Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

El Salvador vs. Imperialismo Yanqui, 1912–14

  • Héctor Lindo-Fuentes (a1)

Abstract

When the United States invaded Nicaragua in 1912 the popular reaction in El Salvador was so strong that it completely upended politics. The article argues that this anti-imperialist movement, completely ignored by the current historiography, forced Salvadorean governments to make decisions regarding foreign policy that would have been unthinkable had it not been for the pressure from below. Popular pressures contributed to limit the scope of the final version of the Chamorro–Bryan Treaty between the United States and Nicaragua. The treaty did not include Platt Amendment-like provisions. Moreover, the Wilson administration abandoned the idea of extending a protectorate to all the Central American countries and building a naval base in the Gulf of Fonseca.

Spanish abstract

Cuando los Estados Unidos invadió a Nicaragua en 1912 la reacción popular en El Salvador fue tan fuerte que trastocó completamente a la política local. El artículo señala que este movimiento anti-imperialista, ignorado completamente por la historiografía actual, forzó a los gobiernos salvadoreños a tomar decisiones en relación a su política exterior que hubieran sido impensables de no ser por la presión desde abajo. Las presiones populares contribuyeron para limitar los alcances de la versión final del Tratado Chamorro–Bryan entre los Estados Unidos y Nicaragua. Dicho tratado al final no incluyó provisiones tipo la Enmienda Platt. Aún más, la administración Wilson abandonó la idea de extender el protectorado para todos los países centroamericanos así como la construcción de una base naval en el Golfo de Fonseca.

Portuguese abstract

Quando os Estados Unidos invadiram a Nicarágua em 1912, a reação popular em El Salvador foi tão forte que completamente desestabilizou a política salvadorenha. O artigo argumenta que este movimento anti-imperialista, completamente ignorado pela historiografia atual, forçou governos salvadorenhos a tomar decisões relativas à política externa que teriam sido inimagináveis, não fosse pela pressão popular. Tal pressão também contribuiu em limitar o alcance da versão final do Tratado Chamorro–Bryan entre os Estados Unidos e a Nicarágua, que não incluiu provisões ao estilo da Emenda Platt. Além disso, a administração de Wilson abandonou a ideia de estender o protetorado à todos os países da América Central e também de construir uma base naval no Golfo de Fonseca.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: lindo@fordham.edu.

References

Hide All

1 See, for example, Munro, Dana Gardner, The United States and the Caribbean Republics, 1921–1933 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974); LaFeber, Walter, Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (New York: Norton, 1993); Coatsworth, John H., Central America and the United States: The Clients and the Colossus (New York: Twayne, 1994).

2 Ching, Erik, Authoritarian El Salvador: Politics and the Origins of the Military Regimes, 1880–1940 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2014).

3 ‘Opinión que en los Estados Unidos se tiene de las Repúblicas hispanoamericanas y generalmente de nuestra raza’, La Gaceta, 17 Jan. 1856, p. 2.

4 ‘Manifiesto del Presidente del Salvador a los pueblos del Estado’, 21 March 1957, reproduced in García, Miguel Ángel, Diccionario histórico enciclopédico de la república de El Salvador, vol. 1 (San Salvador: La Luz, 1927), p. 78.

5 The veterans included General Gerardo Barrios, twice president of the country, and Juan José Cañas, a prominent writer and politician.

6 Vicente Acosta, ‘Las águilas del norte’, La Quincena, 1 Nov. 1903, p. 100.

7 Francisco Gamboa, ‘A propósito de Panamá’, La Quincena, 1 Dec. 1903, p. 147.

8 Rubén Darío, ‘A Roosevelt’, La Quincena, 15 May 1904, p. 117.

9 César Zumeta, ‘Panamá y la América’, La Quincena, 1 Nov. 1904, p. 284.

10 Lionel Carden, ‘Central America, Annual Report 1908’, p. 5 of the report. The report is in Kenneth Bourne, Donald Cameron Watt and George Philip (eds.), British Documents on Foreign Affairs – Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print: Part I, From the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the First World War, Series D, Latin America, 1845–1914 (hereafter Confidential Print) (Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 1991).

11 ‘El Asunto Burrell’, Diario Oficial, 15 June 1904, p. 1141.

12 Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (El Salvador), Reclamación del ciudadano norteamericano Alfredo W. Burrell en nombre de la corporación ‘The Salvador Commercial Co.’ como accionista de la compañía de ‘El Triunfo Lda’: Alegatos y documentos justificativos, 1900–1902 (San Salvador: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, 1902), p. 549.

13 ‘El arreglo de la cuestión Burrell’, Diario del Salvador, 15 Oct. 1903, p. 8.

