Central_America_lecture_Feb_9__2009

Central_America_lecture_Feb_9__2009 - Feb 9, 2009 lecture...

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Feb 9, 2009 lecture Central America: “A Banana a Day Keeps the Doctor Away” Central American countries were not big players in the Wars of Independence. With the exception of Guatemala which because of its significant Mayan indigenous population and the presence of the Catholic Church as the main representative of Spanish authority in the region, the countries we now know as Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Honduras were sparsely populated and considered economic “backwaters” during the colonial period. Panama, you will remember was part of Gran Colombia and would remain attached to Colombia until 1903 when the U.S. enabled it to forcibly “detach” become a separate, nominally “independent” nation. The Central American Federation – 1823-1839: Like Gran Colombia, the Central American countries (Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras) initially opted to form a “Federation” rather than to strike out as independent nations immediately after Independence from Spain. The logic for this centered on two main concerns: 1) The believed that they were each individually to small and weak to guarantee national sovereignty; 2) By unifying, they hoped to counteract the threat that their Mexican neighbor – much more powerful and territorially vaster than the Central American countries – and foreign interests might pose to their independence and territorial integrity. The Confederation adopted: 1) Republican Form of Government 2) Constitution that governed all five participating members Almost immediately, however, certain problems arose that to some degree foreshadowed the difficulties these countries would face in the 20 th century when they would once more try to find strength in unity by creating a common economic market: 1) Guatemala, the largest and most economically and demographically important of the 5 countries during the colonial period, hoped to continue its predominance over the others – this created regional and national tensions between and within the 5 countries; 2) Divisions between those adhering to a Liberal vs a Conservative ideology – in some measure determined by differences in economic resources and weight of indigenous presence in the various countries, also fed hostilities; 3) Together or alone, these countries found that like other new countries in Latin America, the early through mid- part of the nineteenth century was one of dearth – they lacked the money/capital to pay for Defense and Development. By 1834 Liberals led by El Salvador’s Francisco Morazan invade neighboring Guatemala , and in an example of provincial rebellion against the Confederation’s
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central authority , seize the Presidency of the Confederation. This episode reproduces the tensions we saw in Argentina between the interior provinces and Buenos Aires; in Peru between merchant/producer/Indian regional interests and Lima/coastal interests; in Colombia, between the southern slave-owning region of the Cauca and the
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Central_America_lecture_Feb_9__2009 - Feb 9, 2009 lecture...

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