Americanos: Portugal and Spanish America Essay

Submitted By filipich
Words: 893
Pages: 4

Brazil was different than the rest of Spanish America because they followed their own unique path to Independence. They were able to avoid the unrest that their neighbors went through largely due to their ability to have a legitimate and stable government rule. I am going to try and explain the political environment, the struggles through wars, and the racial divides that differentiate Brazil from all the other parts of Spanish America.

Much of the mess with Portugal and Brazil started when Napoleon planned to attack Brazil through Spain. This event sparked the decision and event of John VI to order the Portuguese monarchy to flee to Brazil to set up shop over there and to rule from Brazil. John IV and the monarchy were running from Napoleon for safety. What happens from there is that Portugal was being ruled from Brazil. And unfortunately for Portugal, they did suffer from not have their monarchy being local.

The rest of New Spain was in constant chaos. The church played a major role in politics. They were typically leaned on for advice and guidance. The church also controlled the education system and had influence over the everyday lives of their communities. This complicated the political structure more than it already was.

Now while Brazil had stability with the royal family there, Portugal was going through political crisis because there was no ruler there. So while Portugal was unstable, at least Brazil had some stability. The remaining parts of Spanish America seemed to be on cycles of wars. There were so many different groups or classes of people that it seemed that unfairness was being directed to these groups at one time or another. Typically, it was the natives and the slaves being treated as lower class citizens. So while Brazil had the Monarchy, the rest of Spanish America did not, and they were searching for the stability that Brazil had. According to Chasteen, “The Portuguese throne in Brazil remained thoroughly insulated from events in the rebellious Spanish colonies. Domestic concerns rather than political ones dominated the life of a Portuguese royal family gradually becoming acclimated to its new home in the tropics.”i

Wars were happening constantly throughout Spanish America. These were vast lands that Spain and Portugal were trying to lead from overseas. These weren’t natives but foreigners telling the natives how to live and where there taxes went and how the taxes were spent. “Civil war spread quickly in America during the year 1811. More common than Hidalgo-style uprisings from below, however were battles between entire provinces.”ii Buenos Aires sent Manuel Belgrano to get Paraguay into line, he failed. Juan Jose Castelli, Manuel Belgrano’s cousin, was sent to upper Peru to bring some obedience, and he failed. “…various sorts of fighting began to tear America apart. Events in New Spain were the most dramatic.”iii These seemed like regular occurrences and they were very disruptive. While it is good in today’s economy to have a disruptive new technology, it wasn’t good in 18th and 19th centuries to have a disruptive wars.

It didn’t make a difference if it was a revolution or a civil war, destruction to economic production; whether it was mining or ranching, hurt the financial system. There was this constant back and forth between the liberals and the conservatives, the new way of thinking vs. the old way. Now while all of this was occurring throughout Spanish America, Brazil had their monarchy keeping order. Although in