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Christopher Minster

Christopher's Latin American History Blog


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The First Venezuelan Republic

Saturday April 19, 2014

Simon Bolivar

On April 19, 1810, Venezuelan patriots including Simon Bolivar and Francisco de Miranda formally broke from Spain, establishing the First Venezuelan Republic. Although this new nation was doomed to destruction by Spanish forces in 1812, it was nevertheless a bold step towards eventual independence.

The Battle of Cerro Gordo

Thursday April 17, 2014

General Winfield Scott

Mexican General Santa Anna had the invading Americans right where he wanted them. The American army was moving west from Veracruz and Santa Anna found the spot on the highway he wanted to defend. Arriving first, he placed his artillery and men in a textbook defensive position at Cerro Gordo. He didn't count on one thing: the Americans' secret weapon, Captain Robert E. Lee.


Real-life Pirates of the Caribbean

Tuesday April 15, 2014


Sure, we all love Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and Robert Newton as Long John Silver. But there's no need to turn to these movie pirates: the real-life Pirates of the Caribbean were much more interesting!

The Execution of Gonzalo Pizarro

Thursday April 10, 2014

The Capture of Gonzalo Pizarro

On April 10, 1548, Gonzalo Pizarro's ill-fated rebellion against the Spanish crown came to an end when he was executed for treason. It's a footnote of history now, but the legendary conquistador - and brother of Francisco Pizarro - came close to liberating Peru from the Spanish 300 years early.

The Bogotazo Riot

Wednesday April 9, 2014

The Bogotazo

On April 9, 1948, popular presidential candidate Jorge Eliecer Gaitan was assassinated in the street in Bogota, Colombia. The people of the city went berserk, igniting a riot of legendary proportions remembered today as the "Bogotazo."

The Battle of Celaya

Sunday April 6, 2014

Alvaro Obregon

On April 6, 1915, two giants of the Mexican Revolution finally squared off. On one side, Alvaro Obregon, the one-time farmer from Sonora, and on the other, Pancho Villa, the legendary bandit warlord from the north. Obregon had machine guns and a grasp of modern warfare, but Villa had the best cavalry in the world. The Battle of Celaya was a bloody affair that lasted ten days and cost thousands of lives. Which warlord emerged victorious?

Civil War Generals who Fought in the Mexican-American War

Friday April 4, 2014

George Meade

General Winfield Scott, commander of the American army that captured Mexico City in 1847, ending the Mexican-American War, once said that he never would have won if it were not for the skilled officers from West Point who were under his command. Fifteen years later, these same officers - many of them now promoted to Generals - would fight it out in the American Civil War, using strategies they had learned in  the crucible of Mexico. Here are ten famous Civil War Generals who got their start in the Mexican-American War.

Charles Vane, Pirate

Saturday March 29, 2014

Charles Vane

Charles Vane's piracy career came to an end on March 29, 1721, at the end of a rope in Port Royal. Vane wouldn't have had it any other way. A born pirate, Vane repeatedly refused pardons, partied with Blackbeard and fired on Royal Navy ships, because, well, he didn't like them.

The Galapagos Affair

Thursday March 27, 2014

Baroness and Philippson

On March 27, 1934, Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet, who styled herself "the Baroness of Galapagos" and her lover, Robert Philippson disappeared from remote Floreana Island in the Galapagos archipelago. According to the other settlers, the two had gone aboard a passing yacht headed for Tahiti. The problem: they were never seen or heard from again, and no one has ever been able to identify the passing yacht that supposedly took them away. Did I mention that all of the other settlers loathed them? To this day, disturbing questions linger.

The Ardeatine Caves Massacre

Monday March 24, 2014

Erich Priebke

On March 24, 1944, Gestapo agents took 335 Italian citizens out to the Ardeatine Caves outside of Rome. There, they were systematically shot before the caves were destroyed to bury the bodies. This was in retaliation for Italian partisans ambushing a convoy of German soldiers the day before. Justice for this massacre would have to wait fifty years, when, half a world away, former Nazi Erich Priebke gave an ill-advised interview to an American news crew, setting in motion a series of extraordinary events.

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