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In 1809 the first autonomous governments, known as juntas, were formed in the cities of La Plata (today Sucre) and La Paz in response to the political crisis in Spain. The abdication of King Carlos IV and then his son Fernando VII under pressure from Napoleon had allowed French forces to seize power on the Iberian Peninsula. In the colonies, the early bid for power by creoles and mestizos received the support of urban plebeian sectors, though it generated little rural Indian allegiance and was quickly repudiated by Spanish civil and military authorities. This anonymous document, titled the “Proclamation of La Plata to the Valiant Inhabitants of the City of La Paz,” is undoubtedly one of the most radical political expressions of the period. It challenges the tyranny and “misgovernment” of colonial offcials and, in an indirect reference to the conquest, denounces the loss of liberty three centuries before. The strong sense of opposition between “Americans” and Spaniards that emerged in this period anticipated the overt struggle for independence in the 1810s.

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