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rights against the rights of the natives, and at the same time defend ourselves against the hostility of the invaders.16

Creoles were in opposition to both Indians (recognized by Bolívar as rightful owners of the land) and Spain. The Libertador thus understood the internal tensions and enmities that undermined a concerted fight against Spain, as creoles fought against Spanish oppression of creoles but not against creole oppression of Indians and blacks.

In this light, San Martín's talk of a Peruvian identity should be understood not as a statement of fact (that Indians, creoles, and blacks indeed thought of themselves as Peruvians) but as part of a political program (that they should think of themselves as Peruvians). That program aimed at conciliating different social sectors under an artificially created identity.17 This identity, in turn, was based on a national18 appeal that intended to blur internal divisions (racial, regional, socioeconomic) by identifying an external enemy (Spain) in opposition to which "Peruvians" could unite.

In a sense, while proposing a common identification for Indians, blacks and creoles as "Peruvians," San Martín's statement created a space of "false disidentification, of false distance towards the actual co-ordinates of those subjects' social existence." This process calls for a rhetorical abandonment of previous identities, but not for the subversion of the social roles that

 

 

16. Simón Bolívar, "Answer of a South American to a Gentleman of this Island" (letter to Mr. Henry Cullen of Falmouth, Jamaica, Kingston, 6 September 1815) translated in John Lynch, ed., Latin American Revolutions, 1808-1826: Old and New World Origins (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 308-320, 312.
17. Anderson opportunely remarks that San Martín's edict derived from the intention to define the nation around Spanish as a common language (even if Indians in Perú spoke mainly Quechua). This process of identification is comparable to (forcible) religious conversion and contemporary immigrant "naturalization." Imagined Communities, 133.
18. The emergent nations were geographically defined more or less following the Spanish administrative structures: virreinatos (viceroyalties), gobernaciones (present-day provinces) and alcaldías (province subdivisions, like counties). Accordingly, national appeal was grounded on each administrative structure. There is in general (not just in the Americas) an isomorphic relation between the geographical limits of nation-states (and nationalisms) and the territorial stretches of previous colonial administrative units. See Anderson, Imagined Communities, 50-65 and 105-107.

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