The Spanish American Revolutions 1808-1826
The vastness of its subject matter hardly makes it for an easy read, but the craftsmanship of the good historian, John Lynch, saves it from the oblivion of the masses. Lynch goes by geographical areas starting at the southern cone up, ending with Mexico and, last of all, the Central American countries; and on these last nations very few pages are used. As one might expect the multitude of names, facts, and the different analyses that apply to each case does not help with the entertainment department, so to speak; but the idea is there to pick up. The general idea comes forth from the reading, as from a bird's eye up above the scenery we see how different races and social echelons compete for a place in post-colonial Spanish America; how there is a lack of plan, in the sense of a revolution of the people (as in America or France) and it is only a fight to fill the vacuum left by the Peninsulares, a fight to take the reigns of the whatever-comes-after, whether it be a Republic, a Monarchy or whatever. The outcome, and this is the main point I gather, was not what mattered to the people in general; what mattered was who was going to rule: who was to be favored and who was to stay the same or get worse. The story is not a bit idealistic or romantic, I'm afraid: on liberty and justice for all, etc.
But that's Spanish America, I mean, no Burke, no Jefferson, no Franklin, nobody. The Catholic Church and the aristocrats of Spain had for so long kept the hearts and minds of the spanish people in ignorance, isolated from the heretic Protestant world of northern Europe, that the word civilization did not quite apply to the cultural state of the Spanish people, in Spain or in America. Oh, you are thinking of Bolívar... of course, Bolívar, how could I forget. But Bolívar isn't my cup of tea, either ...yes, he did have some ideas, and he did look up to Britain and hoped to be in good terms with them. But he was not a democrat at heart; perhaps he was even a racist, definitely he was of the stuff despots are made of: arrogance, paternalism, elitism... and this guy was one of the few “good guys” you can find in the book. At least Lynch gives him the "good-guy" treatment. But here are Bolívar's own words about Americans, so judge for yourself:
“I am convinced to the very marrow of my bones that America can only be ruled by an able despotism … we are the vile offspring of the predatory Spaniards who came to America to bleed her white and to breed with their victims. Later the illegitimate offspring of these unions joined with the offspring of slaves transported from Africa. With such racial mixture and such moral record, can we afford to place laws above leaders and principles above men?”
The last few pages are a brief overview of the aftermath of independence: petty countries, or countries-still-to-be, were the victims of caudillos, regional chieftains who warried among themselves for their own piece of turf: like the independence war before but on a neighborly scale. To milk the resources of the country and to curve any appetite for knowledge among the servile masses, that was -and still is- the only aim in Spanish-speaking America. Know any better recipe than tequila, mate, cocaine, and telenovelas to keep people dumbed-down for ever?