The Republic of Chile first declared its independence from Spain on September 18, 1810. However, throughout this time they were still loyal, albeit theoretically, to the King of Spain, Ferdinand VII, during a period when France had also taken over Spain. The official proclamation of independence took place on February 12, 1818 while there were still pockets of the Chilean War of Independence. Before declaring self-rule, Spain ruled Chile through a Governor. C
The movement for Chilean independence was inspired by the US, who had declared their independence, the Argentine independence movement, the agitation for self-rule by European colonies throughout the world, and the fact that France had invaded Spain. Chile’s declaration of independence led to over a decade of violence that eventually ended in 1826.
Ferdinand Magellan became the first European to set foot in modern-day Chile in 1520. The next Europeans entered through Peru in 1535 in search of gold. In 1540, a serious conquest of Chile began and by 1541, the Spaniards founded Santiago. Although Spain did not find the silver and gold minerals they were after, the agricultural potential of Chile was enough for them to make Chile part of their empire. The conquest of Chile was a gradual process because the native communities revolted time and again until 1683 when Spain abolished slavery but the relationship between them remained stained. During the time, Spain also had to put a standing army to prevent encroachment by its European enemies like Britain and the Netherlands. By 1808, the Governor, Francisco Antonio García Carrasco, found himself in a smuggling and corruption scandal that Spain did not handle well, leading to the governor losing the moral authority and therefore fueling the desire for self-rule. After the 1810 declaration, the Chilean War of Independence broke out in search of economic and political independence. In 1821, José de San Martín defeated forces loyal to Spain and in 1826, the last Spanish troops surrendered.
The Fiestas Patrias Commemoration
The Fiestas Patrias is an annual holiday celebrated over two days to mark Chile’s independence. The holiday has other local names like El Dieciocho (The Eighteenth) and the Native Lands Holiday. On the first day, September 18, people mark the 1810 First Governing Body declaration which initiated and facilitated the independence energy. This day is also the day that Chile had the First Government Meeting. September 19 is the second day of the holiday and it also called the “Day of the Glories of the Army.” This holiday doubles up as the spring festival because it happens close to the Southern Hemisphere’s spring equinox. The celebrations include a show of the country’s culture, religion, and military and civil parades. Activities include eating, drinking, dancing, and flying kites among others. During the two days, public buildings and places must fly the Chilean flag either from a white flag post or storefront.
About the Author
Mark is a student at Maseno University and community commentator in Kenya. Mark also has interests in geography, African history, and international development.
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