The Republic of Colombia celebrates Independence Day on 20 July each year, commemorating the day in 1810 when the country declared its independence from Spain. Colombia, along with many other South American countries, began their struggle for independence in the early 1800s.
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Colombia was colonised by Spain when its first city, Santa Marta, was founded in 1525. In 1549, the Royal Audiencia was created by royal decree. A Royal Audiencia, or high court, was the highest tribunal of the Spanish crown in its territories. At the time, the area was known as New Granada.
By the 1800s, the people of New Granada had grown unhappy with Spanish rule. Napoleon invaded Spain in 1808 and imprisoned King Ferdinand VII, putting his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, on the Spanish throne. At the time, creoles, or Spanish naturals living in New Granada, were not permitted to hold high offices and their trade was restricted. In 1809, Camilo Torres Tenorio wrote his famous “Memorial de Agravios” or “Remembrance of Offenses,” which outlined the mistreatment of creoles in New Granada.
Many other colonies in South America had become independent from Spain, but, in 1810, New Granada was still a Spanish colony. A revolt that began in the southern part of the country was quickly stopped and the leaders imprisoned. On April 19, 1810, Caracas declared their independence, further encouraging the citizens of New Granada. Cartagena, a seaside city, declared independence in May and other small towns followed.
Independence fighters devised a plan to push for freedom. They sent a representative to ask Joauin Gonzalez Liorente, a well-known merchant, if he could borrow a flower vase in order to decorate the table of Antonio Villavicencio, a patriot sympathiser. It was believed that Liorente would refuse rudely and it would be reason to provoke a riot. At the same time, Joaquin Camacho would request an open council with viceroy Antiono Jose Amar y Borbon, knowing that, too, would be denied. The plan worked as both requests were denied, allowing patriots to run through the streets claiming Amar y Borbon and Liorente had been rude. People took to the streets in Bogota to protest arrogance among the Spanish leaders.
An angry mob gathered at the palace of Viceroy Amar y Borbon, who hesitated to allow an elected local governing council. Jose Acevedo y Gomez spoke to the angry crowd, directing them toward the Royal Audience where the Viceroy was meeting. With an angry mob on his doorstep, Amar y Borbon was forced to sign the agreement which eventually led to independence.