The process of formation of the Latin American countries was marked by political instability. The replacement of the former Spanish colonies by independent nations presented two basic problems: to constitute sovereign states and to organize them in the midst of the most varied political tendencies.
In addition, the old Spanish empire, now fragmented into independent republics, continued to experience a divided socioeconomic and cultural reality. In most of Latin America, where a landed structure prevailed and the most varied forms of semi-servitude, little or no independence changed.
In this context, marked by so many differences, regional antagonisms arise between the leaders of the process of emancipation, to the taste of the most varied interests.
As for the organization of national states, republicanism was the general political principle that guided the formation of Latin American national states. However, the monarchy had its defenders among many members of the Creole elite. This tendency, besides Brazil, would only be made feasible in Mexico with Augustin Iturbide, and, for that matter, for a short time. With the option for the republic, the interests and ambitions of the local command are also imposed, turning political disputes into violent and bloody struggles.
The unit proposals
Amidst the difficulties of setting up the National States, a proposal was striking, in the sense of uniting all of Spanish America into one nation. This is due to the threat of recolonization defended by Spain, supported by the Holy Alliance of Europe.
With this, Bolivarism , one of the bases of Pan-Americanism , defended by Simón Bolívar, the Liberator , gained ground . In concrete terms, however, Bolivar’s ideals were realized in few experiments. Between 1819 and 1830, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Colombia, comprising Panama, formed the Confederation of Great Colombia , as is already perceived of short duration. From 1821, Peru and Bolivia began the formation of the Confederation of Greater Peru , which was fought hard by Argentina and Chile, fearing the presence of a powerful state. In Central America, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica separated from Mexico in 1823 and formed the United Provinces of Central America, sprayed in 1839.
Bolivar, who dreamed of the creation of the Confederation of the Andes , died in 1830, not without attempting its concretization before the Congress of Panama in 1826.
US and British interests
The United States followed the process of independence of the Spanish colonies in America without more direct involvement. However, in the face of the ideas of Latin American unity, the Americans began to develop a more active political action. in relation to newly released nations.
Within this new political action, the United States, in 1823, was the first nation to recognize the independence of the new nations, relying on the Monroe Doctrine , which advocated the American principle for Americans.
The doctrine, established by President James Monroe, was linked to the concerns of the United States with its own security, for at that time the Americans clashed with the British over the domain of Oregon and were threatened by the Russians, whose territorial claims they went from Alaska to California. Not to mention that the United States also feared an eventual intervention of the Holy Alliance in America, recovering to its metropolis the old colonies.
More than this, however, this doctrine expressed the American view of Pan-Americanism and was based on the predominance of the United States over the other states of Latin America. Called monroism, this policy was frontally opposed to the unifying project of Simón Bolívar.
England, on the other hand, was maneuvering towards the creation of a constellation of weak new countries, which would guarantee its direct influence in Latin America and, at the same time, prevent the formation of an American system led by the United States.
The emergence of caudilhismo takes place in the framework of the process of independence of the old Spanish colonies, marked by the disputes for the power, that ended up generating the political instability.
The caudillos were local or regional political leaders, leaders of real private armies-at that time the states had yet to organize their own armies-mostly large landowners whose personal authority was strong among the grassroots. Self-styled high-ranking military, as generals, warlords had a single goal: the greatest power over nation.
Federalism vs. Centralism
Once the form of government – republic or monarchy – was defined , the problems within each new nation centered on the form of state organization, which led to struggles between federalists and centralists . In these struggles, the tendencies of political leaders – liberal and conservative – typical of the time, became of little importance, since liberalism was only facade, in the defense of common interests, and conservatism was the common ideological field for any one of the actions involved in the disputes.
Federalism, the principle of autonomy in relation to a central power, is one of the political expressions of liberalism. However, the large landowners, averse to liberalism, emerged as one of their most ardent supporters, since decentralization , typical of federalism, would guarantee their local or regional predominance. In turn, centralism, one of the hallmarks of conservatism, was advocated by merchants in large urban centers, such as Buenos Aires, since, through it, national unity would be achieved, limiting it. consequently, the localisms that compartmentalized the country economically.
Liberals or conservatives, federalists or centralists, once in power, these caudillo leaders ruled in a dictatorial way, following a clearly conservative policy, keeping the popular strata away from the decisions.
Examples of caudillos
The Chile and Paraguay were the only countries in Spanish America who did not know the political instability generated by warlordism. In Chile, the unitary and strongly centralized state was constituted early, called Portalino State , by the action of José Portales. Paraguay, in turn, had its independence led by Jose Gaspar Francia, the Supreme , who installed in power an oligarchic group that ruled the country for decades.
In Argentina, Juan Manuel de Rosas took power in 1838, and although he declared himself a federalist, he ruled centrally until his fall in 1852. During his term he took protectionist measures against the Argentine economy, opposing the practice of free-trade of England and defending the reconstruction of the vice-kingdom of the Silver, entering in clash with Brazil.
In Mexico, following the fall of conservative Sant’Anna (1855), in whose government the Americans took possession of an extensive Mexican territory. promoted the liberals under the leadership of Benito Juarez . In his government, measures were taken against the Church. which resulted in a civil war against the reactionary forces, called the Reformation War .
In this context, allied conservatives of the Catholic Church called for French intervention . Like this. between 1863 and 1867, Mexico became a monarchy ruled by Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria. In 1876, Porfirio Diaz gave a coup d’etat and established a positivist dictatorship , ruling Mexico until 1911, when the Mexican Revolution broke out . The long period of the government of Porfírio Diaz denominated Porfiriato .
The English hegemony
From the outset, England had a prominent role in the process of independence of Spanish America. When the Governing Boards broke with Napoleon’s occupied Spain , one of the first measures taken in the most different regions of Latin America was the liberation of commerce to the British, guaranteeing the advantages obtained previously.
During the war against Spain, from 1814-15, when Fernando VII tried to recover the former colonies, the British became directly involved in the conflict, supporting the Creole elite. Loans were made, arms were sold to settlers, and English military mercenaries, like Lord Cochrane, commanded the victory over the Spaniards. The guarantee of independence also ensured English privileges in the markets of the extensive area of the former Spanish colonial empire, where the practice of free-tradeadvocated by England prevailed .
The action of English diplomacy
Initially, England was committed to gaining recognition of the new American nations from European countries. However, he never lost sight of the struggles involving the organization of Latin American states. For the English, it was necessary for the new countries to become their allies as an economically hegemonic power. Therefore, there was no interest in the emergence of a sufficiently strong economy capable of breaking its tutelage and its control.
The concrete action of British diplomacy in this sense is perceptible in the creation of Uruguay – the former Cispiatine Province – as a buffer state , between Brazil and Argentina (1828), avoiding the control of any of these countries over the Prata basin. Likewise, in the dissolution of the United Provinces of Central America , formed by the small Mesoamerican republics, in 1839.
At the Pan-American Conference in 1826, when Pan Americanism sought to make a great step toward Latin American unity, Minister Canning worked against the American claims to create a Latin American bloc under his leadership; at the same time, however, undermined the project of organizing a strong and cohesive America.