Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Modern Times.
I'm sure you know about Simón Bolívar
I'm also sure you keep hearing about Bolivarian revolutions all over the news
because 200 years after the American emancipation, Bolivar has become a reference for new regimes,
and there's no doubt that Bolivar was a great man
but sometimes, great men are great butchers as well,
and that is precisely what happened to Simón Bolívar.
Did no one ever tell you this story? Well, we will do that today.
Simón Bolívar has turned into a quasi-religious reference,
there are even political regimes that describe themselves as "Bolivarian."
The Venezuelan regime has turned him into a demigod...
but who was the real Bolivar?
Was he an immaculate hero as described by Bolivarian propagandists?
The truth is that he wasn't. Quite the contrary, Bolivar's career is covered with blood.
Let's go back to 1808. When Napoleon invaded Spain, the Spanish viceroyalties in America
first rise up against France, and immediately proclaim their independence.
It was not a war of young, oppressed nations against an old, oppressive empire.
It would be more accurately to describe it as a civil war between those that wanted independence,
and those who supported the crown: the Realists.
In what today is Venezuela, the war was so bloody that Simon Bolivar declared war to the death against the Realsits,
and he carried it out with full force.
After the battle of El Tinaquillo, in August, 1813, he razed a series of towns,
and kills all the "Europeans and Canarians," as he called the Realists.
In September that same year he implemented forcible conscription, and shot those who refused to take arms.
Immediately after that, he shot 69 Spanyards without trial.
In December, 1813, he defeats the weakened Realist army at Acarigua,
and orders the execution of 600 prisoners.
On February 8, 1814, he goes after Spanish prisoners held at Caracas, Valencia and La Guaira,
they were approximately 1,200 civilians, most of them retail traders,
and immediately orders the shooting of all Spanyards among the prisoners as well as those in the hospital,
without exceptions. Because gunpowder was scarce, they were executed with swords and pikes,
and to finish them off, they crushed their skulls using large rocks.
The elderly and disabled were taken to the gallows tied up to their chairs.
Despite the supplications of Caracas' archbishop, Bolivar carried out the killings.
The last report of the butchering shows that the sick in the hospitals were also executed.
These are only a few episodes of Simon Bolivar's bloody career,
without a doubt, the most cruel and ruthless of the American liberators.
There was also the killing of the shipwrecks of a Spanish boat at Margarita island,
the criminal looting of Santa Fe, and the killing of prisoners after the Boyacá battle.
Curiously, today there is a statue of Bolivar at Parque del Oeste (West Park) in Madrid.
The real Bolivar bears little resemblance to today's official icon.
Pol Victoria, good evening. Welcome to Modern Times. Your debut here is with a character that you obviously know well
because you are Colombian. And in Colombia, Bolivar is one of the great national founders,
even if he is not celebrated with the, let's say, liturgical exaggerations used in Venezuela...
It's practically the same, except for the endlessly repetitive speeches of a dictator like Hugo Chavez,
but it's basically the same. Children are indoctrinated with the idea of Bolivar as the savior of the motherland,
as the liberator from slavery and oppression, and therefore children grow up with the myth of Bolivar as a demigod,
which is of course quite far from the truth.
Let's start from the beginning. In 1808, in Spain we were in terrible shape, even worse than today,
which is bad enough, the viceroyalties of Spanish America start to rebel,
some of them against France, some of them against the king of Spain,
and there was also the English element playing its part, which is particularly important...
The English element is particularly important because in the beginning Bolivar tried to ally with England,
he offers her Nicaragua and Panama in exchange of 30,000 rifles, 20 warships, and one million pounds sterling.
But later on, when things got complicated,
the government, or better said, the anti-government of these revolutionaries
consider selling the Americas to England,
and intend to swear allegiance and loyalty to the British king.
This is all written and well documented in letters in which they eagerly ask Britain to carry this out,
they literally ask Britain to cover them "with the august shadow of the British monarch,"
and provide them with "the powerful protection of Great Britain."
They were never short of flattering words. It's important to note that what we are talking about here is a civil war,
that is, the emancipation movement broke up the viceroyalties, creating a chasm between
a part of the native population who wished to remain being Spanish,
and another part of the native population who didn't wish to remain being Spanish.
I never use the term "war of independence, "
because a war of independence implies that there is a foreign invader from which one wants to break free from,
as was the case of Spain against Napoleon.
But not in this case as it was all the same family.
We cannot say that Spanyards were foreigners invading Colombia, because Colombia didn't exist yet.
It was founded by Spain, or more precisely, by the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada,
and it was conformed by provinces all within the same Spanish nation...
...of both hemispheres, as stated in the Constitution of Cádiz...
exactly, "Spain beyond the sea," and "Iberian Spain."
So what goes on is a fratricidal war, a civil war, a war of secession,
which was never about indians and blacks rising against the Spanish monarchy.There was nothing of that sort.