14 Carden, ‘Central America, Annual Report 1908’, p. 5 of the report.

15 Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores to Department of State, 23 Oct. 1905, in US Department of State, Notes from the Legation of El Salvador in the United States to the Department of State, 1879–1906, Microcopy T–798 (Washington, DC: National Archives Microfilm, 1962); Schoonover, Thomas, ‘A U.S. Dilemma: Economic Opportunity and Anti-Americanism in El Salvador, 1901–1911’, Pacific Historical Review, 59: 4 (1989), p. 412.

16 Thomas E. Dabney to Secretary of State, 20 Sept. 1910, in US Department of State (ed.), Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations between the United States and El Salvador, 1910–29 (hereafter Political Relations US–ES, 1910–29), Microcopy 659 (Washington, DC: National Archives Microfilm, 1968).

17 Post-Porfirian Mexican policy towards Central America started in 1916 when Venustiano Carranza sent a special envoy, Salvador Martínez Alomía, to restore diplomatic relations. See Yankelevich, Pablo, ‘Centroamérica en la mira del constitucionalismo, 1914–1920’, Signos Históricos, 7 (Jan.–June 2002), pp. 173–99. Civil society contacts included anti-imperialists visiting Mexico and mutual aid societies inviting Mexican delegates to their annual meetings and appointing representatives in Mexico.

18 Thomas E. Dabney to Secretary of State, 20 Sept. 1910, in Political Relations US–ES, 1910–29.

19 Knox, Philander C., Speeches Incident to the Visit of Philander Chase Knox (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1913), p. 27.

20 ‘The Secretary's Caribbean Trip’, 13 Feb. 1912, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, ‘The Papers of Philander C. Knox’, Box 33, ‘Preparations for Central American trip’.

21 Letters from Juan B. Canón to William Heimké, dated 3 Feb., 9 and 10 March 1912, Tulane Latin American Library, ‘Major William J Heimké Papers 1866–1917’, ‘Correspondence 1910–1912’, folder 10. ‘Carbon’ refers to a bacterial disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium chauvoei that affects mainly cattle but is transmitted to humans through meat consumption.

22 ‘Troops Guard Knox on Salvador Trip’, New York Times, 12 March 1912, p. 2.

23 Ibid.

24 ‘Lecciones que han debido aprovecharse. La guerra del filibusterismo 1855–1857’, Vox Populi, 12 March 1912, p. 2.

25 Ugarte, Manuel, The Destiny of a Continent, trans. Phillips, James, Rippy, Fred and Alison, Catherine (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1925), p. 96.

26 Merlos, Salvador, América Latina ante el peligro (San José: Imprenta G. Matamoros, 1914), p. 304.

27 Ugarte, The Destiny of a Continent, p. 100.

28 Ibid.

29 Merlos, América Latina ante el peligro, pp. 305–6.

30 ‘Ugarte en la Sociedad de Obreros’, Diario del Salvador, 1 April 1912, p. 1.

31 Chasteen, John discusses Araujo's populism in ‘Manuel Enrique Araujo and the Failure of Reform in El Salvador, 1911–1913’, Southeastern Latin Americanist, 27 (Sept. 1984), pp. 125.

32 Arturo Taracena Arriola and Omar Lucas Monteflores discuss mutual aid societies in Central America in the introduction to Diccionario biográfico del movimiento obrero urbano de Guatemala, 1877–1944 (Guatemala City: FLACSO, 2014).

33 ‘Los obreros’, Diario del Salvador, 12 March 1912, p. 1.

34 ‘Sesión pública’, Vox Populi, 17 Sept. 1912, p. 4.

35 ‘Un episodio en la gira presidencial – grandes manifestaciones populares – a favor de la clase pobre’, Diario del Salvador, 11 July 1912, p. 1.

36 Lionel Carden, ‘Central America, Annual Report 1911’, p. 5 of the report, in Confidential Print.

37 Letter from René Keilhauer to Minor Keith, 9 Dec. 1910, Archivo CEPA-FENADESAL, San Salvador, SV-CEPA/14/1912, ‘Correspondencia Cartas-Telegramas’, ‘Guatemala Railway’, ‘Minor C. Keith’.

38 Heimké to Department of State, 12 Jan. 1911, in Political Relations US–ES, 1910–29.

39 Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (El Salvador), Boletín del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Sept. 1912, p. 2. Weitzel said later that he had never made such promises. See US Department of State, Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1912 (hereafter FRUS, 1912) (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1912), p. 1070. Unless otherwise noted, the narrative of the official reactions of El Salvador between Aug. and Oct. is based on the cables reproduced in the Boletín del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (Sept. 1912).

