Saturday, 11 June 2016

Simon Bolivar........The Great Liberator.


*     Hundreds of readers like me are indebted to the Great Marquez for introducing us to Simon Bolivar, arguably one of the greatest liberators of the world. I’m quite surprised that the great general is not so well known outside the two Americas and Europe. Until I read, ‘The General in His Labyrinth’ did I know about this great man, who took on the might of the Spanish Army and liberated and created Gran Colombia. Here's a brief about Simon Bolivar.

 Simon Bolivar (1783-1830)

*      Bolivar’s ancestors came from a small village in the Basque Country of Spain and settled in Venezuela in the 16th century. His first South American ancestor was Simon de Bolivar. Simón Bolívar was born in Caracas, Venezuela on 24 July 1783. He was baptized as Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios. His mother was María de la Concepción Palacios y Blanco, and his father was Colonel Don Juan Vicente Bolívar y Ponte. He had two older sisters and a brother. 

*      His father died before Bolívar's third birthday and his mother died when he was almost nine. After his mother's death, Bolívar was placed in the custody of an instructor, Miguel José Sanz, but this relationship didn’t work out and he was sent back home. He went on to receive private lessons from various renowned professors. Don Simón Rodriguez became Bolívar's friend and mentor who instilled in him the ideas of liberty, enlightenment and freedom.

*    Through years of military training, he developed a passion for the armaments and military strategy, which he later would put to use in the wars of independence. A few years later in Paris he witnessed the coronation of Napolean, an event that left a profound impression on him. From that moment, he wanted to bring similar glory to the people of his native land. 

*      After returning to Venezuela, Bolivar joined the group of patriots that seized Caracas in 1810 and proclaimed independence from Spain. He went to Great Britain in search of aid, but could get only a promise of British neutrality. When he returned to Venezuela and took command of a patriots’ army. He recaptured Caracas in 1813 from the Spaniards, but the Spaniards forced him to retreat from Venezuela to New Granada (now Colombia), also at war with Spain. He took command of a Colombian force and captured Bogota in 1814. 

*     The patriots, however, lacked men and supplies, and new defeats led Bolivar to flee to Jamaica. In Haiti he gathered a force that landed in Venezuela in 1816, and took Angostura and became dictator there. He marched into New Granada in 1819 and defeated the Spaniards in Boyar in 1819, thus liberating Colombia. He then returned to Angostura and led the congress that organized the original republic of Colombia (now Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, and Venezuela). Bolivar became its first president on December 17, 1819.

*    Bolivar crushed the Spanish army at Carabobo in Venezuela on June 24, 1821. Next, he marched into Ecuador and added that territory to the new Colombian republic. After a meeting in 1822 with another great liberator, Bolivar became dictator of Peru. His army won a victory over the Spaniards at Auacucho in 1824, which needed Spanish power in South America. Upper Peru became a separate state, named Bolivia in Bolivar's honour, in 1825. The constitution, which he drew up for Bolivia, is one of his most important political pronouncements.

*     He had great difficulty in maintaining control over the vast Gran Colombia. In 1826, internal divisions sparked dissent throughout the nation, and regional uprisings erupted in Venezuela. Gran Colombia had become fragile and was on the verge of collapse. To preserve the union, an amnesty was declared for the Venezuelan rebels, but this increased the political dissent in the neighbouring regions. In an attempt to keep the nation together as a single entity, he called for a constitutional convention in March 1828. 

*      His dream was freedom for all races in the Americas, and for this reason and to prevent a break-up, he sought to implement a more centralist model of government in Gran Colombia, which included a lifetime presidency with ability to select a successor. This move was considered controversial in New Granada and thus failed. 

*   Two months after the failure to write a new constitution, Bolívar was declared president-liberator in Colombia. He considered this as a temporary measure, as a means to re-establish his authority and save the republic, although it increased dissatisfaction and anger among his political opponents. An assassination attempt on 25 September 1828 failed, thanks to the help of his lover, Manuela Saenz. Dissent continued, and uprisings occurred in New Granada, Venezuela, and Ecuador during the next two years. 

*    Bolívar finally resigned the presidency on 27 April 1830, intending to leave the country for exile in Europe. He had already sent several crates containing his belongings and writings ahead of him to Europe, but he died before setting sail from Cartagena.

*    On 17 December 1830, at the age of 47, Simón Bolívar died of tuberculosis in Santa Marta, Gran Colombia (now Colombia). On his deathbed, Bolívar asked his aide-de-camp, General Daniel F. O'Leary, to burn remaining, extensive archive of his writings, letters, and speeches. O'Leary disobeyed the order and his writings survived, providing historians with a wealth of information about Bolívar's liberal philosophy and thought, as well as details of his personal life, such as his long love affair with Manuela Saenz. 

*     Simon Bolivar was one of South America's greatest generals. His victories over the Spaniards won independence for Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. He is called El Liberator (The Liberator) and the "George Washington of South America."

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