Saturday, January 12, 2008

from Rene Velazquez

Thanks for sharing highlights of Dr. Quibuyen’s lecture – Rizal remains an intriguing, multi-faceted figure. Unfortunately for other historical notables like Mabini, Rizal’s relatively greater literary output and wider interests relegated them to the sidelines.
Ápropos of Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años, Rizal’s astute reading of the tea leaves may owe more to his political savvy than to prescience. Signs of declining Spanish power abounded – so too the overt stirrings of a threateningly acquisitive yanqui power. He looked into the bottom of the cup and interpreted the portents with prophetic insight.
By the time La Solidaridad serialized Filipinas. . . (part I on 30 Sep. 1889; part II on 31 Oct. 1889; part III on 15 Dec. 1889; and part IV on 31 Jan. 1890), the tenuous nature of the Filipinas–Madre España link was very likely clearly evident except to the most obtuse observer. Imperial unraveling started in the preceding three-quarters of a century, leaving by 1890 only Filipinas , Cuba and Puerto Rico .
Spain inherited a legacy of government instability in the aftermath of the peninsular war (1808-1814). Into the mix went the infectious spread of independence fever in the colonies. The resulting brew gave heartburn to the fellows at Spain ’s Ministerio de Ultramar. In review, the dénouement proceeded thus:
1816 – Argentina declares independence but doesn’t become a republic until 1853. Buenos Aires tries to breakaway in 1859 but is dragged back.
1819 – Simon Bolivar defeats Spanish forces at Boyaca (the eastern cordilleras of Colombia , known then as Nueva Granada). The Republica de Gran Colombia is established with modern-day Colombia , Panama , and Venezuela as members.
1819 – The U.S. strong-arms Spain into ceding Florida under terms of the Adams-Onis treaty after the ambitious Andrew Jackson seized the territory on his own.
1821 – Chile declares independence from Spain .
1821 – Mexico (consisting of present-day Mexico , America Central and northern Mexico , i.e., today’s southwestern states of the U.S. ) declares its independence from Spain – it is just six years after the last nao de China sailed.
1821 – In September, a junta convened at the Capitanía General de Guatemala declares independence from Mexico for its provinces of Guatemala-Chiapas , Costa Rica , Honduras , Nicaragua and San Salvador . On 1 July, 1823, these territories (except Chiapas which remains with Mexico ) form the Provincias Unidas de Centro-américa (1823-1840). The union eventually dissolves by 1840.
1821 – General José San Martin captures Lima and declares Peru an independent state, full independence becomes a reality in 1824.
1822 – Antonio José de Sucre defeats Spanish forces in the battle of Pichincha (on the slopes of the Pichincha volcano next to the city of Quito , in modern Ecuador ) and Ecuador joins Gran Colombia.
1823 – Guatemala declares independence from the Provincias Unidas.
1828 – Uruguay – wrested by the Spanish from the Portuguese in 1726 and was part of the Virreinato del Río de la Plata ( Argentina , Bolivia , Paraguay and Uruguay ) with its capital at Buenos Aires – rebels against the Virreinato in 1808 and gains full independence after Brazil and Argentina finally renounce all claims in 1828.
1829 – A military revolt breaks out in Spain and restores the liberal constitution of 1812. Spain becomes a constitutional monarchy.
1829 – to 1830, Gran Colombia is dissolved when Venezuela and Ecuador split-off (see entries for 1830 below) leaving only present day Colombia-Panama as a separate state. The abbreviated entity re-assumes the name Nueva Granada. (Panama would later declare independence from Colombia in 1903 – with American tutelage).
1830 – Venezuela declares independence from Gran Colombia.
1830 – Ecuador declares independence from Gran Colombia.
1843 – After another military revolt, Isabella II is crowned Queen of Spain.
1844 – Spain grants independence to the República Dominicana (not as straightforward as it sounds). In 1697, Spain ceded the western half of Hispaniola island to France and that half – Haiti – became headache central for the República Dominicana during and after Haiti ’s wars of liberation against France . Earlier, Haiti twice took over its neighbor and continued to threaten more mischief.
1848 – The Mexican Cession – the U.S. bullies a militarily weakened Mexico into ceding northern Mexico to the U.S. (i.e., California , Nevada , Utah , Arizona , New Mexico , Wyoming and parts of Colorado ). Back in 1836, Tejas had already been forcibly extorted from Mexico .
1868 – to 1869; there is yet another revolution in Spain and the luckless Isabella II is deposed and flees to France .
1869 – The Suez Canal opened for business. In Cairo , a lavishly costumed production of Verdi’s Aïda marked the occasion. The opening of Suez speeded-up travel and the flow of liberal ideas from Europe to Filipinas. Some historians consider the event the true starting point of the demise of Spanish rule in the islands.
The American seizure of Florida in 1819, Tejas in 1836, northern Mexico in 1848 and Admiral Perry’s browbeating of the Japanese in 1854 to force its opening to U.S. trade – all were ominous signs that Filipinas may eventually have to contend with an expansionist U.S. In the background was the continuing thievery of Native American homelands and the massacre and displacement of the inhabitants.
The years between 1820 and 1840 had to be unmitigated nightmares at the Ministerio de Ultramar. Enormous chunks of valuable Spanish overseas real estate were breaking off or being stolen at gunpoint – and Spain proved powerless to prevent it. How many bureaucrats jumped off the top floors of their ministries? Popped Alka Seltzer and shuffled about con un bolsa de hielo sobre la cabeza? On reading Rizal, their 1890 successors at the Ministerio must have realized it was time to update their résumés, line up their references, and anticipate with dread the indignity of filing for unemployment benefits!
For Rizal, therein lay glimpses of the future’s outline. It was high time to “do a Nike,” i.e. “just do it!” The “it” in this case meant turning up the heat on the colonial administration.
Best regards. Nice photos from Mexico . Thanks for postng