The Struggle for Independence in Mexico, Venezuela, & Argentina, 1808-1823


“Three of the most important…upheavals…for the future independence of Latin America, occurred in Mexico, Argentina, and Venezuela” (Wasserman, p. 223). 

In many ways, Mexico’s struggle was the most visible (and thus is historically as well).  It was vast and well-developed in most senses of the word.  As we learn from the text, the sense of order that was created by the insurge of juntas and cabildos and their associated legislative carrying-outs during periods of confusion and unrest.  Of course, great amounts of civil unrest were the result of European trife that took shape in the form of Napolean Bonaparte and his instillment of French royalty to Spanish thrones.  This greatly undercut any loyalty that lower class subjects in Mexico had to their “mother country”.  Because of their undying mutual distrust (with good cause) of Peninsulares and Creoles, they thought less of resistence to the crown because at least the power was saddled with the Spanish (with whom they knew what to expect) rather than their domestic enemies in class warfare.  It would ultimately be these lower classes that would band together under the leadership of Hidalgo.  He raised “60,000 people, of whom about half were Indians and 20 percent were mestizos” (Wasserman, p. 218). His “Grito De Delores” was a preemptive attack on Spanish authorities in September 1810. Although he was killed, his movement continued to propel Mexicans (eventually) of all classes toward independence through a succession of different young leaders.  Along the way, they passed the Constitution of 1812, “which considerably limited the powers of any future restored monarchy.  The absolute kingship was to be no longer” (wasserman, p. 218).  Intellectual and locally-organized American (Mexican) forces were at play when Ferdinand assumed the throne after a significant 6 year period of American self-rule.  They eventually made him accept their written constitution against his initial wishes.  Ultimately, the independence movement of Mexico could not reach its fulcrum until both creoles and lower classes banded together under under the combined forces of Itubide and Guerrero respectively.  “Over the next several months, Spanish authority simply collapsed in New Spain.  [On] September [(is this a magical month or something?)] 16 of 1821…[they were] triumph[ant]” (Wasserman, p.227).

Argentina’s size is quite vast as well, which perhaps added to the difficulties associated with independence.  Nonetheless, the Argentines were some of the first of any of the Latin American countries to gain independence.  While this was largely considered the peripheral realm of New Spain, it should not be a suprise that its domestic furtherment and development in terms of infrastructure and economy would contribute to the significant attempts of Bourbon Reforms to gain proper footholdings in the region once and for all.  While a great number of Argentines experienced little dissonance with the crown, in terms of everyday living, it seemed as if they had a somewhat easier time convincing themmselves of intentions to autonomize.  “the port town of Buenos Aires reaped significant benefits from the Bourbon kings’ efforts to develop the empire’s periphery” (Wasserman, p. 225).

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The crown’s new interest in Argentina brought a new sense of self awareness to the people of this Latin American country.  They began to organize themselves much like that of their northern contemporaries.  Much of the Creole population asserted itself greatly during the “volativile years that followed the Napoleonic invasion of Spain” (wasserman, p.226) and thus, gained proper footing in what is referred to as “the patriot agenda” (wasserman, p.226).  “Spanish authority had ended in Buenos Aires, never to reappear…in May of 1810” (Wasserman, p.226).  In the wake of this faux independence (that was quite literally independence indeed), Argentina began to really flourish, especially within its cattle exports.

Venezuela is perhaps one of the most “peripheral parts of the empire” (Wasserman, p.227), just as Argentina had previously been.  There, the formation and further development of goverment offices were attempted by locals who desired a more autonomous state from under the thumb of Spain.  After erronous attempts in 1810, Royalists reaffirmed the need to align the country with that of Spain.  However, the seed had certainly been planted.  Eventually in 1814, Jose Tomas Boves and his mulatto and black llaneros (cowboys) forces  overthrew then (upper class) leader  Simon bolivar.  After internal class warfare waged on for a number of years, Bolivar returned to the region to fight for independence alongside those that had originally ousted him.  They were successful in transformation of the political landscape and “by 1822, he had assured the independence of the Republic of Gran Colombia, consisting of present-day Colombia as well as Venezuela and Ecuador” (wasserman, p.227)!!!

Source: Cheryl Wasserman, Latin America & Its People, (Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2012).

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