, officially the Republic of Valverde ( Spanish: Republica de Valverde )
is an island nation in the southwestern Carribean, located south of the Cayman Islands and east of Honduras. It is third largest island in the Carribean, after Cuba and Hispaniola, and is home to more than 9 million people. The capital and largest city is Villa Isabel.
When Christopher Columbus landed in the islands during his second voyage, he named the island Isla de Val Verde
, which literally translates to island of green valley
, referring to the island's scenic green beauty.
Prior to the arrival of Spanish colonizers, Valverde was sparsely populated, only few Tainos and Ciboney people that migrated from Cuba had settled the northern coasts of Guana and the Islas de los Rosarios. Christopher Columbus discovered the islands during his second voyage, and established a Spanish settlement in the island, which later expanded to become the capital city of Villa Isabel, named after the Queen of Spain. The tiny Amerindian population was nearly wiped out due to combined factors: the European borne diseases and harsh treatment of the Spaniards.
Christopher Columbus during his arrival in the islands, welcomed by the Tainos.
Valverde became one of Spain's most treasured colonies in the region. For the first three centuries after the conquest, the island remained a stopping point for the Spanish fleet, which visited the New World and returned to Spain with the mineral wealth of continental America. It has rich sugar and pineapple plantations, the island was perfect for growing sugar, being dominated by rolling plains, with rich soil and adequate rainfall. Valverde, however, failed to prosper before the 1760s, due to Spanish trade regulations. Spain had set up a trade monopoly in the Caribbean, and their primary objective was to protect this, which they did by barring the islands from trading with any foreign ships. The resultant stagnation of economic growth was particularly pronounced in Valverde because of its great strategic importance in the Caribbean, and the stranglehold that Spain kept on it as a result. Villa Isabel was a thriving commercial hub in the region. Due to it's strategic importance, Valverde was repeatedly attacked by the British, but all of their invasion attempts were futile.
The British fleet entering Villa Isabel in one of it's invasion attempts, 1762.
The Declaration of Independence by the 13 British colonies of North America, and the victory of the French Revolution of 1789, influenced early Cuban liberation movements, as did the successful revolt of black slaves in Haiti in 1791. One of the first, headed by a free black, Antonio Cortez, was aimed at gaining equality between "mulatto and whites" and the abolition of sales taxes and other fiscal burdens. However, this initial attempt to gain independence was defeated by the Spaniards.
A successful war of independence was waged by the mulatto Alvaro Saavedra del Rosario, leading to the country's independence from Spain in 1824. Like her sister republics in Latin America, Valverde rose as a fragile republic whose growth was hampered by political strife and social chaos, there were rapid transfers of power, mostly unpeaceful, and rise and downfall of dictatorial regimes. Spain attempted to recapture Valverde in 1864, but Spain's defeat in the Chincha Islands War against Chile and Peru prevented the deployment of a Spanish armada to Valverde. The Liberals dominated the political arena in the late 19th century, bringing in social, political, and economical reforms that resulted to a period of modernization, stability, and prosperity.
Alvaro Saavedra del Rosario, the father of Valverdean independence
Populist leaders ruled Valverde in the 1920s and the 1930s. The economy stagnated and local unrest increased due to the chronic effects of the Great Depression to the country's American-dependent economy. In 1934, amidst these chaos, the Armed Forces, led by General Salvador Olayres Ferrer seized power. Olayres ruled the country in iron hand, the country experienced stable economic performance in exchange of human rights abuses and repression by his regime.
Villa Isabel in 1934.
General Olayres, dictator of Valverde from 1934 to 1959.
Valverde participated in World War 2, though Olayres admired the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, declaring war against the Axis right after the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor. Valverdean military performed anti-submarine patrols and convoy escorts in the Carribean during the war, in return receiving millions of dollars of aid from the US through the Lend Lease. Valverde is a founding member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The Olayres' regime began to experience growing unpopularity in the 1950s. Following the war's end, Valverdean exports decreased as the demands diminished, causing a slowdown in the economy, millions of people living in poverty, massive unemployment, and increasing violence and crime incidence. In 1959, Olayres died of stroke, and an election was held, the first in almost three decades. Democracy was restored in Valverde.
During the Cold War, the US consistently provided military assistance to Valverde. For example, new combat battalions were created, and increasing numbers of Honduran military personnel were trained at the United States Army School of the Americas. By the end of the 60's US military funding had increased considerably. Clearly, from this, it is evident that Valverde was of much importance to the US, not only economically but politically as well – if Valverde fell to communism, all of central America would most certainly follow suit and the Panama Canal would be in grave danger. US-Valverdean ties further increased in the 80s when the US aimed to strike a counterforce against the Sandinista government (who was communist) in Nicaragua. Because of its strategic location, Valverde was of much importance to the US. It was essentially a base for US confrontation in Central America.
American fighters at San Sebastian Air Base during the 1970s.
In Valverde, efforts to establish guerrilla movements foundered on the generally conservative attitude of the population. Nevertheless, fears that the civil wars wracking its neighbors might spread to the country led to the killings and disappearances of leftists, spearheaded by the army's "Red Berets" battalion. Relatively stable Valverde became a key base for the Reagan administration's response to the crisis. U.S. troops held large military exercises in Valverde during the 1980s, and trained thousands of Salvadorans and Contras in the country.
Valverdean military adviser training Nicaraguan Contras.
Democratic systems continued to strengthen in Valverde in the 21st century. Valverde remained one of Central America’s most-successful economies in the early 21st century, as industrial production generally grew and unemployment decreased. The country's first female president, Margareta Reyes-Soublette, was elected in 2012. Currently, Valverde is one of the most prosperous and most stable states in the region, leading Central America in economic growth, and has the lowest incidence of crime, violence, and government corruption.
Valverde has the largest economy in the Carribean and in Central America, it's GDP in 2017 amounted to $324.07 billion. Valverde did not, however, depend as heavily on agriculture and mining as did many Latin American countries, but rather developed an economy based on manufacturing as well. Thus, Valverde has become one of the more urbanized Latin American societies, with a burgeoning middle class. The Valverdean economy is based on the exploitation of agricultural, fishing, forest, and mining resources. Valverde developed historically on the basis of a few agricultural and mineral exports, as was common in Latin America. Many manufactured products had to be imported, and land, wealth, and power were concentrated in the hands of a small aristocracy. Although there were land reforms and development of manufacturing, many of Valverde’s economic problems in the 20th century were related to the country’s early economic structure.
Skyline of Villa Isabel during nighttime.
The Armed Forces of Valverde ( Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas del Valverde )
is Valverde's national security force for territorial defense. With a force of 49,000 active personnel and 52,000 reservists, it is the second largest military in the Carribean, after Cuba. Three branches comprise the military: the Army ( Ejercito de Valverde )
, the Air Force ( Fuerza Aerea de Valverde )
, and the Navy ( Armada de Republica de Valverde )