Part VII - Forging an Alliance
The completion of a 3,000-man brigade of artillery in early March of 1838 greatly strengthened the miniscule Army of the Republic. Now numbering 12,000 full-time servicemen, new equipment was being produced and handed out to the men. Ammunition was now stockpiled in large quantities, newly made uniforms were issued out to replace the ragged and tattered clothes of the soldiers, training and disciplinary routines were being instituted, and the overall effectiveness of the troops began to rise.
On April 1, a diplomat arrived in the Oficina Ejecutiva, asking for an audience with President Morazán. Once he began speaking with the President, he announced why he had come. He was a Venezuelan diplomat who had come to ask the Federal Republic for a military alliance.
"President Soublette sends his regards, señor Presidente. I have come on his behalf to engage in talks with you and your advisers."
Morazán, sitting in the chair behind his desk, rose. "I see. I shall send for several of my advisers, then." He motioned to a guard at the door, who then stiffly walked out of the office, closing the door behind him. "What, exactly, are you here for, señor?"
The diplomat, standing alone in the center of the room, glanced towards the chair opposite Morazán. "May I?" he asked. Morazán grabbed two cigars from his desk drawer, nodded, and drew a box of matches. "Care for one?" he asked, but the diplomat simply shook his head with a simple "No, thank you, señor President." Morazán shrugged, struck a match, lit his cigar, took a breath from it, and leaned back in his chair.
A moment of silence came and went. It seemed that the diplomat was carefully choosing his words. "Should I start from the beginning?" asked the diplomat, and Morazán, suddenly leaning forward now, nodded affirmatively.
"Very well," he said, and took a breath. "When President Soublette assumed office not much longer than a year before today," he began, "he knew that something would happen between two countries on this continent. Well, the Americas, anyway," he said. His head danced back and forth on his shoulders as he struggled to pick apart his story. "Not a week ago, he was talking with President Santa Anna of Mexico. With a bit of... persuasion, let's just say," the diplomat said with a hint of amusement, "he managed to convince Anna to give him some information he had locked up in here." He tapped his temple, indicating his brain. "And, he let slip his plans of subjugating the Federal Republic of Central America."
He let this sink in, the deafening silence that overtook the room now growing to a roar. Morazán nodded slowly, his eyes focused on something in the distance that neither him nor the diplomat could see. His cigar hung from his mouth like a broken arm, and then he blinked and locked eyes with the diplomat. He pinched the cigar between his index and middle fingers and leaned forward, his arms on the desk. "And what does President Soublette have to say about that?"
"Taking into consideration that the Federal Republic is one of Venezuela's strongest allies to our north," the diplomat said with the obvious intention of creating flattery, "not too kindly, señor President. He's been worrying for you and your nation. Venezuela itself has just come out of a major economic crisis, and is barely hanging on with what we have. It's slow, but we're rebuilding. Soublette was shocked to see how quickly you convinced your Congress to hit the recession over the head so hard that it went running and never came back. Not to mention that Colombia is allied with Mexico, and Venezuela is allied with Ecuador. So," the diplomat glanced out the high window to Morazán's back, "Soublette has proposed a full military alliance between Venezuela and Central America."
Carlos Soublette, Venezuelan
President 1837-1839 and 1843-1847
At this the door to Morazán's office promptly swung open, and standing there was the Secretary of State, Francisco Alvarez, the Secretary of the Treasury, Esteban Vega, the Secretary of War, Jaime Torres, and, in full military dress, the Commander of the Federal Army, Diego Guzmán. Morazán stood, placing his cigar on his desk, and shook hands with each of the four men. The diplomat did the same.
After sitting down, Morazán motioned to the men. "Please, do tell them."
The diplomat said to the men in thirty seconds what he had told Morazán in five minutes.
Alvarez, Secretary of State, spoke up immediately. "I am all for an alliance with the Venezuelans," he said enthusiastically. "It will definitely help our relations with foreign countries and could possibly stave off an attack from the Mexicans."
"I disagree," cut in Secretary of the Treasury Vega. "Our economy barely escaped an absolute collapse less than two years ago. We are just now beginning to fill our coffers. An alliance like this will cost more money than we could ever afford. It will bankrupt us, and make us all the more easy to conquer."
Morazán shrugged towards Torres, Secretary of War. "What say you?" Torres shifted, uncomfortable, now in the spotlight. "I could mumble on and on about the state of our army, but I have no such field experience." He stepped back, and General Guzmán came forward. "The Federal Army is in good condition," he noted. "Our supply stockpiles could allow us another 3,000 full-time servicemen, bringing our standing army up to 15,000 men. Estimates report that the Mexican Army numbers around 15,000 as well. With another mob of conscripts that counts in excess of 10,000, we could definitely sustain a war against them for a period of time."
Morazán nodded. "Very well!" He hopped from his chair, standing straight and tall. "I accept this alliance that has been proposed," he stated profoundly, shaking hands with the diplomat. "¡Larga vida a nuestras naciones, libres y prósperas, una y inseparable!