40 See ‘Gestiones del Ministro del Salvador en Nicaragua por la paz’, Diario del Salvador, 9 Aug. 1912, p. 1; and ‘Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 12 Aug. 1912, p. 1.

41 ‘Cuartillas políticas. La mediación centroamericana en Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 26 Aug. 1912, p. 1.

42 Letter from Heimké to Secretary of State, 22 Aug. 1912, in FRUS, 1912, pp. 1046–7.

43 Ibid.; ‘Noticias palpitantes de Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 27 July 1912, p. 1.

44 Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (El Salvador), Boletín del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Sept. 1912, p. 10.

45 See US Office of Naval Intelligence, Navy Department, Washington, DC, ‘List of Expeditions, 1901–1929’, available at www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/l/list-of-expeditions-1901-1929.html, last access 4 April 2020.

46 Telegram from US State Department to US Minister to El Salvador, 4 Sept. 1912, in FRUS, 1912, p. 1042.

47 ‘Sucesos de Nicaragua – Estados Unidos en Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 2 Sept. 1912, p. 1.

48 Heimké to Secretary of State, 26 Feb. 1913, in US Department of State, Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of El Salvador, 1910–29 (hereafter Internal Affairs of El Salvador, 1910–29), Microcopy 658 (Washington, DC: National Archives Microfilm, 1967).

49 Description based on the article ‘La manifestación de anoche’, Diario del Salvador, 5 Sept. 1912, p. 1.

50 Ibid.

51 ‘Comités de defensa en El Salvador’, Diario del Salvador, 7 Sept. 1912, p. 1.

52 ‘Actualidad centroamericana’, El Pacífico, 5 Oct. 1912, p. 6.

53 ‘El mitin de anoche’, Diario del Salvador, 9 Sept. 1912, p. 1.

54 Ibid.

55 ‘Cablegramas del Comité Defensa Nacional a Centro América y México’, Diario del Salvador, 10 Sept. 1912. El Pacífico from Costa Rica published copies of the telegrams. See ‘Contra la intervención Yankee’, El Pacífico, 5 Oct. 1912, p. 6.

56 Merlos, América Latina ante el peligro, p. 192.

57 ‘Protesta de los artesanos de Santa Ana – manifestación popular’, Diario del Salvador, 9 Sept. 1912, p. 1.

58 ‘Manifestación prohibida’, Vox Populi, 17 Sept. 1921, p. 4.

59 ‘Boicoteo al comercio norteamericano’, Diario del Salvador, 25 Sept. 1912, p. 1; ‘Noticias de Santa Ana’, Diario del Salvador, 8 Oct. 1912, p. 1.

60 Arcadio Rochac Velado, quoted in Merlos, América Latina ante el peligro, p. 193.

61 Ibid., p. 194.

62 ‘Patriotas centroamericanos que llegan a Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 3 Oct. 1912, p. 3.

63 ‘Patriotas centroamericanos que acuden a Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 4 Oct. 1912, p. 1.

64 See Merlos, América Latina ante el peligro, p. 195; Pérez, Morgan, ‘Breve biografía de Zeledón’, Temas Nicaragüenses, 60 (April 2013), p. 27; ‘Las heroínas de la revolución libertadora de Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 30 Nov. 1912, p. 2.

65 ‘Interview between the Acting Secretary and the Minister of Salvador’, Washington, 26 Sept. 1912, in FRUS, 1912, p. 1048.

66 Ibid.

67 Ibid.

68 ‘Las obreras del mercado y los emigrados de Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 21 Oct. 1912, p. 6.

69 ‘Altruismo salvadoreño. En favor de los obreros de la emigración de Nicaragua’, Diario del Salvador, 18 Oct. 1912, p. 1.

70 ‘Los emigrados nicaragüenses en San Salvador’, Diario del Salvador, 25 Oct. 1912, p. 1.

71 ‘Decreto Ejecutivo del 9 Oct. 1912’, Diario Oficial, 9 Oct. 1912, p. 2273.

72 ‘Central America, Annual Report 1912’, p. 13 of the report, in Confidential Print.

73 Heimké to Secretary of State, 5 Feb. 1913 and 17 May 1913, in Internal Affairs of El Salvador, 1910–29. The murderer confessed that he had been hired by Guatemalan authorities, but the new Salvadorean government, probably to avoid a war, blamed, without evidence, Prudencio Alfaro, a rival for the fledgeling government. Araujo's successor decreed a state of siege that allowed him to arrest or exile the main opposition politicians.

