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Organic Reforms of the XVIIIth Century

In the XVIIth century the territorial division was altered by the creation of two more Viceroyalties — those of New Granada and Buenos Aires — which were constructed out of territories taken almost wholly from the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

The Viceroyalty of Santa Fe or New Granada, created primarily in 1717 and abolished in 1723 for various reasons, was re-established by royal decree of August 20, 1739. It was founded on the structure erected out of the Audiencia district of Santa Fe de Bogota, of the new Kingdom of Granada, with the addition of the provinces of the Audiencia districts of Panama and San Francisco de Quito, belonging to the Viceroyalty of Peru, and the Comandancia of Caracas, or Province of Venezuela, which had been an appanage of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Subsequently the boundaries of the Viceroyalty of Santa Fe were reduced by the institution of the Captaincy-General of Venezuela, with an independent government and its own audiencia (1742, 1777 and 1786), and the restitution to the Viceroyalty of Peru of the province of Maynas (1802) and Guayaquil (1803 and 1806), of the Audiencia of Quito.

The Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires was created July 7, 1778, from the Audiencia districts of Buenos Aires and Charcas and certain territories of Chile. The Audiencia of Charcas, later called Chuquisaca, or Upper Peru, returned to form a part of the Viceroyalty of Peru in 1810.

The Captaincy-General of Chile, which already had come to enjoy a high degree of autonomy, acquired it completely by virtue of the royal decree of March 15, 1798.

New Dispositions as to the Audiencias

The colonial regime underwent two more important changes during the last third of the XVIIIth century: the reform of the audiencias and the creation of the provincial intendencies.

By virtue of the royal decrees of April 6th and June 20, 1776, the institution of the audiencias was altered; regents (presidents of courts of audiencia) were created and their honors and prerogatives, their powers as to internal management of the audiencias and their relations with the Viceroys and other authorities were minutely prescribed.

And, although the honorary presidency was left to the Viceroys and Governors, the regents were from that time the real presidents of the audiencias. Such importance was attached to their duties that, in the absence of the Viceroy or delegation of the latter's powers, the regent was charged with the despatch of business of a civil and political nature.

Creation of the Provincial Intendencies

Most transcendental in the administrative system was the creation of the office of provincial intendent, instituted by Philip V in Spain, in imitation of France (1718), and which Charles III established in America, at first in the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires (1782), and, later, in that of Mexico, in conformity with the famous ordinance as to intendents for the armies and provinces of New Spain, enacted in 1783 and made to extend to the other Spanish dominions.

In accordance with that ordinance, which contained 306 articles, an intendent was required to be placed at the head of each province, charged with the enforcement of the laws, the government of the towns, the decision of political and financial matters, the surveillance and supervision of the administration of justice, and he was also to retain in his charge the administration of the army.

It was this intrusion of the intendents in the command of the army that supplied the motive for the royal decree of December 16, 1802, in conformity with which the great powers delegated to them were limited to those of a purely governmental and economic nature, not conflicting with the authority of the captains and commandantsgenera!, in whom alone resided the authority relative to the command, security and defence of their respective forces and provinces.

In 1803 a new Ordinance of Intendents was published, preserving the essential features of the former ordinance and introducing modifications counselled by experience.

The creation of the intendents was important, in that it brought about the operation of administrative functions on the basis of the provinces instead of audiencias and regulated the territorial division, determining the provinces and their subdivisions, corresponding to each circumscription.

Colombia and Peru War (1828-9)

In 1826 the amicable relations between Colombia and Peru began to be strained because of the opposition developed against Bolivar in his own Republic (as a result of which he had stayed away for a considerable time), and because of the discontent of Bolivar himself, who, after leaving Peru in that year, saw the Peruvians rise against his common leadership over both republics and the undoing of his favorite work, the Bolivian constitution.

On 07 March, and again on 02 December of the same year, the representative of Colombia objected to the inclusion of the provinces of Jaen and Maynas in the convocation of 1826 for elections to the Peruvian Congress 'that was to reform the constitution, protesting in his last specification against the appointment of the Bishop of Maynas, which he regarded as an act of aggression against the sovereignty of Colombia.

The various complaints of the republic were formulated in the official letter addressed by the Minister of Foreign Relations of Colqmbia to the Plenipotentiary of Peru on the 3d of March, 1828, in which he said: "As to Jaen and Maynas, whether bearing in mind the principle that has invariably guided all the American States to refrain from encroaching upon the limits possessed by the great divisions of our continent as colonies, or whether remembering the endeavors to which those provinces really owe their independence, it is clear that the attempt to retain them as Peruvian territory must be characterized as usurpation."

The tenseness in the relations caused by the disagreement with Bolivar, who was annoyed by the Peruvian rejection of his constitution and offended by the press of that country, and whose political work was impaired by the insurrectionary movements of Bolivia and Colombia which he attributed to the Peruvian government, developed into a war between the two States, having various results.

Peru was defeated at Tarqui but continued in possession of Guayaquil which she had occupied, all of which we shall carefully explain at the proper time.

On 28 February, 1829, the day following the battle of Tarqui. where the Peruvian army was routed, the generals commissioned for that purpose signed a preliminary peace convention on the field of Giron, establishing the basis for a definitive treaty. Article 2 of the agreement provided that the contracting parties, or their respective governments, should appoint a commission to settle the boundaries of the two States, "the political division of the Viceroyalties of New Granada and Peru in August, 1809, when the revolution of Quito broke out, to serve as the basis, and binding themselves to cede reciprocally those small portions of territory which, by reason of the defects of an inexact demarcation, operate to the injury of the inhabitants." On the ratification of the agreement, on the first of March, General Sucre placed his signature to the declaration that, in proof of the love borne by the government of Colombia for the Peruvian people, "it did not wish to take a grain of sand from her territory."

As soon as the war was at an end, the governments of Peru and Colombia appointed plenipotentiaries to draw up the definitive treaty. D. Jose Larrea y Loredo and D. Pedro Gual were named respectively and met at Guayaquil in the month of September, 1829, holding six conferences, at which, among other questions, they occupied themselves with the matter of boundaries. The plenipotentiary of Colombia stated that if the State he represented had not approved the Galdeano-Mosquera convention, it was because "it did not in itself provide the means for reaching a conclusion and thereby preventing annoyances which its indecision could cause to both countries."

The result of those conferences was the treaty of peace and amity between Peru and Colombia signed at Guayaquil on the 22d of September 1829.

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Page last modified: 10-03-2016 20:02:26 ZULU