|Antonio Villavicencio y Verástegui|
|President of the United Provinces of the New Granada*|
August 17, 1815 – November 15, 1815
|Preceded by||Custodio García Rovira|
|Succeeded by||Camilo Torres Tenorio|
|Born||January 9, 1775
|Died||June 6, 1816
Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
|Spouse(s)||Gabriela Sánchez Barriga y Brito|
|*Member President of the Triumvirate.|
Antonio Villavicencio y Verástegui (January 9, 1775 - June 6, 1816) was a Neogranadine Lieutenant statesman and soldier, born in Quito, and educated in Spain. He served in the Battle of Trafalgar as an office in the Spanish Navy. He was sent as a representative of the Crown to the New Granada, and his arrival was used as an excuse in Santafé de Bogotá to start a revolt, this was known as the Florero de Llorente which culminated with the proclamation of Independence from Spain. After this incident he resigned his office and joined the Independence cause. He was later captured and became the first martyr executed during the reign of terror of Pablo Morillo.
Villavicencio was born on January 9, 1775, in Quito, Ecuador, which at the time formed part of the Viceroyalty of the New Granada. His parents were Juan Fernando de Villavicencio y Guerrero, II Count of the Real Agrado and Knight of the Order of Santiago, and doña Joaquina Verástegui y Dávila, daughter of the Oidor and Mayor of the Real Audiencia of Santa Fe de Bogota.
Villavicencio attended Our Lady of the Rosary University and afterwards his parents sent him to Spain to study in the College of Noble Americans in the city of Granada, where he studied in the Spanish Armada, and earning the grade of Second Lieutenant in the Navy.
Villavicencio as representative of the Crown
In 1810 the Regency in Spain was worried about how news of the dissolution of the Supreme Central Junta had been received in America. The Court decided to send Regency commissioners to serve as its ambassadors to America and to explain the situation in Spain. Two Criollos and one Peninsular were chosen for South America, Carlos Montúfar as envoy to Quito, José de Cos Iriberri, as ambassador to the Viceroyalty of Peru, and Villavicencio, as envoy to New Granada.
Villavicencio and his colleagues left from Cádiz in the schooner HM La Carmen, on March 1, and arriving at La Guaira on March 18, from there, they were urged to sail to Caracas. Villavicencio arrived in Caracas in time to witness the events of April 19, the day on which the people of Caracas deposed the Captain General of Venezuela, Vicente Emparán, and established a Venezuelan Supreme Junta, which gave way to the start of the First Republic of Venezuela.
Cartagena de Indias
After his stop in Venezuela, Villavicencio headed to Cartagena de Indias, where he arrived on May 8. There he found the political situation very tense, the Governor of Cartagena Francisco Montes was using violence and terror to control the province, the people of Cartagena had called for an open cabildo, a sort of public forum, to discuss the situation and devise a solution, but the Governor opposed to this. Antonio Villavicencio, however, did not, and using his position as Representative of the Crown, called for the open cabildo. On May 10 the Ayuntamiento of Cartagena formed a Junta, it was formed by Spaniards and Americans alike, among them, Antonio Villavicencio, Carlos Montúfar, Governor Francisco Montes, José María García de Toledo. The Junta Recognized the Crown of Spain and Ferdinand VII, not Joseph Bonaparte, as their King. Villavicencio, found no reason to oppose the desire for local autonomy as long as the Junta de Cartagena acknowledge the supremacy of the crown. This event set giant waves of revolution across the land, and it was soon followed by other Juntas, Santiago de Cali on July 3, Pamplona on July 4, and Socorro on July 9.
Santafé de Bogotá
In Santafé de Bogotá, capital of the Viceroyalty, word arrived about the events of Cartagena, and the arrival of the Regency Commissioner Villavicencio, and the people of Santafé were waiting anxiously for his arrival, as they hoped, it would bring hope for independence. On the morning of July 20, 1810, Joaquín Camacho visited the Viceroy Antonio José Amar y Borbón to see if his request to open a cabildo had been granted, the viceroy dismissed the idea with arrogance. This drove the revolutionists to start planning a plot for independence. Using the arrival of Villavicencio as an excuse, they went to the house of José Gonzales Llorente to borrow a flower vase, he refused and on top of that insulted them. Francisco José de Caldas used this to incite the crowds to stand up to the Peninsulars, José Miguel Pey mayor of Bogotá, had to step in to save Llorente, by that night things were heated up so much a special Cabildo was called in session. This led to the Declaration of Independence of the New Granada from Spain.
Villavicencio was informed of the events of July 20 when he was in Honda by Juan Merino the alcalde of Honda. When he arrived in Bogotá he was informed that the Junta no longer recognized the authority of the Regency Commission, he responded by resigning to the commission and embracing the patriotic cause of independence.
Villavicencio immersed himself in the fight for independence, he was appointed commander of a battalion in Southern Campaign of Antonio Nariño. In 1814 he was made the Military Advisor to the United Provinces of New Granada.
On October 5, 1814, The Congress of the United Provinces replaced the presidency with a Triumvirate, a three member executive body, to govern the nation. Custodio García Rovira, one of the members of the Triumvirate, presented his resignation on July 11, 1815 to Congress. Congress named Villavicencio to replace him. Villavicencio accepted and on August 12, he resigned his post as Governor of Tunja, and headed to Santafé de Bogotá, where he was inaugurated as President of President of the Triumvirate of the United Provinces of the New Granada.
His presidency was short lived, on November 15, 1815, Congress once again changed the executive power, trusting it onto a President Dictator, and a Vice President.
Capture, trial and execution
After participating in the triumvirate, Villavicencio became Governor of Honda, where on May 20, 1816 he was captured by the Royalist Army and transported to Santafé. On June 1 the Permanent Council of War sentenced Villavicencio to death. On June 6, he was taken out of his cell, they removed his military insignia and status degrading him, and he was executed by a firing squad. Villavicencio died at the age of 41, he whose visit to Santafé had led to the breakup of the colonies, had instigated the anger of the royalists, and he became the first victim of the reign of terror of Pablo Morillo, who sentenced to death many other heroes, barred and imprisoned more, and persecuted the ones who got away.
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