Born July 24, 1783, in Caracas, Venezuela; died Dec. 17, 1830, near Santa Marta, Colombia. One of the leaders of the independence struggle of the Spanish colonies in America. Born into a noble Creole family.
Bolívar spent his youth in Europe, in Spain, France, and Italy. Returning to his homeland, he took an active part in the overthrow of Spanish rule in Venezuela (1810) and in its proclamation as a republic (1811). After the latter was smashed by the Spanish, Bolívar settled down in New Granada (now Colombia). In 1813 his troops occupied Caracas; the second Venezuelan republic, headed by Bolívar, was established. However, he was defeated in 1814 and was forced to leave his homeland. A band led by Bolívar once again settled on the shores of Venezuela in 1816. The abolition of slavery (1816) and the decree allocating land to soldiers of the liberation army (1817) helped him obtain the support of the broad masses. In 1819 his troops liberated New Granada, and he was chosen president of the republic of Gran Colombia, which included Venezuela and New Granada. Concluding the rout of the major Spanish forces in Venezuela (1821), Bolivar’s army liberated the province of Quito (present-day Ecuador) in 1822, which was subsequently joined to Gran Colombia. In 1824 he smashed the Spanish forces on the territory of Peru, and in 1825 he became head of the republic of Bolivia—so-named in his honor—which was forming in upper Peru. In the effort to rally and unite the new states of Latin America, Bolívar called a continental congress in Panama (1826). However, he did not succeed in realizing his plans. The separatist actions that began led to the overthrow of Bolivar’s regime in Peru and Bolivia, and they threatened to separate Venezuela and Quito from Colombia. Bolívar retired at the beginning of 1830.
Bolivar’s activity, which aimed at the liquidation of the colonial regime with its characteristic feudal features, objectively furthered the bourgeois development of the countries of South America.
Obras completas, vols. 1–2. Havana, 1947.
Marx, K. “Bolivar-i-Ponte.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 14.
Lavretskii, I. R. Bolivar, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966. (Bibliography.)
M. S. AL’PEROVICH
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.