The process that led to the independence of the Oriental State of Uruguay (now the Oriental Republic of Uruguay) began with the 1810 revolution and lasted until the 1828 Preliminary Peace Convention and the enactment of the first constitution in July 1830. In these twenty years, the territory of the River Plate was marked by war and various experiments of social and political organization. In the 1810s, some of the elites of the territory located on the eastern bank of the Uruguay River joined the uprising that had begun in Buenos Aires. This support for the Buenos Aires junta—the outcome of demands for the expansion of jurisdiction and greater autonomy—divided the territory between the administration of Montevideo (until 1814 in the hands of Españolistas) and a revolutionary group. In this context, a radical popular revolutionary project was produced under the leadership of José Artigas (1764–1850). This sought a federal union with other provinces along the Uruguay River and became known as the System of Free Peoples. It encountered fierce resistance from the authorities in Buenos Aires. The radicalization of certain postures among the “Orientales” (as the people in what is now Uruguay were called) was rejected by the Creole elites, who abandoned the Artiguista group and imposed restraints on the social revolution. Added to this were the occupation of the territory by Luso-Brazilian forces (who had strong local support) and the transformation of the Oriental Province into the Cisplatin Province, since 1821 part of the Portuguese Empire. In 1825, a second stage began in the fight for independence from the king of Portugal and the emperor of Brazil, and the union with the United Provinces based in Buenos Aires. Support from the latter was due to a war with Brazil, which ended with the Preliminary Convention of Peace. Signed and ratified in 1828, this allowed the creation of an independent state—with not very precise boundaries—whose first constitution was enacted in 1830. From the second half of the 19th century to the present, the independence of Uruguay has been a permanent theme of historiographic and political debate, fundamental for the definition of national identity. This discussion became intertwined with the foundation of a national account of the country and the formation of a pantheon of patriotic heroes (headed by Artigas). Views of the past, which merged with the ideological debate of each present, traveled along distant paths, ranging from the initial desire of the Orientales to construct an independent state at the beginning of the revolution, to interpretations that resignified political projects as possible alternatives as events unfolded.
The Independence of Uruguay and the Atlantic World
The Fall of the Inca Empire
R. Alan Covey
Popular accounts of the European invasion of the Inca Empire emphasize a single event—Francisco Pizarro’s capture of the Inca warlord Atahuallpa at Cajamarca on November 16, 1532—as a definitive moment of conquest. Historical and archaeological scholarship tells a more complicated story. Recent studies of the Incas have shown their empire to be less powerful than once believed, relying on the cooperation of powerful men and women whose personal and family interests did not always align with the policies of the state. When the ruler Huayna Capac died suddenly in a pandemic that swept through the central Andes, the ensuing sovereign crisis intensified factionalism and provincial resistance, culminating in a devastating civil war in which Atahuallpa and his army of frontier veterans triumphed. After unsuccessful voyages of exploration, Pizarro and his men entered Inca territory in this uncertain atmosphere, intent on plundering and colonizing the Andes. Encouraged by provincial lords, they sought out Atahuallpa, captured him, and held him for ransom. With the most powerful Inca lord a prisoner, Andean elites quickly pivoted to formulate new tactics for gaining or holding onto power. For several years, the invaders looked less like conquerors and more like Inca allies or subjects who quickly grafted themselves onto existing power structures. Although there was fierce resistance to Spanish plundering in the mid-1530s, Pizarro and his companions survived because of their alliances with Inca nobles and other Andean elites, who accepted the status of a subject nobility. As Spanish monarchs claimed Inca sovereignty, the imperial titles (Inca and Coya) became entwined with the Spanish nobility, but the legacy of the Inca continued to inspire ordinary Andean people to resist Spanish colonial rule.
The Good Neighbor Policy
Max Paul Friedman
In the first three decades of the 20th century, the United States regularly intervened militarily in the circum-Caribbean, sending the Marines to govern directly or rule by proxy in Nicaragua (1912–1933), Haiti (1915–1934), and the Dominican Republic (1916–1924). The end of this era of U.S. occupations, and the relatively harmonious period that followed, is typically credited to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy, although his predecessor Herbert Hoover began the process and both drew upon Latin American traditions and yielded to Latin American pressures to change traditional U.S. policy. The new approach to relations with Latin America included not only abjuring the use of military force but respecting the full sovereignty of Latin American states by not interfering or even commenting upon their processes of political succession. The Roosevelt administration signed agreements formalizing this new respect and sought to negotiate mutually beneficial trade agreements with Latin American countries. The benefits of the Good Neighbor Policy became evident when nearly every country in the region aligned itself with the United States in World War II. Measures taken against Axis nationals strained the policy during the war. By 1945, and during the Cold War, the policy unraveled, as the United States resumed both interference (in Argentine politics) and intervention (with a CIA-organized coup in Guatemala in 1954).
Sheep Sovereignties: The Colonization of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego, 1830s–1910s
From the moment the expedition of Magellan gave Patagonia its name, it became a land where European fantasies and fears dwelled. A no man’s land inhabited by giant anthropophagites located at the antipodes of civilization, this steppe swept by icy winds was not transformed into a colonial setting until the 19th century. The territory then became the object of an ongoing territorial dispute between the new states of Argentina and Chile, whose efforts to establish sovereignty as landowners languished until the late 1870s. Nomadic indigenous sovereignties had faced slow Western expansion on the continent; here, they were swiftly replaced by sheep. On the continent, the Tehuelche were displaced; on the island of Tierra del Fuego, the Selknam faced extermination. Sheep sovereignty, fully integrated into imperial networks, was the driving force behind local state building. Just as the British pastoral colonization of the Falkland Islands conditioned any possibility of permanent presence in the South Atlantic, the sheep industry, arriving swiftly in the shape of capital, persons, and animals, allowed for the Argentinization and Chileanization of what was once the frontier of civilization. In this sense, the occupation of the Falklands/Malvinas, Patagonia, and Tierra del Fuego may be considered successive colonial processes that form part of the same frontier drive as the Empire in capital.