Central American Federation


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Central American Federation

or

Central American Union,

political confederation (1825–38) of the republics of Central America—Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Salvador. United under a captaincy general in Spanish colonial times, they gained independence in 1821 and were briefly annexed to the Mexican empire formed by Agustín de IturbideIturbide, Agustín de
, 1783–1824, Mexican revolutionist, emperor of Mexico (1822–23). An officer in the royalist army, he was sympathetic to independence but took no part in the separatist movement led by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, and in fact helped to
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. The nations joined in a loose federal state, appointing (1825–29) as first president Manuel José Arce, who was succeeded (1830–38) by the liberal leader Francisco MorazánMorazán, Francisco
, 1799–1842, Central American statesman, b. Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He led the revolutionary army that overthrew (1829) the regime of Manuel José Arce and was proclaimed president of the Central American Federation in 1830.
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. Political and personal rivalries between liberals and conservatives, poor communication, and the fear of the hegemony of one state over another led to dissolution (1838) of the congress and the defeat (1839) of Morazán's forces by Rafael CarreraCarrera, Rafael
, 1814–65, president of Guatemala, a caudillo. He led the revolution against the anticlerical liberal government of Guatemala, and his ultimate success in 1840 helped to destroy the Central American Federation.
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. In 1842, Morazán made an abortive attempt to reestablish the federation from Costa Rica. Later efforts by Nicaragua, Honduras, and Salvador failed, and the attempts of Justo Rufino BarriosBarrios, Justo Rufino
, c.1835–1885, president of Guatemala (1873–85). He took part in the successful revolution of 1871 and was elected to office. He imposed reforms on the country: the religious orders were suppressed and Roman Catholic schools and universities
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 (1885) and José Santos ZelayaZelaya, José Santos
, 1853–1919, president of Nicaragua (1894–1909). Although a leader of the Liberal party, he kept power by playing the Liberal and Conservative parties against each other and established an unswerving dictatorship.
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 (1895) only increased existing enmities. At the Central American conference of 1922–23, the U.S. recommendation of a union was not favorably received, partly because of earlier U.S. policies in Panama and Nicaragua. Nevertheless, geography, history, and practical expedience are factors that constantly encourage union. In 1951, the Organization of Central American States was formed to help solve common problems, and in 1960 the five nations established the Central American Common MarketCentral American Common Market
(CACM), trade organization envisioned by a 1960 treaty between Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. The treaty established (1961) a secretariat for Central American economic integration, which Costa Rica joined in 1963; Panama now has
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.

Bibliography

See T. L. Karnes, The Failure of Union: Central America, 1824–1960 (1961); N. Maritano, A Latin American Economic Community (1970).

References in periodicals archive ?
The "Conservative" Montufar, however, was dismissed as a reactionary for his alternative perspective on the formative years of the Central American Federation and all but forgotten following the Liberal Reform of the 1870s.
During the first years of the Central American Federation, however, as political lines between the Liberal fiebres and Conservative serviles sharpened, those who found themselves in the ill-defined moderate center, such as Montufar, were forced to choose sides.
Convinced that the new constitution of the Central American Federation "would have seemed a code of anarchy even to a society of angels or passionless men," due to its framers' excessive idealism and dependence on foreign inspiration, Montufar argued that the federal system it set up would be incapable of solving the problems of divisiveness, regionalism, and appeals to emotion so characteristic of national politics.

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