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of suffrage, and through the agency will, declared by agents whom the of their representatives legally consti. people elect to represent their will. tuted.
4. The right to declare their 2. Sovereignty is by its essence and thoughts and opinions, through the nature imprescriptible, inalienable, and medium of the press, is unrestrained indivisible.
and free, under responsibility to the 3. A portion only of the citizens, law for any violation of the public even with the right of suffrage, cannot tranquillity, the religious opinions, proexercise the sovereignty; every indi. perty, and honour of the citizen. vidual ought to participate by his vote 5. The object of the law is to regu. in the formation of the body which is late the manner in which the citizens to represent the sovereign authority; ought to act upon occasions, when reabecause all have a right to express son requires that they should conduct their will with full and entire liberty. themselves not merely by their indivi. This principle alone can render the con. dual judgment and will, but by a com. stitution of their government legitimate mon rule. and just.
6. When a citizen submits his ac. 4. Any individual, corporate body, tions to a law which his judgment or city, which attempts to usurp the does not approve, he does not surren. sovereignty, incurs the crime of trea. der his right nor his reason, but obeys son against the people.
the law because he should not be in5. The public functionaries shall fuenced by his own private judgment hold their offices for a definite period against the general will to which he of time, and the investiture with a ought to conform. Thus the law does public function shall not attach any not exact the sacrifice of reason, nor other importance or influence than the liberty of those who do not ap. what they acquire in the opinion of prove it, because it never makes an at. their fellow.citizens, by the virtues tempt upon liberty, unless where the they may exercise whilst occupied in latter violates social order, or swerves the service of the republic.
from those principles which determine 6. Crimes committed by the repre. that all shall be governed by one comsentatives and agents of the republic mon rule or law. shall not be passed over with impunity; 7. Every citizen cannot hold an because no individual has a right to equal power in the formation of the become more inviolable than another. law, because all do not equally contri
7. The law shall be equal for all, bute to the preservation of the state, to punish crimes, and to reward virtues, to the security and tranquillity of sowithout distinction of birth or heredi ciety. tary pretensions.
8. The citizens shall be ranged in
two classes ; the one with the right of Rights of Mán in Society. suffrage, the other without it. 1. The purpose of society is the 9. Those possessing the right of common happiness of the people, and suffrage are such as are established in government is instituted to secure it. the territory of Venezuela, of whatever
2. The felicity of the people con- nation they may be, and they alone sists in the enjoyment of liberty, secu- 'constitute sovereignty. rity, property, and equality of rights, 10. Those not entitled to the right in the presence of the law.
of suffrage are such as have no certain 3. The law is formed by the free place of residence ; those without proand solemn expression of the general perty, which is the support of society. This class, neverthesles, enjoys the be- 11. No one can be deprived of the nefits of the law, and its protection, in least portion of his property without as full a measure as the other, but his consent, except when the public without participating in the right of necessity requires it, and then under suffrage.
the condition of a just compensation. 11. No individual can be accused, No contribution can be required and arrested, or confined, unless in cases established, unless for the general utiexplicitly pointed out by law.
lity. Every citizen entitled to suff12. Every act exercised against a rage, has the right, through the mecitizen, without the formalities of the dium of his representatives, to advise law, is arbitrary and tyrannical and consult on the establishment of
13. Any magistrate who decrees or contributions, to watch over their apcauses an arbitrary act to be executed, plication, and to require an account of shall be punished with the severity the the same from those he has elected as law prescribes.
his representatives. 14. The law shall protect public 22. The liberty of claiming one's and individual liberty against oppres. rights, in the presence of the depositosion and tyranny.
ries of the public authority, in no case 15. Every citizen is to be regarded can be withheld, nor confined to any as innocent, until he shall have been particular citizen. proved culpable. If it become neces. 23. There is individual oppression, sary to secure his person, unnecessary when one member of society is oppressrigour for the purpose shall be repress. ed; there is also the oppression of a ed by law.
number, when the social body is op16. No person shall be sentenced or pressed. In these cases the laws are punished without a legal trial, in vir- violated, and the citizens have a right tue of a law promulgated previously to demand the observance of the laws, to the offence. Any law which pu 24. The house of every citizen is nishes crimes committed previous to an inviolable asylum. No one has a its existence, is tyrannical. A retro. right to enter it violently ; except in active effect assumed by the law is a cases of conflagration, deluge, or ap. crime.
plication proceeding from the same 17. The law shall not decree any house ; or for objects of criminal pro. punishment not absolutely necessary, ceedings in the cases and with the esand that shall be proportionate to the sentials determined by law, and under crime, and useful to society.
