How did South America gain its independence?

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Feb 8, 2018

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Latin America rather than South. Since Mexico and the whole of Central America gained independence approximately at the same time.

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The Latin American revolutions (excluding the Caribe Islands) all occurred between 1808/1810, the first act of the Mexican war of Independence and 1825.
They were however concluded in 1867 again in Mexico with the end of the French/Hapsburg occupation of the country.
All the other nations gained independence in between. Mostly during the 1821/25 revolutionary movement lead by Bolivar and San Martin.
Bolivar liberated the 6 countries that now fly the three horizontal stripes (Yellow, Blue and Red).
San Martin operated mostly in Argentina, Chile and Peru (where he met Bolivar).
But all other nations had their own heroes: Artigas in Uruguay, de Andrade e Silva in Brazil, Miguel Hidalgo in Mexico...

Specifically what prompted the Latin American revolutions was the tragic situation of Spain under French occupation after Napoleon moved in in 1808. Napoleon was not interested in America (see the Louisiana Purchase). The Latin American Creoles sensed that the time had come to fight for home rules. And of course they were successful as Spain had finished in poor conditions and lead by a week monarchy after the Congress of Vienna.

Peculiar are the situations of Brazil, and Mexico that actually fought for independence a number of times. Brazil was shortly an Empire occupied by the ousted son of the Portuguese king, exiled in 1822. It formally ousted the last imperial pretendent in 1889.
Mexico was occupied by Napoleon III who tried to recover a debt and was finally freed of foreigners in 1870 after the fall of the Second French Empire.

The final and complete independence of Latin America from Spain came with the Hispano American War of 1898 which ousted Spain and gave a free hand to the United States on the Caribe Islands and the Philippines.

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