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Cristóbal Mendoza

In office
5 March 1811 – 21 March 1812
Succeeded by Simón Bolívar

Born 23 June 1772(1772-06-23)
Trujillo, Venezuela
Died 8 February 1829 (aged 56)
Caracas, Venezuela
Religion Roman Catholic

Cristóbal Hurtado de Mendoza, considered by history the first President of Venezuela, was born in Trujillo, Venezuela, 23 June 1772 and was educated by his father in a Franciscan Monastery under the tutelage of Friar Antonio de Pereira. At the age of 16, he was sent to Caracas to complete his education. In 1794 obtained his bachelor and masters degree in law. He went to Santo Domingo where he studied civil rights and returned to Venezuela in his late 20s.

In March 1811 the first Venezuelan constitutional congress established as the executive power a triumvirate in which three men shared executive power and who would rotate the presidency every week. At age 29, Mendoza became a member of the triumvirate that headed the First Republic of Venezuela and was unanimously elected by the other two as the first to go in rotation on 5 March 1811. As part of the triumvirate, Mendoza took measures to begin the war for independence against the parts of Venezuela that still supported the Spanish Monarchy. He also was author of the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, issued on 5 July 1811. While in office he formed part of the constitutional convention that designed and promulgated the first Constitution of the Republic of Venezuela in December 1811.[1]

After the fall of the First Republic upon the royalist invasion lead by Captain Domingo de Monteverde, he moved to the island of Grenada. In 1813 Simón Bolívar became president of the Second Republic of Venezuela and wrote to him: "You should come without delay: come. The country needs you. I will go ahead conquering and you will follow me organizing; because you are the organizer and I am the conqueror."

He returned to Venezuela and became Governor of the province of Mérida. Then, Bolívar appointed him Governor of the province of Caracas. In 1814 royalist forces reinvaded the second Republic, and Mendoza once again went into exile. This time to the Netherlands Antilles. From there he wrote numerous articles in favor of the independence movement and against Spanish domination. He returned in 1821 after the Battle of Carabobo assured Venezuelan independence and was designated Justice Minister of Gran Colombia. In 1826 he became Intendant of the Department of Venezuela.

Cristóbal Mendoza's life was marked by an unbreakable loyalty to Simón Bolívar and his ideals. At all time he stood by the concept of a federation of Latin American republics. He opposed the separatist efforts of José Antonio Páez (who would later become president of an independent Venezuela).

On his deathbed he wrote his political will in a letter to Bolívar where he stated his possessions as being "the remembrance of my weak services for the republic and the memories of our lifelong friendship."

Cristóbal Mendoza died in Caracas, 8 February 1829. [1]


  1. ^ Briceño Perozo, Mario. "Mendoza, Cristóbal de" in Diccionario de Historia de Venezuela, Vol. 3. Caracas: Fundación Polar, 1999. ISBN 980-6397-37-1


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