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Latinx Heritage Month

On this day in Latinx history: The Act of Independence of Central America

Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua break from Spain and achieve their sovereignty

Five Central American countries — Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua — dissolved their ties to Spain and gained their independence on Sept. 15, 1821.

A delegation of members from each of the five countries gathered in Guatemala City and created the Act of Independence of Central America, which officially made the countries sovereign entities independent of Spain.

There was no fighting or blood spilled, and to give local leaders time to transition into roles of power, the royal governors of the five provinces were held over.

In 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés decimated the Aztecs in what is now Mexico and became governor in Mexico City. Cortés and Francisco Hernández de Córdoba explored and made inroads in the lands that would form Honduras and Nicaragua.

Cortés’ second in command, Pedro de Alvarado, was commissioned to settle the new lands. He first brought modern-day Guatemala to heel in 1523. A year later, Alvarado invaded and conquered Nicaragua and Costa Rica, as well as El Salvador in 1528 and Honduras in 1532 (he was named governor of Honduras the same year). These countries would form Captaincy General of Guatemala, which also included Chiapas, a state in Mexico, in 1609. Spain’s King Philip III was the head of the state.

After almost 300 years of Spanish colonial rule, the five countries, taking lessons from Mexico’s independence from Spain and the American colonies’ liberation from England, finally achieved their sovereignty.

Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 to mark the magnitude of that day, as well as Mexico’s and Chile’s independence days — Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively — falling within days of the Act of Independence of Central America.

Forty-nine years ago, the celebration of Latinx culture was held for a week under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s tenure. Twenty years later — on Aug. 17, 1988 — President Ronald Reagan expanded the observance to a 30-day period.

Liner Notes

The Undefeated and ESPN Deportes are partnering to publish Latinx history stories for the next month.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.