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Simón Bolívar

Disillusionment and Tribute

In 1826, he furthered his vision of a united Spanish America by convening representatives of the new republics at Panama; although little was accomplished, it marked the beginning of Pan-Americanism. Separatist movements continued to undermine the union and there was much dissent against his power and his high-handed methods. Bolívar declared himself dictator in 1828, and the next night, Sept. 24, 1828, he barely escaped assassination by jumping from a high window and hiding with the help of Manuela Sáenz. He could not halt the crumbling of Greater Colombia, and Venezuela and Ecuador seceded.

In poor health and disillusioned ("We have ploughed the sea," he said), he resigned the presidency in 1830. Shortly thereafter, he died near Santa Marta. (His death may have been the result of tuberculosis or accidental poisoning from medicines; an exhumation in 2010–11 was unable to conclusively establish the cause of death.) He died poor and bitterly hated, yet it was not long before South Americans began to pay tribute to the hero of their independence. Today, monumental statues of Bolívar adorn the central plazas of cities and towns throughout the Andean region.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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