Caudillismo: Identity Landmark of Hispanic American Authoritarian Political Culture

The second source is by Alina Titei, Caudillismo: Identity Landmark of Hispanic American Authoritarian Political Culture. Titei presents three arguments made by scholars, including William H. Beezley mentioned previously, to explain the origins of caudillismo, “the Spanish monarchy, the colonial period, and the independence wars” (Titei. 286). Charles E. Chapman offers the first argument that the Spanish monarchy is the root of caudillismo, stating that similarities can be found in the attitudes of the conquistadors. Richard M. Morse, on the contrary, believes that the two Catholic monarchs Isabela and Ferdinand and their two distinct ideologies, “medieval and Renaissance, Thomistic and Machiavellian.” (qtd. in Titei. 287). He connects the birth of caudillos amid the chaos in Latina America with the emergence of condittieri’s in 15th century Italy. The second interpretation by William H. Beezley is as discussed in the first source. The third argument, considers caudillos a as the products of the war for independence, which created the perfect ground work for them to gain power. John Lynch, a supporter of this perspective caudillismo is one of the unique factors which forms the characteristics of Latin America and something that is “not by all means a natural descendant of the Spanish legacy”. The independence wars paved the way for clientelism, which was an advantage for caudillos with a unique position as a strong military leader. They were also the only ones who could manage the ethnic groups demanding for freedom. Tetai also presents a religious patron-client relationship, such as a child and a godfather, which are unique to Latin America. This text offers different ways of interpreting the emergence of caudillismo other than that of Beezley’s. By using this information, we will be able to demonstrate a multidimensional approach to the origins of caudillos and clientelism. However, although the three perspectives mentioned in the article seems to be most popular among scholars, it is important to note that other factors such as the Unitarian’s attitude towards the rural folk could have played a role in the emergence of caudillismo. This text also demonstrates characteristics of caudillismo specific to Hispano America. Through reading and writing about this document, I have become very interested in what makes Latin American Caudillismo unique. Comparing Latin American caudillos with other leaders considered to be caudillos in other parts of the world, such as Spain, is something I am planning to research further to present in the final video project.


Titei, A., & Alina Titei. (07/01/2013). Caudillismo: Identity landmark of hispanic american authoritarian political culture University Press.

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