Federal Republic of Central America
República Federal de Centroamérica
Coat of arms
|Anthem: La Granadera|
"The Song of the Grenadier"
|Recognised national languages||Spanish|
|Government||Federated revolutionary republic|
• Independence from Spanish Empire
|September 15, 1821|
• Independence from First Mexican Empire
|1 July 1823|
|Currency||Central American Republic real|
The Federal Republic of Central America (Spanish: República Federal de Centroamérica), originally named the United Provinces of Central America (Spanish: Provincias Unidas del Centro de América), and sometimes simply called Central America, in its first year of creation, was a sovereign state in Central America that consisted of the territories of the former Captaincy General of Guatemala of New Spain. It existed from July 1823 to February 1841 as a democratic republic.
The republic consisted of the present-day Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua as well as the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. In the 1830s, a sixth state was added—Los Altos, with its capital in Quetzaltenango—occupying parts of what are now the western highlands of Guatemala and Chiapas.
Shortly after Central America declared independence from the Spanish Empire in 1821, some of its countries were annexed by the First Mexican Empire in 1822 and then Central America formed the Federal Republic in 1823. From 1838 to 1840, the federation descended into civil war, with conservatives fighting against liberals and separatists fighting to secede. These factions were unable to overcome their ideological differences and the federation was dissolved after a series of bloody conflicts.
Main article: History of Central America
From the 16th century through 1821, Central America, apart from Panama, formed the Captaincy General of Guatemala within the Spanish Empire. In 1821 a congress of Central American Criollos in Guatemala City composed the Act of Independence of Central America to declare the region's independence from Spain, effective on September 15 of that year. The process was bloodless with no resistance from the Spanish authorities as the Governor General Brigadier Gabino Gaínza, along with all the royal governors of the five provinces, were retained in office as executive powers pending a full transition to local rule. That date is still marked as independence day by most Central American nations.
Main article: Central America under Mexican rule
Independence proved short-lived, as local law and order broke down. Driven by regional rivalries, many localities refused to accept the newly formed federal powers in Guatemala—San Salvador, Comayagua, León, and Cartago were in open revolt. On January 5, 1822, the Consultive Junta in Guatemala City voted for annexation. A few weeks later Brigadier Vicente Filísola, the envoy of Emperor Agustín de Iturbide of the First Mexican Empire, arrived in Guatemala as the new ruler.
The annexation was controversial, with some seeing the Mexican constitution with its abolition of slavery and establishment of free trade as an improvement over the status quo. Central American liberals in San Salvador objected to annexation and refused to accept Filísola's authority as captain general. The Mexican army was ordered by Emperor Agustín I to quell dissent.
In the case of Costa Rica, the country decided not to join the Mexican Empire as part of the resolutions upon conclusion of the Ochomogo War (April 5, 1823), where imperialists lost against Republicans in the first civil war of Costa Rica.
After Iturbide abdicated (March 19, 1823), Mexico became a republic (formally proclaimed on November 1, 1823) and offered the previously annexed Central American provinces the right to determine their own destiny. Filísola turned over his power to the hastily formed National Constituent Assembly, which comprised representatives from each of the five provinces. On July 1, 1823, the Congress of Central America declared absolute independence from Spain, Mexico, and any other foreign nation, and established a republican system of government.[further explanation needed]
The liberal-dominated Assembly elected Manuel José Arce as president but he soon turned against his own faction and dissolved the Assembly. San Salvador rose in revolt against federal authority. Honduras and Nicaragua joined the rebellion and Arce was deposed in 1829. The victors led by the Honduran Francisco Morazán took power and Morazán was proclaimed president in 1830. To appease liberal supporters, the capital was relocated from Guatemala City to San Salvador in 1831 but as Morazán's hold on power was waning the opposition regained control in the provinces.
The Assembly in 1838 adjourned with the declaration that the provinces were free to rule themselves as the Federal Republic dissolved. In 1839 Morazán was exiled as rebels from Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua entered San Salvador, evicting the governing institutions that held the region together.
In practice, the Federation faced insurmountable problems, and the union slid into 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 (other sources give Nicaragua's secession date as April 30). Because of the chaotic nature of this period an exact date of disestablishment 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, this merely legally acknowledged the process of disintegration that had already begun. The union effectively ended in 1840, by which time four of its five states had declared independence. The official end came only when El Salvador declared itself an independent republic in February 1841.
The flag shows a white band 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. The flag was introduced to the area by Commodore Louis-Michel Aury and inspired by the Argentine flag. The nation also adopted the term "united provinces", used in Argentina's original name, Provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata ("United Provinces of the River Plate").
Today, all five successor nations' flags retain the old federal motif of two outer blue bands bounding an inner white stripe. (Costa Rica modified its flag significantly in 1848, darkening the blue and adding a double-wide inner red band.) The short-lived sixth state of Los Altos was reannexed by Guatemala.
|Guatemala||El Salvador||Honduras||Nicaragua||Costa Rica||Los Altos|
|Guatemala||El Salvador||Honduras||Nicaragua||Costa Rica||Chiapas|
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. Various attempts were made to reunite Central America in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but none succeeded for any length of time:
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