Simon Bolivar

Throughout history there have been several leaders who
used their cunning and sly intelligence to trick the general
population into following them and their beliefs. Eventually,
these leaders had so much support, they could no longer be
called leaders, but absolute and dictatorial rulers. However,
during the period of Enlightenment and of the French
Revolution, non-maleficent ideas, created by Locke,
Montesquieu, Voltaire, and other Enlightenment
Philosophes, were spread throughout the European
population. They stated the opposition to absolute
monarchies as well as a new main focus on people’s innate
rights and freedoms. Many leaders after this period of
Enlightenment preached its ideas, while others simply used
them to gain power. Simon Bolivar might have preached
opinions that mainly reflected the ideas of the French
Revolution. However, his actions contradicted these
opinions, and revealed that his true intentions were selfish
and illiberal.

In several documents and speeches, Bolivar stated that he
was very fond of freedom, liberty and equality. Clearly, it
would seem that he desired democracy. This can be seen in
his "Jamaican Letter", where he states "More than anyone I
desire to see America fashioned into the greatest nation in
the world, greatest not so much by virtue of her area and
wealth as by her freedom and glory." However, he adds
to this "love of freedom" in saying that it is "inconceivable"
to set up such a government, simply because there is not
enough political knowledge for a system such as that to run.
Further, Bolivar says that he agrees with the ideas of
Montesquieu, who played a very important role during the
Enlightenment period, and states that he is against
absolutism. In looking at the beliefs Bolivar spoke of, one
could almost come to the conclusion that he directly
lectured the ideas fought for in the French Revolution;
opposition to absolute monarchies, natural rights and
freedoms, ideas of Montesquieu, and ruling for the
people’s best interest.

Interestingly, however, Bolivar never actually put any of his
"glorious ideas" into action. Instead of setting up a
democracy, ideas of which he praised, he arranged a
system in which his total control was made known. He
declared himself president until he died, created a weak
legislative body with almost no power, and limited the right
to vote to the Creoles, who were American-born
Spaniards. Not only did this contradict his great "Love of
freedom" that he originally spoke of, but also his hate of
monarchy, a system of government not too far off from the
"paternal constitution" he himself created. Furthermore, this
government system doesn’t reflect ideals fought for in the
French Revolution, which he once agreed with. In a
document written by Bolivar, he states that he fears Black
and Indian "insurrections." Evidently, it can be seen that if
Bolivar fears revolts of Black and Indian peoples, then
these two groups are still being oppressed. Obviously, his
original love of equality has faded if he is allowing the
persecution of two very populous groups in Latin America,
the Blacks and the Indians. And last, a passage from the
diary of Louis Peru de la Croix suggests that Simon Bolivar
was "not always tolerant." If Bolivar was intolerant, he
wouldn’t have supported free speech, which again goes
against his previous support of Enlightenment thinkers and
of the French Revolution.

In analyzing whether or not Bolivar was in support of ideals
of the Enlightenment period and the French Revolution, one
must analyze the terms "Beliefs" and "Actions." It is true
that Simon Bolivar talked of many beliefs which might have
reflected these two periods of time. However, could it be
possible that he was just looking to gain more power so
that he could climb the political ladder and end up with total
control? Once Bolivar did gain the power he needed, he
seemed to reject all of his prior beliefs and take action
resembling that of a dictator. It is true that actions speak
louder than words, especially when the words gather
power, then the actions abuse it. It can clearly be seen that
although Bolivar preached several beliefs of the
Enlightenment era, his true intentions of being in total
control were represented by his cruel and unjust practices
as president.

Category: Biographies