The book “El terror bolivariano” (Bolivarian terror), by Pablo Victoria, presents a liberator far away from myth.

It is one thing to kill the enemy in combat and quite another, to execute a thousand sick soldiers with machetes after holding them captive for a year. At the beginning of 1814, troops of the so-called liberators were busy executing Spaniards captive in the dungeons of Caracas. Since gunpowder was scarce and expensive, sabers and pikes were used to kill them too, even if they were wounded and immobile. This type of slaughter deployed in the Guerras de Emancipación (Emancipation Wars) was not an isolated event, but part of an established strategy for the total annihilation of “the evil race of Spaniards”, as denounced by the professor and writer Pablo Victoria in his book “El terror bolivariano”, published by La Esfera de los Libros.

The man who devised that plan was called Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar, a Spanish descendant who admired Napoleon and who, until the outbreak of war, had shown no signs of harboring so much hatred against the mother country. Today you can see his statue in squares of many Spanish cities, including the Parque del Oeste in Madrid.

“That the Spanish dedicate statues to a genocidaire of their people, architect of a clear antecedent to the Jewish holocaust, leaves me truly surprised. I believe it is the only country in the world that can honor its enemies in this way”, defends Pablo Victoria, Colombian by birth and holding Spanish nationality, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper ABC, who justifies this anomaly by the complex that the country carries: “The Spaniards have assumed the Black Legend as the truth when it is completely false. Spain never committed abuses from its institutions in America and, in fact, protected minorities such as black and indigenous people. For this reason, the native Americans, especially in the south of Colombia, remained faithful to the crown until the end.”

After a twelve-year investigation, Victoria intends in his new work, divided into two volumes, to break with the discourse -unanimous on both sides of the ocean- that divides the Guerra de Emancipación between patriots and traitors, freedom lovers and oppressors, Americans and Spanish. The King of Spain was not an invader or a foreigner who had established himself there overnight, but the natural lord, against whom some Spanish Americans rebelled and others, on the other hand, remained loyal. This meant a civil war full of hatred, pending debts, and villains like Bolívar. “He is a historical figure who has not had biographers but flatterers who present him as a magnanimous person, detached from passions, intelligent and cultured. He certainly was enlightened, and that is why it is necessary to blame and judge him with more rigour for being capable, despite this fact, of committing so many murders and being so tremendously cruel”, he remarks.

The cruelty of the myth

To distance himself from the hero he was taught about at school and in his family, this Colombian author has compiled letters and documents from Bolívar himself, which show him as “someone immensely cruel and whose motivation was to seize power and remain as a dictator all his life”. “In my research, I demonstrate that he aspired to establish a dictatorship in the American territories. Even more: he wanted, with the support of England and some of the American provinces, to be crowned emperor of the continent, explains Victoria in “El terror bolivariano”.

Death of Simón Bolívar, by Antonio Herrera Toro.

Death of Simón Bolívar, by Antonio Herrera Toro.

Nothing to do with the embodiment of virtues with which Netflix has depicted the liberator in its recent series “Bolívar: Una lucha admirable”. “I don’t even want to watch it. Everything they say there is completely false and it is no coincidence that the Anglo-Saxon world produces such an idealization of the hero like this. The British always aspired to have a foot on the continent and, in addition, they wanted to take revenge on Spain for collaborating in the independence of the United States. Bolivar served its purpose”, says the Colombian.

The chickens have come home to roost. As Pablo Victoria recalls in his book, European and American travelers who visited Spanish America before the rebellion praised the cities of Lima and Mexico as the most splendid in the world for their level of development. All that collapsed with the new republics or – as Bolívar himself lamented – “three centuries of progress have disappeared”. “What is happening today in Venezuela, its expropriations, its caciques, and its misery have its antecedent in that catastrophe that Bolívar caused. In view of the ruin, in his last days the liberator repented of his deeds and acknowledged that ‘he was better with the Spanish'”, recalls the author of the bestseller “El día que España derrotó a Inglaterra” (The day Spain defeated England), which narrates in his own way the defense of Cartagena de Indias by Blas de Lezo.

The common thread of his new book are some unpublished memoirs that Victoria found by chance in the house of his wife’s family in Cali (Colombia). A text written by Joaquín de Mosquera y Figueroa, who at the time of the war against Napoleon became president of the Spanish regency and deputy of the Cortes of Cádiz, which placed him in a privileged position to understand the true motivations of both sides. “Their very existence belies the myth that the Creoles rose up against Spain because they had closed access to the institutions and positions of the Crown. Don Joaquín was born in Colombia and became virtual King of Spain, and it is not an isolated case. The commander of the Spanish fleet was Creole, as were bishops, cardinals, and a viceroy of Mexico. The Spaniards on one side and on the other were the same”, summarizes the writer.

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