Miranda's Dream. ¡Por una Latino América fuerte!.- A Gran Colombia TL

Because I was kind bored, I calculated the area of Mexico, the US and Brazil.

Mexico: 3.5 million square kilometers (roughly equal to Colombia in fact). With a population of 10 million, that's around 2.86 people per square kilometer.
Brazil: 7.5 million square kilometers. With a population of 9 million, that's around 1.2 people per square kilometer.
USA: 5 million square kilometers. Its population is of around 20 million, so that comes to around to 4 people per square kilometer.

That means that Brazil is much larger than the USA ITTL, and that the US is actually the most densely populated of all the four. Of course, the big winner is mega Canada, which would have a total of 12 million square kilometers, but it's otherwise very bare at only 2.1 million people (0.18 per square kilometers).
 
Chapter 57: The Daquilema Uprising
Cristian Jose Hurtado’s assumption of the presidency of Colombia is an event that had great historical significance. Though the actions of a single man cannot be seen as the only factor behind great economic and social changes, and Hurtado himself was as much a victim of fate as any other Colombian, his policies, personality and legacy had a profound impact in the South American nation. Though Hurtado has recently fallen into oblivion and is only remembered in relation with his successor, it’s undoubtable that Hurtado’s actions helped to propel Colombia in a new direction, where it assumed a new role as a Great Power.

Hurtado was never meant to be President. Born in 1813 in a rich landowning family in Azuay, in Southern Colombia, Hurtado received a profoundly religious education that installed moralistic conservatism into him. He lived a comfortable life as a member of the upper echelon of Colombian society, and was a skilled lawyer. He did not like Santander, because he believed that the President’s actions were unconstitutional and violated states’ rights. Elected to the House, he served without distinction as a Centralist, until after the Grand Crisis, when he became more interested in politics. Still wary of a powerful government, he quickly decided to align himself against President Cruz and the National Conservatives. As his sister observed, he became a Federalist “not because he agreed with the Federuchos” [an insulting name for Federalists], but because “he distrusted and even hated the President.”

As a result, Hurtado represented one of the few defections from the old Centralists to the Federalists. He also was one of the most conservative members of the Party. The Federalists were in bad shape, and this led to a conservative reaction within the party, which was later described “as an internal coup against the Liberal men.” The Cali Triumvirate took command of the party during the Cruz era, and it would not be until 1852 that the Liberal men, such as Noboa or Armas, were able to re-assert themselves.

But that still laid in the future when Hurtado was elected as a Senator. Following the informal system of assigning Senators based on House districts carried, the Federalists managed to elect one Azuay Senator. This was because the city of Cuenca was firmly on the Federalist column. A learned city of culture and press, known as the Athens of Colombia, Cuenca elected Federalists to Congress. It’s thus ironical that the Senator the state chose was such a stalwart Conservative.

Hurtado was not a protagonist in the party squabbles and the eventual division of the Federalist Party. His only notable contribution was apparently good fighting skills in the “Congressional brawl” after the Santafe riots. But when the Federalist Party actually split, Hurtado was at the forefront as one of the most enthusiastic supporters of forming a new Party. He also showed his capacity for working, returning to his home state to marshal his supporters, because the Representatives of Cuenca quickly sided with the Liberals. In the National Convention, he made a name for himself as a strong voice that attracted many doubtful and afraid people. When the PCN proposed a fusion ticket, he was chosen partly due to his newfound popularity, partly to get him out of the way. But the move ended up backfiring, and now Hurtado was President.

The Triumvirate was worried about this sudden development. Alarcon, with usual smugness, believed that the “Morlaco” (someone from Cuenca) would be an easy puppet. Santoya was less convinced, while Solis reluctantly supported Alarcon’s position. In any case, the Triumvirate remained united for the moment, and they presented their demands together as well. Since the Pelucones held the balance in the Senate, they could easily block any bills and stop the wheels of government. But their relation with the PCN was damaged because despite what the Pelucones hoped, the PCN had remained the party of industry and enterprise. National Conservatives were more willing to cooperate with Liberals than they were with the Pelucones. Senator Kelly’s tax decree was described as a “cold, pompous insult” because of how it seemed to target landowners and give advantage to merchants and industrialists.


Liberals liked to portray Pelucones as greedy oligarchs who robbed the people

Pelucones sought to ally with the National Conservatives to repeal and replace the decree with a friendlier measure. But the PCN did not welcome the move. Kelly, in particular, was outraged by its mere suggestion. A reserved man with few friends, Kelly was close with the late President Font, and he considered the tax decree to be the crowning achievement of his friend’s brief administration. “By putting forward that dammed bill,” Kelly wrote about the repeal, “the pelucon party has spit in Mr. Font’s grave.”

Kelly was known as one of the most economically progressive PCN politicians. Together with other men of similar views, such as Senator Casas of Ecuador, he was part of a group dubbed “the Gardeners” (Jardineros) after the little Santafe café where they often met – El Jardín. To their right stood most of the PCN, people who were friendly to industry but still supported social conservatism, and included men like Senators Mejía and Perez, or Governor Sepulveda of Venezuela. To the extreme right of the party there were statesmen like Governor Nueces of Ecuador, who were nicknamed “pelucones azules” for being Pelucones in all but name.

