|Simón Bolívar by José Gil Castro. Caracas Federal palace, Venezuela.|
Who was Simón Bolívar ?
Society must be constitutionally founded on the basis of absolute equality before the law and the exercise of justice which never yields to birth or fortune, recognizing only virtue and merit. Throughout his life, Simón Bolívar sought to translate this principle into action.
Born in Caracas, on the South American continent, in 1783, he was the worthy descendant of a line of progressive thinkers whose ideas he shaped into a whole.
Defender of emancipation from colonialism, and standard-bearer of democratic independence, for 15 years he fought on several fronts (political, military and philosophical), liberated Venezuela, Bolivia Colombia, Ecuador and Peru and so affirmed the legitimate need for new sovereign national entities within an independent America.
In 1808, after seven years of intense intellectual training in Europe, he turned to politics and drew up his first great manifesto, the Cartagena Manifesto, in 1812: Our own disunity, not Spanish arms, made slaves of us.
In 1813, he was acclaimed and later ‘officially’proclaimed in Caracas, the Liberator, a title which he strove to merit by working for the unity, cohesion and fraternity of newly liberated nations: We still have to lay the foundations of the social pact which will make this world a nation of republics. This was a prophetic vision of the establishment of a new balance in the world. With the passage of the centuries, perhaps a single nation - the federal nation - may cover the whole world.
Simón Bolívar realized that his fight could only be successful if it was based on the hopes of all the social classes and communities making up Latin American society: Creoles, mestizos, Indians and Blacks. He decreed freedom for slaves, the distribution of land to Indians and free access to justice; he praised differences and encouraged immigration without racial distinction of any kind. Different blood flows in the veins of our fellow citizens; let us mix it to make it one.
Aware of the vulnerability of these new republics, he paid special attention to education, science and culture as inseparable from the defence of freedom. The government’s first duty is to provide education for the people.
Since he preferred civilian to military status, Simón Bolívar retained supreme power on only two occasions, as President.
In 1830 he finally gave up the presidency, and died on his way to exile in Santa Marta (Colombia), crowned with the glory of his convictions: Let us take wing to avenge the dead, bring back life to the dying, give independence to the oppressed and freedom to all.