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Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios (born July 24, 1783 in Caracas, Venezuela; died December 17, 1830, in Santa Marta, Colombia) was a leader of several independence movements throughout South America, collectively known as Bolívar's War.

Credited with leading the fight for independence in what are now the countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Bolivia, he is revered as a hero in these countries and throughout much of the rest of Hispanic America.

In 1802, he married María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaysa. She died of yellow fever less than a year later and he never remarried.

Bolívar is known as 'El Libertador' (the Liberator).

Family heritage and early life
The Bolívar aristocratic bloodline derives from a small village in the Basque Country, called Bolibar, which is the origin of the surname. His father descended remotely from King Fernando III of Castile and Count Amedeo IV of Savoy. The Bolivars settled in Venezuela in the sixteenth century.

A portion of their wealth came from the Aroa River gold and copper mines in Venezuela. In 1632, gold was first mined, leading to further discoveries of extensive copper deposits. Towards the later 1600s, copper was exploited with the name 'Cobre Caracas'. These mines became the property of Simón Bolívar's family. Later in his revolutionary life, Bolívar used part of the mineral income to finance the South American revolutionary wars. Some people claim that his family grew to prominence before gaining great wealth. For example, the Cathedral of Caracas, founded in 1575, has a side chapel dedicated to Simón Bolívar's family.

Bolívar was born in Caracas, in modern-day Venezuela and educated by tutors after his parents died. Among his tutors was Simón Rodríguez, whose ideas and educational style heavily influenced the young man.

Following the death of his parents, Juan Vicente de Bolívar y Ponte, 1st Marqués de San Luis, and his wife María de la Concepción de Palacios y Blanco, he went to Spain in 1799 to complete his education. There he married María Teresa Rodríguez del Toro y Alaysa in 1802, but on a brief return visit to Venezuela in 1803, she succumbed to yellow fever. Bolívar returned to Europe in 1804 and for a time was part of Napoleon's retinue.

Simon Bolivar was a Freemason who was raised in the Scottish Rite, 1807. Simon also founded the Lodge Order and Liberty No. 2 in Peru in 1824

El Libertador
Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1807, and, when Napoleon made Joseph Bonaparte King of Spain and its colonies in 1808, he participated in the resistance juntas in South America. The Caracas junta declared its independence in 1810, and Bolívar was sent to Britain on a diplomatic mission.

Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1811. In March 1812, Bolívar was forced to leave Venezuela because of an earthquake that destroyed Caracas. In July 1812, junta leader Francisco de Miranda surrendered to the Spanish, and Bolívar had to flee to Cartagena de Indias. In this period, Bolívar wrote his Manifiesto de Cartagena. In 1813, after acquiring a military command in New Granada under the direction of the Congress of Tunja, he led the invasion of Venezuela on May 14. This was the beginning of the famous Campaña Admirable, the Admirable Campaign. He entered Mérida on May 23, where he was proclaimed as El Libertador, following the occupation of Trujillo on June 9. Six days later, on June 15, he dictated his famous Decree of War to the Death (Decreto de Guerra a Muerte). Caracas was retaken on August 6, 1813, and Bolívar was ratified as 'El Libertador', thus proclaiming the Venezuelan Second Republic. Due to the rebellion of José Tomás Boves in 1814 and the fall of the republic, he returned to New Granada, where he then commanded a Colombian nationalist force and entered Bogotá in 1814, recapturing the city from the dissenting republican forces of Cundinamarca. He intended to march into Cartagena and enlist the aid of local forces in order to capture Royalist Santa Marta. However, after a number of political and military disputes with the government of Cartagena, Bolívar fled, in 1815, to Jamaica, where he petitioned the Haitian leader Alexandre Pétion for aid.

In 1816, with Haitian help (given because he promised to free slaves), Bolívar landed in Venezuela and captured Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar).

A victory at the Battle of Boyacá in 1819 added New Granada to the territories free from Spanish control, and in September 7, 1821 the Gran Colombia (a federation covering much of modern Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador) was created, with Bolívar as president and Francisco de Paula Santander as vice president.

Further victories at the Carabobo in 1821 and Pichincha in 1822 consolidated his rule over Venezuela and Ecuador respectively. After a meeting in Guayaquil, on July 26 and July 27, 1822, with Argentine General José de San Martín, who had received the title of Protector of Peruvian Freedom, in August 1821, after having partially liberated Peru from the Spanish, Bolívar took over the task of fully liberating Peru. The Peruvian congress named him dictator of Peru, on February 10, 1824, which allowed Bolívar to completely reorganize the political and military administration. Bolívar, assisted by Antonio José de Sucre, decisively defeated the Spanish cavalry, on August 6, 1824, at Junín. Sucre destroyed the still numerically superior remnants of the Spanish forces at Ayacucho on December 9.

