Why did the creols lead the fight

6 June 2016

Since the establishment of Spanish colonies in Latin America, there had been a rift between the classes of the Creole Elite and the peninsular Spaniards. The Reasons were simple; the Creole Elite were just as educated and capable of holding high esteemed offices in the government and the churches the peninsular Spaniards were, but were held back solely because of where they were born. Creoles were people who were born in the new world and had old world ancestry.

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Peninsular Spaniards were born in Spain. It did not take long for these two groups of people to separate into casts. As ideas of the Enlightenment swept into the nation, ideas of inalienable rights and equality came into the mind of the Creole Elites. Though there were other causes of revolution in the area, this class rift played part in frustrating the members of the Creole Elite towards action, for example, Simon Bolivar.

It created a foundation of tension that helped lead people like Bolivar to liberate Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador and gain the independence of Gran Colombia. The liberation of Venezuela and Colombia was a war against royalists and patriots, with the peninsular Spaniards almost always falling into the category of Royalist and the Creole people falling in either category, usually depending on their wealth or status.

Simon Bolivar grew up a wealthy Creole in an aristocrat family. He was one of the Creoles that read the literature of the Enlightenment and believed whole heartedly that the Latin American people had every right to hold the same offices as the peninsular Spaniards. The Spanish, however, felt that the American soil tainted the blood of the Creoles, making them inept and incapably of holding such positions.

Bolivar was an example of an enlightened Creole Elite who socially and politically had to defer to the peninsular Spaniards. Because of this, Bolivar took the stance of many, but not all creoles; that a declaration of independence was the only real freedom for Latin Americans and that all Latin American countries were bound to become independent, according to his famous Jamaica Letter. Another view point of the Creoles, mostly the Creole elite, was loyalty to the Spanish crown. It was still their mother country, and while they were not allowed to hold important offices like their peninsular counterparts, they were still honored to be under the protection of their home, Spain. Many Creoles of this view fled from the “freed” areas after liberation, into areas that were still under the protection of the Spanish crown.

Another section of Creoles, worn from the discrimination, desired to rid of Spanish rule in their area, but postpone the idea of independence. Creoles in this section would have agreed with establishing a junta governed by Creoles, rather than a viceroy under the Spanish crown. It is noteworthy that the majority of the population remained neutral towards independence, changing sides between the patriots and loyalists if the prospects seemed better for them. The revolution of the Gran Colombia region, though initially plagued with disunity, became cohesive as the spirit of revolution spread through Latin America. The grievances of Creoles and peninsular Spaniards played a large role in creating tension that helped lead to revolution that was later propelled by the determination to rid of Spanish rule.

Bolivar undoubtedly suffered discrimination because he was a Creole, even as an Enlightened and intelligent Spanish-blooded member of society. The tension sprang from his situation; he was just as capable of serving in high positions of the church and government as a peninsular Spaniard. He was wealthy, and prosperous, but was forced to defer to peninsular Spaniards politically. This tension was bound to be felt by the other members of the Creole cast, as it did later in the independence movement, but Bolivar was one of the first leaders to move towards change.

Though there were other causes of the Latin American independence movements, like the defeat of Charles IV, the new sense of power felt after the British invasion, and the disconnect that the colonists felt to their mother county, the grievances of the Creoles and peninsular Spaniards created an initial foundation of tension that advanced leaders like Simon Bolivar toward change.

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