Thoughts from El Libertador

Oleo de Ricardo Acevedo Bernal

Image via Wikipedia

Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios , affectionately known as El Libertador (The Liberator), was instrumental to breaking the yoke of Latin American bondage to the Spanish Empire in the 19th century. He played a central role in independence of Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

As a military strategist and statesman, Bolivar is often referred to as the George Washington of South America. Sadly, until I lived in Venezuela, I knew almost nothing of Washington’s masonic brother.

Despite being hardly a footnote in American history textbooks, there is much we can learn from Bolívar’s legacy.

What follows is a translation of some of my favorite quotes from Simón Bolívar’s collected writings.

On Liberty

It is better to live in chains for one’s country, than to exist freely in a state of sad inaction.

He who fights for freedom should receive no other recompense than glory and freedom.

On Government

Nothing is better than a government fulfilling its promises. Honesty is the best policy.

God approves the creation of a government whose purpose is the good of the community, or when it is the work of the community itself, according to its will and not by force.

A people is enslaved when the government, by its essence or by its vices, stomps on and usurps the rights of the citizen or subject.

Nothing is certain in a popular government because the will of the people varies and is often blind.

On War & Peace

In order to judge revolutions and revolutionaries, it is necessary to observe closely, but to judge from afar.

From peace all that is good should be expected and from war, nothing but disaster.

We should use reason before force.

I am more afraid of peace than of war.

On Patriotism

He who abandons all in order to serve his country loses nothing, and gains whatsoever he consecrates.

The glory of our native land consists in not withholding sacrifices.

The glory is in being great and useful.

Simón Bolívar
Photo taken by author at the San Isidro House in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela

On Education

An uneducated man is an incomplete being. Instruction is the joy of life; and the ignorant are prone to return to the mire of corruption, inevitably plunging into the darkness of servitude.

Education forms the man of morals, therefore to form a legislator certainly requires a school of morality, of justice, and of laws.

The first duty of the government is to provide education to the people.

On Personal Conduct

Let us act with righteousness and leave unto time the working of miracles.

Doing good costs nothing and is worth much.

On Family

The family is a treasure in which all members share the interest.

On Adversity

If the very nature of earth should oppose our designs we will fight against her and make her obey.

Simón Bolívar signature
Simón Bolívar’s singature via WikiMedia Commons

Which of these quotes do you like the most? Did I miss anything? Sound off in the comments below.


3 thoughts on “Thoughts from El Libertador

  1. AustinDM

    Simon really loved wearing that shirt, didn’t he?

    If it wasn’t for you and Dad, I doubt I would know who Simon Bolivar was.

    I don’t know any Bolivarisms, (at least before your post) but they’re all good, my favorite is probably “The first duty of the government is to provide education to the people.”

  2. Dave Shipp

    my favorite graffiti in venezuela was a wall that said “Un ser sin estudio es un policia municipal” – it was right next to a a pray painted “sk8 or die!”

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