Monday, January 26, 2009

Very brief history of El Salvador, part 3

During the Spanish colonial era, El Salvador was part of the Captaincy of Guatemala, but by the beginning of the 19th century colonial days were coming to an end. The success of the American and French revolutions provided a powerful example. Spain has been on the losing end of several wars, and was finally invaded by Napoleon, who deposed the king in 1808. Internal causes included the resentment of the creole population (people of Spanish blood born in the Americas) at being excluded from the most important government positions and at the lack of commercial freedom. (Most of the information here is from Wikipedia and the Equipo Maiz History of El Salvador)
The first cry for independence was raised in 1811 by Padre Jose Matias Delgado in San Salvador. Popular uprisings followed, protests against Spanish taxes and heavy-handed authority. The authorities from Guatemala put down this first rebellion, which was followed by other uprisings, led by the Proceres, the notable men who are regarded as El Salvador's founders (and who now march, blockily, along the Boulevard de los Proceres, a major San Salvador street). The Act of Independence of Central America was signed in 1821.
More problems followed quickly. Mexico wanted to annex Central America in the process of creating a Mexican empire, an idea opposed by the Salvadoran leaders. Then, in 1823, La Republica Federal de Centroamérica was founded, with Salvadoran Manuel José Arce (pictured here) as the first President. Dissension and rebellion followed, including an uprising of indigenous people led by the revolutionary Anastasio Aquino, who was betrayed and shot in 1833. After years of internal warfare and struggles, El Salvador became an independent state in 1840 after the dissolution of the Federal Republic. It was, and has remained for most of its history, a country controlled by the wealthy, where the poor, and especially the indigenous people struggled for survival.

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