Role of José Cecilio del Valle in independence of Honduras
The figure of José Cecilio del Valle is subject to linked to the independence of Central America. He knew how to make the political transition from the colonial period to the independent era. From a moderate line, Valle went from being an opponent of independence to being a defender of it , after it had been adopted.
José del Valle was a mature man during the first events of Independence. Following the French invasion of Spain in 1808, which dethroned King Ferdinand VII and created political chaos in the Iberian Peninsula, the Spanish rebelled against the invader, refusing to recognize the Frenchman José I as their monarch, and summoned a national constituent assembly in which the Constitution of Cádiz was promulgated in 1812.
This constitution established universal suffrage, national sovereignty, separation of powers, freedom of the press, agreed on the distribution of land and freedom of industry, among other things. These changes had repercussions in Central America.
Central American liberals received them enthusiastically, and began to propagate the idea of independence, in the face of opposition from the colonial regime. In 1811, the first acts of insurrection against the government of the Spanish colony were carried out in San Salvador and Nicaragua; Acts that were harshly repressed by the Captain General, José de Bustamante y Guerra.
The following year (November 25, 1812), the first elections for city councils and councils were held in Central America. Thus, the Liberals tried to create the first democratic institutions, despite the hostility of Bustamante, a strong opponent of the Cadiz constitution.
Due to these events, Valle feared a revolt in the Kingdom of Guatemala, so he conveniently made improvements before proclaiming independence. His vast work experience in public administration matters during the colonial period (1803-1821) had revealed to Valle the “weaknesses” of Central America, which perhaps made him doubt its ability to exercise its autonomy as a nation.
Conjuration of Bethlehem
In 1813, the Bethlehem Conspiracy took place,20 which failed in its objectives. During these events, Valle not only did not remain on the sidelines, but also received new signs of consideration and was appointed to the position of War Auditor of the Guatemalan Army and Province.
Due to Valle’s position in the face of events, his opponents considered him an opponent of independence. For writers such as Ramón Rosa, Valle continued to be the “submissive” employee of the colonial government: “Valle’s conduct at that time is understandable”…”because he had been educated under that regime, had obtained trust, consideration and honors, in addition to be employed by it. He was able to believe that his feelings of loyalty compromised him in an indeclinable way… That is how he must have believed it when he had the conduct that he demonstrated contrary to the cause of the independents.”
Sin embargo, historiadores y su propio adversario político, Pedro Molina, aseguran que Valle, “fue como un buen americano amigo de la independencia; pero como hombre prudente supo disimular sus tendencias”. Además de esto, los escritos de Valle también revelan que siempre creyó en el derecho de las naciones a obtener su libertad.
Sabía que era imposible “que un pueblo siga siendo gobernado para siempre por uno muy lejano”. Pero consideró que no era el momento adecuado para proclamar la independencia, y lo condicionó al argumento de que se debía escuchar el voto de todas las Provincias antes de dictar sentencia definitiva.
En 1818 Bustamante dejó el poder y fue reemplazado por Don Carlos Urrutia, un hombre de carácter débil que dio un respiro a los independentistas. Durante su gobierno ganaron terreno, pero su empuje fue más vigoroso en 1820 cuando el rey de España Fernando VII se vio obligado a restablecer la constitución de 1812.
Como resultado de esto, se declaró la libertad de prensa en Centroamérica. El médico e independentista Pedro Molina Mazariegos aprovechó esta oportunidad y fundó “El Editor Constitucional” a través del cual promovió la independencia. Valle, a su vez, fundó “El Amigo de la Patria”, periódico en el que combatía las ideas políticas de Molina.
Si Molina era el estandarte del radicalismo, Valle representaba la idea moderada. Las apuestas de Molina y Valle dieron lugar al nacimiento de dos partidos políticos: Los Gazistas, del que Valle era cabeza, y Los Cacos , dirigido por Pedro Molina.
Ambos acudieron a las elecciones de diputados a cortes, prevaleciendo el partido de Valle. Pero los Cacos lograron una victoria al deshacerse del Capitán Urrutia y en su lugar colocaron al subinspector del ejército Don Gabino Gaínza el 9 de marzo de 1821. Gaínza era un anciano de carácter débil y voluble.
