The newly formed navies of the Latin American wars of independence sometimes raided or blockaded Spanish interests in other parts of the Americas. Consider the Liberating Expedition of Peru, the Expedición corsaria de Brown al Pacífico, Cochrane's raids in Baja California, and Bouchard's raids in Alta California, which were all northbound operations with foreign captains in charge.

Did only Rio de la Plata and Chile fund these operations in the other disintegrating viceroyalties, or did Nueva Granada, Peru, or Mexico ever do so too? Under what circumstances did the revolutionary American states seek to project naval power abroad?

1 Answer 1


The Latin American countries that "projected" naval power were the ones that had naval power. Notably Argentina and Chile.

There were a few reasons. First, those two countries had the longest coastlines of any hispanic South American country (Brazil was Portuguese.) Second, they had more English (read "naval") influences than the other Latin American countries. (Chile had Admiral Cochrane, for instance.) Third, it was easier for either country to project naval power to Peru; Chile, obviously, Argentina through the Straits of Magellan, with the ability to resupply in Chile. Of course, their navies could go to the north Pacific as well.

On the other hand, countries like Venezuela, Colombia, and Mexico (whose ports were mostly on the Caribbean) would find it hard to project naval power to Peru or other Pacific coast destinations in the days before the Panama Canal. (They would have to go all around the Southern Cone.) Ecuador and Bolivia (which then had a seacoast) were "too small" in terms of economy and population.

Peru was the last Spanish colony to be liberated, by others, not through her own efforts, so she wouldn't have sent forces to fight Spain elsewhere. The Mexican navy wasn't created until 1821, when its war of independence was basically won, whereas the Argentine navy had been created a decade earlier, at the beginning of the independence struggles, and the Chilean navy in 1817. The Colombian navy played a limited role early in the war of independence because it was blockaded by the larger Spanish navy, but distinguished itself in the Battle of Maracaibo in 1823, in Venezuelan waters.

  • I like this answer, thank you. Still, Mexico had a very long Pacific coastline with several ports and shipyards. Maybe they were not in revolutionary hands early enough to project power abroad. Nov 7, 2017 at 16:08
  • @AaronBrick: If I were in charge of the "Mexican" military, I'd invade California by land, not by sea. (Maybe Baja California via transport.) My understanding was that most of the "warships" were on the Caribbean coast, even though there were trading ports on the Pacific. My further understanding is that Mexico was more interested int (modern) "Texas" than California.
    – Tom Au
    Nov 7, 2017 at 16:51
  • There were plenty of Atlantic targets too. Did Mexico and Nueva Granada, in their independence struggles, never seek to raid Cuba or Hispaniola? Nov 8, 2017 at 0:52
  • @AaronBrick: Added new last paragraph about Mexican and Colombian navies.
    – Tom Au
    Nov 8, 2017 at 1:49
  • Just to respond to your idea about a land invasion, soldiers entering California from Mexico was to my knowledge never again attempted after the 1781 Yuma uprising. The Yuma controlled the only spot where the Colorado River could be forded, at the junction of the Gila. Nov 25, 2019 at 17:28

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