On August 6, 1825, at the Congress of Upper Peru, the Republic of Bolivia was created. Bolívar is thus one of the few men to have a country named after him. The constitution reflected the influence of the French and Scottish Enlightenment on Bolívar's political thought, as well as that of classical Greek and Roman authors.

Bolívar had great difficulties maintaining control of the vast Gran Colombia. During 1826, internal divisions had sparked dissent throughout the nation and regional uprisings erupted in Venezuela, thus the fragile South American coalition appeared to be on the verge of collapse.

An amnesty was declared and an arrangement was reached with the Venezuelan rebels, but political dissent in New Granada grew as a consequence of this. In an attempt to keep the federation together as a single entity, Bolívar called for a constitutional convention at Ocaña during April 1828.

He had seen his dream of eventually creating an American Revolution-style federation between all the newly independent republics, with a government ideally set-up solely to recognize and uphold individual rights, succumb to the pressures of particular interests throughout the region, which rejected that model and allegedly had little or no allegiance to liberal principles.

For this reason, and to prevent a break-up, Bolívar wanted to implement in Gran Colombia a more centralist model of government, including some or all of the elements of the Bolivian constitution he had written (which included a lifetime presidency with the ability to select a successor, though this was theoretically held in check by an intricate system of balances).

This move was considered controversial and was one of the reasons why the deliberations met with strong opposition. The convention almost ended up drafting a document which would have implemented a radically federalist form of government, which would have greatly reduced the powers of the central administration.

Unhappy with what would be the ensuing result, Bolívar's delegates left the convention. After the failure of the convention due to grave political differences, Bolívar proclaimed himself dictator on August 27, 1828 through the 'Organic Decree of Dictatorship'.

He considered this as a temporary measure, as a means to reestablish his authority and save the republic, though it increased dissatisfaction and anger among his political opponents. An assassination attempt on September 25, 1828 failed, in part thanks to the help of his lover, Manuela Sáenz, according to popular belief.

Although Bolívar emerged physically intact from the event, this nevertheless greatly affected him. Dissident feelings continued, and uprisings occurred in New Granada, Venezuela and Ecuador during the next two years.

Death and Legacy
Bolívar finally resigned his presidency on April 27, 1830, intending to leave the country for exile in Europe, possibly in France. He had already sent several crates (containing his belongings and his writings) ahead of him to Europe.

He died before setting sail, after a painful battle with tuberculosis on December 17, 1830, in 'La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino', in Santa Marta, Colombia.

His remains were moved from Santa Marta to Caracas in 1842, where a monument was set up for his burial. The 'Quinta' near Santa Marta has been preserved as a museum with numerous references to his life.

Political legacy
On his deathbed, Bolívar asked his aide-de-camp, General Daniel Florencio O'Leary to burn the extensive archive of his writings, letters, and speeches. O'Leary disobeyed the order and his writings survived, providing historians with a vast wealth of information about Bolívar's liberal philosophy and thought.

He was great admirer of the American Revolution and a great critic of the French Revolution. Bolívar described himself in his many letters as a 'liberal' and defender of the free market economic system. Among the books he traveled with when he wrote the Bolivian Constitution were Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.

Bolívar's many speeches and writings reveal him to be an adherent of limited government, the separation of powers, freedom of religion, property rights, and the rule of law.

Simón Bolívar has no direct descendants. His bloodline lives on through his sister Juana Bolívar y Palacios who married their maternal uncle Dionisio Palacios y Blanco and had two children: Guillermo and Benigna.

Guillermo died when fighting alongside his uncle in the battle of La Hogaza in 1817. Benigna Palacios y Bolívar married Pedro Amestoy. Their great-grandchildren, Pedro (94), and Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa (90) live in Caracas. They are Simón Bolívar's closest living relatives.

There is an equestrian statue commemorating Bolívar's life and works in Washington, D.C., a statue at the UN Plaza in San Francisco, a statue in the Basque Country, Spain, a statue on the Reforma Avenue in Mexico City, a statue in Cairo, Egypt, statues signifying the friendship between Canada and South America in Quebec City and Ottawa, and also a bust in Sydney, Australia. A statue in Bolivar, Missouri which was presented by President Rómulo Gallegos of Venezuela and dedicated by President Harry S. Truman. A central avenue in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, bears his name. Bolivar, West Virginia displays a bust.

