Daily Archives: 1 March 2022

San Martin’s Plans for Peru, 1822

From Bolivar: American Liberator, by Marie Arana (Simon & Schuster, 2013), Kindle pp. 299-300:

When they finally spoke about the political system San Martín had in mind for Peru, Bolívar’s suspicions were confirmed. The Protector laid out his plan for establishing a monarchy with a European prince in rule. Bolívar had heard rumors about this, but hoped they weren’t true. A year before, he had sent one of his aides, Diego Ibarra, to Lima, with a letter of congratulations for San Martín and instructions for Ibarra to learn what he could. Was San Martín considering a monarchical plan and, if so, how deeply was he committed to it? “Sound out the general’s spirit,” he ordered Ibarra, “and persuade him, if you can, against any project of erecting a throne in Peru, which would be nothing short of scandalous.” Now he was hearing about a Peruvian king from the Protector himself. San Martín explained to Bolívar that he had spoken about his plan to both viceroys; that he had sent a delegation of diplomats to England months before to discuss just such a throne and which prince or duke might fill it. If England weren’t willing, his delegates would look for qualified candidates in Belgium, France, Russia, Holland, or—even—Spain. It was the reason he had stalled in forming a Peruvian congress or drawing up a Peruvian constitution. As far as San Martín was concerned, the nation was not ready for democracy—education was in a shambles; ignorance abounded; the pillars upon which democracy could depend did not exist. Bolívar might have agreed on this last point, but he was viscerally opposed to royalty, to kings and queens, to that old, musty European system that had required so much American blood to purge. He would not hear of it. Bolívar left the meeting as somber and impenetrable as a sphinx. San Martín left it deeply mortified.

There had been no question that at every point of discussion, San Martín had been the supplicant, Bolívar the khan. The Liberator had everything the Protector needed: a winning army, the acclaim of his people, the luster of success, the recognition of a major world power. But Bolívar had given nothing; instead he had walked away deeply apprehensive of San Martín’s motives.

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