August: home to the dog days of summer, host to countless end–of parties; the month is the last hurrah of the season. It’s also host to numerous independence days for lands down south. Plus, there’s a shit-ton of battles and other crap that happened back then.
Put on your finest day-wear and take a trip back to a time where an economically privileged class yearned to free themselves of oppression and do the same exact thing to the poor and marginalized. Hear the cries for freedom lead by men who had no intentions of opening up the political system. These are lands forged by great men (‘cause women weren’t allowed to do much).
By the early 1800’s, Spain was too busy fighting France’s attempts to make it its bitch, so the creoles in power were largely left to their own devices. At first, the Spanish still held some sort of sway over Bolivia, but the land was influenced by recent developments in the United States and in Europe. The Enlightenment had arrived and with it, a yearning for self-government. The Spanish were largely powerless and provincial juntas were formed all over the continent. Before long, these juntas turned into rebels and for next decade, war and garish uniforms would reign over the land. On August 6th, 1825, Bolivia, named after Simon Bolivar, proclaimed its independence. As for the indigenous, they probably couldn’t tell the difference…
On August 10th, 1809, Criollos in Quito declared their independence as well. At first, the revolt took a while to really get started. (It’s hot down there, give ‘em a break!) By 1820, Bolivar’s and San Martin’s forces were routing the Spanish and their loyalist allies all over, and Ecuador was waiting for Bolivar’s sexy ass to finally get to them. It was the 19th century revolutionary equivalent of waiting for a Radiohead concert to come to your neck of the woods.
This time, the townsfolk all over were itching to run out with a gun out and start blasting. They did and belatedly realized that the Spanish were still able to fight back. Oops! Never to fear, for Sucre was here. Antonio Jose de Sucre would go on to crush the Spanish in the Battle of Pichincha in 1824. With that one battle, Spain lost all hope of holding on to Ecuador. August 10th, 1822, was El primer Grito de Independencia, the very beginning of a very long fight.
Famously mispronounced by Homer Simpson, Uruguay is the odd one out; not a haven for hardcore pornography like its neighbor Brazil and not as famous as its prima donna neighbor Argentina. What’s a small nation to do for attention? Have an awesome independence struggle, that’s what. In 1811, the ruling criollos (who else?) decided they had enough of Spain’s shit and collectively told her to get the hell out. The Spanish were sent packing soon after. Jose Gervasio Artigas, victor over the Spanish, then laid siege to Montevideo. By 1815, the region was free. However, modern-day Brazil had eyes on the small land. In 1816, 10,000 soldiers streamed from Brazil.
It would take four years of fighting and mangling of each nation’s respective tongues to kick them out. On August 25th, 1825, Uruguay declared independence.
Easily one of the sexiest countries ever, the Dominican Republic is also one scrappy son of a gun. Dominicans (well, Spanish subjects) saw what was going on and felt left out. Once again, Spain couldn’t do anything about it. By the 1820’s the land was free from Spain. However, the Haitians were a new force to be reckoned with. By the 1840’s the country had been under Haitian control for 20 years. In 1838, a young patriot, Juan Pablo Duarte started a secret society and plotted for independence. In 1844, the war was on. But there was one issue; Duarte wasn’t there since he was busy recovering from an illness in Latin America.
It was all good, as the rebels pushed out the Haitians and declared their independence. Everybody lived happily ever after… then the government saw what it meant to run a country and said, “Fuck this!” Spain was back baby. So, another war had to be fought, because apparently, a lot of people were not down. On August 16, 1865, the Dominican Republic once again became free.
This one’s not as well remembered and celebrated, though, as the independence day in February.
So, the lands of the south became free from Europeans. Men all over rejoiced; there were native populations to exploit; democratic institutions to be made mockeries of and a chance to snuggle up to the ultimate sugar daddy which was quite literally looking down on them. We could just see a revolutionary fighter say “All right! Freedom and equality won! Our new government will be way too busy correcting the wrongs of the past to assume dictatorial powers. People will have equal income distribution and the USA will never let us down!” Who better to defend us than the land of Jefferson, Washington and Adams?”
Prove those fighters right, Latin America, prove them right.