Belén Conspiracy, an attempt made in December 1813 to secure Guatemala's independence from Spain. Alienated by the political repression imposed by Captain General José de Bustamante, a group of Guatemalan creoles seeking independence met in the cells of the Convent of Belén in Guatemala City near the end of 1813. There they planned to seize Bustamante, Guatemala's Archbishop Ramon Casaus y Torres, and principal military officers. Bustamante had originally seemed sympathetic to the creoles' concerns but soon acted against their interests. A number of rebellions occurred throughout the region in 1813, illustrating disgruntlement with and rejection of Bustamante's control, and by extension that of the Cortes of Cádiz as well. In March, creoles revolted in El Salvador, and in December of that year, creoles in León and Granada rebelled. The revolts were put down and the participants imprisoned by Bustamante.
The Belén conspirators sought to free the soldiers of the patriot army of Granada held prisoner by Bustamante and, more important, ultimately to declare independence. Their plans fell apart when they were discovered and arrested by local soldiers. Among those captured were Joaquín Yudice, Tomás Ruiz, and Fray Víctor Castrillo. The ringleaders and ten lesser participants were sentenced to hang but were later pardoned on 2 May 1818. Others were sent to Africa for ten years hard labor. José Francisco Barrundia escaped capture but was sentenced in absentia. He spent six years in hiding in Guatemala.
See alsoGuatemala .
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Heather K. Thiessen