United States of Venezuela
, officially called the United States of Venezuela
, is a country that covers the north and the southwest parts of South America, the southern parts of Central America and eastern Caribbean islands. Venezuela's territory covers around 5.894.130 square kilometres with an estimated population of approximately 217.241.413. Venezuela is considered a state with extremely high biodiversity, with habitats ranging from the Andes mountains, Amazon Basin rainforest, extensive llanos plains, Caribbean and pacific coast, the Orinoco River Delta in the east and deserts to South.
-Population: 217.241.413 (nº5)
-Available manpower: 112.579.226 (nº5)
-Fit for service: 92.676.239 (nº5)
-Reaching military age annually: 4.410.120 (nº4)
-Active military manpower: 797.740 (nº4)
-Active reserve military manpower: 927.600 (nº13)
-Area: 5.894.130 Km2 (nº7)
-Coastline: 13.149 Km (nº12)
-Waterway Coverage: 52.933 Km (nº4)
-Regions: 32 states, Federal district & 23 federal dependencies
-Defense budget: 135.912.500.000$ (nº3)
-External Debt: 245.070.000.000$ (nº28)
-Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold: 648.939.000.000$ (nº4)
-Purchasing Power Parity:
-Total: 1.535.769.000.000$ (nº13)
-Per capita: 68.927$
-Proven Oil Reserves: 308.829.000.000 Barrels (nº1)
-Oil Production: 12.729.375 Barrels per day (nº1)
-Oil Consumption: 1.600.000 Barrels per day (nº15)
-Labor force: 61.571.000 (nº9)
-Merchant marine strenght: 6540 (nº1)
-Major ports and terminals: 30 (nº1)
-Roadway coverage: 1.536.448 (nº5)
-Railway coverage: 37.653 (nº8)[/spoiler]
Growing unrest (1740’s)
In Venezuela, the "Creoles" were upset by certain rules that were imposed by the Spanish, as Simon Bolivar later expressed in his letter of Jamaica: "... with galling restrictions; such are the prohibitions of cultivation of fruits of Europe the sealing of the king monopolized production, impairment of the factories the Peninsula itself does not possess exclusive trade privileges to the objects of primary necessity; the barriers between American provinces to not try, understand or negotiate. In addition to these reasons, was that the French, under the command of Napoleon had invaded Spain, forcing King Charles IV and his son Ferdinand VII to renounce the throne in favor of Napoleon, who put his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as King of Spain.
Quest for alliances (1784-1799)
December 15, 1784 Miranda left the port of Boston for London seeking aid to emancipate Venezuela, after a trip that required about 56 days arrived in England on February 10, 1785. Miranda only presented his ideas about the independence of Venezuela to some British Cabinet ministers keeping his more ambitious continental plans secret. In order to secure British support, he offered the British business opportunities in Venezuela after independence.
Miranda passed through regions of present Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland, moving to Greek and Italian lands, where he remained for over a year, and visit the court of Catherine II(Catherine the Great), moved at that time from Moscow to Kiev, (current Ukraine). In Hungary was in the palace of Prince Nicholas Esterházy Hungarian (1765-1833), who was sympathetic to his ideas, and apart from welcome him kindly sent it to one of their gigs with a letter of recommendation to meet the famous musician Joseph Haydn, who lived and worked in the court of the Hungarian aristocrat.
British collaboration (1799-1806)
Venezuela’s main support for the independence movement came from British government which wanted to neutralize the Spanish threat. Miranda knew that he had to form an army and a navy to achieve his goals for this purpose he got the British government to help him assemble a modest but well trained army and navy. During the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire took control over the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao in 1799. The plan called for Venezuelan Patriots to be taken out of Venezuela and shipped to British colonies in the Caribbean were they would be trained and equipped for war against the Spanish, all of these overseen by Francisco the Miranda.
As many as 5000 patriots were taken out of Venezuela from 1799 onwards and taken to British colonies such as Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago where they were trained and equipped by the British Army. Miranda with help from British officers organized an army which he named the Patriot Army of Venezuela. Simultaneously the British government supplied the patriots with a number of ships, among them four frigates, six brigs and 10 schooners with the Royal Navy providing training for the newly formed Patriot Navy of Venezuela. A result of the British organizing the Patriot Army and Navy was the adoption by both of these forces of British doctrine and tactics, initially this small Venezuelan force was augmented by British soldiers and sailors. Its first missions consisted raids on Spanish merchant ships but it also concentrated on capturing military ships to boost its capabilities.