Though the center of the party may have been willing to entertain the possibility of a repeal, the progressive block opposed it vehemently as an “attack on the common hard-working men of the nation” for the sake of “an entitled oligarchy.” Liberals welcomed their help because it made the opposition seem like “the defenders of the people” rather than a group of partisans. The Liberals could still not shake off the view many had of them as willful agitators who only sought “to rule or to destroy,” and as such presented their opposition as “the efforts of labor” rather than the efforts of party.

The struggle over the decree was waged over the first months of the Hurtado presidency, and did much to destroy what little goodwill existed between the PCN and the Pelucones. Ultimately, the PCN would join the Liberals and vote down the repeal by overwhelming margins. But Liberals who expected the PCN to join them to pass legislation had their hopes dashed when a bill of electoral reform was voted down by a Pelucon-Conservative block. That bill had been introduced after the ruling of the Ordoñez v. Ecuador case had finally been issued, a ruling that could not really be claimed as a victory by either side.

The case that had started with the indigenous Ordoñez suing to overturn Ecuadorian laws that set greater standards for voting for indigenous peoples “that have not fully embraced civilization” had by then become a true cause célèbre. At the center of the controversy was whether states could set additional qualifications for voting aside from the constitutional requirements of “oficio honesto”, literacy and a certain amount property “to be determined by law”. A ruling in favor of Ordoñez would mean that a simply Federal decree would be enough to install universal voting; a ruling against him would allow states to continue enacting discriminatory laws. At the end, the court ruled for a consensus that satisfied no one.

The Colombian Supreme Court, like other institutions, was made with the necessity of compromise and equality between regions in mind. As a result, it was decided that it would be made of 3 judges for each district. However, it was considered unfair for one district to have the Chief Justice, and New Granada protested because it believed that its greater population entitled them to another judge. At the end, it was decided that the judges themselves would choose a Chief Justice from among their ranks, and that the empty seat would be filled with another judge of the same district. To ensure an odd number of judges, a judge from Santafe would be selected as well; to ensure equality, the first Chief Justice would be Venezuelan. The result was an 11-judge court with 4 Granadinos, 4 Venezuelans and 3 Southerners.

The 24 years of Federalist government resulted in a rather liberal court, but during the Cruz era many judges retired and were replaced with conservatives. The result was a court that was half old Santanderean liberals, half young National Conservatives. The balance was held by the eccentric Justice Armando Cabrera, son of Peruvian merchants who settled in the state of Tumbes. A maverick who sometimes supported social progressivism, Cabrera has been criticized then and now for “legislating from the breach”, that is, allowing political considerations to influence his rulings. His rulings held a lot of weight, especially because the moderates of the court felt more comfortable following him than the staunch conservatives or liberals. Cabrera was waiting for the people’s verdict in regard to social reform before giving his opinion – and since the people’s verdict was not clear, his was not either.


Armando Cabrera, "el Peruano"

Cabrera’s ruling was non-partisan and ambiguous enough to attract the support of 4 of the 11 judges. The six others could not unite behind a single ruling, and ultimately Cabrera’s opinion was approved with 7 votes – a convincing enough margin. The decision struck down targeted voting requirements as unconstitutional because equality under the law was recognized. But states were still allowed to set their own voting requirements as long as they conformed with federal law and did not target a religious, racial or ethnic group specifically.

What this meant in practice was that disenfranchisement laws such as the compulsory “character boards” of Venezuela and Choco, which refused to register Black and Indigenous voters due to their bad character, were not technically illegal. Sure enough, Ecuador soon passed a law requiring such boards before elections. As one of Ordoñez’s lawyers bitterly said “it does not matter if the law does not contain the word indio”, the law was still an unlawful act of discrimination if “it brands the indian with the shame of not being a citizen.”

The main reason for dissatisfaction with the ruling is the simple fact that it did not settle whether the Federal government could overturn such laws out of its own initiative. Since the Court said that state requirements for voting could not go against federal law, Liberal jurists held that if a decree disposing that states may not limit the franchise was passed, states could not limit it either. In other words, a simple decree was enough to enact universal voting throughout Colombia. On the other hand, Conservatives argued that the ruling was limited in scope, only preventing the states from targeting people for their race, but that “natural and reasonable legislation to limit the right of vote to men worthy of it” were still allowed.

By sidestepping the issue instead of meeting it head-on, the Supreme Court only intensified the controversy as conservatives decided that they could never allow the Liberals to take control lest they try to enact their vision and “trample the rights of the people and governments of this Union” for “their radical and brutal objectives.” When Mateo Cevallos, a former judge of the Central District Court of Appeals turned Senator, put forward a bill for universal voting, skeptic National Conservatives and firmly-opposed Pelucones voted it down. Especially disheartening was that “men of solid progressive timber” like Kelly and Casas had also voted against the bill.

In any case, it was clear that with Hurtado in the Casa de Nariño no real reform could ever take place. This helps to explain the brewing discontent in the Southern District and the Pacific coast, where more self-conscious indigenous and Black communities were starting to organize and demand their rights. The case of the indigenous communities is particularly notable, and it directly relates with the earlier Peruvian revolution. This movement, largely propelled by Indigenous armies that would be later betrayed, led to a spark in consciousness among the indigenous population of Colombia as well.

