Peru History: Independence Part III

By | December 21, 2021

Spain then sent in 1862 a small squad under Admiral Pinzón to occupy the Chincha Islands; an occupation which, being recklessly presented under the aspect of claiming Spanish rights not extinguished, raised a crawl space in all the Spanish-American nations, and pushed the Spanish government to replace the Pinzón with Admiral Pareja. An agreement entered into between him and General Vivanco aboard the City of Madrid and ratified on February 2, 1865 by President Pezet, it disavowed the political-territorial characteristic of the Spanish occupation, but in all the rest it was unfavorable to Peru, which rose up with Colonel Mariano Ignacio Prado, prefect of Arequipa. In November 1865, with the overthrow of the Pezet and deposed by the military element, the vice-president general Canseco, reluctant to accept war with the dictatorship, the Prado assumed the dictatorship. The latter rejected the Pareja Vivanco treaty and in January 1866 declared war on Spain in union with Chile, whose ports Spain had also blocked in the meantime because it was in solidarity with Peru. For Peru 2012, please check

The defenseless Chilean port of Valparaiso was bombed for no reason at the end of March, and the Peruvian port of Callao was unsuccessful on 2 May, the new Spanish admiral Méndez Nuñez lifted the blockade (May 9, 1866) and withdrew from the waters of Peru. The hostilities were not renewed but it was necessary to arrive at 11 April 1871 to have, thanks to the mediation of the United States, the armistice of Washington of an indefinite duration; and, still later, on August 14, 1879, so that Spain and Peru could contractually be called friendly nations. In the meantime, the moralizing dictatorship of the Prado continued inside, despite what was fought by Colonel José Balta and by Canseco (supported by the ancient and very popular president Castilla, his brother-in-law). Overthrown which in 1867 and Canseco returned to power, the president was elected year after the Balta, a violent but firm man and a great promoter of the economic development of a country of more than one and a half million square kilometers. surface area and about 3,000,000 residents, which three centuries of Spanish domination and half a century of continuous wars and revolutions had kept at a very low level of economic and civil life, even if the elegant and worldly capital was excluded. Lima, “el paraíso de muieres”. The exploitation of the coastal deposits of guano intensified, which began in 1840 (from 5,000 tons in 1848 to 600,000 in 1872) and that of nitrates (the export of them in 1875 will reach 300,000 tons and more); Railways are feverishly built, which in 1880 will reach 1500 km; new gold mines are excavated (Huacho, 1871); great public works are done: the fiscal revenues of guano and nitrates remain lower than necessary and with the multiplication of foreign debts (1869, 1870, 1872) the public debt rises fearfully. At the end of his presidency, Balta is assassinated in a mad dictatorial attempt by his war minister Gutiérrez, to which he does not want to lend himself; but it is only an episode and political life immediately returns to normal with the newly elected president, the democrat Manuel Pardo (1872-76), an honest and enlightened statesman. With him there was a laborious process of revision and reorganization of the administration, a wider attention to public education, a more systematic agricultural development of the country, thanks in particular to the immigration of coolies Chinese and Japanese (between 1860 and 1872 more than 50,000 had settled in Peru), regulated by international agreements; but, despite the best will, it was not possible to remedy the effects of the financial policy of the Balta. However, during the presidency of his successor, General MI Prado (1876-79), the well-started civil and economic renewal of the country collided with a new external war: the so-called “war of the Pacific” (1879-84), fought in because of that coastal region, then Bolivian, of the Atacama, on which the extreme financial hopes of Peru were pinned with greed, now that its guano deposits were close to being exhausted. However, an agreement of 1866 signed by Chile with Bolivia for the joint economic exploitation of the territory between the 23rd and 25th parallel and the division between the two states of the relative tax revenues, while also fixing the Bolivian Chilean border at the 24th parallel., it was not long in transforming this region into an economic and social dependence of Chile with the influx of Chilean emigrants and capital. Nor is that enough: Bolivia, whose history from the first days of independence had only been a “geographical struggle” with Peru, had only that territorial balcony on the Pacific with Antofagasta, Mejillones and Cobija as access routes; because the best part of the country, extending up to 10 ° of lat. south, it was commercially tributary of Peru, owner of the port of Mollendo.

Independence Part III