In Mexico, the revolution obtained a complete triumph and through the Plan of Iguala declared its total independence from Spain on February 24, 1821. With such an event, the desire of the Guatemalan liberals grew, and Gaínza condescending to their requests, summoned a meeting so that the political progress of the country could be decided in it. Ramón Rosa recounts the peak moment of Independence as follows:
The Guatemalan independents… pressured Gainza with their petitions and representations, flattering, at the same time, his vanity and interests, making him understand that he would be the Chief of the new nation. Gainza, yielding to necessity and convenience, to the great and diverse stimuli that prompted him, to save his responsibility, without going against the currents of opinion, and subjecting himself to the vote of the Provincial Council, convened a General Meeting of employees and Guatemalan corporations to dictate the appropriate measures on the most important issue of independence. The Board met on September 15, 1821, in the Government Palace. Valle took the floor, and in a very eloquent speech, demonstrated the need and justice of independence, but stating that,to proclaim it, the vote of the Provinces had to be heard. Valle’s luminous ideas were received with applause; but his opinion, regarding the postponement, was not adopted. The majority of the Board, stimulated by the enthusiastic and impetuous demonstrations of the people, gathered en masse, agreed to proclaim the Independence of Central America on the spot. The Provincial Council and the City Council of Guatemala, legitimate bodies of the will of the people, agreed on the points of the Act that should be celebrated and Valle drafted that memorable document. Valle also wrote the Manifesto published by Captain General Gainza on the great event of independence.stimulated by the enthusiastic and impetuous demonstrations of the people, gathered en masse, they agreed to proclaim the Independence of Central America on the spot. The Provincial Council and the City Council of Guatemala, legitimate bodies of the will of the people, agreed on the points of the Act that should be celebrated and Valle drafted that memorable document. Valle also wrote the Manifesto published by Captain General Gainza on the great event of independence.stimulated by the enthusiastic and impetuous demonstrations of the people, gathered en masse, they agreed to proclaim the Independence of Central America on the spot. The Provincial Council and the City Council of Guatemala, legitimate bodies of the will of the people, agreed on the points of the Act that should be celebrated and Valle drafted that memorable document. Valle also wrote the Manifesto published by Captain General Gainza on the great event of independence.
Provisional Advisory Board
In a certain way, time proved Valle right, since Central America was not prepared to govern itself. Proof of this was the chaos that occurred after independence was adopted. On the one hand, the economic situation of the Central American provinces, upon assuming their new independent legal status, was dire. With no income in the national coffers, and to meet its ordinary expenses, the government had to resort to loans.
The declaration of free trade was counterproductive, since shipments of coins and gold belonging to the Spanish who were fleeing due to the uncertainty of the new government began to leave the country. This destabilized the monetary situation making it more ruinous.
Despite the existing problems, Valle left behind his past with the Spanish empire. Representing Comayagua, he was part of the Provisional Consultative Board that was established together with chief Gaínza, Mariano de Aycinena y Piñol, Miguel Larreynaga, Don José Valdes, Ángel María Candina, José Antonio Alvarado and Antonio Robles.
These men suppressed the Government of Spain, conserving the governing body of the colony. In addition, they decided to temporarily maintain the Spanish laws and authorities. They also established that the provinces elect their representatives to form the congress.
This congress would meet on March 22, 1822 to ratify the independence, conform the constitution and the bases of the new government. During these events, Valle acted with “great prudence and political sense”, understanding that an important but dangerous leap had been taken with independence, and that it was necessary to avoid a “deadly fall”. He also understood that a “conciliatory transition, a true social evolution” should be made.
Valle was entrusted with the formation of a management plan. In addition, he proposed security and defense commissions, public instruction, statistics, agriculture, commerce and public finances.
Valle personally took charge of the income branch, a department that according to him was the “bronze column” where independence rested. He worked tirelessly on the formation of the new government, he had in mind a “political evolution that would gradually and prudently make the liberal education of the peoples gain ground, so that a solid regime of free institutions could be created in Central America.”
In the course of all this, the Liberals broke the existing climate of cooperation in the formation of the new government. They requested the repeal of article 3 of the Act of Independence, likewise, they asked that the election of representatives of the provinces be left to the government boards that had elected deputies to courts, as well as the formation of national militias, and the dismissal of suspicious employees. of having connections with the old regime of the colony. In addition to wanting to participate in the deliberations of the Advisory Board.
This active participation of the Liberals in government affairs infuriated the illustrious families, who saw their upper-class privileges threatened. This gave rise to the birth of two political parties: the Conservatives and the Liberals, who from then on would be unable to work for the benefit of the nation.
The conservatives maneuvered with the sole purpose of maintaining the privileges obtained during the Spanish government. While the liberals wanted to impose their ideas at any cost. It was thus, with this marked political divisionism, together with the fragility of its institutions, that the future of Central America revolved around the events in Mexico.