Bolivar The Liberator
Napoleon had a tremendous effect on Europe in the early nineteenth century. At almost the same time, a man called Simon Bolivar was influencing nineteenth-century South America.
Who was Bolivar?
For nearly three hundred years, most of South America was under Spanish rule. Simon Bolivar vowed to free his native land, Venezuela, from Spain. When he died in 1830, he had freed not only Venezuela, but Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia as well.
Young Bolivar was educated as an aristocrat, but he studied and travelled in Europe, and the examples of the French and American revolutions stirred him deeply. In 1811, he and a group of patriots revolted and declared Venezuela’s independence. But they were crushed by Spanish troops, and Bolivar fled the country.
In 1819 he marched with an army over the snow-covered Andes Mountains, surprised the Spanish Army, and was able to bring independence to Colombia. Two years later, Bolivar liberated Venezuela, and the following year Ecuador was freed.
Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador were united into the Republic of Gran Colombia, with Bolivar as president. Later he was able to help in the liberation of Peru. Upper Peru was renamed Bolivia in honour of its liberator.
Bolivar had the powers of a dictator,through his ideals were freedom and justice. He encouraged the formation of constitutional government, establishment of more schools, and freeing of slaves.
In time, each country wanted its independence, and Gran Colombia fell apart. Bolivar’s enemies accused him of being a tyrant. Finally Bolivar resigned as president. He died in 1830 at the age of forty-seven, a disappointed man with many enemies, but to the people of South America he is still El Libertador, the liberator.