Simon Bolivar Biography
In 1816, with the help of forces from Haiti and British soldiers, Bolivar was able to land in Venezuela and he began a long campaign known as ‘the Admirable Campaign’ to take back Venezuela from the Spanish.
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During this campaign, Bolivar displayed his talent for military prowess and strong leadership. Despite heavy rains, Bolivar led the army through muddy fields and rivers and across the Andes to Bogota. It was a perilous crossing and some troops died from exposure. But, because it was so difficult to cross, the Spanish never expected an attack. On 7 August 1819, he overwhelmed the Spanish forces at the Battle of Boyaca and was able to triumphally enter Bogota. Bolivar achieved many similar military victories, despite being outnumbered.
“Do not compare your material forces with those of the enemy. Spirit cannot be compared with matter. You are human beings, they are beasts. You are free, they are slaves. Fight, and you shall win. For God grants victory to perseverance.” – Bolivar
When this was successfully completed, he was able to launch campaigns to gain independence for Venezuela and Ecuador. On achieving this goal Bolivar was hailed as ‘El Libertador’ – the Liberator.
President/dictator of Gran Colombia
In 1821, his successful military campaigns enabled him to become the president of Gran Colombia (a state covering several Latin American countries). Initially, most of the territory was in the hands of Spanish loyalists, but over the next few years, Bolivar’s army grew stronger and a revolution in Spain, reduced the capacity of the Spanish to fight for their overseas colonies.
With the help of his best commander, Antonio Jose de Sucre, he proceeded to liberate Ecuador in 1822. This left the remaining Spanish colony of Peru. The Argentine revolutionary San Martin has liberated parts of southern South America but struggled to defeat the Spanish in the northern region. He decided to allow the more ambitious Bolivar to claim northern Peru as he felt Bolivar had the best military and the political chance of beating the Spanish. In 1824, Bolivar led his army to success and by 9 December 1824, the Spanish army which had numbered 18,000 men surrendered.