The first signs of this indigenous revival were the new interest in the history, language, and customs of the community. In 1853, the New Standardized Dictionary of the Indian tongue of Southern Colombia was published. Aside from being an in-depth study of the Kichwan language, the Dictionary also compared the Peruvian and Colombian varieties and posited the thesis that, although related, both variants were distinct enough to be considered different languages. A History of the Indigenous People of Colombia was also published, and although it suffered from usual 19th century biases (most infamously portraying the Indigenous community as a passive one that needed to be liberated by Miranda and Bolivar), it was a through and genuine attempt at research. In 1856, the first theater play in Kichwa opened in Quito as well, together with one of its first newspapers.

However, the newspaper failed miserably due to the lack of literacy of most Kichwa speakers. Since all schools taught only in Spanish, and were intended to assimilate the indigenous peoples rather than integrate them, not many people knew how to write or read their own language. Furthermore, the government of Ecuador was particularly repressive when it came to their rights. Aside from continuing the colonial tribute, a special tax levied only on them, the state prohibited bilingual education and considered their efforts to assert their rights to be “calls for a servile insurrection against their greatest benefactors.”


Political cartoon about the tributo

Especially worrying were some neo-Incan ideas that were being floated around. Some Indigenous speakers argued that the “Indians of Peru and Colombia ought to liberate themselves” and create a new Incan Empire. “We want no condescending saviors”, the speakers thundered, “we want to decide our own fate, and take our own decisions. Only in complete and full freedom can we assure our security and dignity.” Interpreting these calls as an attempt “to destroy the security of our people and the integrity of our nation”, Ecuadorian authorities often rounded up speakers and threw them in jail under suspicious claims. The National Conservatives turned a blind eye to these events, and the Federalists were more preoccupied with their factional disputes.

At the core of the discontent, nonetheless, was the simple fact that Indigenous communities had for the most part just traded masters. “Instead of serving a Spanish lord,” an English merchant observed, “the Indians of this country serve Colombian lords. They have not shared the hard-earned fruits of freedom with their supposed liberators.” Indeed, most Indigenous communities were still trapped in a system of share cropping known as huasipungo. Though supposedly abolished by law, that decree quickly became a dead letter.

Under the huasipungo, Indigenous families received a small parcel of poor land to till, along with seed and tools, and in turn they owed labor to the larger plantation of the owner. The Republican regime had disposed that the huasipungo itself would be the property of the Indigenous families at the end of a certain period of payment, and that they still had to receive a salary minus the cost of the seed and tools. The natural result was that they were paid a misery and ended trapped in predatory contracts that “reeked of the most degrading serfdom.”


El Huasipungo indigena

Furthermore, indigenous peoples were denied representation on the organs of government. Though some state and even federal lawmakers had indigenous ascendency, they for the most part had fully assimilated into the Colombian mainstream. Indigenous communities thus lacked people who could speak for them. Legislation specifically keeping them from seeking office was relatively rarer, if only because the wealth and education requirements were enough to exclude most of them anyway. The great majority of Senators, Governors, and other high-ranking offices remained in the hands of White Colombians of Spanish descent.

When compared with Mexico, another nation with a large indigenous population, Colombia had more legal obstacles for indigenous political organization and representation, while Mexico had more systematic and widespread economic obstacles but did not have targeted legislation like Colombia did. It’s pretty telling that the prominent Mexican statesman Benito Juarez was of Indigenous ascendency; it’s also pretty telling that he was the only major Mexican figure of indigenous background, and that he did not embrace that heritage but was rather thoroughly assimilated into mainstream Mexican culture and customs.

The Colombian circumstances meant that the economic crash affected the Indigenous peoples the hardest. The urban indigenous suffered the most. Though the paternalistic National Conservative administration used workshops and bread coupons to try and relieve the social pressure, most indigenous found it hard to actually receive fair aid relative to their struggle. The Chicaiza affair, when a man was unfairly executed, was especially outrageous. When these bad circumstances are taken into account, it’s no surprise that an alzamiento would eventually take place.

Despite that, the Daquilema Uprising, as it was later dubbed, took the authorities at both the state and federal level by surprise. It can even be said that it took its eventual leader, Fernando Daquilema, by surprise as well. “El Indio Daquilema” was not a revolutionary, nor was he a learned man. He was not a kind of romantic and ideologically committed professional revolutionary, not did he have any kind of grand vision like Medina, the leader of the Peruvian revolution, did in Peru. He did not seek to overthrow the Colombian government; it’s doubtful he could have. And lastly, he was not a second coming of Tupac Amaru, bent on recreating the Incan Empire. His uprising started as an effort to assert the rights of his people, and later, inspired by the Caste War of Yucatan, into a campaign to force the national government to enact much-needed reforms.

