Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
HomeJabón de OlorBolívar against liberalism and corruption 

Bolívar against liberalism and corruption 

The problem began when the Colombian Congress abolished the taxes imposed by Spanish legislation on the rich. 

«The Congress of Cúcuta —wrote Francisco de Paula Santander on April 17, 1823— issued beneficial laws that reduced the old colonial rents and the substitution that it adopted to cover the deficit has not corresponded at all to the calculated budgets». 

beneficial? Faced with the "surprising" situation, the rich and powerful Colombians expressed their desire to lend to the State. But for that, they explained, it was necessary for the government to have money with which to pay vouchers, payrolls and treasury documents that would necessarily arise. Hence the plan to contract a loan abroad was born. Once the official credit has been established by that International Monetary Fund, the State could expect a broader financial cooperation from businessmen and this was offered by Messrs. Arrubla and Montoya, national potentates, on behalf of the main economic groups. Such was the origin of the English loan, very well narrated by Indalecio Liévano Aguirre in number one hundred of the Bulletin of the Academy of Venezuelan History. 

Congress, where many of the State's creditors, present and future, had a seat, enacted the law that authorized the loan, and since business must be complete, the same Goldsmith Bank that gave the loan was legally appointed "agent of the government of the Republic." of Colombia for the transaction of all the businesses of said Republic in England". Why that exclusivity? We'll see. 

At the moment Arrubla and Montoya traveled to London. They were accompanied by a Mr. Hurtado, with the title of diplomatic Minister. The loan was signed, the following sums were distributed for commissions: Arrubla and Montoya £20.137, which at the exchange rate of the time exceeded one hundred thousand Colombian pesos; and Hurtado £53.000, which amounted to more or less two hundred and eighty thousand Colombian pesos. These amounts, added together, were almost equal to the Colombian Education budget. Following this, frequent announcements appear in the press of the formation of companies to exploit the agricultural and mining resources of the republic, companies in which the capital was contributed, in whole or in part, by the Goldsmith house, and Mr. Hurtado was listed as President. It was the concrete development of the exclusivity granted to the Bank. Other movements were produced with that money and when Bolívar requested, for the battle that would take place in Peru, a few million pesos, which perfectly allowed the figures in sterling for the loan, the matter was delayed in Congress. Faced with more imperative demands, the Liberator was told that it was not possible to comply with his request, that there was no money. General Santander sent him the famous letter in which he told him that without a law from Congress he could not do anything, because he had no discretionary power, except what he could exercise in accordance with the laws, "even if the devil took the republic." 

The battle of Ayacucho had to be fought with different finances. Bolívar looked with a detour at the liberalism that he shared in his youth. This banking issue puts him in that position and it must be understood that liberalism is what today is called neoliberalism.

Then came the bankruptcy of the Goldsmith Bank with its big uproar in London and it was discovered that the brand new representatives of Colombia, who charged so dearly for their management advice, also made their bodies happy with a commission from the bank. And it was not small, it amounted to something like twenty percent of the total. That commission would have remained secret for eternity without the bankruptcy. Made public, instead of asking for excuses or hiding, Arrubla and his group requested that the State pay them the twenty percent that Goldsmith owed them when he left this world, because he had committed suicide. And Colombia paid for it!, by decision of the majority of Congress, liberal like the accused.

Bogotá was a hell of intrigues and maneuvers. Santander had invited the United States to send a delegate to the Congress to be held in Panama. The newspapers inspired by him popularized the idea that the Liberator wanted to be king, emperor of the new great political unity, and in support of this assertion they analyzed the Bolivian constitution, whose clauses of evident authoritarian impetus -as well as egalitarian- did not detract from them. certainly.

For his part, Bolívar advances his strategy with verve. He sends the Bolivian Constitution to influential people with letters of recommendation and issues instructions for delegates to the Amphictyonic Congress, which will begin on June 22 of that same intense year of 1826. 

Money philosopher

Several failed assassination attempts occurred before the famous one. One was to be performed at a masked ball offered by the municipal authorities at the Coliseo de Bogotá. When Bolívar arrived at the Coliseum, the boxes and the venue were already full. As the orchestra had begun to play, the Liberator dispensed with going on stage and remained among the guests, accompanied by his ministers and his diplomats. Let's imagine Bolívar looking over the many masked men who danced before him. Some hid revolvers. He knew the men of the conspiracy. They closed their account books in the afternoon to meet in the Sociedad Filológica lodge to listen to the soporific expositions of Don Ezequiel Rojas on Benthamism, also the verses of the brilliant Vargas Tejada against Bolívar. 

