1839-1870 1918-1945

Costa Rica
Nicaragua Honduras
El Salvador

Central America, 1870-1918

The 1870es and the following decades were the era of Liberalism. Liberal politicians advocated the separation of church and state, the confiscation of church property, promoted the economy by developing the infrastructure and introducing new agricultural crops - Coffee in El Salvador, Bananas in Honduras and Nicaragua. Initially very successful, these states became known as the Coffee respectively Banana Republics. The plantation economy was promoted by the confiscation of communal land and by forcing landless peasants to work the plantations (vagrancy laws). This policy resulted in a very inequal distribution of land property, a major source of the political violence of the 1970es and 1980es, as well as in a high economical dependece on the single export product.
The idea of a Central American confederation was not dead; the governments of Guatemala and Nicaragua continued to interfere in their neighbour's affairs. Guatemaltecan dictator JUSTO RUFINO BARRIOS ordered his troops in 1885 to invade El Salvador - and died in the BATTLE OF CHALCHUAPA. At the turn of the century, it was Nicaraguan dictator JOSE SANTOS ZELAYA (1894-1909) who advocated the reestablishment of the Central American Federation. The only lasting success was the establishment of a CENTRAL AMERICAN COURT OF JUSTICE (1897). While most Central American republics saw a succession of dictators, Costa Rica in 1889 established a functioning parliamentary democracy.

Articles from Infoplease : Central American Federation

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on November 5th 2004

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