74 ‘El triunfo del partido demócrata en Estados Unidos es la salvación de estos países’, Vox Populi, 25 July 1912, p. 1.

75 Bryan to Wilson, 15 Jan. 1914, in Wilson, Woodrow and Link, Arthur S., The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, vol. 29 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979), p. 134.

76 Letter from Heimké to Department of State, 12 July 1913, in US Department of State, Records of the Department of State Relating to Political Relations between the United States and Central America, 1911–29 (hereafter Political Relations US–CA, 1911–29), Microcopy 673 (Washington, DC: National Archives Microfilm, 1968).

77 ‘Por fin Bryan ha demostrado que la política de los demócratas es tan imperialista como la de los republicanos yanquis’, Diario del Salvador, 23 July 1913, p. 1.

78 Letter from Heimké to Department of State, 29 July 1913, in Political Relations US–CA, 1911–29.

79 ‘Se fundó en Santa Tecla el Comité de Defensa Nacional’, Diario del Salvador, 7 Aug. 1913, p. 2.

80 Letter from Heimké to Department of State, 29 July 1913, in Political Relations US–CA, 1911–29.

81 ‘Entrevista con el señor presidente de la República sobre asuntos de actualidad’, Diario del Salvador, 26 July 1913, p. 1.

82 ‘Salvador Would Reject Our Protection’, New York Times, 24 July 1913, p. 1.

83 Letter from Heimké to Department of State, 12 Aug. 1913, in Political Relations US–CA, 1911–29.

84 ‘Bryan's Nicaragua Project Discarded’, The Sun, New York, 3 Aug. 1913, p. 3.

85 Lorenzo Montúfar explained how the floats constituted ‘allegories that mark the situation of the country and the tendencies of the parties’. Montúfar, Lorenzo, Reseña histórica de Centro-América, vol. 6 (Guatemala: La Unión, 1887), p. 66.

86 ‘Días agostinos’, Diario del Salvador, 26 July 1912, p. 1.

87 ‘El Barrio de La Vega y su carroza’, Diario del Salvador, 30 July 1913, p. 1.

88 ‘Ecos de El Salvador’, La República, 6 Sept. 1914, p. 2.

89 During the festivities of Chalchuapa, in the western region, a float celebrated Mexican resistance to the US invasion of Veracruz. See ‘Simpática fiesta de los obreros en Chalchuapa’, La República, 6 Sept. 1914, p. 2. For another example of a float with a nationalist allegory, see ‘San Marcos. Como se celebró el aniversario de nuestra independencia’, La Prensa, 22 Sept. 1916, p. 2.

90 ‘La manifestación del lunes en Santa Ana’ and ‘Gran manifestación a favor de México’, Diario del Salvador, 29 April 1914, p. 2.

91 ‘Salvador for Mexico’, New York Tribune, 28 May 1914, p. 2.

92 A rally of thousands of people in 1913 is described in detail in ‘El mitin de anoche’, El Noticiero, 25 July 1913, p. 6.

93 Speeches and documents related to these events are reproduced in Liga de la Defensa Nacional Centroamericana, Labor hondureña por la autonomía de Centro-América (Comayagüela: El Sol, 1914).

94 See ‘Verdad amarga’, La Opinión, 26 July 1913, p. 1; ‘Pro-Patria’, La Campaña, 30 July 1913, p. 2. The extent of popular anti-imperialism in Guatemala was not clear until the end of Estrada Cabrera's term. In August 1919 student demonstrators yelled ‘death to the Yankees’ in a demonstration. Anti-imperialist rhetoric was rampant in the events surrounding the fall of the dictator in 1921. See Mary Catherine Rendon, ‘Manuel Estrada Cabrera, Guatemalan President 1898–1920’, unpubl. PhD diss., Oxford University, 1988, p. 246; Salisbury, Richard V., Anti-imperialism and International Competition in Central America: 1920–1929 (Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1989), p. 24.

95 ‘El protectorado sólo beneficiaría a algunos comerciantes, sacrificando el amor propio nacional’, Diario del Salvador, 30 July 1913, p. 1.

96 ‘Se escudriñará la política del Departamento de Estado en Centro América’, Diario del Salvador, 13 Dec. 1912, p. 1.

97 Acta municipal, 15 Sept. 1912, Archivo Municipal, Santa Ana, ‘Libro de Actas Municipales 1912’.

98 ‘Comités de defensa en El Salvador’, Diario del Salvador, 7 Sept. 1912, p. 1.

