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The republican ideas of the Enlightenment shaped the struggle for independence in Latin America--or, more accurately, the leaders of the struggle self-consciously adopted the ideas of the Enlightenment to legitimize their cause. But adopting enlightened ideals such as the equality of men and representative government to validate the quest for independence was not without its contradictions; for example, while creoles sought independence from Spain (their own freedom), they were reluctant to grant freedom to slaves. In this light, the enlightened discourse that stressed freedom and a common national identity should be understood and analyzed as a means of representation rather than an accurate reflection of actual social relations.

San Martín's appeal to Indians as "Peruvians," implying a recognition of all locals as emergent citizens, was coherent during the independence struggle, as the leaders of the fight sought the enlistment of as many men as possible in military service. But this appeal is especially problematic, as it reacted against an actual lack of unity among "Peruvians" (a point which Meisel failed to stress). A vast number of Indians in Perú sided with (and fought for) Spain and this was the last country in continental Spanish America to attain its independence. More generally, slaves throughout Spanish America were not so supportive of the independence cause. This was partly due to the fact that the Crown had actually issued laws for a more humane treatment of slaves, which creoles opposed.15

Given the lack of cohesion among different socioracial sectors and the resulting limitations of the independence movement, independence leaders sought to build unity among 'Americans', thereby building consensus and physical support for their fight. But some of the leaders saw the contradictions in the struggle, which people like Angela Batallas pointed out. In his famous "Jamaica Letter," Bolívar recognized the ambiguities of the creole position in the fight against Spain, as he argued that

we [creoles] are neither Indians nor Europeans, but a species midway between the legitimate proprietors of the country and the Spanish usurpers. In short, Americans by birth, we derive our rights from Europe, and we have to assert these


15. For example, the 1789 legislation. Anderson, Imagined Communities, 51.
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