the responsibility of the constituted au18. Security consists in the protec- thorities who have issued the decree. tion afforded by society to each of its Domiciliary visits, and civil executions, members, for the preservation of his shall take place only in open day, in person, his rights, and his property. virtue of the law, and with respect to
19. Every individual possesses the the person and object expressly pointright to acquire property, and to dis. ed out in the act authorising such vi. pose of it at will, unless his will be con. sitation and execution. trary to a previous compact, or to 25. Every foreigner, of whatever law.
nation he may be, shall be received 20. No kind of labour, art, industry, and admitted into the state of Vene. or commerce, shall be prohibited to zuela. any citizen, save only such establish. 26. The persons and properties of ments as may be required for the sub. foreigners shall enjoy the same securisistence of the state.
ty as the native citizens, provided always that they acknowledge the so. guarantee. This consists in the obli. vereignty and independence, and re- gation on the whole to secure to every spect the catholic religion, the only individual the enjoyment and preservaone in this country.
tion of his rights, which is the founda27. The foreigners who reside in tion of the national sovereignty. the state of the Caraccas, becoming 2. The social guarantee cannot ex. naturalized and holding property, shall ist, unless the law clearly determines enjoy all the rights of citizenship. the bounds of the powers vested in the
functionaries ; nor when the responsi. Duties of Man in Society. bility of the public functionaries has
1. The rights of others, in relation not been expressly determined and deto each individual, have their limit in fined. the moral principle which determines 3. Public succour is a sacred duty their duties, the fulfilment whereof is of society ; it ought to provide for the the necessary effect of the respect due subsistence of unfortunate citizens, to the rights of each of the individuals. either by insuring employment to those Their basis are these maxims :-“ Ren- who are capable, or by affording the der to others the good which you means of support to such as are unfit would they should render unto you.” for labour. “ Do not unto another that which you do not wish to be done unto you."
2. The duties of every individual Declaration of Independence of the with respect to society, are ; to live in Province of Venezuela. absolute submission to the laws to obey and respect the legal acts of the In the Name of the Most High. constituted authorities to maintain liberty and equality-to contribute to We, the representatives of the fede. the public expences to serve the coun. ral provinces of Caraccas, Cumana, try in all its exigencies-and, if it be. Barinas, Mergalta, Barcelona, Merida, comes necessary, to render to it the sa- and Truxillo, constituting the confe. crifice of property and life ; in the ex- deration of Venezuela, on the southercise of these virtues consists genuine ern continent of America, in congress patriotism.
assembled ; considering, that we have 3. Whoever openly does violence to been in the full entire possession of our the laws—whoever endeavours to elude natural rights since the 19th of April, them-declares himself an enemy to 1810, which' we re-assumed in consesociety.
quence of the transaction at Bayonne, 4. No one can be a good citizen, the abdication of the Spanish throne, unless he be a good parent, a good by the conquest of Spain, and the acson, a good brother, a good friend, cession of a new dynasty, established and a good husband.
without our consent : while we avail 5. No man can be a man of worth, ourselves of the rights of men, which unless he be a candid, faithful, and re- have been held from us by force for ligious observer of the laws; the ex. more than three centuries, and to which ercise of private and domestic virtues we are restored by the political revois the basis of public virtue. , lutions in human affairs, think it be
coming to state to the world the rea. Duties of the Social Body. sons by which we are called to the 1. The duty of society with respect free exercise of the sovereign autho. to its individual members is the social rity..
We deem it unnecessary to insist first who generally acknowledged, and upon the unquestionable right which who preferred that integrity ; never every conquered country holds to re- forsaking the interests of their Eurostore itself to liberty and independ. pean brethren, while there remained ence : we pass over, in a generous si. the least prospect of salvation. lence, the long series of afflictions, op- America had acquired a new existpressions, and privations, in which the ence; she was able and was bound to fatal law of conquest has indiscrimi- take charge of her own safety and prosnately involved the discoverers, con- perity; she was at liberty to acknowquerors, and settlers, of these coun- ledge or to reject the authority of a tries ; whose condition has been made king who was so little deserving of wretched by the very means which that power as to regard his personal should have promoted their felicity; safety more than that of the nation throwing a veil over three centuries of over which he had been placed. Spanish dominion in America, we shall All the Bourbons who concurred in confine ourselves to the narration of re. the futile stipulations of Bayonne, hav. cent and well-known facts, which ing withdrawn from the Spanish terri. prove how much we have been afflict- tory contrary to the will of the people, ed, and that we should not be invol. abrogated, dishonoured, and trampled ved in the commotions, disorders, and upon all the sacred obligations which conquests which haye divided Spain. they had contracted with the Spaniards
The disorders in Europe had in- of both worlds, who with their blood creased the evils under which we be- and treasures had placed them on the fore suffered, by obstructing .com- throne, in opposition to the efforts of plaints, and frustrating the means of the house of Austria : such conduct redress ; by authorising the governor has rendered them unfit to rule over a placed over us by Spain, to insult and free people, whom they disposed of oppress us with impunity, leaving us like a gang of slaves. without the protection or support of The intrusive government, which the laws.
