands; particularly land which contains precious teak forests used for trade. Though the Samin people are similar to the Muslim faith, they do not practice many of the Islamic rituals such as fasting or praying. However they do focus on the spiritual aspect of religion as well as good values, such as modesty, honesty, and simplicity.

Because Surontiko Samin was illiterate, and also his followers and other Saminist leaders, there is no written first-hand accounts of the Saminist movement. This has posed a problem for historians and social scientist because of the lack of written records from the Saminists themselves.

It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that the movement founded by Surontiko Samin, a Javanese peasant, is one of the longest-living social phenomena in modern Javanese history. It antedated by about two decades the general awakening of organizational activity which Indonesians have come to call their Kebangkitan Nasional despite an early eclipse, it managed to survive in its original locale (though barely ever spreading to adjacent areas for longer periods of time) throughout the colonial period. At its peak, when it probably counted some three thousand households, it disturbed the colonial bureaucracy with forebodings of massive peasant resistance, producing a flurry of attention out of all proportion (as some few contemporaries realized) to the occasion ; subsequently it dropped from view, provoking no more than a few lines in the annual surveys published by the Dutch authorities, yet already capturing the imagination of some Indonesian intellectuals who came to view it as a manifestation of indigenous socialism, peasant virtue, and patriotic resistance to colonialism. Saminism, in fact, has survived into the era of Indonesian independence. The sheer stubbornness, with which some Javanese in a rather remote part of the island have clung to the ideas of their long-dead founder, deserves careful attention. And the fact that it did not cease when colonial rule ended, the fact that civil servants serving the Indonesian Republic appear to be almost as perplexed by Saminism as were their Dutch predecessors also indicates that it cannot be simply subsumed under the broader heading of nationalism. Recent political developments of a far more radical-political form in the heartland of Saminism appear to us to have been distinctive and by no means directly related to Saminism.

Socorro Province

Socorro Province was one of the provinces of Gran Colombia. It belonged to the Boyacá Department which was created in 1824.

Timeline of Colombian history

This is a timeline of Colombian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Colombia and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Colombia. See also the list of Presidents of Colombia.

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