Furthermore, every city and town in Venezuela & Colombia (in this one each capital city but Pasto) have a main square known as Plaza Bolivar, that usually has a bust or a statue of Bolivar, the most famous of these Plaza Bolivar is the one in Caracas. The central avenue of Caracas is called Avenida Bolivar, and at its end there is a twin tower complex named Centro Simon Bolivar built during the 1950s that holds several governmental offices.

Other notes
Bolívar crossed 123,000 kilometers, more than Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama together. 

President of six nations: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. However, he was only officially president of four nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela). 

There is a cigar named after Bolívar. 

A town in Tennessee, Missouri, Virginia (now in contended Jefferson Co., West Virginia) and upstate New York, USA is named after Bolívar 

In southern Texas (Galveston County), along the Gulf of Mexico Coast lies the Bolívar Peninsula 

A department in Colombia, a state in Venezuela and a province in Ecuador are named after Bolívar. 

A road in New Delhi, India is named after Simón Bolívar 

A street in Mexico City is named after Bolívar (Bolívar spent a few days in a house on that street when he visited Mexico City). 

Bolívar summoned the congresses of Angostura and Panamá 

Boliver's statue in Washington DC

With the height of the tip of the sword touching 27 feet makes this eight-ton statue technically the tallest in town

Algunas costumbres en Venezuela nos pueden parecer “anticuadas” para viajeros provenientes de Europa o Estados Unidos, pero esto es resultado de la unión de varios factores. Por un lado, es un país eminentemente religioso. Por otro, todavía quedan resabios de costumbres ancestrales.

No se sorprenda si detecta un cierto “machismo” en las conversaciones con locales: a pesar de que hay muchas mujeres en cargos muy importantes (histórica y culturalmente reservados  a los hombres), se sigue haciendo más énfasis en la “apariencia” de las mujeres, que en sus capacidades. Esto es muy normal para ellos, tanto entre los hombres como entre las mujeres.

Los venezolanos ponen especial atención a su vestimenta. Los shorts y las sandalias no son usados habitualmente en las grandes ciudades, pero sí las camisas o camisetas con mangas cortas o sin mangas. Y ponga especial atención a lo que va a lucir si asiste a eventos sociales como misas, casamientos, etc.

Alunas costumbres de Venezuela a tener en cuenta son:

  • Los venezolanos no suelen ser muy puntuales, sea que se trate de reuniones formales o informales. Si tiene una cita, no espere que la persona llegue a horario.
  • Un firme apretón de manos es el saludo habitual, tanto entre hombres como entre mujeres. Si es un saludo entre personas de sexo diferente, se debe esperar a que la mujer acerque su mano.
  • Siempre diga “Señor” o “Señora” delante del apellido; lo mismo si la persona posee un título académico (Licenciado, Doctor, etc.), salvo que su interlocutor le indique que puede usar su primer nombre.
  • Si se trata de una reunión de negocios, no vaya directo al tema en cuestión. La costumbre en Venezuela es tener una charla introductoria, incluso sobre temas familiares. Si se trata de un almuerzo o cena de negocios, es probable que se prolongue, ya que es costumbre hablar de temas puramente sociales al mismo tiempo que de los comerciales.
  • Los venezolanos suelen hacer contacto personal durante las conversaciones, pueden tocar su mano, o su brazo. Adopte siempre una buena postura corporal, aunque relajada; evite posturas que se consideran agresivas como poner las manos en los bolsillos o en sus caderas. Si señala, hágalo con toda la mano, no con el dedo índice solamente.
  • Si es invitado a una casa de familia, es buena idea llevar un regalo, como flores o chocolate.
  • Evite conversaciones sobre política. Las conversaciones sobre deportes, historia o cultura general son apreciadas.
  • No haga hincapié en los atractivos físicos de una persona con la que no tiene confianza, aunque sea con la intención de hacer un cumplido: puede ser malinterpretado.
  • Cuando quiera beber una gaseosa, no pida “Coca”, por dos motivos:
    1) puede llegar a confundirse con “coca” o “cocaína”;
    2) en Venezuela se vende Pepsi en un lugar de Coca Cola.

Recuerde que en los meses que van entre Julio y Septiembre puede resultar difícil conseguir lugar en los hoteles y vuelos, ya que los venezolanos viajan por las vacaciones escolares. Lo mismo sucede para Navidad (la temporada se extiende desde Diciembre a mediados de Enero), Pascuas (Semana Santa) y los Carnavales (la Cuaresma). De Abril a Junio es la temporada baja. Las playas y destinos turísticos más populares se pueden disfrutar más tranquilamente.