Peru - Bolivian Confederation

23:27 M.K.Orange 1 Comments



On January 20, 1839 the battle of Yungay was fought between the Peru-Bolivian Confederation and the United Chilean-Peruvian Restoration Army. The results of the battle led to the immediate end of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation. So what was the Peru-Bolivian Confederation and how did it come about?
The roots of Peru-Bolivian Confederation go back to the Viceroyalty of Peru, when the region that we now know as Bolivia was once known as Alto Perú (Upper Peru) however, when the Bolivian War of Independence (1809-1825) came to an end the region of Upper Peru became an independent country and was renamed Bolivia in honour of the liberator Simón Bolívar. 
Simón Bolívar, who became the first president of Bolivia, did not agree with the reunification of the region to Peru and this would cause turmoil and political unrest which forced him out of the country and back to Colombia. Bolívar then left Antonio José de Sucre in charge who became the 2nd president of Bolivia in 1826 however; due to political pressure and the turmoil left behind from the independence hindered his attempt to create a new state. The following year an armed uprising in Chuquisaca gave Peru the opportunity to invade Bolivia. An army of 5000 Peruvians under the leadership of General Agustín Gamarra entered Bolivia with two aims one was to remove the Colombian army and to gain political influence and on May 28, 1828 the Peruvian army entered La Paz, Bolivia which led to the resignation of Sucre. In 1829, Marshal Andres de Santa Cruz became the 7th president of Bolivia also in the same year General Agustín Gamarra became the 13th president of Peru. 
Both Gamarra and Santa Cruz shared the same ideals of a confederation of Peru and Bolivia however; they disagreed on which side should have more political influence. Simón Bolívar was angered by the situation in Bolivia and was already working on a confederation of his own; this confederation consisted of present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, northern Peru, western Guyana and northwest Brazil known as Gran-Colombia. Bolívar on June 3rd, 1828 declared war against Peru appointing Antonio José de Sucre as the commander of the Colombian army. The Gran-Colombia Peru War (1828–1829) ended quickly and unsuccessfully for Bolivar and shortly after Sucre was assassinated in Berruecos in February, 1830 and Simón Bolívar died in December, 1830 from tuberculosis. 
After the war Peru was once again in political turmoil, this was caused by the formation of a new parliament in 1833 which was hostile towards Agustín Gamarra and at this moment Gamarra’s term as president was over and power was then handed to Luis José de Orbegoso. Gamarra refused to recognize the new government and wanted to challenge it however, popular opinion and the army did not side with Gamarra. 
In 1835, Orbegoso was overthrown in a rebellion led by General Felipe Salaverry who became the self-proclaimed "Supreme Chief of the Republic” however; Orbegoso then asked the Bolivian president Andres de Santa Cruz for help. Santa Cruz invaded Peru in June 1835 and Salaverry went on the run to Arequipa until he finally surrendered to William Miller who handed him over to Santa Cruz. Salaverry was executed along with some other officers in the main square in Arequipa on the 18th of February 1839. 
As a reward for Santa Cruz’s help Orbegoso agreed to the formation of the new Peru–Bolivian Confederation and that Santa Cruz would become the “Supreme Protector of the Confederation”. The confederation was not only for historical, cultural and ethnic reasons but mainly for economic reasons. 

Flag of the Republic of South Peru

On March 17, 1836 a congress of the southern departments (Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cuzco and Puno) declared the establishment of the Republic of South Peru and on August 11, 1836 another proclamation came forming the Republic of North Peru (Amazonas, Junín, La Libertad and Lima). 
In the end the confederation consisted of the Republic of South Peru with its capital Tacna (also capital of the confederation), Republic of North Peru with its capital Lima and Bolivia. 
Santa Cruz being the “Supreme Protector” and president of Bolivia appointed a president for each state of the confederation, the first president of South Peru was General Ramón Herrera Rodado and the first president of North Peru was General Luis Orbegoso. The confederation was officially formed after some unrest on October 28, 1836. Santa Cruz imposed an authoritarian order; he issued a civil code, a penal code, a trade regulation, a customs regulation and reorganized tax collection procedures allowing an increase in state revenues while restraining expenditures. This was all well received especially by the South due to the new economic freedoms that were provided however, some elites especially in Lima grew annoyed and started to resent the confederation. 