Road to independence (1806-1808)
In May 5 1806 a force of one frigate and three brigs left Georgetown (Guyana), the ships were carrying an expedition of more than 2000 Venezuelan soldiers commanded by Miranda himself, augmented by a force of 1000 British soldiers, the objective was to disembark on Venezuela’s eastern coast in the town of Güiria and to move southwest to take the town of Maturín. Arriving in Güiria on May 8, the expedition faced no resistance and immediately started to move south towards Maturín. At the same time the first battalions were moving towards Maturín a second regiment of 2000 Venezuelan and British soldiers arrived at Güiria, this group was ordered to move westwards to take the lightly defended coast town of Carúpano and use it as a base for Venezuelan Navy vessels. On 20 May 1806 Miranda and his regiment arrived at the outskirts of Maturín were they encountered a Spanish garrison with 1500 soldiers defending the town. In order to increase their chances of success Miranda sent a small group of soldiers to Maturín in the middle of the night on a sabotage raid, with the main objective being the Spanish powder reserves stored in the fortress. The sabotage mission proved a success with the Spanish forces getting completely disorganized during the chaos caused by the explosion inside the fortress, while this was happening Miranda ordered all of his soldiers to move forward and crush the distracted Spanish forces. After hours of battle the outnumbered Spanish forces surrendered after losing almost half of their soldiers, the rest were captured, the Patriot Army lost 228 Venezuelan soldiers and 152 British soldiers.
Immediately after the victory Miranda ordered his forces to fortify the town knowing that a Spanish counterattack was more than likely and time was needed for reinforcements and supplies to arrive and new soldiers to be recruited. While they were fortifying the town around 800 men who sympathized with the independence process were recruited into the Patriot Army and this helped replace the soldiers lost during the battle. At the same time the second group managed to capture Carúpano and started preparing for a Spanish counterattack and also started building a small port so ships could be based there. Although Miranda and the British officers had expected a counterattack this never materialized. Due to Spanish disastrous defeat at the battle of Trafalgar a considerable portion of Spanish soldiers were taken out of their posts in smaller towns like Maturín and were repositioned closer to more important cities like Caracas, Maracaibo and Barcelona, as a result the Spanish didn’t know about the presence of the Patriot Army on the east.
After taking Carúpano on the 12 of May the Patriot forces learned that a small Spanish fleet of five ships was expected at the city of Barcelona in two weeks with supplies, the commander of the Patriot regiment in Carúpano decided to take Barcelona before the Spanish ships arrived and seize the ships when they arrived, it was decided to enter the city at night to catch the Spanish garrison by surprise and more importantly to seize the city’s fortress. On the 15th of May two Venezuelan brigs and a frigate arrived in Carúpano with supplies and soldiers to assist the Patriot army, the ships would remain in Carúpano and later assist the army in the invasion of Barcelona. With the arrival of the new soldiers the total number went from 2000 to 2800 but in order to take a larger city like Barcelona it was decided to recruit locals in Carúpano, a total of 600 men were recruited into the Patriot Army in the small town, this took the total of soldiers to 3400 men. The Patriot commanders soon realized they had a problem, in order to take Barcelona they also had to take Cumaná as this town was between them and Barcelona, in order to neutralize the threat posed by Spanish forces in the town the three Venezuelan ships now stationed in Carúpano were sent to take Cumaná from the sea, while the army would invade it from land. It was decided that the army would invade the town first and the ships would provide support for the troops.
On the night of the 18th of May the attack on Cumaná began with 2500 men attacking the town from the South and ships bombarding enemy positions from the sea. Taking the town was expected to be an easy task but as soon as the Patriot army got close to the town they realized this would be no easy fight, the Spanish had positioned artillery pieces to protect the town from a land invasion and their soldiers were giving surprisingly tough resistance. The Spanish numbers were inferior to those of the patriots but their determination and defensive strategy were causing considerable loses to the patriot, realizing the amount of resistance the army was facing the commander of the Venezuelan ships gave the order to fire on the Spanish artillery in order to give the army a chance to enter the town. Finally after hours of continuous fighting the patriot army’s superior number combined with a steady barrage from the ships forced the remaining Spanish forces to surrender. Although the battle of Cumaná was considered a victory the amount of losses suffered by the army forced commanders to delay the invasion of Barcelona. It wasn`t until 20 May and the arrival of two Venezuelan ships in Cumaná carrying much needed supplies and soldiers that the plan to invade Barcelona was resumed. On the 22nd of May the patriot army arrived in Barcelona facing stiff resistance from Spanish forces although it wasn`t as tough as expected and the city was taken relatively easily much to the surprise of the Patriot forces, it turned out that an important part of the Spanish garrison in Barcelona had been sent to Caracas to help suffocate a revolt from pro-independence groups making it easier for the Patriot army to achieve success without many losses.