The Daquilema Uprising started in middle 1859 in the Hacienda El Arbolito, in the Department of Chimborazo of the State of Ecuador. The owner of the hacienda was known for being cruel and unjust towards the indigenous who worked for him. Instead of paying his workers with money, he just gave them a part of the hacienda’s total produce, which has illegal but the poor workers had no way to sue. After the economic crash, he suspended these “payments”, forcing the indigenous to live with the small quantity of food they could grow in their huasipungos creating a “situation that approached the level of famine.” Despite the economic improvement, he still refused to give them the food, preferring to sell it for a profit.

Fernando Daquilema, who had lost his wife because she ate rotten meat in desperation, organized the community to go and demand fairer treatment, or at least a salary paid in piastras so that they would be able to buy food outside of the hacienda. Considering this a rebellion, the hacienda owner armed his sons and some loyal workers and drove back the pacific protesters. In response, the indigenous took up their tools and assaulted the manor, taking over the small armory and capturing the owner and his “soldiers.” Some of them, however, escaped and send a telegraph to Quito, requesting the militia.


Fernando Daquilema

It was at this pivotal moment that a small act of rebellion turned into a full-on uprising. Deciding that they could not trust the militia, and that the government was in the hands of people who would rather die than offer them their rights, the indigenous community decided to resist. Daquilema’s small group was bolstered by the inclusion of hundreds of workers, including women, from nearby plantations. Just a couple of hundred were armed – the rest only had farm tools. Their objective was the Federal armory in Riobamba, where enough arms could be found for a rebellion to be sustained. Before leaving, Daquilema ordered his “prisoners” flogged with stinging nettles and then washed in freezing water, according to the indigenous custom.

Believing that the “ignorant half-savages” would not put up resistance, Governor Nueces sent a small detachment of 100 militiamen. The militiamen, however, were but young boys of abysmal morale and inadequate to non-existent training. Most of the actual militia remained in Quito, were they were used to maintain order. The result was predictable disaster as the boys did not know how to march or reload. A wave of angry indigenous workers overwhelmed them, and the militia scattered ingloriously. The prize had been high, with scores of wounded and dead indigenous men and women, but the armory was captured. The news of the rebellion quickly spread, and soon Daquilema had a couple of thousand men under his command.

By then the seriousness of the situation had impacted Nueces. The defeat of the “gallant Ecuadorian militia by a group of starved dwarves with rocks” caused ridicule, but also fear. In August, 1859, he appealed to President Hurtado for army troops to put down “the infernal domestic insurrection”. Without waiting for the approval of Congress, Hurtado quickly dispatched the troops. But in doing so he would only escalate the situation, and lead to a series of events that would eventually cause his own downfall and the liberal revolution that he so feared.


El Alzamiento de Daquilema
 
The birth of liberalism, in any country or culture, is as glorious as it is bloody. And its step to the cycle of corruption is one of humanity's greatest tragedies
 
Well, if that isn't a way to put attention to uncomfortable issues, I don't know what will!

Given the prejudice of the government and 'whiter' classes against the indigenous, I wonder what would happen if a criollo or white-ish person ever marries someone below his or her social class ITTL.
 
Well, if that isn't a way to put attention to uncomfortable issues, I don't know what will!

Given the prejudice of the government and 'whiter' classes against the indigenous, I wonder what would happen if a criollo or white-ish person ever marries someone below his or her social class ITTL.
The answer is...is a poor white marrying a rich mixed or indigenous/black? that guy nailed it and won big, slowly will whitewash(aka blanqueamiento)the blood to one more mixed-Whiter, remember a lot of mestizo are even white if physical enough. IF this a Richer guy marrying below his station? either is a lovestruck fool or an idiot...he could easily keep her as a mistresses
 
This new conflict will basically be the Colombian version of the American Civil War I suppose. Or is a better comparison the 1830/1848 French Revolutions?
 
This new conflict will basically be the Colombian version of the American Civil War I suppose. Or is a better comparison the 1830/1848 French Revolutions?
More the later but you can consider this a proto cacelorazo/modern day protest, becoming a full fledge rebellion/revolution after year of being fed up with the system.
 
The birth of liberalism, in any country or culture, is as glorious as it is bloody. And its step to the cycle of corruption is one of humanity's greatest tragedies
No aristocrat will ever willingly give up his power and privilege. And indeed, it is often a tragedy. But in this case it's necessary for Colombian democracy to grow and flourish.

Well, if that isn't a way to put attention to uncomfortable issues, I don't know what will!

Given the prejudice of the government and 'whiter' classes against the indigenous, I wonder what would happen if a criollo or white-ish person ever marries someone below his or her social class ITTL.
We Latinos often like to ignore how horribly we treated our minorities. ITTL, such issues will be in the forefront.

In general, economic class is as important as race. So nobody would care if a poor white marries a poor indigenous person. Certainly, there aren't any laws to impede such an union. But if an upper class White person married a minority there would be a scandal. Possibly being shunned from their community.

The answer is...is a poor white marrying a rich mixed or indigenous/black? that guy nailed it and won big, slowly will whitewash(aka blanqueamiento)the blood to one more mixed-Whiter, remember a lot of mestizo are even white if physical enough. IF this a Richer guy marrying below his station? either is a lovestruck fool or an idiot...he could easily keep her as a mistresses
Colombians ITTL are fond of keeping mistresses under the table. In any case, you are right that blanqueamiento as a way to advance socially is big in Colombia.

