bolívar the libertador

July 24 Bolivian Peanut Soup for Simon Bolivar Day #fantasticdrivel

Wednesday is my night to cook dinner. But it is also a weekly opportunity for me to share some fantastic drivel—things you didn’t care you didn’t know—with you, dear reader.

July 24, 2013 was Simón Bolívar Day (also his 230th birthday). Compared to last week’s Wrongway Corrigan writeup, I have very little to say about Simón Bolívar. This is slightly ironic, considering Simón Bolívar was one of the most influential politicians in the history of the western hemisphere, while Corrigan was a crazy airplane mechanic who “accidentally” flew over 3,000 miles the wrong way. Perhaps someday I’ll write more about Bolívar, but for now Corrigan will have more coverage.

To be fair to not-so-simple Simón, I’ll give you the two paragraph opening to his Wikipedia article.

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco (24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830), commonly known as Simón Bolívar, was a Venezuelan military and political leader. Bolívar played a key role in Latin America’s successful struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians in the history of the Americas.

Following the triumph over the Spanish monarchy, Bolívar participated in the foundation of the first union of independent nations in Hispanic-America, a republic, now known as Gran Colombia, of which he was president from 1819 to 1830. Bolívar remains regarded in Hispanic-America as a hero, visionary, revolutionary, and liberator. During his lifetime, he led Venezuela, Colombia (including Panama at the time), Ecuador, Peru (together with Don José de San Martín), and Bolivia to independence, and helped lay the foundations for democratic ideology in much of Latin America. |from Wikipedia

(it gets more exciting. keep reading after the cut)

They called Bolívar El Libertador (the liberator), and he has the distinct honor of being one of the few men to have a country named after him. That country, of course, is Bolivia (created in August 1825), and Bolívar himself wrote their constitution. Bolívar served as President of Bolivia through the end of 1825, which is strange because he was also the President of Peru from 1824 to 1827, all the while serving as President of Gran Colombia from 1819 to 1830. I guess a guy with eight names (Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco) figured he was up to the task of simultaneously Presidenting three countries.

Simón Bolívar was president of "the Republic of Colombia" (also called "Gran Colombia") from 1819-1830 #fantasticdrivel

Simón Bolívar was president of “the Republic of Colombia” (also called “Gran Colombia“) from 1819-1830

One could also argue that not-so-simple Simón overextended himself a bit. By 1828, even though he was now just presidenting Gran Colombia, Bolívar was having trouble keeping the country from completely coming apart. He called for a constitutional convention and presented a version of his Bolivian constitution to the delegates. Strangely enough, some of them didn’t like one of provisions that would have made him El Presidente for life, with the power to choose his successor. The delegation bickered back and forth for a couple of months before ALMOST passing a new constitution that would have greatly reduced Bolívar’s power…but Bolívar loyalists left the convention early so they couldn’t pass the thing.

Simón Bolívar, El Libertador #fantasticdrivel

Simón Bolívar

Since the delegation didn’t write a constitution, Bolívar did what any self-respecting President would: he proclaimed himself Dictator through a document called the “Decree of Dictatorship.” It was supposed to be temporary, but it kind of rubbed some people the wrong way. I guess if you didn’t like the idea of Bolívar, Presidente for life, you also didn’t like the idea of Bolívar, [temporary] Dictator. They tried to enforce the “temporary” part less than a month later, but the assassination attempt was foiled by Bolívar’s lover, Manuela Sáenz. Bolívar afterward described Manuela as Libertadora del Libertador (the liberator of the liberator).

¡Qué romántico!

Bolívar led the country for two more years, resigning his presidency/dictatorship in April of 1830. He died later that year of tuberculosis. He was 47.

Some, including former President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez, thought Bolívar had been posioned by “New Grenada traitors.” In 2008 Chávez set up a commission to investigate whether Bolívar died from poisoning or other foul play. In 2010, the experts said “probably not.” They dug up his body later that year to do further tests. In 2011, the experts came back and said “definitely not.”

back to dinner


July 24, 2013: Simón Bolívar Day. I made Bolivian Peanut Soup. It was quite good, actually. Here’s the recipe, if you’re interested: Bolivian Sopa de Maní (Peanut Soup) recipe.

I pin photos of my Wednesday culinary creations to my Pinterest board, Another Wednesday Dinner. You can see other dishes I’ve made there, but you can only get the backstory right here, on fantasticdrivel. Thanks for reading!

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