What Were The 3 Main Causes Of The Latin American Revolution

Do you care to know the 3 main causes of the Latin American Revolution? If yes, don’t skip this post. 

In the late 1808s, Spain’s New World Empire was dominating and considered powerful. It stretched from the western U.S. to South America, from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Island. Unfortunately, by 1825, they were all gone. 

Almost all Latin American territories became independent around the first few decades of the 19th century. And the Creoles led some of the Latin American Revolutions. 

But what led to the Latin American Revolution? Let’s check out the three primary reasons the revolution took place. 

What Were The 3 Main Causes Of The Latin American Revolution

The causes of the Latin American Revolution are diverse and complex. Each colony had a reason for seeking a revolution.

But the good thing is, all the colonies that embarked on the revolution had three broad reasons that coincided. Let’s discuss them in detail. 

Reason #1: Dissatisfaction with the colonial order: 

The colonial power had a political structure that angered the people. An example is the Spanish Creole’s rejection of the peninsular rule.

The class hierarchy was rigid in Spanish colonies, which comprised more Latin Americans. In other words, at the top, you’ll find people born in Spain, known as the Peninsulares.  

The word “peninsulares” refers to people who were born in Spain. However, in the hierarchy, below the peninsulares are the Creoles, which the Spanish people call criollos. 

The hierarchy didn’t stop at the Creoles. In fact, below them are the mixed race or indigenous people, enslaved people, including the free people descended from Africans. They all occupied the bottom part of the social class.     

The Creoles comprised individuals of pure-blood Spanish descent. They are people born in the colonies. 

Unfortunately, under Spanish rule, the peninsulares got the highest positions in government. The Creoles were heavily discriminated against. 

The Spanish government during that period even preferred offering Spanish immigrants higher positions than the Creoles.       

The Spanish colony at the time boasts a thriving class comprising Creoles. They were wealthy individuals, men and women of European ancestry, born in the New World. 

The Creoles became wealthier. They became merchants and landowners in the colonies. Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary hero, is an example of how much the Creoles flourished. 

Simon Bolivar was born into a wealthy family in Caracas who had lived in Venezuela for over four generations. Many Creoles went to school and received proper education in Europe. 

So, they had ideas of what equality looked like. They schooled in Europe and had great exposure. Unfortunately, many didn’t like that the Spanish government wasn’t considering them for critical roles. 

Even in the audiencia, also called court, there were no native Venezuelans. But in the past, it wasn’t so. The political order started to seem like bondage for the Creoles, and some started calling for independence.

The indigenous people, African descendants, and other mixed races supported the Creole’s call for independence. Thus, when the Latin American Revolution began, they joined forces with the Creoles, as they were also seeking legality. 

Reason#2: No free trade:

The Spanish New World Empire, which the Creoles were part of, produced several goods. They were great merchants and cared about business so much. 

They produced cacao, coffee, wine, textiles, minerals, and more. Unfortunately, Spain stood in the way of the colonies. They mandated the colonies to only sell to Spanish merchants at rates that benefited the merchants more. 

Most Latin Americans didn’t fancy the Spanish people’s order to limit trade to only Spanish merchants. Instead, they started using illegal means to sell their products to the British colonies. 

After 1783, the Latin Americans added the United States merchants. However, Spain moved to loosen some trade restrictions in the late 18th century. But by that time, it was already too late. 

Reasons #3: The American and French Revolutions: 

They say experience is the best teacher. And indeed, it is. The American Revolution took place before the French Revolution. So, the French took inspiration to start a revolution in America. 

The Latin Americans also followed this direction. By 1810, they were already looking to other countries to weigh up their revolutions and outcome.

The American Revolution occurred from 1765 to 1783 and it was considered a positive influence on the Latin Americans. The Latin Americans liked the outcome of the revolution. They viewed it as elite leaders of colonies kicking European rule off their land and replacing it with a democratic society that was fair to all. 

The French Revolution also inspired Latin Americans to reclaim their lands. It had a more direct impact on Latin Americans. 

1807 Napoleon invaded Portugal, forcing the King, Dom Joao VI, to run away to Brazil with his royal family. Napoleon and the Spanish had been close allies. But things changed in 1808.  

What transpired was that Napoleon worked against the Spanish. He removed King Fernando VII and replaced him with his brother. 

Napoleon’s act caused a serious political crisis across the Spanish colonies. People hated the French Rule, and that resentment forced the Spanish colonies to act. 

What did the colonies do? They declared autonomous juntas or councils, which ruled in Fernando’s name. Fernando finally got back his throne in 1813. 

But the experiment in self-government and a strong desire to continue was instrumental in the colonies settling for complete independence. 

They had tested self-governance and noted the massive difference. But they know they may only get the full independence they sought with a fight. 

The Latin Americans used the revolutions after the American Revolution as inspiration for theirs. However, the Haitian Revolution was bloody, though a success. 

The Haitian Revolution was about enslaved people rising against the French colonial enslavers. The revolution started in 1791 and ended in 1804. 

Other Reasons The Latin American Revolution Took Place

We have discussed the three major causes of the Latin American Revolution. These include a weak and vulnerable Spain, racism, and Napoleon’s invasion of Spain.  

Here’s an example. 

Spain was weak and vulnerable: In wars, the best time to attack your opponents is when they are weak or leaderless. They are most vulnerable during such a period.

Spain experienced the same thing. In 1788, they lost a competent ruler, Charles III of Spain. When he died, Charles IV, his son, assumed office. 

Charles IV was the direct opposite of his father. He was unfit to become the ruler, and at such a difficult period, he was super angry at the Spanish. 

Charles IV loved hunting and did it frequently. His absence meant the ministers were the ones running the empire. Even when he presided over matters, Charles IV remained indecisive and weak.

Spain and Napoleonic France (the first French Empire) had previously worked together. They joined forces to fight the British. 

Unfortunately, Spain’s weak leadership was evident for everyone to see. Even potential enemies were very much aware of Charles VI’s weakness. 

The presence of Spain in the New World diminished, thanks to the Spanish military being un-effective. But as this continued, the Creoles continued their grievances. They felt ignored by the authorities.  

The French and Spanish naval forces suffered a massive defeat in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar. The Spanish military was crushed, making it impossible for the Spanish government to keep control of the colonies. 

So, when Great Britain moved in, they had a free run at the Spanish. They attacked Buenos Aires from 1806 to 1807, and Spain could not defend the city. Instead, a local militia stood for the region.


So, what were the 3 main causes of the Latin American Revolution? The three main reasons are dissatisfaction with the political order in the land, no free trade, and revolutions in other places. 

Spain neglected the Creoles. The Spanish government prefers to give the highest political positions to the Spanish people alone. The no free trade was another reason the Latin American Revolution took place. 

The fight didn’t take place immediately there was a “no free trade,” but the anger of the people multiplied. Spain wanted the merchants to sell to only Spanish merchants at prices that would benefit them more. 

The American and French Revolutions also motivated Latin Americans to fight for independence. 

Francis Stein
Francis Stein
Francis Stein is a writer and traveler who has already traveled most of the states of America. He loves to explore new places and meet new people, and he hopes to continue traveling the world in search of adventure. Francis enjoys writing about his experiences as a way of sharing his love for exploration with others.


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