Preparing for the arrival of the Spanish fleet in Barcelona the patriots ordered their ships to hide at Chimana beach near Barcelona. On the 25th of May after the Spanish ships had been spotted entering Barcelona the five Venezuelan ships set sail to the city in order to blockade the port and seize the Spanish ships. While the Spanish ships were anchored at port patriot soldiers boarded the ships, the Spanish sailors knowing they had fallen into a trap had no choice but to surrendered. The seized ships provided the patriot forces with a much needed boost increasing the capabilities of the original fleet.
After the arrival of a third group of 1500 soldiers in Maturín Miranda managed to secure the town, this allowed Miranda and his Army to move South to take the town of Angostura which although small was of great strategic importance due to its location next to the Orinoco river, Miranda knew that if he could manage to secure the small town he could use the Orinoco river as a mayor supply line for the Patriot forces and also as way to transport his forces not only deep Into Venezuelan territory but also into New Granada. Although taking the small town was not expected to be a great challenge the Patriot army needed to cross the wide Orinoco River in order to reach the town this would put the soldiers in a very dangerous situation so it was decided to cross the river in location that was 96 km northwest of angostura which had an island in the middle of the river and would make the crossing easier.
The operation began on 4 June with the army crossing the river in the morning after which it started its march towards Angostura arriving on the 11th of June. Just as he had done in Maturín, Miranda waited until it was dark, to attack but this time the Patriot Army would suffer no losses, this was due to the overwhelming size difference between them and the Spanish force which was barely over 200 soldiers and commanded by an inexperienced officer, who instead of trying to repel the Patriots the ordered his forces to surrender. As soon as the town was secured it started to be used as supply trail for the war effort ultimately proving to be the most important support for the Patriot forces.
Miranda then decided to meet with the second group in Barcelona and start moving towards Caracas. Miranda and his army arrived in Barcelona on the 24th of June where they met with the second army group, after merging both regiments the total number of soldiers went up to 5560 and the number of ships in service with the Patriot Navy was increased to 5 frigates, 8 brigs and 12 schooners with the capture of the Spanish ships in Barcelona.
On the 10th of July an Army of 4500 soldiers began its march towards Caracas while 1060 soldiers would stay behind guarding Barcelona. The army arrived at the outskirts of Caracas in 18 June facing an army of 3000 men, but this time the Patriot army was well equipped to deal with the enemy defenses, among the supplies found on the Spanish ships in Barcelona were 8 artillery guns this allowed the Patriot army to erode Spanish defenses before sending the infantry to finish the job. After inflicting severe losses to the Spanish defenders Miranda ordered the infantry to advance into the city. The Patriot army reached the government building 15:00PM where the remaining defenders kept fighting to defend the Captain General but to no avail, the building was taken by Patriot soldiers at 16:23PM the Capital fallen to the Patriot army.
On 25 July Francisco de Miranda proclaimed the Republic of Venezuela although there would be no formal declaration of independence, news quickly began to spread around the territory, the Spanish finally learned of what was happening on the east of the Captaincy general. News then reached the Spanish monarchy which quickly dispatched ships and men to take care of the rebels. The next months were spent by Miranda and his collaborators organizing the country among the first steps was the creation of a congress and a constitution for the new Republic. Due to Miranda’s involvement in the US independence the new Venezuelan constitution resembled that of the United States, although there were important differences such as the abolition of slavery and the elimination of the caste system that had ruled Venezuelan society for centuries. Another important step was the establishment of the official armed forces, it was at this moment that the Patriot army and Navy became known as the Venezuelan Army and the Venezuelan Navy. An interesting measure adopted by the new government was the adoption of English as an official language together with Spanish, the reason for the adoption of a second language was the large number of English speaking Venezuelan as a result of training under the British and also because of Miranda’s ambitious continental plan and his vision of a better society.
