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War and Nation: identity and the process of state-building in South America (1800-1840)

1822 to 1825 the Struggle Against the Royalist Stronghold of Popayán

The Viceroyalty of New Granada first declared independence from Spain in 1811 when the patriot leader Francisco Miranda took control. The Spanish regained control the following year. Simon Bolívar fled from Venezuela and Francisco Miranda was handed over to the Spaniards. Bolívar subsequently made another attempt to assert independence. He re-established the Second Republic of Venezuela in 1813 and later united with New Granada to form Gran Colombia, but the Spaniards regained control again in 1814.

In 1820, following the reestablishment of constitutionalism, the Spanish commander Pablo Morillo negotiated with Simon Bolívar and the discussions led to a six month armistice. The truce did not hold, however, and within the six months, Bolívar and Páez launched a successful attack on Morillo’s forces. The battle of Carabobo on the 24th June 1821 was the event which consolidated Venezuela’s independence from Spain.

In 1822, after declaring independence in Venezuela and northern New Granada, Simon Bolívar turned his attention to the royalist stronghold of Popayán in New Granada’s southwestern region (an area we now know as Colombia). In this region, the representatives of the Spanish king had managed to mobilise slaves against slave owners to defend the crown. Some Indian communities also sided with the Spaniards, particularly in the interior Andean highlands of Pasto. The indigenous people in Pasto and the slaves in the Pacific lowlands fought against the republican invasion in a rebellion that lasted until  1825. As Marcela Echeverri explains, ‘these royalist militias not only threatened the stability of Bolívar’s dream of an independent republic of Colombia, they also jeopardized his plans to defeat Spain in the heartland of its South American empire, Peru’. (Echeverri 2016, 2).

Dr Marcela Echeverri explains the involvement of the indigenous, mestizo and slave populations in the following podcast.

Further Reading

Echeverri, Marcela. 2016. Indian and Slave Royalists in the Age of Revolution New York: Cambridge University Press.