Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 4.djvu/26

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

The constitution given to the country by Bolivar, which, in the frequent revolutions of later times has often been modified and altered, and sometimes set aside altogether, is founded on the strictest principles of justice, in as far as regards the civil rights and privileges of the community; but in other respects, and particularly in reference to the supreme Goreru- executive authority, its provisions savour strongly of a mon- lueut. archical spirit. The supreme authority is vested in a presi- dente vitalicio, or president for life, with the power of naming his successor. It guarantees to the Bolivians civil liberty, security of persons and property, and equality of rights ; the free exercise and communication of thoughts and opinions, either by the press or otherwise ; liberty to remain or leave the territory of the republic with their property, at their pleasure, but without prejudice to others ; equality in the imposition of taxes and contributions, from the payment of which none can be exempted ; and the abolition of all hereditary employments, privileges, and entails. No pro fession, trads, or employment can be prohibited, unless repugnant to public feeling, or injurious to the health and security of the community ; and every inventor is secured in the benefits of his discovery. No one can be arrested without previous information of the alleged fact of delin quency, unless when taken flagranti delicto. All trials and judgments are public; and in criminal cases none can be imprisoned more than forty-eight hours without having presented to him the charges preferred against him, and being delivered over to the proper tribunal or judge.

By this constitution all legitimate power emanates directly from the people, and is in the first instance exercised by all who can justly claim the privilege of citizens. Of these every ten nominate an elector, who exercises his delegated authority for a period of four years. At the commencement of each year all the electors assemble in the capitals of their respective provinces, and regulate their proceedings and the exercise of their various functions by a plurality of votes. They elect the members of the three legislative chambers, the number of each amounting to thirty ; those for the chamber of tribunes being nominated for four years, and renewed by moieties every two years ; those for the senate for eight years, and renewed by moieties every four years ; and those for the chamber of censors being nominated for life.

The executive government consists of a president, vice- president, and three secretaries of state. The president of the republic is named for the first time by a majority of the collective legislature, and retains the dignity during life, with the power of naming his successor. He is the chief of the administration of the state, and is not respon sible for the acts of his administration. The constitutional privileges of the president are the most limited that have been intrusted to the supreme chief of any nation. They extend only to the nomination of the officers of the revenue, of peace, and of war, and the command of the army. The administration belongs wholly to the ministry, which is responsible to the senate, and is subject to the jealous vigilance of the legislators, magistrates, judges, and citizens. The judicial department enjoys the most perfect inde pendence, the members composing it being proposed by the people, and chosen by the legislature. Slavery in every form has long been abolished, and the exercise of religion is free from all restraints. The armed force is composed of the regular army, amounting to about 3000 officers and men, to garrison and defend the frontiers ; of the national militia to preserve internal order; of the preventive service to protect the revenue ; and of a navy when circumstances may require its formation.

The financial budget of Bolivia for 1873-74 was as follows, the amount being given in Bolivian dollars of the value of about 3s. 3d. stcrlin":—

RECEIPTS , ( Ariua 405,000 Customs jp Qbija 250 00() Export of Silver 193,676 SaleofGuauo 300,000 Stamps 27,628 Cattle Customs (Argentine Republic).. 20,880 English Loan 650,000 Indian Tribute 686,307 Departments 396,423 2,929,914 EXPENDITURE 4, 505,504

The early history of that part of the empire of the Incas which now forms the liepublic of Bolivia is so intimately connected with that of Peru, that the consideration of it may with propriety be deferred until we come to treat of that country, in which Cuzco, the capital of the Incas, is situated. Attention will therefore at present be directed chiefly to that period of its history which is more recent, and which has so materially influenced its present condition.

The Peruvians, ever since the conquest of their country by the Spaniards in the IGth century, have been sub jected to a system of tyranny and oppression which has few parallels in the history of the universe. They were treated little better than beasts of burden. By their toil the gold and silver were obtained from the mines, the lands were cultivated, the flocks and herds were attended to, and all the domestic and menial offices performed. Yet the fruits of their labour, especially that of mining, which was attended with numerous privations, and often with great loss of life, were altogether devoted to enriching their oppressors.

One of their principal grievances was the mita. a com pulsory kind of personal labour, either in the working of the mines or in the cultivation of the fields, exacted from the Indians generally for the space of one year. The proprietors of mines and land to be worked or cultivated were privileged to claim as their undoubted right the personal services of the Indian population of the district surrounding that in which their property was situated. By the regulations of the mita a proportional number of the Indians of the district were annually chosen by lot for the purposes required ; and some idea may be formed of the effects of such a regulation from the fact that 1 400 mines were registered in Peru alone, and that every mine which remained unworked a year and a day became the property of the first claimant. So much was the labour of the mines dreaded by those persons on whom the lot fell, that they considered it as equivalent to a sentence of death, and made all their arrangements accordingly, carrying with them their wives and families to their new and dreaded place of abode. An estimate may be formed of the extent of this evil from 12,000 Indians having been annually required by the mita of Potosi alone ; and it is calculated that, in the mines of Peru, no less than 8,285,000 Indians have perished in this manner. Besides the mita for the service of the mines, the Indians were also compelled to labour for their superiors on their cultivated estates, their estancias or grazing farms, and also in their obrayes or manufactories.

The tribute exacted by the Government from every Indian between the age of eighteen and fifty-five was a capitation tax of 8 dollars. This was levied with the greatest rigour, and the official persons charged with its collection frequently committed great injustice in doing so, obliging the Indians to commence these payments at fifteen, and continue them until seventy years of age, and putting the amount of tribute for the years before and after the legal period into their own pockets. In proof of