March 16, 2019

WHEN YOUR INITIAL GOAL HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LIBERTY:

SIMÓN BOLÍVAR MADE EXACTLY THE SAME MISTAKES MADURO IS MAKING (Wesley Tomaselli, MAR 14 2019, OZY)

Portraits of Bolívar hang on multiple walls of the presidential palace in Caracas. Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chávez, spoke of Bolívar as a sort of Christ-like figure whose spirit kept the people of Latin America free from imperial forces. But that worship is a double-edged sword: Yes, Bolívar was considered a great general. But he's also remembered as a mercurial politician who became a dictator within 10 years of liberating the territory from Spanish rule.

That day in Cúcuta, his men could taste revolution. They'd prepared for battle in the city of Mérida but saw none: Spanish forces had evacuated by the time they got there. Storming Cúcuta was one of the first steps in liberating Venezuela and forming a new national project. The huge tracts of land known today as Venezuela were glued onto what was known as New Granada, a territory that at the time encompassed modern-day Colombia and Panama, along with small pieces of Ecuador and Peru. Bolívar's dream was a single republic, to be called Gran Colombia. At age 30, the horse-riding general had managed the first step in his lifelong dream of uniting the entire continent of Latin America into one independent superstate. It was one step closer to abolishing the Spanish octopus from every inch of the New World.

He began his own empire by rebuilding. The newly independent republic needed a new government. So, in 1821 the statesmen leading this new political project met at a stone church in the city of Cúcuta, from which Bolívar and Santander had set out to take Venezuela eight years earlier. There, they debated what form their new government of Gran Colombia - which was composed of modern-day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and parts of Ecuador and Peru - would take.

"When they meet in Cúcuta, they debate federalism and centralism," says Tomas Straka, a Venezuelan historian. The federalists wanted to model Gran Colombia in the image of the United States, a decentralized republic, but Bolívar wouldn't have it -- and eventually, Straka says, they agreed with Bolívar's model of "fundamentally centralist government."

Again, Santander disagreed. He instead envisioned a decentralized federalist system for Gran Colombia. Where Bolívar saw iron-fisted order as the right antidote for the new country's chaotic badlands, Santander thought laws and institutions should be paramount. It was hard, however, to defy the general. The statesmen around Bolívar saw a Napoleon in their leader. They elected him president. But he effectively ignored the responsibilities, leaving Santander to administer the government in his absence so that he could continue with his military campaigns.

"He had never aspired to lead governments," writes Arana. "His ambition - as simple as it was ardent - was to drive out the nation's oppressor." Bolívar set his sights southward, toward Peru.

In Bolívar's absence, the fledgling republic soon started to show cracks.




Posted by at March 16, 2019 12:02 AM

  

« RANKING THE RANK: | Main | THEY EXIST TO KILL PEOPLE: »