This new conflict will basically be the Colombian version of the American Civil War I suppose. Or is a better comparison the 1830/1848 French Revolutions?
Definitivelt the Colombian version of OTL 1848 French Revolution.

More the later but you can consider this a proto cacelorazo/modern day protest, becoming a full fledge rebellion/revolution after year of being fed up with the system.
It's very similar to the 1848 Revolutions, being a nationalistic and liberal movement of a country's youth, that seeks greater rights and political participation.
 
No, Hungary is a Republic under strong Russian influence.
That is an unique twist, they never considered republic(that was the last choice of the magnates), at worst their plan was to raise a surviving Member of House Croy(the descendant of the last rulling hungarian royal house) as long the members learned perfect magyar. Republic was like...well there no one, we will just name a magnate president.
 
No, Hungary is a Republic under strong Russian influence.
Oh, that really was unexpected... keep going.
That is an unique twist, they never considered republic(that was the last choice of the magnates), at worst their plan was to raise a surviving Member of House Croy(the descendant of the last rulling hungarian royal house) as long the members learned perfect magyar. Republic was like...well there no one, we will just name a magnate president.
Agree, it seems like a feudal version of the roman republican system
 
That is an unique twist, they never considered republic(that was the last choice of the magnates), at worst their plan was to raise a surviving Member of House Croy(the descendant of the last rulling hungarian royal house) as long the members learned perfect magyar. Republic was like...well there no one, we will just name a magnate president.
Oh, that really was unexpected... keep going.


Agree, it seems like a feudal version of the roman republican system
I mean, I haven't written about Europe (really, I haven't written at all) but that's the status of Hungary in the immediate aftermath of the Revolutions of 1850. A Habsburg or another German was out of question, and aside from the Croys, the Romanovs and the French also have an interest there. Britain is alarmed because a Romanov on the throne of Hungary would spell Russian domination of Eastern Europe, so they and other powers have suggested a minor ruling house, similarly to what happened in Greece. With such deadlock in place, Hungary became a Republic for the moment, in the sense that they have no monarch rather than in the sense of being democratic or representative. Kossuth and the Army are, of course, the real force there.

Wtf is this timeline even alive? Last post was in October.
What are OP's plans for Brazil in the long run?
I mean, I kinda had to take a break to solve some personal issues. I didn't update my other TL either until recently. An update to this one should come soon. In any casa, waiting three months or more for an update to this TL is, sadly, quite common because I often get sidetracked. But I have no intention of abandoning it. As for Brazil, well, it will soon have to face slavery and other problems if it wants to prosper. But it will be difficult...
 
Chapter 58: The Fall of the Pelucones
Under normal circumstances, a President calling for troops to put down a domestic insurrection would not be a controversy. Sucre had used troops against Venezuelan rioters during the period of civil strife known as La Violencia, while Cruz was often ruthless in putting down strikers for the benefit of industrial expansion. In calling for army troops to put down the Daquilema Uprising in Ecuador, Hurtado was simply fulfilling his Constitutional obligations. But the partisan conflict had already reached such a degree that Liberals were unwilling to trust this Pelucon president with any power, while National Conservatives held certain reservations. Ultimately, it would not be the uprising itself that spilled into a national debacle, but the actions of Hurtado and the Army.

In the first place, the President released a hasty proclamation calling for around 10,000 volunteers to put down the “rebellion”. It’s true that by then Daquilema had gathered thousands of followers, but this was not a military force. Instead of trained soldiers, it was made of farm hands, and even had women and children. 10,000 volunteers were an excessive number, especially when the Regular Army was available. It was true that the Regular Army had fallen into disrepair after the Colombian-Peruvian War – Cruz had justified this switch from Regulars to Militiamen and from the Army to the Navy by wryly observing that “it would be much more difficult to overthrow the government at Santafe from the docks of Cartagena.”

In 1859, when the uprising started, there were around 40,000 Regulars, divided between three armies: Caribbean, Central America, and Southern District. Hurtado considered that he couldn’t withdraw troops from any of those commands without raising replacements, and as such he called for 10,000 volunteers while simultaneously ordering 5,000 troops from these Armies to the “front”. But he unwittingly created a venue of attack, for opponents could charge that he had acted unconstitutionally – after all, only Congress could raise and support armies, and Hurtado, fearful of partisan gridlock, had not asked for a Congressional resolution approving his actions.

The second mistake he committed was declaring Martial Law in the Ecuadorian departments affected by the rebellion. The subject of Martial Law was complicated. Although the Constitution gave the power to the President with the approval of Congress, some asserted that he could only declare it after getting the approval of both Congress and the state legislatures affected. A bill defining more clearly the power was vetoed by Cruz, who didn’t want to restraint his own powers. Historical precedent was of no help – when Santander and Sucre declared martial law for the Peruvian War and the Grand Crisis respectively, they obtained the approval of the state legislatures but only after the fact.

In this case, Governor Nueces assured Hurtado that the Ecuadorian legislature would give him approval, if it was needed. But Hurtado hadn’t waited for Congress either, arguing that approval for his actions could be given after. He even told one of his ministers that the rebellion would be over and martial law lifted before Congress had even managed to bring the bill up for a vote. Allowing himself to be carried away by a sense of urgency and distrust of Congress into hasty actions, President Hurtado weakened his position and opened himself for attacks from vitriolic Liberals.


