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Adolfo Camacho

Adolfo Camacho.

Adolfo Camacho was the last Premier of New Granada, serving in the 1880s until the conquest of New Granada by the United States of Mexico in the 1890 War for Salvation.

Camacho was serving as Premier in 1886 when the U.S.M. conquered Guatemala in the Isthmian War of October 1886. When Camacho protested the Mexican invasion and occupation of Guatemala, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión claimed to have found documents in Guatemala City showing a plot by Camacho, the Guatemalan government, and the French government to destroy the U.S.M. On 17 March 1887 Hermión produced documents that he claimed proved that Camacho and Martinez were planning an alliance or union directed against the U.S.M. Two months later, he produced more documents showing that New Granada, Guatemala and France were plotting to attack Mexico. French Premier Pierre Fornay claimed the documents were forgeries, and they were later proven to be so.

From 1887 to 1889, tens of thousands of Frenchmen suffering persecution in the U.S.M. fled to New Granada, while Hermión continued to denounce Camacho and his cabinet as "the devils of Bogotá." On 10 February 1890 Hermión addressed the Mexican Senate, claiming to have learned of a plot "hatched in Bogotá to assassinate leading members of this body, the Cabinet, and the Chief of State." Four days later, shots were fired at the homes of five senators, and bombs were found in the Presidential Palace. Hermión ordered the Fourth Army, stationed in Guatemala, to a state of readiness, and alerted elements of the U.S.M.'s Gulf and Pacific fleets to prepare for action.

Camacho called the ambassadors of Great Britain, the Confederation of North America, and Spain to his offices on 15 February and told them of events in Mexico, saying, "We will fight the Mexicans if it comes to that, but in our struggle we may need help. What will your countries do in this time of trouble?" He warned C.N.A. Ambassador Wesley Eagen that "today Hermión threatens La Guaira, tomorrow he may attack Norfolk. You must realize that we will fight, and may be able to defeat this madman without your help. But if we fail, you will be next. Guatemala was the doorway to Bogotá, and Bogotá may prove the gateway to Burgoyne." However, North American Governor-General Ezra Gallivan was unwilling to intervene militarily on New Granada's behalf, and the British and Spanish refused to act without him.

Camacho chose to strike first, and the War for Salvation began on 1 March 1890 when the New Granadan army under General Roberto Bermúdez invaded Guatemala, advancing to the Kincaid Canal. The next day, the Mexican First Fleet under Admiral Frank Butland took La Guaira, followed by Caracas on 3 March. Further west on the Gulf coast, the Mexican Third Fleet under Admiral Howard Loyo captured Santa Marta on 4 March, and the 34th Marine Brigade under Colonel David Brewster began advancing on Bogotá, reaching the capital on 8 June. Camacho and the rest of the New Granadan government had already fled the capital by then, but he was captured on 18 September. The war ended three days later when Bermúdez surrendered to General Miguel Aguilar in the Guatemalan city of Puebla.

Sobel makes no further mention of Camacho after his capture, but it is likely that Hermión had him executed.


Sobel's sources for Adolfo Camacho's time as Premier of New Granada are Eagen's memoirs In the Twilight (New York, 1909); as well as John Earley's A History of the New Granada Expedition (New York, 1914); Lydia Sulloway's El Jefe and the Lust for Empire (New York, 1943); Miguel Olin's El Jefe's War for Salvation (New York, 1956); Edward McGraw's The Mexican Empire and Its Cost (Melbourne, 1957); and John Pritchard's The Formation of the Mexican Empire (Mexico City, 1960).

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