It was about the creoles, that is, the sons of Spanyards rebelling against their fathers
Against their fathers and against their brothers, because a good number of their brothers
kept their loyalty to the Spanish crown, and saw what these subversive guerrillas were doing as an aberration.
And Bolivar's case is especially interesting in that sense,
because the fact is that the rebellion in the Nueva Granada, as the northern viceroyalty was called,
what today is Colombia, Venezuela, etc., fails. It fails and he has to leave.
And it is in 1814, when Spain had still not recovered,
that he declares "war to the death," and that's the name of the declaration he signed in the picture we see here,
and the "war to the death" was actually against his own people...
Yes, against his own brothers.
He called them "Europeans and Canarians" but what does that mean? They were his neighbors!
Of course. When he arrived in Caracas, 7,000 people flee the city because he was going to kill them,
a great part of those who stayed end up in jail, and he kills many of them afterwards,
and in the end 32 percent of Caracas' population is under persecution... it's a lot of people!
On top of that, they used to throw parties in which they decided who was going to kill which prisoner while having drinks,
"Let me have this one! That one for me!," it was like a game... they took them out of the prisons and the hospitals
and killed them without any kind of due process whatsoever.
What you're telling us is very interesting because these are testimonies of people of the time,
some of them British, by the way, as shown in Pablo Victoria's book "La Otra Cara de Bolívar,"
published by Planeta, but which curiously hasn't been published here... for some reason it hasn't been published in Spain.
But the fact is that it was a real bloodbath because Spain took quite a long time to react due to its situation.
But before talking about Morillo, who was the general sent by Spain,
it is important to make clear that there was no colonial army there, it was a local army.
And the absence or the break up of that army, plus the forcible conscription of the locals under the threat of death
implemented by Bolivar allow him to carry out a campaign that was a trail of destruction,
for example, up to 1,200 killings in three successive jails... who were retail traders.
I was frankly shocked by the revelation that he took the elderly from the jails to the gallows
tied up to chairs because they couldn't move, and killed them there.
Right. And in order to save bullets, they killed many of them crushing their skulls against the floor with rocks.
The genocides there were terribly bloody.
Actually, when Bolivar comes back to Caracas after his victory
the first ones to rebel against him were the slaves in his own haciendas.
The slaves were basically saying "hey, we were better off under Spanish rule than under this scoundrel."
And they weren't the only ones who rebelled against him because he looted Caracas, Cartagena, Santa Fé, Cúcuta...
the Santa Fé lootings were particularly terrible indeed...
and that's why when Pablo Morillo arrived to many of these cities he was celebrated as a savior
against Bolívar and his genocidal minions.
The problem was that Pablo Morillo, the general sent there by Spain, arrives with very few troops,
the war to the death had already been declared, the trail of blood was overwhelming,
and the very important system of Spanish delegation of authority, of autonomy for local authorities,
allows that insurrection to spread, because it was an insurrection by the local bourgeoisie,
the very same bourgeoisie to which the Spanish crown had given so much municipal autonomy.
And the difference was that Morillo arrives with mercy, offering pardon and reconciliation in the name of the king of Spain,
and many people accepted it. He was indeed forced to execute those not willing to submit,
and in many cases he pardoned them, but all his executions were under judgement,
allowing the accused to have an attorney. He followed all the formal rules of judgement,
but Bolivar didn't, he simply went around on a devastating killing spree.
One last question. Some other day we'll talk in more detail about how the rebellions were carried out,
but do the children in Colombia or Venezuela learn all these things in school?
Well they do learn the up-side-down version of these things!
Bolívar is invariably presented as a demigod, with a laurel crown on his head
Do they tell them about the war to the death?
No, they hide all that, of course, as well as all of Bolívar's personal ambitions,
they present him as a chaste, austere, moderate, magnanimous character but he was exactly the opposite,
he was wasteful, he left a trail of abandoned children everywhere, in Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela,
he left children in Spain, France, Italy, he left children behind everywhere
but the fact is that his father was also like that, and it's important to understand the impact of his upbringing,
with a family from which he was exposed to much cruelty from both his mother's and his father's side.
His father was actually a well known rapist. Caracas' archbishop used to protect women from him,
many of them married, because he was constantly trying to abuse them,
this was very well known at the time and is well documented.
But also, it is also very important to understand Bolivars' grudge against Spain,
was not only caused by the ideas of liberty and equality from the French Revolution,
but also by Spain's refusal to give titles to his father and his grandfather, the marquisate of San Luis,
and from his mother's side the Count Casa Palacios
he had this grudge because he felt they denied the nobility he deserved, so he went against Spain
in an effort to achieve glory on his own.
Thanks you so much for telling us a story unknown to so many people in Spain, and also in America,
because here in Spain Bolívar is also seen as a liberator. And he liberated indeed,
but for his own benefit, and leaving a legacy that was not exactly edifying.
It is quite possible that this program will be from now on declared to promote hate speech,
but we assure our viewers that's not the case. We simply want to tell the truth.
Thank you so much Pol Victoria, and good night to all.