5. Among the Jarochos, 1825–1828

Most of the caudillos who came to dominate politics in Spanish America following the achievement of independence used the power they acquired in their regions to take on the national government. Juan Manuel de Rosas was the leader of the gauchos of the province of Buenos Aires before launching his bid for power. José Antonio Páez was the undisputed strongman of the Apure plains in Venezuela. They dominated their home provinces because of the prominence they achieved there during the wars of independence or because they belonged to families who owned the largest haciendas in the area. They established resilient networks of patronage that transformed them into the "natural" leaders of their province. Invariably, they obtained the undying support of their fellow jarochos/llaneros/gauchos by ensuring that this support was rewarded. At a regional level this meant employment, land concessions, and the benefits of having a landowner who would not let the national government's decrees harm local interests. For the aspiring caudillo the nurturing of a reliable regional bastion of support was essential. Without the aid of local finance and troops, it would be impossible to overthrow a national government.

Santa Anna's very particular jarocho affinities, paired with the notoriety he had acquired in the region as its tireless land administrator and intrepid liberator, placed him in good stead to become the province's favorite strongman. However, for him to become the undisputed chieftain of Veracruz he needed to strengthen his financial links with the region so that the welfare of the majority of jarochos depended on that of their caudillo. It was also important that he defeat his political rivals.

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