99 Comité Salvadoreño de la Liga Nacional Centroamericana, Manifesto from the Salvadorian People in Central America, to the People of the United States (San Salvador: La Unión, 1913). Judging by the people signing the pamphlet, this committee was different from the organisation that emerged from the gathering at Hotel Granada.

100 ‘Salvador Snubs Ryan but Makes a Faux Pas’, Washington Herald, 9 July 1914, p. 3.

101 Liga de la Defensa Nacional Centroamericana, Labor hondureña por la autonomía, pp. 10–11.

102 ‘Canal Treaty has Opposition’, Washington Herald, 27 Dec. 1913, p. 1.

103 ‘La reunión patriótica de ayer’, Diario Latino, 12 Jan. 1914, p. 1.

104 Ibid.

105 Merlos, América Latina ante el peligro, p. 278.

106 ‘Oppose New Canal Treaty’, The Sun, New York, 14 Jan. 1914, p. 3; ‘Oppose Treaty with US’, Evening Star, Washington, DC, 13 Jan. 1914, p. 2.

107 ‘Texto oficial de las resoluciones adoptadas por la Liga Patriótica de Costa Rica’, La República, San José, Costa Rica, 18 March 1914, p. 1.

108 Gramajo, José Ramón, Fuentes históricas (Mazatenango: n.p., 1946), p. 105.

109 Merlos, América Latina ante el peligro, p. 279.

110 Bonilla, Policarpo, Wilson Doctrine: How the Speech of President Wilson at Mobile, Ala., Has Been Interpreted by the Latin-American Countries (New York: n.p., 1914), p. 3.

111 ‘To Fight Nicaragua Treaty’, New York Times, 16 Jan. 1914, p. 2; ‘Central America Fears Bryan Policy’, Brooklyn Eagle, 29 March 1914, p. 6.

112 ‘Exposición del doctor Policarpo Bonilla al Comité de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado norteamericano’, Diario del Salvador, 1 May 1913, p. 4.

113 ‘Mensaje presentado a la Asamblea Nacional por el Señor Presidente de la República’, Diario Oficial, 20 Feb. 1914, p. 381.

114 A draft treaty reached President Wilson's desk although it was never signed. It stated that ‘The Republic of Salvador grants to the United States of America, for the term of ninety-nine years […] the exclusive right to establish and maintain a naval base on or within the Gulf of Fonseca.’ Department of State to Boaz Long, 8 Dec. 1915, US Department of State, Records of the Department of State Relating to Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910–29, (hereafter Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910–29), Microcopy 632 (Washington, DC: National Archives Microfilm, 1966).

115 Edward J. Hale to Department of State, 6 Aug. 1914, in Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910–29.

116 ‘Costa Rica Protests’, New York Times, 12 July 1913, p. 7; ‘Reject Bryan's Isthmian Policy’, New York Times, 21 July 1913, p. 1.

117 US Congress, Senate and Committee on Foreign Relations, Hearing of Committee on Foreign Relations, Sixty-Third Congress, Second Session (Washington, D C: Government Printing Office, 1914).

118 See Bryan to Francisco Dueñas, 18 Feb. 1914, in Boletín del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Feb.–March 1915, p. 8.

119 Wilson to Bryan, 20 Jan. 1914, in Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910–29.

120 Internal Affairs of Nicaragua, 1910–29, passim.

121 ‘New Fight on Treaty’, Washington Post, 27 June 1914, p. 2.

122 Kinzer, Stephen, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2018).

123 ‘Noticias de los departamentos’, La Prensa, 9 Feb. 1917, p. 2.

124 Letter from Thomas Hinckley to Department of State, 3 Oct. 1913, in Political Relations US–CA, 1911–29.

125 Sandino, Augusto César and Ramírez, Sergio, El pensamiento vivo de Sandino (San José: Editorial Universitaria Centroamericana, 1974), p. 330.

126 Friedman, Max Paul, ‘Retiring the Puppets, Bringing Latin America Back In: Recent Scholarship on United States–Latin American Relations’, Diplomatic History, 27: 5 (2003), pp. 621–36.

127 Keck, Margaret E. and Sikkink, Kathryn, ‘Transnational Advocacy Networks in International and Regional Politics’, International Social Science Journal, 51: 159 (1999), pp. 89101.

128 Héctor Lindo-Fuentes, ‘La United Fruit Company y el empréstito de 1922 en El Salvador’, Boletín de la Asociación para el Fomento de los Estudios Históricos en Centroamérica (April 2015), available at www.afehc-historia-centroamericana.org/?action=fi_aff&id=3934, last access 15 April 2020.

Keywords

El Salvador vs. Imperialismo Yanqui, 1912–14

  • Héctor Lindo-Fuentes (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.