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Peru War with Gran Colombia (1828-1829)

The revolts from Spain and Portugal produced seven independent states in South America. These were subsequently increased to ten by the secession of Uruguay from Brazil (1828) and the break-up of the Great Colombia, established by Bolivar, into the three states of Venezuela (1829), Ecuador (1830), and Colombia.

When Jose de la Serna proclaimed Peruvian independence in 1821, Spanish forces were still in the country. The country's first president was Argentinian general Jose de San Martin, soon to be succeeded by another foreigner, Simon Bolivar. The Spanish were defeated in the Battle of Ayacucho 1824; Spain's last outpost, the port of Callao, surrendered in 1826. The Viceroyalty of Peru ceased to exist. Bolivar's realm - the republics he presided (Peru and Grand Colombia) began to crumble in 1828, and soon disintegrated.

A revolt against the supreme power of Bolivar broke out in Peru. On 26 January, 1827, the very month in which Bolivar brought to an end his work of pacification in Colombia, the Colombian contingent in Lima, with its leader, Col. Bustamente, rose in revolt, declaring that they would not consent to a dictator in their country, or to the adoption of a constitution with which they were not familiar. Whether or not that uprising was provoked by the Government of Peru, certain it is that the Peruvians were discontented with the Bolivian constitution, and that that government, two days afterwards, issued the decree casting doubt on its legality and convoking an extraordinary congress for the purpose of deciding which constitution should be enforced.

The constitution introduced by him was abolished and new authorities were established. The Peruvian Government sent the mutinous troops back to Colombia, where they disseminated discord throughout the southern departments of that republic. The constituent Congress assembled at Lima, and, by the act of June 11, 1827, declared null and void the Bolivian constitution and provisionally put in force the constitution of 1823.

Peru even waged war against Colombia and Bolivia (1828), which defended the interests of the "liberator." This fratricidal war continued through the following year. The plan of a confederation of the three states was frustrated thereby; and an afflicting series of usurpations and military scenes of violence produced. The federalists in Venezuela also raised their heads with increased power. Nay, formal separation of this province from the Colombian state was proclaimed.

The first international conflict that the nascent Republic of Peru had to face was against Gran Colombia, due to the claim of this nation through the territories of Jaen and Maynas, belonging to Peru since before independence. At the end of May 1828 the attention of the Liberator was on not only the enemies of his absolute power but also the scandal of a civil war and an international with Peru, former ally and protected greatly by Colombia. Bolivar attempted, through the invaluable O'Leary, to check the aggressions of Peru upon Colombia.

The declaration of war by the Gran Colombiana nation was given the July 3, 1828, leading the Peruvian government to enlist its land and naval forces. The Liberator declared war on Peru, and it's armed intervention in the affairs of Bolivia was not the only or the most serious of the reasons for such declaration. The others were: the government of Lima, said the Bogota, promoted the rebellion of the third Colombian division and instructed Colonel Bustamante's Mission to Colombia, snatching three southern departments;

The rebellion against Bolivar continued to spread throughout the Departments of Guayaquil, Loja and Cuenca, which responded to the excitement created by the Colombian troops sent back from Lima, and which, perhaps, believed that they could count on the support of General La Mar to bring about their independence or their union with Peru. Cevallos, the Ecuadorian historian, states that on the 21st of February, 1828, Captain Orellana, in command of a Peruvian detachment stationed on the frontier, passed the line of the Macara and occupied the town of Zapotillo, belonging to the province of Loja, and raised the flag of his country.

Restrepo, the Columbian historian, records that Flores, General in command of the army of Colombia in the south, issued a proclamation on the 18th of April, announcing that the Liberator would proceed to Peru to punish that nation for its perfidy. That proclamation, he adds, as imprudent as it was impolitic, was held at Lima to be a declaration of war.

Either as a result of the proclamation or because of the events at Bogota, the Peruvian Congress, on the 20th of May, passed an act in which the army and'fleet were ordered to prepare for war, President La Mar being authorized to command the troops in person and make proper disposition of the national militia.

Such was the condition of affairs, says Valenzuela. Bolivar knew of the events transpiring in Bolivia, the work of Peru's armed intervention, which forced Sucre to leave that country and renounce the presidency. The Liberator was indignant. On the 3rd of July he put forth a fiery proclamation containing expressions of unusual violence against the Peruvian Government, and so excited the inhabitants in the southern part of Colombia that they flew to arms and rushed to the frontier to await his arrival, which was to be the signal for hostilities.