Manuel Leon was one of the many women who fought together with Daquilema

Those same Liberals would scarcely some years later support the right of a different President to suspend martial law on his own authority without the authorization of the state legislatures. Such a decision was vindicated by the Supreme Court case Proaño v. Venezuela, where Liberal judges voted to expand the power of the Liberal president that appointed them, all so that a true war could be won more easily. But for the moment, all Liberals united in bitter denunciation of the President. Senator Schwimmer-Hernández denounced him as a “tyrant leading a band of ruffians into a campaign of rapine and devastation”, while Noboa was more restrained when he called Hurtado “the despotic opponent of the Constitution, who sneers at the law and at humanity.”

The Liberal press joined their leaders in this chorus of denunciation, though of course they also downplayed the dangers of the Daquilema Uprising. The Cartagena Commercial Journal sardonically warned of “an invasion by starved Indians, armed with bronze shovels and wooden sickles.” National Conservatives, whose relationship with the President had already been strained due to the debacle over Font’s tax decree, did not criticize the President. But neither did they defend him. The Conservatives quickly decided to not commit themselves one or other way, but in doing so they alienated the Pelucones, who demanded unconditional support for the Administration. When the Conservatives refused, the alliance between the PCN and the Pelucones, begun at the Convention of 1857, was definitely broken.

The only National Conservative who did not follow this neutral position was Senator Ignacio Casas of Ecuador. The bitter political rival of Nueces, Casas was a proponent of reform and indigenous rights, and as such he quickly took to the floor to denounce Hurtado. As a good Conservative of the Cruz school, he did not frame his denunciation as a defense of States Rights that would limit the Federal power, bus as an appeal to the humanity of the nation. “This unfortunate race, prey to prejudice, victims of corruption, and who suffer from oppression from all levels, is about to be slaughtered by an army sworn to protect the rights of all Colombians, without mention of color or wealth. Do you not see the utter immorality of this insult to God and the Constitution?”

The Army commanders in charge of suppressing the uprising did not. Hurtado had, naturally, chosen a Pelucon to command, in this case Colonel Alejandro Neira. Though politics within the Army had become a taboo, Neira was known for being a supporter of the President. This Cauca officer soon moved into Ecuador with the intention of “exterminating this plague… perhaps this province would finally be beautiful like all others, instead of being a den of ruin and dirt.” Accordingly, and acting with the carte blanche Hurtado had given him, he started a ruthless repression campaign, that paid no mind to the sacred rights of life, liberty, property or free speech. Neira, in fact, went much further than the President had intended, and Hurtado would even chastise him for his actions. But this was now a fait accompli, and to repudiate Neira would be to admit he made a mistake – the obstinate Hurtado, his pride already hurt by Liberal attacks, could never accept that.

Soon enough, reports of the Ecuadorian situation started to circulate throughout the entire Republic. The advent of railroad and telegraph had done much to join all Colombians together in a market of goods and information, and both local and national newspapers carried stories of the rebellion and the Congressional debates that ensued to even the smallest localities. Liberals were quick to seize the propaganda initiative and carry reports of wholesale slaughter and terrible violations of rights. Even fierce conservatives could not help but weep as they read accounts of women and children being cruelly murdered. Young men, intellectual reformists, skilled laborers and artisans, the bedrock of the Liberal Party, all answered with outrage to these reports.

The hearts of Congressmen were also melted by them. One Orinoco Representative was reportedly moved to tears, while another limited himself to sadly saying that the Colombian army in Ecuador “is not the heir of Bolivar’s liberators, but of Pizarro’s conquistadores.” Both of these men were National Conservatives, not rabid Liberals looking for ways of hurting the President. Though some Liberals did play loose with the facts, the truth is that the Colombian army under Neira was indiscriminate in its suppression of the Daquilema Uprising, and even after it had been effectively suppressed by a combination of overwhelming military force and betrayal by Daquilama’s lieutenants, he continued the military occupation of Ecuador. By January, 1860, the Daquilema uprising had disintegrated, but the troops remained there. And whether their presence was legal or not was still undetermined, for neither Congress nor the Legislature had voted to approve the proclamation of martial law.


The Daquilema Revolt

In the case of Congress, National Conservatives and Liberals had joined to defeat a measure for its approval, after months of emotional debate. Without Congressional approval, the decree of martial law was revoked and power returned to the Ecuadorian authorities. But the situation in Ecuador had degenerated beyond that, and even though martial law had been revoked, the fight raged on. This different struggle had begun by Liberals and Progressive National Conservatives of the Casas faction, who opposed the bill for approval. “To approve that monstrous bill”, a constituent wrote Casas, “would be to surrender our entire existence and will to the whims of two tyrants. One is at Quito, the other at Santafe.” Many National Conservatives were probably angrier about Neira’s iron rule and the President’s heavy hand than about the plight of the Indian, but soon enough all of Nueces’ opponents joined in a united front.

