6. La Salina, Boyacá, and Colombia after 1857
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  113 In La Salina 1857 marked the zenith of local defiance to the Finance Ministry . In the nation as a whole, it was the year when Colombia moved from being a country composed of provinces to one formed by increasingly sovereign states. Formally this process played out in the ratification of two constitutions and a major civil war in the next decade; in practical terms, however, large states, often formed by pulling together smaller provinces, simply took on a stronger presence in national politics. The state of Boyacá was formed from the provinces of Tunja, Tundama, and Casanare and parts of the old province of Vélez. Compared to regions or states such as Antioquia, Cauca, or the Caribbean coast at this time, the state of Boyacá has received relatively little critical attention with respect to its role in civil wars despite the region’s status as Colombia’s most populous province for much of the century. This lacuna arises partly from the perception of Boyacá as a region solely of pious, uneducated campesinos whose dedication to the church translated into unequivocal loyalty to the Conservative Party and who provided unthinking foot soldiers in various conflicts. This understanding has been bolstered by retroactively applying twentieth-century history, particularly the partisan activity of Conservatives during la Violencia (1948–1957, in the shortest estimate), to the nineteenth century. Further, there is a tendency to lump all of Boyacá, despite its diversity, into a single category. This perspective is historically inaccurate but has had a noted influence on scholarship about the region.1 One way to correct some of these simplified understandings lies in acChapter 6 La Salina, Boyacá, and Colombia after 1857 Marriage, the family, the tribe, the pueblo, the race; the district, the canton, the province, the State, the Patria, the Continent, the universal Republic, the spirit of a place, provincialism, patriotism, Americanism, cosmopolitism, theocracy, feudalism, absolute monarchy, constitutional monarchy, the centralized Republic, the federal Republic . . . express the perpetual aspiration to fuse oneself in a communion more perfect and more universal. —Salvador Camacho Roldán, Memoria de Hacienda y Fomento de 1872 Rosenthal text3.indd 113 11/22/11 4:01 PM 114   la salina, boyacá, and colombia after 1857 knowledging Boyacá’s internal diversity, with a particular emphasis on the role of Tundama, and considering both Boyacense political autonomy and the limits of that autonomy. Boyacá occupied a specific and oddly static place in the Colombian political system. Studies of nineteenth-century politics tend to emphasize the role of the Liberal and Conservative parties: when they developed, how they were informed by popular sentiment, how regional factionalism played into their composition, and so on. It is generally understood that specific states were dominated by a particular party. For example, Antioquia was politically controlled by the Conservative Party and supported Conservative regimes, and that fact shaped its role in civil wars during the second half of the century. Similarly , Santander, created by merging the provinces of Pamplona and Socorro, Figure 6.1. “United States of Colombia, 1863-1885.” Taken from James William Park, Rafael Núñez and the Politics of Colombian Regionalism, with the permission of the Louisiana State University Press. Rosenthal text3.indd 114 11/22/11 4:01 PM la salina, boyacá, and colombia after 1857    115 was unequivocally Liberal. Generally speaking, Santander supported Liberal regimes in Bogotá. When it did not, it was because these regimes were not sufficiently radical. When viewed in those terms, Boyacá is understood as a Conservative province . Nonetheless, many prominent Liberal politicians of the era were Boyacense and had political backing in their home province. This apparent contradiction is resolved if the national political system is understood in terms of regional balance rather than ideology. During periods of peace (or relative peace, for provincial rebellions were frequent), the logic of Colombia’s internal geopolitics produced a regional balance. As a part of this balance, the political apparatus of Boyacá, as controlled by the state government in Tunja, was allied with the national regime in Bogotá, whether that regime was Liberal or Conservative. The internal politics of Boyacá were often shaped by the effort to ensure this support , which frequently produced tension between Tunja and population centers in Tundama, especially Sogamoso and to a lesser extent Santa Rosa, which had predilections for opposing the state regime.2 This arrangement held both when the government in Tunja was a stalwart supporter of a midcentury Conservative regime and when it backed the Liberal regimes of the...


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Subject Headings

  • Government monopolies -- Colombia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Salt industry and trade -- Colombia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Salt mines and mining -- Government policy -- Colombia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Colombia -- Politics and government -- 19th century.
  • Boyacá (Colombia : Dept.) -- History -- 19th century.
  • Colombia -- Economic conditions -- 19th century.
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