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This July 28 a new president takes office in Peru as the country celebrates 200 years of its independence.
The Andean country is the last former Spanish colony in South America to celebrate its bicentennial.
The other eight South American countries that emancipated themselves from the Spanish crown they celebrated their bicentennials long before.
Bolivia and Ecuador commemorated it in 2009. Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Chile, in 2010. And Paraguay and Uruguay, in 2011.
It would be logical to conclude that the lag is due to Peru becoming independent a decade later than the other countries in the region, but it was not.
In fact, the place that was the center of Spanish power in South America was not even the last territory in this region to form an independent state.
How, then, do you explain that you are celebrating your bicentennial so long after your neighbors?
Ywhich was really the last South American country to achieve its independence?
“First Libertarian Cry”
The answer to the first question is that, while Peru commemorates 200 years since General José de San Martín proclaimed independence, many of its South American neighbors chose to commemorate the bicentennial not of his emancipation, but of the beginning of the revolutions that would eventually lead them to be free nations years later.
This explains why Bolivia was the first country in the region to celebrate its bicentennial, on May 25, 2009, despite the fact that it will celebrate 200 years of independence on August 6, 2025.
What then-President Evo Morales commemorated was the bicentennial of the so-called Chuquisaca Revolution, which is considered by many to be the “First Libertarian Cry of America” (although some maintain that it was actually in La Paz or Quito where the independence start was marked ).
The Chuquisaca Revolution was a popular uprising that occurred on May 25, 1809 in the city that is now Sucre and which in colonial times was part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata.
The Creoles removed the governor and formed a Governing Board, which was suppressed in 1810.
This revolution was the kick start of a series of similar processes throughout Latin America.
What triggered these revolutions was the French invasion of Spain in 1808, which led King Charles IV and his son, Ferdinand VII, to abdicate in favor of Napoleon bonaparte, who appointed his brother José as the new Spanish king.
But in the American colonies the Creole elites did not recognize José I and took advantage of the power vacuum to create their own governments.
Yes OK These first Government Boards initially swore allegiance to Fernando VII, eventually broke the crown, inspired by the recent independence of the United States (1776) and Haiti (1804), and the French Revolution (1789).
Thus began a long and complicated wave of independence that would fragment the region, eventually resulting in the nations we know today.
Revolution vs independence
It was the bicentennial of these revolutions or “libertarian cries” that countries such as Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay commemorated between 2009 and 2011, which later held more modest celebrations to mark 200 years since they actually proclaimed their sovereignty. .
But why didn’t these countries directly celebrate the date they actually achieved their liberation (which in many cases is considered their official “independence day”)?
And why do they consider the installation of the first Government Boards as the beginning of their emancipation when they were still loyal to the Spanish crown?
The Argentine historian Beatriz Bragoni, author of “San Martin: A Political Biography of the Liberator” (2019), told BBC Mundo that it was not a “fortuitous” decision.
“Install a date or an ephemeris responds to the interests of the States in creating their own national narratives and their own national identities, “he said.
“In strict terms, in 1809-11 there was no vocation for independence in relation to Spain,” he clarified.
However, he stressed that “commemorations are processes of reconstruction and selective memories made by all nations.”
What was the last one?
So what was really the last Spanish colony in South America to become independent?
The answer depends on how you look at it.
If we look at which was the last nation to declare itself a sovereign state, the answer is Uruguay.
The River Plate country commemorates its independence day every August 25, because it was on that date, 1825, when an assembly of representatives signed the declaration of independence.
However, Uruguay – which was then called the Eastern Province – was not becoming independent from Spain, from which he had already become emancipated.
It was rebelling against the Portuguese crown and the Empire of Brazil, which had invaded it, to join the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, as the independence territory that supplanted the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was called.
It was solo in 1828 the nation achieved its sovereignty, after a mediation by England between Brazil and the United Provinces (made up mainly of the current Argentina).
Two years later, with the signing of the Constitution, it adopted the name of the Eastern State of Uruguay, due to the river that defines part of its territory.
Who was then the last to emancipate himself from Spain?
Then Peru was the last to give its “libertarian cry” since Lima, being the center of realistic power in South America, was the one that most resisted the liberating revolution.
“The viceroy of Peru, José Fernando de Abascal, played a crucial role in defending the interests of the king and the monarchy through an emphatic policy of extermination of what he called American insurgents or revolutionaries,” says Bragoni.
With the fall of Napoleon in Europe and the reestablishment of Ferdinand VII in Spain in 1814, the Spanish fought against the American separatist movements, and the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru played a key role.
“Lima was the center of the counterrevolution because there was the greater public opinion in favor of sustaining the monarchical legitimacy and, at the same time, its merchants, its elites, financed the war in South America “, the historian details.
It was thus that, just after making his famous crossing of the Andes and liberating Chile, in 1818, the Argentine liberator San Martín arrived with his army in Lima, and declared the independence of Peru on July 28, 1821.
However, this it was not, strictly speaking, the last South American country to free itself of the Spanish crown.
As we have already mentioned, Bolivia declared itself an independent state only in 1825, four years later than Peru.
It turns out that the place that gave the first libertarian cry ended up being the last to achieve independence.
The then called Alto Perú was an autonomous region that had first been dependent on the Viceroyalty of Peru and then on the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, but, when the revolution broke out in Buenos Aires in 1810, the viceroy Abascal temporarily reincorporated it to the territory. under his command.
It would take 15 years – and a long guerrilla war – to free the entire Alto Peru territory from Spanish rule and to be able to found a new homeland.
The last South American nation to become independent from Spain was baptized República de Bolívar, in honor of the Venezuelan liberator Simón Bolívar, but in October 1825 it received its current name of Republic of Bolivia.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.