have arrogated to themselves the au. It is contrary to the order of nature, thority which belongs only to the na. impracticable in relation to the govern- tional representation, treacherously ment of Spain, and has been most af. availed themselves of the known good ficting to America, that territories so faith, the distance, and effects which much more extensive, and a population ignorance and oppression had produ. incomparably more numerous, should ced among the Americans, to direct be subjected and dependent on a pe- their passions against the new dynasty ninsular corner of the European con which had been imposed upon Spain ; tinent.
and, in opposition to their own prin. The cession and abdication made at ciples, kept up the illusion amongst us Bayonne, the transactions at the Es- in favour of Ferdinand, but only in or. curial and at Aranjuez, and the orders der to baffle our rational hopes, and to issued by the Imperial Lieutenant, make us with greater impunity their the Marshal Duke of Berg, to Americ prey; they held forth to us promises ca, authorised the exercise of those of liberty, equality, and fraternity, in rights, which will that period the Ame- pompous discourses, the more effectu. ricans had sacrificed to the preserva. ally to conceal the snare which they tion and integrity of the Spanish na- were insidiously laying for us by an inzion.
efficient and degrading shew of repreThe people of Venezuela were the sentation.
As soon as the various forms of the at the disposal of arbitrary rulers ; Spanish government were overthrown, thus insulting our inexperience and and others had been successively sub- good faith, and utterly regardless of stituted, and imperious necessity had our political importance or our wel. taught Venezuela to look to her own fare. safety, in order to support the king, The Spanish government, ever deaf and afford an asylum to their Euro- to the demands of justice, undertook pean brethren against the calamities by to frustrate all our legitimate rights, which they were menaced, all their by condemning as criminals, and deformer services were disregarded; new voting to the infamy of the gibbet, or measures were adopted against us, and to confiscation and banishment, those the very steps taken for the preserva. Americans who at different periods tion of the Spanish government were had employed their talents and servi. branded with the titles of insurrection, ces for the happiness of their country. perfidy, and ingratitude ; but only be- Such were the causes which at cause the door was closed against a length have impelled us to look to monoply of power, which they had ex. our own security, and to avert those pected to perpetuate in the name of a disorders and horrible calamities, which king whose dominion was imaginary we could perceive were otherwise ine.
Notwithstanding our moderation, vitable, and from which we shall ever our generosity, and the purity of our keep aloof; by their fell policy they intentions, and in opposition to the have rendered our brethren insensible wishes of our brethren in Europe, we to our misfortunes, and have armed were declared to the world in a state them against us ; they have effaced of blockade ; hostilities were com- from their hearts the tender impres. menced against us ; agents sent among sions of love and consanguinity, and us to excite revolt, and arm us against converted into enemies many members each other ; whilst our national cha- of our great family. racter was traduced, and foreign na- When, faithful to our promises, we tions excited to make war upon us. . were sacrificing our peace and dignity
Deaf to our remonstrances, without to support the cause of Ferdinand of submitting our reasons to the impar- Bourbon, we saw that to the bonds of tial judgment of mankind, and de- power by which he united his fate to prived of every other arbitrement but that of the emperor of the French, he that of our enemies, we were prohibit. added the sacrifice of kindred and ed from all intercourse with our friends, and that on this accoụnt the brethren ; and, adding comtempt to existing Spanish rulers themselves have calumny, they undertook to appoint already resolved to acknowledge him delegates for us, and without our con. only conditionally. In this painful sent, who were to assist at their cor- state of perplexity, three years have tes, the more effectually to dispose of elapsed in political irresolution, so our persons and property, and render dangerous, so fraught with evil, that us subjects to the power of our ene. this alone would have authorised the mies.
determination which the faith we had In order to defeat the wholesome pledged and other fraternal attachmeasures of our national representa. ments had caused us to defer, till im. tion, when obliged to recognize it, perious necessity compels us to pro. they undertook to reduce the ratio of ceed further than we had first contemour population, submitting the forms plated: but, pressed by the hostile and of election to servile committees acting unnatural conduct of the Spanish rulers,