Many consider Colombia to be the most beautiful and interesting country in South America. The country’s capital, Bogotá, is a vibrant, international metropolis whose most famous attraction is probably the dazzling Gold Museum.
Liberal and conservative contradictions
According to Countryaah data, the liberation of the Spanish colonial government did not lead to any significant changes in the structure of society, except that the Creoles took over the Spanish positions in administration and business. An 1821 law freed children of slaves when they turned 18, but did not touch slavery as an institution. Rather, the law led to a more brutal exploitation of the remaining slaves. The new Creole elite also made sure to raid land that was formerly Native American common property. Colombia’s President of 1830, Francisco de Paula Santander, consolidated the central government’s control over the country’s regions – primarily to control possible oppositional caudillos. But after Santander’s death, in 1839, a revolt erupted against the control of the central government. This revolt lasted for 3 years.
For the rest of the century, the two traditional political parties – the liberal and the conservative – grew. The Liberal Party – who reckons Santander as his godfather – was similar to their European role model for laissez faire and free trade. Their markings were also to wipe out the traces of the colonial period. In practice, this would mean removing the common land of the Indians, abolishing slavery, decentralizing the administration and weakening the political role of the church and the army. Until the 1850’s, the Liberal Party managed to implement large parts of this program: the lands of the Indians were sold to Creole landlords. Thus, the foundation was created for the large goods system – the latifundis. The army was cut down, slavery was formally abolished, the influence of the church was cut, and the Jesuits were expelled from the country.
In response to the Liberal Party and its politics, the Conservative Party grew. It generally stood for stronger central government and favor of the Catholic Church, and got its candidate elected president in 1857. According to thesciencetutor, the Conservative government in Colombia strengthened the church’s power and also tried to use the church as a political partner. It also opposed an adopted constitutional amendment which gave the country’s provinces greater internal autonomy. The contradictions led to civil war, the so-called Federal War 1860-62, which ended in victory for the Liberals. This also further reduced the role of the church, losing its economic power base – the earth. The church’s properties were auctioned off and thus the position of the great goods became stronger. At the same time, the power and authority of the provinces were strengthened against the central government.
From independence, Colombia’s economy was primarily based on gold exports, but around 1850 tobacco took over as the country’s most important export product. In 1876, the tobacco market collapsed, bringing an economic crisis into Colombia. Growing large estates increasingly focused on extensive cattle farming, and it became more difficult to provide grain and other basic foods to the growing population of cities. In the villages, more and more small farmers had to leave their land, and not least the indigenous peasants were forced into livelihood or other dependence on the large property owners. The economic problems led to dissatisfaction with the ruling Liberal Party, and in the 1880’s the Conservatives returned to power. A new constitution in 1886 gave the government full control and central authority throughout the country, and a concordate with the Catholic Church in 1887, the Church restored the dominion over the educational system. The liberals’ dissatisfaction with seeing their politics abolished and even cut off from power led to civil war – the so-called Millennial War 1899-1902 – which must have claimed 80,000 human lives alone as a result of the fighting. The war ended with victory for the Conservatives, and cemented the Liberal Party’s new role as a permanent opposition party until 1930.
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During the period from 1830 to the beginning of the 20th century, the country had survived 9 national civil wars, 14 local wars, 2 wars with Ecuador, 3 barracks rebellions and 11 constitutions were adopted.