Useful Notes: Simon Bolivar
Simón Bolívar (1783 - 1830) was a rather notable man from the Spanish colony of Venezuela. Inspired by the ideals of the American and French Revolutions, he decided to win independence for much of Spanish South America.note He then essentially did to the lands that are now the countries of Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia (which was named in his honor in 1825) what George Washington only did to one country. It was a very bloody war for independence, with a lot of rather nasty things done by both sides. Still, Bolívar was a great general who managed to keep the war raging and won a number of impressive victories. Bolívar thought that a republic like the one in the United States would not end well in the brutal world of South America (he once even said that the people suffered from "triple yoke of ignorance, tyranny, and vice").note He was President of a union of much of these colonies known as Gran Columbia from 1819 until 1830. At one point he was declared dictator for life, but he never intended to actually rule for his entire life. Indeed, he resigned several months before his death at the relatively young age of 47. The new country, spread over a wide area and separated by geographical features like the Andes Mountains, was held together very loosely during Bolívar's lifetime, and it fell apart not long after he died. Some people would be surprised by how ahead of his time Bolívar was on some issues - for example, one of his most important goals was eliminating slavery in the region, and he succeeded, even though he came from a slaveholder family (compared to, say, Thomas Jefferson). He also believed that the role of a government was only to protect the rights of its citizens. Hugo Chavez believed that he was assassinated by traitors and had scientists dig up his remains and test him for arsenic poisoning. While they said it might have been possible that he had some traces of arsenic, there's little chance that he was poisoned. He's pretty beloved throughout much of South America, where he is widely known as El Libertador. There are statues of him in just about every city in the area he helped free. As mentioned earlier, Bolivia is named after him, making him one of the few people in history to have the honor of being a country's namesake. There is a square named after him in every city of Venezuela.