When it seemed like the decree would pass the legislature, they decided to resist by simply leaving, preventing the formation of a quorum. The legislature then made another mistake by trying to expel enough of the absent members to get a quorum – this only outraged moderates, who joined the protesters. To maintain the cohesion and discipline of the group, they all decided to retire to the mansion of a wealthy Liberal merchant, Carlos Mendoza. But Nueces refused to give up, and he gathered the militia, ordering it to forcibly take enough legislators to the chamber to pass the vote. This fatal step resulted in a radicalization of the resistance movement. “The vase has been broken”, wrote a university student, referencing the episode that started the Revolution of 1810 in Santafe. Now it seemed like a Revolution would start in Quito.

Radical students were as conspicuous in this revolution as they had been in the European Revolutions of 1850. Organizing themselves into a Citizen’s Militia, they marched to the Mendoza Mansion and vowed to resist to the last. The alarmed legislators now found themselves trapped between two rival factions, and they could do nothing as radicals seized control and drafted a defiant message to Nueces: “The people of Quito never submitted to the murderer that the tyrant of Madrid planted here. We will not submit to the criminal the despot of Santafe put here either.” A resolution to declare themselves the legitimate state government and call for elections was defeated because most legislators didn’t support actual revolution. But for all intents and purposes, Nueces now had to deal with two insurrections.

Again, under normal circumstances the President would not be opposed in his effort to suppress this coup d’état. But further bloodshed would damage his position irreparably, especially if it was against Criollo and Mestizo young men instead of Indians. Senator Alarcon, a Pelucon leader, was blunt in stating that “a war in Quito will end with hangings and guillotines in Santafe.” Nonetheless, allowing an insurrection to triumph like that would not be permissible either. Congressional Liberals were also flagger basted about this effort, knowing that it was doomed to failure. Senator Mateo Cevallos, for instance, wrote to Armas to tell him that “the Quito mess can only result in our destruction. Whether we want it or not, we have been branded as Robespierres.”

The Ecuador situation would defuse after the Daquilema uprising ended and martial law was revoked. Tempers cooled off, and when the Casas faction managed to deny the nomination to Nueces for a third term, most Liberals and Independent Conservatives were willing to lie down their arms. But Noboa and Armas outsmarted their enemies by producing a decree providing for a peace settlement, that included expanded political participation in Ecuador (and, of course, nationwide) and fair elections. The decree was passed, but Hurtado then vetoed it and Congress was unable to muster the 2/3rds needed to pass it. Whether the decree was what defused the crisis is controversial, but it seemed like the President and his National Conservatives allies had precipitated a crisis, while Liberals had solved it.

The incident, combined with the Daquilema Uprising, had irreparably damaged the image of the President, and it ended up producing what’s known as the “shellacking of 1860”. In these sectional elections, where governors and state legislatures were elected, the Pelucones and the National Conservatives suffered a crushing defeat. The Liberals captured the governorships of Apure, Zulia, Azuay, Tumbes, Cauca, Costa Rica and Panama, gave serious fight in the Conservative strongholds of Venezuela and Ecuador, and successfully defended their control of Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Guayaquil and Hispaniola. The Pelucones would control no governors’ chairs or state legislatures, while the National Conservatives had been badly beaten as well.


Political cartoon depicting the PCN and the Pelucones as dogs dancing for money

Liberals were now in control, as the PCN definitely broke with the Administration. National Conservatives leaders hastened to negotiate with the jubilant Liberals before their position worsened even further, and in middle 1860 the Liberals obtained control of two important Senate Committees: War and Ethics, which the young prodigy Schwimmer Hernández and the brilliant legal mind Cevallos would respectively chair. In exchange, House Liberals would give the Economics and Taxation Committees to the National Conservatives. This exchange was highly beneficial for the Liberals, who were put in a great position to exploit the new allegations of corruption that appeared against the Hurtado administration.

Corruption was, sadly, not a new phenomenon. Colombians had become infamous for their viveza criolla, their willingness to exploit anything and anybody for personal gain, even at the price of the public good. The slow bureaucracy encouraged bribes and the unabashed use of contacts to get things done. Senator Naranjo had once bitterly complained that because he refused to bribe an official, validating his charter for a trade company took almost two months, while other people could get it done in a week. To be sure, the situation never reached the critical levels of the post-Independence War era, when contraband and bribery were endemic, but a certain measure of corruption was, sadly, accepted as part of life.

In the 1830’s and 1840’s, an uptick of Federalist corruption had given strength to the Cruz administration and the PCN, but it was not critical either. The industrial revolution, of course, gave ample opportunities for what nowadays would be seen as corrupt, or at least unethical, behavior. For example, it was common for congressmen to hold stock of companies or allow themselves to be swayed by “favors.” But this was not illegal, and although it definitely had bearing on the details of legislation, it constituted a conflict of interests at worst. By 1860, corruption was, for the most part, petty and small-time, committed mostly by minor officials rather than by the great offices of the Republic. Perhaps that’s why the corruption of the Hurtado administration was so shocking.

