Posts Tagged ‘Simon Bolivar’

SIMON BOLIVAR (1783-1830) South American
Liberator, Statesman

Born in Caracas, Venezuela his astounding career left his imprint on South American politics, a proof of which is Bolivia: Bolivia is named for Bolívar. His first opportunity arrived when a revolt erupted in 1810. Spain already weakened by the Napoleonic Wars could not hold onto its empire. Bolivar had no military experience other than the American War of Independence for model. After a series of military victories Venezuela gained independence (1813), but in the civil war that followed his forces were defeated by a royalist army (1815). Man of daring resolution who, like his hero George Washington had great capacity to bear adversity.

After exile in Jamaica, -he received help from President Alexandre Pétion of Haiti, he returned to lead rebel forces based in Orinoco. In 1819 he defeated the Spanish and established the republic of Greater Colombia, a federation that included present-day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. Further victories in Peru, at Junin and Ayacucho (1824) spelled the end of Spanish rule Peru.
Bolivar was a complex man. Born to privileges and educated abroad( he was present during the coronation of Napoleon) he nurtured a vision of a united South America* which however was never realized. As in the case of Napoleon who carried with him the nationalist ideals in his Italian campaign Bolivar’s victories created various separatist movements. Their parochial outlook made them resent at the grand vision of their liberator. Towards the end he complained thus:’Those of us who have toiled for liberty in South America have but plowed the sea.’ In 1830 Bolívar resigned as president of Greater Colombia in 1830, just months before dying from tuberculosis. Unlike his hero who died a man venerated by all he died penniless.
Note:* Pan Americanism
Bolívar had a dream of uniting all South American, Central American and Caribbean countries and turning them into a single, economically independent country, which he had planned to name Estados Unidos de Latinoamérica, or The United States of Latin America. There was a meeting(1826)in Panama by Latin American presidents and governors to discuss this and rejected by only one vote.
While in Paris, Bolivar met Alexander von Humboldt, the great naturalist who had just returned after five years in South America. As von Humboldt spoke of the enormous natural resources and wonders of the continent, Bolivar remarked, “In truth, what a brilliant fate–that of the New World, if only its people were freed of their yoke.”

Von Humboldt responded, “I believe that your country is ready for its independence. But I can not see the man who is to achieve it.” It was a fateful comment Bolivar was to vividly recall the rest of his life.(Gerhard Masur: Simon Bolivar p.37/Albuquerque-University of New Mexico Press.1948)


Read Full Post »