Simón Bolívar

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Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), often called ‘El Libertador’, was a Venezuelan historical figure who led the fight for independence in Colombia, Panamá, Venezuela, Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia. He was also influential in subsequent revolutions in Latin America and the Caribbean. His legacy is commemorated by statues, squares and streets all over the world, and NYC is no exception. An equestrian statue of Simón Bolívar can be found in Central Park South and 6th avenue.

This monument to Simón Bolívar caused controversy from the beginning, not due to Bolívar’s place in history but because of the artistic value of the sculpture. The original statue, commissioned by the government of Venezuela and given to the City of New York as a token of admiration,
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This monument represents Bolívar’s Pan-American ideals of unity along all corners of the Americas. According to the Parks Department’s website, sixth avenue was re-named Avenue of the Americas in honor of these ideals. I tried to find instances of protest regarding the statue but found no more controversies beyond the City not liking their initial gift. This does not surprise me, in the Latin American history of great men, Bolívar is the greatest of them all. In fact, his monument stands near similar historical figures: General José de San Martín, who fought for independence in Argentina, Chile and Perú and José Martí, Cuban poet and revolutionary. I think the historical aspects that are left silenced are more related to the present and the significance of the sculpture more so than the person the monument honors. For example, in researching this monument I came across many websites who explained his person as” the George Washington of South America”. This idea may have come from Warren G. Harden’s inauguration speech for the monument, in where he seems to speak as much about Washington as about Bolívar. While the comparison is understandable, Bolívar is not the Washington of South America. Bolívar and Washington are both symbols of independence and patriotism, and although most of Latin America has gained independence, their reality is not the same as the U.S.A.’s. Therefore, Bolívar is not a chapter in a middle-school history

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