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Modern History Sourcebook:
How to Conduct a Latin-American Revolution,
A Latin-American revolution, to be successful, must originate with, or be supported by, the
soldiery. The conspirators begin with bribing a portion of the garrison of an important post.
Military barracks will never be attacked without a previous secret understanding with some of the
officers and men who are in charge of the post. In the negotiations for such purposes the ladies
take a most active part. They are passionate politicians, and very energetic secret agents. They
carry letters and despatches, excite discontent, conceal political refugees, and facilitate their
escape and keep banished friends posted as to the state of affairs at home. During my residence in
Ecuador, several of these female agitators were banished from the country by President Garcia
Moreno. They went, hurling defiance into his teeth. He could imprison or shoot the men, who
trembled before him, but he could not break the spirit of the women.
The moment a revolutionary party has secured a foothold somewhere, they resort to the
customary mode of Latin-American warfare. Its principal features are forcible impressments, and
forced loans and contributions, in addition to which they seize all the horses, mules, cattle,
provisions, Indians, and other property they can lay hands on. The Government does the same.
There is no legal or equitable system of conscription or draft. By common consent, "gentlemen,"
(that is to say, white men of good families) are exempt from it; but the poor, the half- or cross-
breeds, the journeymen, mechanics, and farm laborers, are seized and impressed wherever found,
and without reference to age, condition, disability, or the time they may have served already. The
appearance of the recruiting officers on the street always creates a panic among those liable to be
"recruited." It is a pitiful spectacle to see those poor fellows run away in all directions, wildly
chased by the officers and their men. Compulsory service in the army is a calamity greatly
dreaded by the populace, and from which they will try to escape in a thousand different ways.
They will flee to the mountains, and hide themselves in forests or deserts; they will take refuge in
churches or convents, or in the houses of foreign representatives or residents, and they will not
show themselves on the streets or public highways until the danger is over. When they are near
enough to the frontier, they will leave the country to avoid impressment. In Peru alone there are