Before the elections, some reports of irregularities in Army contracts and the logistics of Neira’s campaign had been published. Now with control of the Ethics committee, Cevallos launched a full-on investigation, that uncovered several abuses. For example, the government had bought shoes at almost 30 piastras a pair, when good leather shoes sold at 8 piastras at most. “Not even the golden slippers of China’s Emperor cost as much,” joked Armas in response. Evidence then showed that a lot of that money had gone to the coffers of the Pelucon Party. Corruption from the tax collector of a Hispaniola port was also reported, and Hurtado hurt his case by once again holding onto his mistake, denying the guilt of his friend despite overwhelming evidence.

Perhaps the greatest scandal, with one exception that we’ll get to later, was the so-called Never-ending Railway. The scandal was so damaging to Hurtado because it involved him in a personal level, and to many Colombians it branded the Pelucones and National Conservatives as a group of corrupt aristocrats, and the Liberals as defenders of the law. For context, it’s necessary to understand the details of the 1847 National Railroad Decrees, which provided for Federal assistance to Railroad companies. In exchange, the government would be able to freely move its goods. This system of charters and financial assistance helped along the growth of Colombia’s railroad network, but it also provided for new opportunities for graft and corruption. Juan Jose Cajas, an Azuay investor, quickly grasped this fact.

Cajas and some associates decided to form the Austro Railroad Company in 1850 (Ferrocarriles del Austro), a phony company that promised to build a railroad connecting the cities of Cuenca and Loja. Usually, a company would need certain credentials in order to get Federal approval, so Cajas turned towards his friend, Senator Cristian Hurtado, then a member of the Senate Committee that oversaw these internal improvements. Hurtado then used his influence and forged papers to convince the chairman, the National Conservative Carlos Martinez, that the Austro Railroad Company was legitimate, and that it had received aid from the state government of Azuay. After being approved for Federal assistance, Cajas actually requested aid from the Azuay legislature. Believing it to be a real company, Governor Ignacio Arboleda (PCN), supported the measure. Thus, the Austro Railroad Company became something of a circular scheme.


Though the Andean Railway Company was the biggest and most important in the Republic, there were dozen of other companies that also build railroads throughout the entire country. Often, they employed indentured labor, foreign or domestic.

Cajas just pocketed the money giving to him. The most he did was bringing some indentured Chinese workers, and, of course, contribute to the campaign of Senator Hurtado. Hurtado was, however, the only Federalist Cajas helped – all other beneficiaries of the scam were National Conservatives, many of whom knowingly aided Cajas in hopes of getting money or other favors. Governor Arboleda did try to oversee the progress of the railroad, but Cajas claimed complications due to factors outside of his control and asked for more funds. Hurtado once again provided Federal assistance, and this in turn convinced Arboleda to do so as well. Arboleda would then be succeeded by Gustavo Rojas as Governor, also a National Conservative. Rojas was also part of the Cajas cabal, and as such he continued to give money to Cajas, who didn’t even lay a single meter of track.

By 1861, Cajas and the Austro Railroads had received hundreds of thousands of piastras in economic aid, yet there was no tangible proof of any advancement. The case was finally uncovered by a young reporter, who found abundant evidence of the scam and, most shockingly, also realized that the President of the Republic himself was part of it. The scandal broke out at a very unfortunate time for the President, since now the competent and incorruptible Cevallos was in control of the Ethics Committee. Soon enough, all Colombians learned of this sorry record of corruption, which showed National Conservatives and the President complicit in a “junto of thieves, that have plundered the Colombian people to fill their greedy pockets.” Indeed, the scandal was more painful because it was not people simply taking bribes or allowing themselves to be swayed, but because it was the elected officials taking the money of all Colombians, raised through taxes and devoted to the cause of national progress, for their own benefit.

The full extent of Hurtado’s participation and knowledge would only be discovered after he had left the Casa de Nariño. But what was discovered was damaging enough. Congressional investigations would end up indicting the incompetent Arboleda and Martinez, though both would be eventually exonerated. Rojas and some PCN members of the Azuay legislature would be successfully trailed and send to prison for corruption. However, the main perpetrator managed to get away. Cajas was in Guayaquil when he received a tip from a friend that worked at the telegraph office. In an undignified and somewhat bizarre event nicknamed the Southern Marathon, Cajas and some police officers literally raced to get to the docks, where Cajas took a Peruvian boat. Unable to detain the boat lest they cause an international incident, Colombian authorities watched helplessly as Cajas got away.

After a year in the Presidential chair, it seemed like the Hurtado presidency would end up as an embarrassing failure. The PCN had deserted him, his own Party was badly divided and weakened, and the Liberals were now in ascendancy. Worse of all for the Pelucones, the scandals had convinced many that the only way to bring back integrity and dignity to the government would be through Liberal reform. Universal suffrage, many had decided, would allow for the election of honest men, instead of arrogant aristocrats. The desperate attempts of the Pelucones to stem back social and political progress would only give greater strength to the reformist, and by the time of the next election, universal suffrage was already the law of the land. But the Hurtado administration still had to go through a year of conflict before that.


The Political process of the Decade of Sorrow has often been seen as part of the nationbuilding process of the 19th century
 
Yikes this is a messy time.

So I thought to ask some questions:
  1. Will Paraguay be as expansionist as OTL?
  2. Any updates on the Middle East?
  3. Any updates on Europe?
  4. Any updates on Asia?
  5. Will the US try to invade Canada again?
 
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