Relations became tense and an episode occurred that Liévano narrated with the following words:

“Unfortunately, a new incident occurred when Bolívar arrived at the famous Hatogrande hacienda, owned by General Santander, to which the vice president accompanied him, followed by a large part of the members of the Government. “There,” Cordovez says, “Santander hosted him splendidly, as well as the large entourage. After the meal, small rooms were established to entertain themselves, forming in one of them the Libertador, Santander and the doctors Vicente Azuero and Francisco Soto, intimates of the Vice President. Several games had already been played with varying success, when Bolívar knuckled (won in the game) Santander, who immediately left the room in order to inspect compliance with his orders regarding the best taste and comfort of the illustrious guests. . Santander had hardly left when the Liberator, while collecting the profit in very good escudos, imprudently blurted out a bloody phrase:

"At last I got my part of the loan!" 

Santander learned of his guest's insult and resigned himself to respecting the social conveniences imposed on a host, but kept in his chest the memory of the cruel outrage.»

A furious exchange of attacks was produced by the Colombian press. Of them it is worth reading an article dictated by Bolívar, whose originals are corrected by his own handwriting. His target is the liberals: 

«Will they deny us that Mr. Zea and Mr. Hurtado have stolen public funds? Will they deny that Messrs. Arrubla and Montoya have seized the loan? Will they deny that Messrs. Restrepo and Castillo are money-grubbers and have enriched themselves in the shadow of their authority? Will we be denied that the Vice President has enriched himself at the expense of the Republic and that he is as greedy as the vilest Hebrew? Congress has sold its laws to the vilest money-grubbers; Congress has put a fair in its august enclosure. Elbers, Montoyas, Arrublas, Santander and many others have paid for the votes of Congress, the first with money and the last with jobs and national assets. Nobody, then, has believed Congress to be fair or wise; They (the congressmen) looked rather like the publicans in the temple than the priests of the law. A Christ was missing to whip them and expel them from that holy place. This Christ has come and even if he had to throw out those scumbags of laws, he has respected their desecrated character…. Everyone wants riches; they all want national obligations, indemnities, because Congress decrees them and the Vice President negotiates them. Meanwhile, the Liberator is the only one to blame in the eyes of the Gaceta de Colombia and the Bogota cabal."

To the same genre of writings belongs the famous parody of Decree written by Bolívar. It was titled "Fundamental Law to Separate New Granada from Venezuela and Quito," and it began like this: 

«Republic of Colombia, Francisco de Paula Santander, Born President of Colombia and Protector of the Confederation of Arrublas, Montoyas, Hurtado and Company. Considering…".

The much-requested Convention arrives, the site chosen for it is the town of Ocaña. If Bolívar wants to revise and annul the Constitution of Cúcuta, the Santander party tries to remove Bolívar from the Colombian presidency. Everything will be done legally, with voting, but who will be able to vote? The regulation informs it: they could only pay 

"...those who had real estate or exercised a profession without dependence on another as a day laborer or servant."

What is the purpose of this rule? Francisco de Paula Santander himself described the political intention of this in a letter dated January 18, 1828 to one of his men, Azuero: 

«We must not close our eyes to what is presented; that is to say, to that swarm of blind supporters of Bolívar, whose power has not been so small that it has not upset the Republic and frequently threatened our existence; all of them harbor the greatest distrust of their fate since they are learning about the elections and they imagine imminent dangers in the fall of their protector, which tends to drive them desperately to support him at all costs. What can be the result? An internal war in which those who have nothing win, who are always many, and those who have, who are few, lose.

Is Santander lying when assuming Bolívar's alignment with "those who have nothing"? Bolívar's actions will show that no. He has settled in Bucaramanga, in an attitude that is painted by his conversations with Peru de Lacroix that he will pick up in the famous Bucaramanga Newspaper. 

Bolívar with the poor

In a paragraph of the Diary it is said: 

«That news led Bolívar to repeat what we have heard him say several times, namely; prove the state of slavery in which the town finds itself, prove that it is not only under the yoke of the mayors and parish priests, but also under that of three or four magnates in each of them; that in the cities it is the same, with the difference that the masters are more numerous because they increase with many clerics and doctors; that freedom and guarantees are only for those men and for the rich and never for the people, whose slavery is worse than that of the Indians themselves; that slaves were under the Constitution of Cúcuta and slaves would remain under the most liberal Constitution; that in Colombia there is an aristocracy of rank, jobs and wealth equivalent in its influence, its claims and weight over the people to the aristocracy of titles and the most despotic birth in Europe». The millions from the Goldsmith loan would never come back.

Leave a response

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here