Bicentennial of Independence, Francisco Morazán and CELAC

By Adalberto Santana on September 15, 2021

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, foto: México Desconocido

September 15, 2021 is a very significant date for several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the case of Mexico, it celebrates the famous cry for independence that the father of the nation, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla made in 1810. With that act, celebrated in the town of Dolores, began the insurrectional process of the people to achieve the emancipation of what was formally the New Spain, which after a long war finally culminated in September 1821. That is why the Bicentennial of Independence is celebrated today.

In turn, on September 15, 1821, in the former Captaincy General of Guatemala (which at that time included the current territories of Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica), independence was proclaimed when the act of independence was signed in Guatemala City. Cuban historian Sergio Guerra Vilaboy refers to these historical moments when he states: “Two hundred years ago, on September 15, 1821, the independence of Central America, then the Captaincy General of Guatemala, was declared, dragged along by the dizzying events in Mexico. In February of that year the Plan of Iguala had been proclaimed by Agustín de Iturbide, on July 5 the viceroy was deposed and on August 24 the Treaty of Córdoba was signed, a prelude to the proclamation of the Mexican Empire.

During the years of the Spanish crisis initiated with the Napoleonic invasion into the Iberian Peninsula, the aristocracy of the General Captaincy of Guatemala, maintained its loyalty to the traditional authorities, fearing a popular uprising like the one that shook Mexico since 1810. But the events now taking place in the Viceroyalty of New Spain provoked street demonstrations in the Central American capital demanding independence, encouraged by the Creole liberal wing, led by the priest José Matías Delgado and the militia lieutenant José Francisco Barrundia. Under public pressure, the town council of Guatemala City met and without alternatives approved, on September 15, 1821, the separation from Spain”. That act of Central American independence was written by the Honduran intellectual and scholar, José Cecilio del Valle.

Because of these events, Mexico and the Central American countries are celebrating their mutual independence today. But also on September 15, another historic event is commemorated: the death of the greatest Central American hero of the 19th century: Francisco Morazán. Shot by the conservative forces in San José, Costa Rica on September 15, 1842, today we commemorate the 179th anniversary of his assassination when he sought to recover the unity and integration of the current Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua). Three hours before Morazán was executed, he had the opportunity to dictate his will to his son Francisco. In it he ratified the principles of his ideology for the Central American union: “I declare: that my love for Central America dies with me. I exhort the youth, who is called upon to give life to this country that I leave with feeling for becoming anarchized, and I wish that they imitate my example of dying with firmness before leaving it abandoned to the disorder in which it is unfortunately finding itself today”.

Francisco Morazán included a final clause in his will that “to transfer his remains to El Salvador, for being the town that had corresponded to him the most, and which clause he had not consigned in his will because he dictated it in the middle of the tumult”. Thus, at the stroke of six o’clock in the afternoon of that September 15, 1842, in the city of San José, capital of Costa Rica, Generals Morazán and Villaseñor were taken to the scaffold. Describing that tragic event the Honduran historian Medardo Mejía wrote:

“Morazán, with serenity and greatness of soul said goodbye to all those he knew, and got  the shooters ready by asking for the fire command, telling them: ‘Aim well, sons; here, directly here’, pointing to his chest. He was about to call fire, when he observed that one was aiming wrong; he corrected it, and then with an energetic voice he said: ‘Now then…. fire’. A great detonation broke the silence of the plaza. Villaseñor died on the spot; but Morazán, rising in the smoke of the discharge, exclaimed: ‘I am alive, finish killing me!’. A new volley put an end to that glorious existence. It was the hour of the Angelus, in the august Day of the Homeland, when the most valuable man of Central America descended to earth to become earth and his example remained shining like a sun for innumerable American generations”.

This Bicentennial of our independence is also taking place within the framework of the VI Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which will be held on September 18. Among other points, the Mexican proposal, seconded by the Argentine government, for the “in-depth reform of the Organization of American States (OAS) or the creation of a new organization to replace it” stands out. Undoubtedly, in our times with CELAC, it becomes more urgent as Simón Bolívar stated in his Letter of Jamaica of 1814 (which we interpret as the birth certificate of our America). The great Liberator in that historic document pointed out: “It is a grandiose idea to pretend to form from the whole new world a single nation with a single link that binds its parts to each other and to the whole. Since it has one origin, one language, one set of customs and one religion, it should, therefore, have a single government to confederate the different States to be formed”.

Undoubtedly, this has been a long-standing Latin American and Caribbean longing that in our time needs to be built. Uniting the great homeland will hopefully be the best celebration of our Bicentennial.  This commemoration is also a reminder and homage to our heroes who offered their lives to maintain our independence and sovereignty in the face of the powers of the old empires that continue to stalk our peoples and nations. To break the imperialist blockade against Cuba and Venezuela is also to strengthen and further develop CELAC.

In this new stage and in the VI Summit of CELAC, the objectives of the same should be strengthened, which are, among others, to articulate dialogue and regional political coordination; to expand CELAC as a forum and a mechanism for common actions and interests; to strengthen the platform of the organization so that the regional presence has greater weight at the global level and CELAC is the mechanism that strengthens the region in the face of the challenges of the contemporary world, especially in emergency situations such as the one we are facing with the covid-19 pandemic. Let us remember that unity is the best strength of our peoples.

Source: Telesur, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English