Federal Republic of Central AmericaRepública Federal de Centroamérica
Federal Republic of Central America ←
1823 – 1838 ↓
FlagCapital Guatemala City (Until 1834)
San Salvador Language(s) Spanish Government Republic History - Established 1823 - Disestablished May 31, 1838 Currency Central American Republic real
The Federal Republic of Central America, also known as the United Central Provinces of America, was a short-lived American state in Central America, which consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala. An experiment in republican democracy, it existed from July 1823 to 1840. It was intended to be a federal republic modeled after the United States of America. The coat of arms on the nation's flag from 1823–1824 referred to the federation (in Spanish) as Provincias Unidas del Centro de América ("United Provinces of the Center of America"); however, its 1824 constitution, coat of arms, and flag called it República Federal de Centroamérica / Centro América ("Federal Republic of the Center of America"). It is also sometimes incorrectly referred to in English as the United States of Central America. The concept flag was introduced to the area by Commodore Louis-Michel Aury inspired in the Argentine flag. Commodore Aury established the first independent republic in Old Providence Island (Isla de Providencia) in 1818, off the coast of Nicaragua.
The republic consisted of the states of Guatemala (which initially included a large part of what is now the Mexican state of Chiapas), El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. In the 1830s, an additional sixth state was added – Los Altos, with its capital in Quetzaltenango – occupying parts of what are now the western highlands of Guatemala and Chiapas. Although the new nation was now independent of Spain, it had been annexed by Mexico. The annexation was the focus of disagreement, some seeing the Mexican constitution with its abolition of slavery and establishment of free trade as an improvement over the status quo. During the period of 1838–1840, the federation engaged in civil war by Conservatives fighting against the Liberals. Without a sustained struggle for independence to cement a sense of national identity, the various political frictions were unable to overcome their ideological differences and the federation dissolved after a series of bloody conflicts.
- 1 Politics
- 2 Presidents
- 3 Dissolution of the Union
- 4 See also
- 5 Notes
- 6 External links
PoliticsStates of the Federation
Central American liberals had high hopes for the federal republic, which they believed would evolve into a modern, democratic nation, enriched by trade passing through it between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. These aspirations are reflected in the emblems of the federal republic: the flag shows a white hand between two blue stripes, representing the land between two oceans. The coat of arms shows five mountains (one for each state) between two oceans, surmounted by a Phrygian cap, the emblem of the French Revolution.
In practice, however, the federation faced insurmountable problems. As a governor of Mexico, Vicente Filisola occupied Guatemala City after the formation of Federal Republic of Central America and was successful in annexing El Salvador in 1823, causing an uprising there. In compliance with the Mexican constitution, Filisola convened the Central American congress which forthwith declared its independence from Mexico. Filisola was not able to maintain a fighting force, and his troops were sent back to Mexico by the residents of Guatemala City who paid for their transportation.
The liberal democratic project was strongly opposed by conservative factions allied with the Roman Catholic clergy and the wealthy landowners. Transportation and communication routes between the states were extremely deficient. The bulk of the population lacked any sense of commitment towards the broader federation, perhaps owing to their continued loyalty to the Roman Catholic church in Spain. The federal bureaucracy in Guatemala City proved ineffectual, and fears of Guatemalan domination of the union led to protests that resulted in the relocation of the capital to San Salvador in 1831. Wars soon broke out between various factions both in the federation and within individual states. The poverty and extreme political instability of the region prevented the construction of an inter-oceanic canal (see Nicaragua Canal and Panama Canal), from which Central America could have obtained considerable economic benefits.
Superior Political Chiefs
- Gabino Gaínza (September 15, 1821 - January 5, 1822)
- Vicente Filisola (July 1, 1823 - July 10, 1823)
- Juan Vicente Villacorta Díaz (October 6, 1823 - March 15, 1824)
- Manuel José Arce y Fagoaga (March 15, 1824 - October 20, 1824)
- José Manuel de la Cerda y Aguilar (October 20,
1824 - April 29,
- José Santiago Milla Pineda Arriaga (October 4, 1823 - February 5, 1824)
- José Cecilio del Valle (February 5, 1824 - April 29, 1825)
- Manuel José Arce y Fagoaga (April 29, 1825 - April 13, 1829)
- Francisco Morazán Quesada (April 13, 1829 - June 14, 1829) (1st time; as commander-in-chief)
- José Francisco Barrundia y Cepeda (June 26, 1829 - June 16, 1830) (interim)
- Francisco Morazán Quesada (September 16, 1830 - September 16, 1834) (2nd time)
- José Gregorio Salazar Lara (September 16, 1834 - February 14, 1835) (interim)
- Francisco Morazán Quesada (February 14, 1835 - February 1, 1839) (3rd time)
- Diego Vigil (February 1, 1839 - March 31, 1840)
Dissolution of the Union
The union dissolved in civil war between 1838 and 1840. Its disintegration began when Nicaragua separated from the federation on November 5, 1838, followed by Honduras and Costa Rica. The union effectively dissolved in 1840, by which time four of its five states had declared independence. The union was only officially ended upon El Salvador's self-proclamation of the establishment of an independent republic in February 1841. Because of the chaotic nature of this period an exact date does not exist, but on May 31, 1838 the congress met to declare that the provinces were free to create their own independent republics. In reality, they were just making legal the process of disintegration that had already begun.
Various attempts were made to reunite Central America in the nineteenth century, but none succeeded for any length of time:
- The first attempt was in 1842 by former President Francisco Morazán, who was quickly captured and executed. The abortive attempt aimed to restore the union as the Confederation of Central America and included El Salvador, Guatemala (which withdrew early), Honduras, and Nicaragua. This first attempt lasted until 1844.
- A second attempt was made and lasted from October to November 1852 when El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua created a Federation of Central America (Federación de Centro América). Guatemalan President Justo Rufino Barrios attempted to reunite the nation by force of arms in the 1880s and was killed in the process, like his 1842 predecessor.
- A third union of Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador as the Greater Republic of Central America or "República Mayor de Centroamérica" lasted from 1896 to 1898.
- The latest attempt occurred between June 1921 and January 1922 when El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras formed a (second) Federation of Central America. This second Federation was nearly moribund from the start, having only a Provisional Federal Council made up of delegates from each state.
Despite the failure of a lasting political union, the sense of shared history and the hope for eventual reunification persist in the nations formerly in the union. In 1856–1857 the region successfully established a military coalition to repel an invasion by U.S. adventurer William Walker. Today, all five nations fly flags that retain the old federal motif of two outer blue bands bounding an inner white stripe. (Costa Rica, traditionally the least committed of the five to regional integration, modified its flag significantly in 1848 by darkening the blue and adding a double-wide inner red band, in honor of the French tricolor.) The short lived sixth state of Los Altos was forcibly annexed by Guatemala's Rafael Carrera.
- History of Central America
- Republic, Province, State, Federation
- Greater Colombia - another federal state on the American continent that underwent a similar fate.
- Peru-Bolivian Confederation
- Golden Circle (Slavery) - a proposed Caribbean federation that would have split off half of the USA.
- ^ a b Foster, Lynn V. (2000). A Brief History of Central America. New York: Facts on File, Inc., pp 134–136. ISBN 0-8160-3962-3.
- ^ Thomas L. Karnes, The Failure of Union: Central America, 1824-1960 (Durham, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1961), 85.
- Constitutions from several attempts at Central American unification (in Spanish)
- Central America- Historical Unions and Federations
- WorldStatesmen- Guatemala
- Map of the UPCA
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