HEROES OF VENEZUELA’S HISTORY
Simón Bolívar is the Father of the Country and the inspiration behind the Venezuelan Constitution that carries his name. He was born in Caracas on July 24, 1783, and died in Colombia on December 17, 1830.
Bolívar united a large part of Latin America to fight against the Spanish empire. The Liberator and the brave people that joined him fought for and won the independence of six countries: Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. His thoughts and example continue to guide the Venezuelan people.
Francisco de Miranda
Sebastián Francisco de Miranda Espinoza was born in Caracas on March 28, 1750. Called “The Universal Man of Caracas,” Miranda participated in the U.S. Revolutionary War and the French Revolution as well as the Venezuelan independence movement. His name is inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
In 1806, Miranda prepared an expedition to invade Venezuela and free it from Spanish rule, and he brought along the flag that would become today’s national symbol. Though that expedition failed, he returned in 1810 at Simón Bolívar’s invitation to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the patriotic army. In 1812 he surrendered to the leader Spanish Domingo Monteverde, leading to the loss of the First Republic. He died in 1816 in a Spanish prison. Years later, his ideas helped inspire the struggle for full independence in the Americas.
Luisa Cáceres of Arismendi was born in 1799. A heroine of Venezuela’s fight for independence, she was distinguished for her bravery in confronting the Spanish, who tried to trade her for the surrender of her husband, General Juan Bautista Arismendi.
She became famous for the phrase: “That my husband fulfills his duty so that I will know to comply with mine.”
Pedro Camejo or “Negro Primero”
Pedro Camejo, known as “Negro Primero,” was a valiant Cavalry Lieutenant under the service of General Jose Antonio Páez. Born somewhere in the Venezuelan plains region around 1790, Camejo fought in the Campaign of the Plains and the Battle of Carabobo. It was the brilliant military action of this battle that led to the independence of Venezuela. Camejo was famous for his loyalty. Historians tell that in the Battle of Carabobo, he approached General Páez, who rebuked him harshly, thinking Camejo was fleeing the fighting. The brave Afro-Venezuelan responded by showing him his fatal wounds and saying: “No, my General, I am not afraid, I came to tell you goodbye because I am dead.” He ended his life fighting for the liberty of the country.
Guaicaipuro was a chief in the Teques indigenous tribe and a heroic defender of the Valley of Caracas against Spanish invaders. Guaicaipuro is the symbol of the resistance and strength of the Venezuelan people.
Before the invasion and occupation of Captain Francisco Fajardo, Guaicaipuro crafted an alliance with other important native chiefs, which allowed them to chase off the Spanish conquistadors. Two years later, Diego de Losada entered the valley and was defeated by the same coalition of tribes. But this time, Losada persisted until he won. Guaicaipuro maintained an aggressive campaign of guerrilla warfare against the Spanish.
Manuela Sáenz was an intelligent and beautiful woman born in the territory that is currently the Republic of Ecuador. She was known as “the Liberator of the Liberator,” for she was the lover and political ally of Simón Bolívar. In 1828, she saved Bolívar from death at the hands of mutinous officers. She was an active colonel in the army and dedicated herself to completing many important tasks for Venezuela.
Negra Hipólita, a self-sacrificing servant of the Bolívar family, was the loving caretaker of the young Simón Bolívar, who called her “the slave who was father and mother of the twice-orphaned boy Simón.” Hipólita symbolizes the love and the self-sacrifice of Venezuelan mothers throughout history.