Simón Bolívar

The South American independence hero Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) once wrote: ‘The difficulties could not frighten me, the greatness of the work excited my passion.  The fires of true passion will incinerate all difficulties and trials.”

Simón Bolívar was the liberator of South America from the yoke of Spain.  The able book, “The Four Seasons of Manuela” is a biography of his life with Manuela.  Bolívar is credited with contributing decisively to the independence of the present-day countries of Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia and is revered as a national hero in them.

From Wikipedia: Bolívar described himself in his many letters as a “liberal” who believed in a “free market.” He was an admirer of the American Revolution and a great critic of the French Revolution. He considered Thomas Jefferson so important that he sent his nephew to the University of Virginia. However, Bolivar differed in political philosophy from the leaders of the Revolution in the United States on two important matters: First of all, he was staunchly anti-slavery, despite coming from an area of Spanish America that relied heavily on slave labour.

Second and perhaps more notably, while he was an admirer of the United States, he did not believe that its system could function in Latin America.[8] Bolivar felt that the United States, compared to his new nation, was established in a land that was much better suited for democracy, a land and people that could survive in a much looser, more liberal government.

By contrast, he referred to Spanish America as having been subject to the “Triple yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and vice.” If a republic could be established in such a land, in his mind, it would have to make some concessions in terms of liberty. This is shown when Bolivar blames the fall of the first republic on his subordinates trying to imitate “some ethereal republic” and in the process, not paying attention to the gritty political reality of South America.

Among the books he traveled with were Adam Smith‘s “The Wealth of Nations;” Voltaire’s “Letters,” and when he wrote the Bolivian Constitution, Montesquieu‘s Spirit of the Laws.[9] His Bolivian Constitution placed him within the camp of what would become Latin American conservatism in the later nineteenth century. The Bolivian Constitution had a lifelong presidency and a hereditary senate, essentially recreating the British unwritten constitution, as it existed at the time, without formally establishing a monarchy. It was his attempts to implement a similar constitution in Gran Colombia that led to his downfall and rejection by 1830.

In regards to his immigration policy for Colombia, he viewed the immigration of North-Americans and Europeans as necessary for improving the country’s economy, art and sciences[10], following the steps of the Latin-American criollo elites who accepted without questions many of the evolutionist, social and racial theories of their time.


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