Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco, better known as Simón Bolívar (El Libertador) is the founding father of the northern section of South America including what are now Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Peru and Bolivia.
Like many great figures of history, Bolívar is complicated. He had great courage and the conviction to put his life on the line for what he believed in. Those characteristics are generally lacking in modern leaders.
Simón Bolívar was an Aristocratic Criollo
Bolívar was born in Caracas to one of South America’s wealthiest families on July 24, 1783. His Spanish parents were from an aristocratic family from the Basque Country. Bolívar’s family controlled many of the copper mines in what is now Venezuela.
He was raised by a black slave named Hipólita who really became his stepmother when he was orphaned at age nine. Bolívar was educated in Europe and mingled with royalty there.
El Libertador Believed All People Should be Free
Bolívar is in the line of Gilbert du Motier the Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. However Bolívar’s vision was freedom for all people, regardless of race. In this way he went further than our founding fathers of the United States.
We are pretty sure that Simón Bolívar’s concept of freedom for everyone came from the woman who raised him, his nurse and then stepmother Hipólita. Bolívar called her, “the only mother I have known.”
Interestingly Hipólita’s name comes from Greek mythology. “Hippolyta” was an Amazonian queen with a magic girdle.
So in a way, a black slave woman is the mother of Latin American independence. Her stepson believed in freedom for all peoples, regardless of race. How about that?
Bolívar in New York City
There is a statue of Simón Bolívar in Central Park at Central Park South near Sixth Avenue.