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April 1810: The secret of the revolution

At school we learned that the independence process was univocal and without internal discussions. Nothing further from reality.

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In order to contextualize an event as transcendent as the Open Cabildo of 1810, we must ask ourselves where it has its roots and what its consequences were. Very complex events cause the May Revolution to break down all the stereotypes built around our school images. The truth is that the Open Cabildo was the result of a long race that went through countless obstacles. It even revealed the existence of very suspicious maneuvers between different groups with antagonistic ideologies. The death of Mariano Moreno aboard an English frigate, on a diplomatic voyage to Britain during 1811, continues to arouse curiosity. This unfortunate event took place after having made public the sharp differences that faced it with the military group led by Commander Cornelius Saavedra. Something like this can only lead us to think that the formation of the First Patriotic Government was a very complex task. It interpreted the visible need of an entire continent crossed by sordid rivalries. The surprising thing in this matter is that, within such an environment, the members of the First Board abandoned their disputes for a moment and made common cause to face the urgent challenge posed by the advance towards Modernity.

We have already spoken here of Freemasonry, whose effervescence was sensed by Viceroy Arredondo in 1795. But Saavedra and Moreno were also Freemasons, even though they thought very differently. Apparently, the fracture had injured the bosom of the Lodgeitself. Today the imaginary has amalgamated those men. But what interests did they represent? What was at stake within Independence Freemasonry?

Events taking place in Europe could have confused anyone, and surely there was the origin of the Masonic fracture. Charles IV, seeing that his treaty with the English ended in two invasions that threatened Spain's power in the Río de la Plata, abdicated in favor of his son. The successor, Ferdinand VII, was king in a very short period, during the months of April and May. In 1808, Napoleon dethroned the reigning dynasty and left his brother Joseph I Bonaparte occupying the throne of Spain. “ The official proclamation of José Napoleon I was made with all solemnity on the day of the feast of Santiago,” says Joan Mercader in “José Bonaparte, 1808-1813” (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid 1971).

There is a very colorful plot woven about it. There is no shortage of seasonings: international espionage, transoceanic trade between enemy powers and maneuvers of representatives sent by Napoleon. It could be a novel of spies and counter-spies. This period was framed by what was called “the First French Empire”. When Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself Emperor in Paris, the Revolution of 1789 had led France to successive failures. The military order provided a fantasy of stability that led to Bonapartist expansion in large regions of the Old Continent. Some ideas Napoleon took from the Freemasons were very interesting and decided to impose them, thus banishing the old European monarchies. He created the Civil Code in France and banned the Inquisition in Spain, reaching the approval of large urban projects, favorable to the development of a new type of society.

Despite how profitable all this seems, many summarize the period lived between 1804 and 1814 not as the First Empire, but as the Napoleonic Dictatorship. His influence was felt all over the world. It is no chance that democracies born of the revolutions of Latin America meet the modern imprint of the Rousseau Social Agreement and at the same time the ancient Roman caudillismo that proposed Bonapartism. This style of leadership did not come from the emancipated Creole: he was born with Napoleon. Local leaders quickly sympathized with the archetype of the military hero in the style of Julius Caesar, who tended to perpetuate himself in power as a dictator.

In those years the Napoleonic germ affected such dissimilar figures as Simón Bolívar, Juan Manuel de Rosas, Quiroga, Andrés de Santa Cruz and Sucre among many others. Saint Martin, exceptionally, rejected transcontinental ideas without any regard. He flatly refused to show off the laurels of power. But, despite

Publication Date: 31/03/2019

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