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In the midst of the political campaign for the congressional elections of 1874, the lawyer and congressman Andrés Ibáñez confronted his rival in the central plaza of Santa Cruz, taking off and throwing to the ground his frock coat and shoes in a profoundly symbolic gesture to identify himself with the common people who were called “those without jackets.” He formed a club associated with the newspaper El Eco de la Igualdad (The Echo of Equality), which disseminated the slogan “We are all equal” and advocated for direct democracy, federalism, local municipal power, and regional autonomy. Andrés Ibáñez was considered dangerous by local elites, who turned to the central state to bring him down, although they might have benefited from a regionalist project. His arrest in October 1876 sparked a popular revolt that became known as “the revolution for equality.” Shortly afterward, an eastern federalist junta was proclaimed, a regional government that espoused federalist rather than centralist political principles. The junta would have also supported the plantation peons and called for a tax on sugar produced by the plantations. Ibáñez was captured and executed in 1877, shortly after his proclamation.

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