After learning about what was in his country, a young advocate of freedom for the Americas by the name of Simón Bolívar immediately decided to go back and join this movement to free his country. Arriving in La Guaira in January 1807 Bolívar went to Caracas to meet the leaders of the newly founded “Republic”, Bolívar met Francisco de Miranda in Caracas who immediately recognized his fervent passion for armaments, liberty, and military strategy. Bolívar became an officer in the Venezuelan Army in command of an infantry company in La Guaira where most of the Venezuelan fleet was stationed, it wouldn’t be long before the young officer saw battle, on April 5th a fleet of 7 Spanish ships arrived at La Guaira intended on retaking the former Colony, the Venezuelan ships in port were sent to stop the Spanish in what was at the time the greatest naval engagement in Venezuelan waters. Two Spanish frigates, three brigs and four schooners faced off against three Venezuelan frigates, three brigs and four schooners aided by land based artillery.
The Venezuelan commanders knew that it was very important to prevent the ships from reaching the shore but they also wanted to capture some of them and commission them into the Venezuelan navy, so it was decided to carry soldiers in the Venezuelan ships to board the enemy ships and seize them, this was a risky maneuver since if any of the Venezuelan ships was lost and a large number of soldiers would be lost as well. Among the soldiers was Bolívar in command of his company which was tasked with boarding one of the Spanish frigates. Fortunately the strategy worked as by the end of the battle they had managed to capture almost all of the Spanish ships except for one schooner that was sunk, and although some of the Venezuelan ships were damaged during the battle they were all repaired in a few months.
For the next few months the situation remained relatively stable with the Patriot armies finally conquering the last remnants of Spanish resistance in Venezuelan soil and the annexation of the remaining territories that composed the Captaincy General of Venezuela, it wasn’t until May 1808 and Napoleon’s invasion of Spain that Miranda decided it was time start building the South American Empire he had envisioned, this plans were unknown to almost everyone only a few of his closest collaborators knew about them. Taking advantage of the peninsular war, on the 5th of July 1808 in Caracas the official declaration of independence from Spain was signed by the provinces that composed Venezuela at the time with Miranda elected by congress as the official president of the country (he had been the de facto president since the conquest of Caracas) for a four year term.
Government and politics
The United States of Venezuela is one of the world's oldest surviving federations. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the Venezuelan Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document. The Venezuelan president is elected by a vote, with direct and universal suffrage, and is both head of state and head of government. The term of office is four years, and a president may be re-elected one time.
The federal government is composed of three branches:
The bicameral Congress, made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, makes federal law, declares war, approves treaties, has the power of the purse, and has the power of impeachment, by which it can remove sitting members of the government.
The president is the commander-in-chief of the military, can veto legislative bills before they become law (subject to Congressional override), and appoints the members of the Cabinet (subject to Senate approval) and other officers, who administer and enforce federal laws and policies.
The Supreme Court and lower federal courts, whose judges are appointed by the president with Senate approval, interpret laws and overturn those they find unconstitutional.
The House of Representatives has 435 voting members, each representing a congressional district for a two-year term. House seats are apportioned among the states by population every tenth year. The Senate has 112 members with each state having two senators, elected at-large to six-year terms; one third of Senate seats are up for election every other year.
States and regions of Venezuela
Venezuela is divided into 32 states a capital district corresponding to the city of Caracas, and 23 Federal Dependencies.
Venezuela has a mixed economy which combines extensive private enterprise with substantial state enterprise and government intervention. The government retains considerable influence over key segments of infrastructure sectors, with majority ownership of railway, electricity, aircraft, nuclear power and telecommunications.
Venezuela is rich in natural resources, and its main exports include mineral fuels, oils, distillation products, precious stones, forest products, pulp and paper, coffee, meat, cereals and vegetable oils, cotton, oilseed, sugars and sugar confectionery, fruit and other agricultural products, food processing, processed fish products, beverages, machinery, electronics, military products, aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, metal products, ferro-alloys, home and office material, chemicals and health related products, petrochemicals, agrochemicals, inorganic salts and acids, perfumery and cosmetics, medicaments, plastics, animal fibers, textile and fabrics, clothing and footwear, leather, construction equipment and materials, cement, software, among others. The electricity production in Venezuela comes mainly from renewable energy sources. 64.1% is obtained from the hydroelectric generation. The financial sector has grown favourably due to good liquidity in the economy, the growth of credit and in general to the positive performance of the Venezuelan economy. The Venezuelan Stock Exchange through the Latin American Integrated Market (MILA) offers a regional market to trade equities.