There were many arguments against the confederation some people on both sides (Bolivia and Peru) did not like the idea that their identities had been “diluted” and those such as the Peruvian politicians who resented the confederation fled to Chile. It was not only Peruvians and Bolivians that began to resist neighboring countries such as Argentina and Chile were alarmed by the size and economic strength of the confederation. Diego Portales was an important Chilean statesman and was the real power behind the Chilean president José Joaquín Prieto who became worried that the new confederation would break the regional balance of power also at this time competition for trade routes were high so Chile began to see Peru as its enemy. 
Hostilities began when former Chilean president General Ramón Freire managed to gain help from the confederation to equip a frigate to take power from Prieto’s administration however, it failed leading Chile to become openly hostile towards the confederation. 
On August 21, 1836, Diego Portales ordered a silent attack on a confederate fleet stationed at the port of Callao, Peru capturing several ships “Santa Cruz, Arequipeño and Peruviana”. This was seen as a warning Peru to stop interfering with Chilean politics. Santa Cruz did not go immediately to war instead he tried to negotiate, Chile demanded commercial agreements, debt repayments, compensation for the incident with Freire and the dissolution of the confederation. Santa Cruz agreed to everything but the dissolution, Chile responded by declaring war December 28, 1836 (War of the Confederation). 
Internationally the war was frowned upon as Santa Cruz was diplomatically recognized by countries such as Great Britain, France and the United States who had interest in the region while on the other hand Chile’s allies (Ecuador and Argentina) remained neutral. Argentina eventually felt compelled to declare war on the confederation on May 9, 1837 due to the political interference from Santa Cruz. Even though Chile and Argentina were allies they both acted alone throughout the war. Argentina suffered a heavy defeat in 1837 at the hands of one of Santa Cruz’s top generals Felipe Braun and the public of Chile were unhappy with the decision of war and started opposing it. 
To quell the unhappy population the Chilean government enacted Martial Law in 1837 however; this caused more heavy criticism of Prieto’s administration especially towards Portales. The Martial Law began affecting the army and on June 4, 1837, Colonel José Antonio Vidaurre, a commander captured and imprisoned Portales while he was reviewing troops at the army barracks in Quillota. Believing that the public would support him Vidaurre attacked the port of Valparaíso, Chile however; Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada defeated Vidaurre outside the port. When news spread of the defeat Captain Santiago Florín, who was in charge of Portales, had him shot on June 6, 1837. The assassination of Portales was a turning point as many perceived that it was orchestrated by Santa Cruz, making Portales into a martyr and changing the public opinion of the war. 

The first military expedition led by Vice Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada, against the confederation failed which lead to the signing of the Treaty of Paucarpata on the November 17, 1837 however, on the January 20, 1839 the second military expedition took place known as the Battle of Yungay in which Santa Cruz was defeated. On August 25, 1839, General Agustín Gamarra became president and officially declared the dissolution of the confederation bringing South and North Peru together as one country (Peru) separate from Bolivia. The dissolution of the confederation meant that Santa Cruz was exiled first to Guayaquil, in Ecuador, then to Chile, and finally to Europe where he lived until his death in 1865. 



The Battle of Yungay is remembered in Chile with the "Hymn of Yungay" and following the defeat of the confederation the department of Ancash, Peru was created.


Written by GringoPeru

1 comment:

  1. There are a few parts of this retelling that are disputable.

    "the region that we now know as Bolivia was once known as Alto Perú" this is something that is true, but is a bit misleading. Alto Peru was never the official name. The official name was the Audiencia de Charcas. Alto Peru is a term created in Buenos Aires shortly after Charcas was transferred to the newly formed Viceroyalty of La Plata in 1776. It is doubtful if the term Alto Peru was ever used by anyone besides people from Buenos Aires during the colonial period.

    "Simón Bolívar, who became the first president of Bolivia, did not agree with the reunification of the region to Peru" I've never found any source stating this. All of them say Bolivar wanted Charcas to form either part of Peru or the United Provinces of the Rio de La Plata. If I were to guess, somebody in Peru told you this. The only people I've ever seen state this are Peruvians, but they never seem to have academic sources. Most sources state Bolivar did not want Charcas to be an independent country because he believed it would encourage the former Audiencia de Quito (i.e. Ecuador) to split from Gran Colombia.

    "Both Gamarra and Santa Cruz shared the same ideals of a confederation of Peru and Bolivia" They both shared the idea of somehow unifying the two countries, but only Andres de Santa Cruz sought a Confederation. Augustin Gamarra wanted to simply annex Bolivia to Peru and shortly after the War of the Confederation he attempted to do so. However, he was killed at the Battle of Ingavi.

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