Peru History: Independence Part IV

By | December 21, 2021

Therefore, when Peru, having imposed an exit duty on saltpetre with the result of seeing the Bolivian export desert its ports in favor of the Chilean ones, asked Bolivia to also impose exit duties on the Atacama saltpeters, the Bolivia accepted the Peruvian proposal, despite the contrary provisions of an agreement made by it in 1874 with Chile. At that time, the Chileno-Bolivian convention in force declared broken, militarily occupied and annexed the entire Bolivian territory located south of the 23rd parallel (April 5, 1879). It was the war, about the triumphal outcome of which Bolivia and Peru harbored not the slightest doubt; but who instead saw the naval forces of Chile, without superior comparison, soon master the enemy coasts (despite the lepidness, cut off by death, Huáscar) and the Chilean troops not only invade Bolivia, but land in Pisagua and defeat in Dolores on November 19, 1879 those united by the two presidents of the enemy coalition (the Prado and the Daza). The defeat, as it was easy to predict, politically upset the vanquished countries, overthrowing their presidents to make room for dictators (General Piérola in Peru; General Campero in Bolivia); while the Chilean forces, developing their plan, aimed at Lima and La Paz, isolating them from the Peruvian and Bolivian forces concentrated in the regions of Arica and Tacna. A decisive victory returned to Tacna on May 25, 1880 and surrendered two weeks after Arica, the Chilenians were able to enter Lima in mid-January 1881, after having bloodyly taken from the Peruvians the positions considered impregnable by Chorrillos and Miraflores defended by 22. 000 men. However, the struggle continued for another two years, despite attempts at (North American) mediation and peace, poisoning relations between the two nations for the future as well; until October 20, 1883, the conclusion of the Chileno-Peruvian treaty of Ancón (ratified, however, on March 28, 1884). For it, Peru not only had to yield definitively to the victor Tarapacȧ, which was essentially a mining field that had long been exploited with Chilean arms and capital; but also temporarily (for ten years) those northern provinces of Tacna and Arica, which although not having great economic importance, were with their 30,000 residents and their strategic position an integral part of Peruvian national life, unless decided after the decade, on the basis of a popular plebiscite, if they were to return to Peru or remain permanently in Chile. In the meantime, however, the question, far from starting a solution, became even more complicated through the clause of the belated peace treaty between Chile and Bolivia (the exchange of the relative ratifications took place only on April 30, 1898, although the ceased with the Santiago truce of 29 November 1884), which took away the entire coastal area on the Pacific from Bolivia, but guaranteed it access to the ocean or by transferring Tacna and Arica to it, if they remained in Chile, or through the transfer of another stretch of the coast. An additional Chilean-Peruvian protocol of January 26, 1894, relating to the modalities of the plebiscite, provided a further argument for deferment for Chile; so that the question of Tacna and Arica. For Peru 2008, please check

The Pacific War (1879-1884) and its semisecular continuation (1885-1929) on the political-diplomatic terrain had, of course, the widest and most bitter repercussions in the internal politics of Peru, painfully identified once again with the struggle of the parties, indeed of personal factions. During the war, the first military defeats, then the impositions of the invading Chilenians, who occupied the capital for two years, subsequently caused the fall of the president general Prado (1879) and his successor general Piérola (1881) no less than del Calderón, created under the protection of the same chylene bayonets (1881); until in 1883, with the consent of Chile, General Iglesias was elected to negotiate peace. Having accomplished this hard duty, he abdicated, and rose for the first time (1886) to the presidency,

After the administration (1890-94) of RM Bermúdez, Cáceres returned to power a second time, but with the inveterate system of the coup d’état, of the cuartelada ; until the two dominant parties (the civilian and the democratic) got together to overthrow it in March 1895.

With his successors, in particular with Nicolas de Piérola (1895-1899) and with his political and personal enemy, José Pardo y Barreda (1904-1908), son of Manuel Pardo, men of opposite tendencies but of equal effectiveness and ability, an era of work and notable progress in the financial and economic fields was opening up for Peru; but not for this he disarmed the low politics of the personal factions (the Piérolas against the Leopards and vice versa), to which, in the absence of a differentiation of programs and of a political ideality, the various parties had been reduced, different only in name: civil, constitutional, democratic, liberal, etc. The first presidency of Pardo y Barreda was succeeded by that of Augusto Bernardino Leguía, also belonging to the civil party. This took root; the civil tradition of Manuel Pardo was imposed; caudillismo: it was therefore necessary to put an end to civilism and its exponents. And here is the infamous sabado negro, in which the brothers of the ex-president Nicola Piérola, without a preordained political plan, surprise in his working cabinet and deride President Leguía through the streets of the capital amazed or indifferent, even under the equestrian statue of Bolívar; who by chance alone saves his life and can suppress the vile and ridiculous revolt; indeed, taking advantage of it to liquidate pierolism. However, with the Piérolas liquidated, the struggle ignites in civilism itself, the leaders of which divide and fight: now it is the turn of the Leopards against the Leguía. Elected president of Congress, in the absence of legal results of the 1912 election, Billinghurst and overthrown this in 1914 by a branch of insurgent civilization, the presidency – after a year and a half of Colonel Oscar E. Benavides – returned in 1915 to José Pardo y Barreda in a period of great economic prosperity caused by the world war (growing demand for sugar, cotton and copper); and, having deposed the Pardo in 1919, again at the Leguía, under which a constituent assembly gave a new constitution to Peru (January 18, 1920) in place of that of 1860. The Leguía could this time, with much discussed provisions, remain in power until 1930, when he was also deposed; and then four presidents (Ponce, Sánchez Cerro, Leoncio Elías, Jiménez) succeeded each other in just six months (late August 1930 – early March 1931); until one of these, General Sánchez Cerro, managed to return for a longer period to the presidency (8 December 1931-30 April 1933), but only to lose his life there.

Independence Part IV