Simón de Bolívar ("The Liberator")
[Do not be concerned about knowing every factual reference or the detailed political history. Rather, use
Bolívar's writings to gain an understanding of one perspective on Latin American political culture by one of
its greatest nineteenth-century military commanders and statesmen -JM]
[Below downloaded 20110130 from
Cartagena Manifesto (December 1812)
The so-called "Cartagena Manifesto" of December 1812--which strictly speaking was a published pamphlet
entitled Memoria dirigida a los ciudadanos de la Nueva Granada por un caraqueño--is the first of the major
Bolivarian texts. When he wrote it, Bolívar was a relatively obscure fugitive from royalist-held Venezuela.
His purpose was to analyze the reasons for the fall of the First Republic [of Venezuela], as a general
warning against the repetition of its mistakes, and to enlist New Granada's (today´s Colombia) support for a
new attempt at liberating his homeland. In the process, he revealed several of the central themes that were to
run through his political thought.
To spare New Granada the fate of Venezuela and to release the latter from its suffering are the objects which
I have set for myself in this memorial. Condescend to accept it with indulgence, my Fellow-Citizens, for the
sake of such laudable objectives. I am, Granadans, a son of unhappy Caracas, who miraculously escaped
from amidst her physical and political ruins; and, ever faithful to the liberal and just system proclaimed by
my country, I have come here to follow the banners of independence, which so gloriously wave in these
Forgive me if I, inspired by patriotic zeal, take the liberty of addressing you, in order to sketch briefly the
causes that brought Venezuela to its destruction. I flatter myself that the terrible and exemplary lessons which
that defunct Republic has supplied may induce America to mend her ways and correct her shortcomings in
unity, strength, and energy, which are apparent in her governments.
The most grievous error committed by Venezuela in making her start on the political stage was, as none can
deny, her fatal adoption of the system of tolerance--a system long condemned as weak and inadequate by
every man of common sense yet tenaciously maintained with an unparalleled blindness to the very end.
The first indication of senseless weakness demonstrated by our government was manifested in the case of the
city of Coro, which, having refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government, was declared in rebellion
and treated as an enemy. The supreme junta, instead of subjugating that undefended city, which would have
surrendered as soon as our maritime forces had appeared off its harbor, gave it time to fortify itself and build
up a strength so respectable that it later succeeded in subjugating the entire confederation almost as easily as
we ourselves could previously have defeated it. The junta based its policy on poorly understood principles of