Santiago de Liniers and four other Spanish loyalists were exe-
cuted by firing squad on August 26, 1810, near Cabeza del Tigre,
a poststation on the road between Córdoba and Buenos Aires. The
Primera Junta that had come to power with broad support from the
plebe in Buenos Aires on May 25 ordered the execution. In addition
to Liniers, the junta sentenced to death the governor intendant of
Córdoba, Juan Gutiérrez de la Concha, who had served with Liniers
in 1807, the local bishop, Rodrigo Antonio de Orellano, and three
lesser officials, including a militia commander. In the end the junta
spared only the bishop.
With most of Spain occupied by French armies and with the legiti-
macy of the Spanish Regency’s claims to rule the colonies disputed,
the creation of a junta in Buenos Aires in May 1810 was in many ways
inevitable. But a succession of economic shocks begun in the 1790s
and the social changes they engendered after 1800 had also helped
prepare the ground for this momentous event. A devastating region-
wide drought forced a rise in food costs and a local market opened
to more direct competition with European goods by the effects of
war combined to lower real wages and reduce employment security
for the porteño plebe even before the first British invasion. At the
same time a booming slave trade increased pressure on the wages
of free artisans and laborers while simultaneously devaluing skills
and threatening the traditional social status of manual labor. The re-
sult was a plebe detached from the structures and habits of the old
regime and politicized by decades of conflict within artisan trades
and with colonial authorities. The popular militia force created in re-
sponse to the two British invasions provided this stressed and trans-
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