Simón Bolívar (1783 – 1830)

Bolívar, also known as El Libertador, is one of the most prominent figures of the History of Latin America. A Venezuelan of aristocratic origins and raised in a privileged environment, Bolívar was introduced to the ideas of European philosophers at an early age, that stimulated his ideas of independence for the Hispanic America. After living in Europe for several years, he returned to Venezuela, and the next year the independence movements started to take place in the continent. Indeed, in 1807, with Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, the Spanish power suffered a backdrop, which allowed a junta to take over Venezuela. As the independence was proclaimed in 1811, Bolívar joined the army of the republic. As this first republic failed and fell again under Spanish control, Bolívar left Venezuela to what is now Colombia, where he published his political manifesto, El Manifesto de Cartagena. In this latter, he encouraged a united revolt against Spanish power in America. He thus started to battle for the independence of Nueva Granada, which later became the Republica de Gran Colombia. His battle continued to the south, where he fought for Perú, and for several other countries, always envisioning his grand project of an American confederation. Some criticize him, others praise him. Bolívar remains nevertheless the perfect symbol of the ‘Right of Nations’ – what we call today self-determination – and an inescapable figure of the history of Latin America.

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