Shortly afterwards, on the 20th of July, the Colombian Government made public the declaration of war it was about to engage in with Peru and set forth its principal grievances. These were: injuries received from Peru in return for services rendered; che incitement of the division of Colombian troops at Lima to mutiny; the despatching of those troops of Colombia, using them as the means of taking possession of the three southern departments (alluding to Loja, Cuenca and Guayaquil); the dismissal of the diplomatic agent, Armero; the sending of the Plenipotentiary Villa, for the purpose of gaining time, unaccompanied by instructions to arrange the settlement of the indebtedness and "to negotiate for the restoration of the province of Jaen and part of Maynas, which Peru holds by usurpation;" the seduction of the Colombian troops that rebelled at La Paz on the 25th of December; the crossing of the frontier by a detachment that raised the Peruvian flag on Colombian territory; the preparations for war going on in the army and fleet, and the recent armed intervention in Bolivia (D. M. P., No. 8).

Jaen and Maynas are mentioned only in the clause that appears as an incident setting forth the complaint that Peru had sent her plenipotentiary lacking in powers sufficient to "treat"; and, so far was the matter of those provinces from being the principal motive for the war, that the historian Restrepo, who had been Bolivar's Minister, does not give it a place in his resume of the grievances set forth in that declaration of war.

The true motive for the war on the part of Bolivar is divulged by that writer and statesman when he says that "the Liberator, deeply wounded in his honor and in his personal sensitiveness by the men of the party then holding in its hands the reins of government in Peru, desired the war as a means of exacting, by his triumphs, a brilliant satisfaction and humiliation of that republic." We must confess, he adds, that he was not wholly unjustified in this, for the party that had possessed itself of the government of Peru had not been content with casting out his constitution and taking from him the presidency for life, but had organized the revolution against him in Bolivia, and even in Colombia, and had publicly insulted him.

To add to the motives for Bolivar's personal resentment the disillusionment as to his scheme of a confederation of South American republics, together with his fear of the dissolution of his own republic of Colombia; and, on the part of Peru, lay the desire to govern herself, with no presidents for life and no dependencies on foreign governments. General La Mar replied in terms both violent and offensive, justifying his acts, and forthwith entered upon the campaign.

In the war Bolivar at once met with two serious obstacles. The first was the defection of Colonels Obando and Lopez on the 12th of October, 1828, who, with the Colombian troops under their command, rose in revolt against the Liberator's government and defeated General Mosquera on the 12th of November, taking possession of Popayan and co-operating in the movement started by the entry of the Peruvian army. The second was the capitulation of Guayaquil, January 19, 1829, to the Peruvian fleet, which had besieged the city since the previous November.

Colonels Jose Maria Obando and Jose Hilario Lopez took up arms in the province of Popayan, proclaiming the Constitution of Cúcuta and declaring open war Bolivar. The revolutionary movement spread so rapidly that in mid-November Popayan occupied after defeating the garrison near La Ladera. However, the revolutionaries were long in Popayan, then defeated ones in Pasto by General Tomas Heres, and others in various meetings of little significance, Popayan was occupied by General Jose Maria Cordoba, who with enough strength had gone from Bogota to contain the uprising. As a result of that occupation, the revolutionaries were reduced to some items, which were kept in the hope in the triumph of Peruvians, who had already begun the war against Colombia, with the invasion of the territory.

Hostilities between the governments of Lima and Bogota had a history to be known, because Peru complained about the existence of Colombian troops in Bolivia, and the Liberator had just resented the interference of Peru in the affairs of Bolivia, til General Agustín Gamarra had met since 1827 an army to observe the movements of the Colombian forces in Bolivia and conduct of the Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho, head of the Republic, whom it looked like Bolivar had orders to invade Peru.

As far as the naval campaign is concerned, the first meeting of this conflict occurred in August 1828 when the Libertad corvette, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Carlos Garcia Postigo, he was in international waters off the Gulf of Guayaquil, in order to monitor and intercept ships from entering or leaving that port. On 31 August 1828, Colombian ships Pichincha and Guayaquileña attacked the Peruvian corvette off Punta Malpelo, being rejected and forced to retreat with heavy losses on board.

Then, the Peruvian forces established a blockade in Guayaquil and the grancolombiana coast from Tumbes to Panama. The national squad, commanded by Vice Admiral Jorge Martin Guise, went to Guayaquil and made several incursions before attacking the defenses of this riverside city, 22 to 24 November 1828. In this action managed to break the defenses afloat and silence much of the enemy artillery, but the night from 23 to 24, the frigate ran aground President and advocates used the situation to attack. At dawn, with the rise of the river, the frigate returned afloat, but the last shot from the enemy squarely hit Vice Admiral Guise, who died shortly thereafter. The command of the squadron was assumed by First Lieutenant Joseph Boterín, who continued the siege on the enemy square, finally surrendered on January 19, 1829. After this action the Arequipeña corvette and brig Congress raided on Panama, making rescue one of the merchant ships captured by Colombian.

After a campaign of thirty days, General Sucre, at the head of the Colombian army, gained a victory over the troops of Peru at the battle of Tarqui on 27 February 1829.

