Central America, 1821-1871: Liberalism before Liberal Reform

Central America, 1821-1871: Liberalism before Liberal Reform

Central America, 1821-1871: Liberalism before Liberal Reform

Central America, 1821-1871: Liberalism before Liberal Reform

Synopsis

This book consists of two interrelated essays dealing with the economic, social, and political changes that took place in Central America, changes that led to both Liberal regime consolidation and export agricultural development after the middle of the last century.

Excerpt

Central America is a small corner of the world, and those who study it form an even smaller clan. Although the authors of this study had each conducted research on nineteenth-century Central America and the impact of coffee (Lindo-Fuentes in El Salvador and Gudmundson in Costa Rica), we had never met at professional conferences in the region or in the United States prior to our involvement in an effort to produce a modern, synthetic history of Central America as part of the Columbian Quincentenary. At two preliminary gatherings of research teams we were genuinely and pleasantly surprised to find that we were both concentrating on the mid-nineteenth century, an exceptionally murky period in local history. We found that we were each struggling toward a comparative framework, that we had each identified some of the same issues as ones of major importance, and that we were in agreement on the need for revisions and the nature of many regionwide processes.

Nevertheless, we did not agree on what those revisions should be in every case. the reader will find separate, individual essays, each written with its own voice, from a different vantage point, and with its own emphases and interpretations. As we presented our hypotheses and arguments to research colleagues at meetings in Costa Rica in 1989 and 1991, we were struck both by their similarities and by the perplexed reactions on the part of colleagues raised on a scholarly diet of essentially Liberal interpretations of the region's history. the curved mirrors of partisan labels have created a great deal of confusion regarding Central American history. Lifting part of the dead weight of a Liberal inspired orthodoxy from the interpretation of mid-nineteenth-century Central America is the common goal that has brought us together in this interpretive effort.

Earlier versions of the essays that follow were prepared for the six- volume Historia general de Centroamérica published by the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) in San José, Costa Rica. They appeared in volume 3, edited by Héctor Pérez Brignoli (Madrid: Editorial Siruela/FLACSO, 1993). (The six-volume work was awarded the Costa Rican national history prize for 1993.) We subsequently have . . .

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