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Caudillos in Spanish America 1800–1850$
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John Lynch

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198211358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198211358.001.0001

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The New Rulers

The New Rulers

(p.84) 3 The New Rulers
Caudillos in Spanish America 1800–1850

John Lynch

Oxford University Press

Peace perpetuated the structures of war and established in Spanish America a dual process: constitutionalism and caudillism. Republican leaders tended to prefer one or the other, and caudillism was a matter of choice as well as of conditions. Regional power normally derived from ownership of land and control of labour, and was used to protect the region's resources, against the centre if necessary. A caudillo needed access to land and to patronage, the indispensable materials for building political power. In Argentina, the war against Spain did not create caudillos. The war leaders were civilian politicians aided — or frustrated — by professional soldiers, and the war was fought on distant frontiers. In the process, they helped to produce caudillos in the interior, but not in Buenos Aires itself. In Venezuela, acquisition of land and the formation of estates helped to keep the caudillos in a state of contentment in the years immediately after independence. Mexico provided a less favourable environment for the caudillo than did other parts of Spanish America.

Keywords:   Spain, war, independence, caudillos, caudillism, Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Spanish America, constitutionalism

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