Venezuela has historically been a large producer of agricultural products. Large tracts of fertile land, the application of modern technology, have combined to make Venezuela the leading agricultural producer and exporter in South America. Wheat, poultry, dairy, beef, and pork, are also an important part of the Venezuelan agricultural exports.
Petroleum and other resources
Venezuela has some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world, and consistently ranks among the top ten world crude oil producers. Compared to the preceding year another 40.4% in crude oil reserves were proven in 2010, allowing Venezuela to surpass Saudi Arabia as the country with the largest reserves of this type. The country's main petroleum deposits are located around and beneath Lake Maracaibo, the Gulf of Venezuela (both in Zulia), and in the Orinoco River basin (eastern Venezuela), where the country's largest reserve is located. Besides the largest conventional oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere, Venezuela has non-conventional oil deposits (extra-heavy crude oil, bitumen and tar sands) approximately equal to the world's reserves of conventional oil. The electricity sector in Venezuela is one of the few to rely primarily on hydropower, and includes the Guri Dam, one of the largest in the world.
The president holds the title of commander-in-chief of the nation's armed forces and appoints its leaders, the Minister of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The armed forces have 800.000 personnel on active duty. The Reserves and National Guard brought the total number of troops to 1.5 million. The Department of Defense also employed about 35.000 civilians, not including contractors.
The National Armed Forces of Venezuela (Fuerza Armada Nacional Venezolana, FANV) are the overall unified military forces of Venezuela. The Venezuelan military is divided into four branches: the Venezuelan Army, the Venezuelan Air Force, the Venezuelan Navy and the Venezuelan National Guard. The National Police functions as a gendarmerie, operating independently from the military as the law enforcement agency for the entire country. Each of these operates with their own intelligence apparatus separate from the national intelligence agency.
[spoiler=General Data]Land systems:
-Tanks (MBT/Light): 7929 (nº4)
-Armored figting vehicles: 10436 (nº4)
-Self-propelled guns: 1863 (nº4)
-Towed artillery pieces: 5465 (nº3)
-Rocket projectors (MLRS): 1020 (Nº6)
-Total strenght: 459 (nº4)
-Aircraft Carriers: 8 (nº2)
-Frigates: 21 (nº4)
-Destroyers: 28 (nº3)
-Corvettes: 48 (nº2)
-Submarines: 40 (nº5)
-Patrol craft: 157 (nº5)
-Mine warfare: 16 (nº10)
-Total aircraft: 4.569 (nº2)
-Fighters/Interceptors: 1.488 (nº2)
-Attack aircraft: 1.196 (nº3)
-Transport aircraft: 1.107 (nº2)
-Trainer aircraft: 350 (nº5)
-Helicopters: 757 (nº5)
-Attack helicopters: 260 (nº2)
-Serviceable airports: 3.022 (nº3)[/spoiler]
Armada de Venzuela (Venezuelan Navy)
The navy of Venezuela is officially called the Navy of Venezuela (Spanish: Armada de Venezuela). It serves the purpose of defending the naval sovereignty of the country, including inland and fluvial security, and it also serves to prevent illegal activities in the Venezuelan borders and collaborates with international organizations to safeguard international waters from criminal activities. The Navy was born as a coastal defense force during the beginning of the Venezuelan War of Independence. In May of 1810, Commander Lino de Clemente, a veteran officer of the Spanish Navy who joined the April 1810 coup against the colonial government, was appointed the first Minister of Defense of the republic and began the long building of the armed forces inlcuding the formation of the navy. In April 1811 the Nautical School, with Ensign Vicente Parrado as its first superindentent, was opened by order of the national government in La Guaira to train future naval officers, months before the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, thus the Navy's origins start from this date, with its first vessels being those formerly used by the naval forces of the Captaincy General of Venezuela, and participated in its first actions in the campaigns in Guayana in 1811-12, the baptism of fire for the fledling naval service. Col. Antonio Mendoza from the Venezuelan Army was its first commanding general.