This article seeks to put into conversation two seemingly contradictory perspectives on the history of «race relations» during the course of the Latin American revolutionary period in Colombian and Venezuelan "Tierra Firme": narratives «from below» and those that examine top-down accounts. It explores the late-colonial dynamics of class, caste, corporations and social belonging in the Spanish Main during the final decades of the Bourbon regime. This article explores popular participation in the transformation of political space by paying attention to the specific choices and agendas of people of color within the social and political spheres of the time (i.e. a monarchical form of government, a corporatist society). It also probes the dynamics of everyday communication and political discourse by carefully reconstructing a narrative of an alternative, plebeian public sphere.