Before entering on his campaign, General Sucre wrote to General La Mar on the 28th of January, 1829, proposing peace, in obedience to the first impulse of his heart and in forgetfuhiess of his personal grievances, to the end that bloodshed might be avoided between sister peoples. La Mar replied that he was not opposed to a compromise, although he took occasion to state the reasons that actuated Peru in penetrating Colombian territory and liberating the towns "wearied from suffering an insupportable yoke from which Guayaquil is now free." Sucre then transmitted from Ona, on the 3rd of February, the "bases for negotiation of peace."

The principal bases were: the reduction of the military forces of Peru and Colombia ; the settlement, by means of commissioners, of the question of boundaries, and payment of indebtedness; mutual satisfaction to be given by the governments for what had occurred; refraining from interference in Bolivia, and the immediate abandonment of Colombian territory by Peruvian troops.

Guayaquil was in the power of Peru, the province of Loja, as Restrepo declares, was occupied by her troops, and General Ld Mar believed his triumph secure, counting, as he did, on the support to be met with on the part of the towns. To be forced to retire with the army, as an indispensable prerequisite to the signing of a treaty of peace, he held to be a humiliation and declined to subscribe to the conditions proposed. In returning therrj, says Cevallos, he proposed, among other things, that "the department of Guayaquil should return to the status it occupied in 1822 before its incorporation in Colombia."

It should be noted that, in that tentative toward peace essayed by Colombia, no claim was put forth to Jaen or Maynas, reference being made only to the settlement of the question of boundaries; that Sucre did not refer to those provinces when he exacted the abandonment of Colombian territory occupied by Peruvian troops, and that the real crux of the difficulty was Guayaquil, Colombia claiming recovery thereof on the retirement of the Peruvian troops, while Peru hoped that Guayaquil might regain the independence it enjoyed prior to the annexation. The Peruvian troops having been defeated at the battle of Tarqui, on the following day, February 28, 1329, the preliminary convention of peace was signed, at the instance of General Sucre, on the field of Giron, and was known by that name. The convention was a reproduction of the Ona bases, with certain modifications and additions. Both parties binding themselves to the stipulations therein, it became the forced basis for the definitive treaty of peace that was to be entered into later.

On 28 February was signed in Girón a leading convention whose provisions covered military forces in northern Peru and southern Colombia, to be reduced to three thousand men; the limits of both republics would be set by a committee, taking into account the division of the old Viceroyalty of New Granada and Peru in 1809; the same commissioners liquidated the debt owed by Peru, to be paid within a period of eighteen months; neither States could intervene in the domestic affairs of the other; Peru would pay to Colombia hundred fifty thousand pesos in one year, to meet the debts incurred by the army and fleet to invade the Departments of Guayaquil and Asuay, and the Colombian territory had to be vacated by the invaders within twenty days.

In the ninth article of the convention it was stipulated that: "As Colombia will not consent to the signing of a treaty of peace while troops of the enemy occupy her territory, it is agreed that, these bases settled, the rest of the Peruvian army shall retire south of the Ma.card * * *," and, in the llth article: "The Peruvian army shall begin its retirement from Loja on the 2nd day of March next and will completely evacuate the territory of Colombia within twenty days, counted from that date. Within the same period the city of Guayaquil will be restored to the proper authorities. * * *"

Nor was anything stipulated in that convention as to Jaen or Maynas; it limited itself to the statement that a commission would be appointed for the settlement of the question of boundaries, as we shall soon explain when we take up the definitive treaty, which commission was to be charged also with the liquidation of the indebtedness arising out of the war of independence.

On the 9th of March 1829, the day following Bolivar's entry into Pasto, after suppressing the rebellion started by Lopez and Obando, he received with great satisfaction the news of the victory of Tarqui and the signing of the preliminary peace convention, and left at once for Quito to set in motion the negotiation of the definitive treaty.

But his satisfaction was of short duration, for Peru declined to carry out the convention of Giron. the Peruvian leaders refusing to turn over Guayaquil; La Mar "alleged that the decree granting honors, conceded by Sucre as a result of the victory, amounted to a new offence, and the government denied the validity of the convention because of the absence of congressional ratification. The campaign, known at this period as that of Buijo, was thereupon resumed. The operations, says Cevallos, were erf small importance, as they were reduced to the general dislodgment of the Peruvians from Babahoyo, Baba, Daule, Samborondon and Yahuachi.

But the city of Guayaquil remained in the power of Peru and the sea littoral continued under the control of her ships. Guayaquil would remain occupied by Peruvian forces until 21 July 1829. This conflict would end after the signing of the Armistice of Piura signed on July 10 the same year, but still remained pending the border situation.

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Page last modified: 05-06-2016 20:46:49 ZULU