The True Liberator?

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryWhen I was in Venezuela a long time ago, the one single personality that had and still dominates that country is Simon Bolivar—the man who not only liberated Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia from the Spanish Empire but who one might say is virtually the patron saint of Venezuela today. Even when I visited Venezuela there were statues all over the place of Bolivar, and his image was on all of the coins and currency of the country (it still is). Well, director Alberto Arvelo will be making an independent film on the life of Simon Bolivar as told from the viewpoint of Bolivar himself. The famed Venezuelan composer Gustavo Dudamel will compose the opening theme and musical score for the film, and the figure Bolivar himself will be played by the actor Edgar Ramirez. Sounds all good and fine.

The film will be entitled “Libertador” (Liberator), and will be a Spanish-Venezuelan production. Simon Bolivar was one of the greatest personalities in history. Born into a prominent Spanish family on July 24, 1783, Bolivar became an orphan at an early age when his father died when he was two and his mother died when he was nine. He received his education from one of the most brilliant professors of the time, Don Simon Rodriguez. At age 14, Bolivar entered a military academy where he learned the art of war and was trained as a soldier Subsequently Bolivar’s mentor and friend Don Simon was accused of being part of a plot against the Spanish Crown, and was therefore exiled. This led to Bolivar hating and despising the Spanish Empire, and hence joining with the independence movement of the time. His military strategies helped the South American rebels defeat the Spanish at the crucial battles of Carabobo in 1821 and Pichincha in 1822. With these victories, Bolivar secured the independence of Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela. He ruled these three countries in what became known as the Republic of Gran Colombia.

Gran Colombia did not survive. Many of those independence commanders who fought with him against the Spanish now fought against him to establish independent states. Gran Colombia collapsed in 1830, and Bolivar decided to go into exile in France when he died of tuberculosis. His remains have been enshrined in Venezuela ever since. I hope this film will be an objective work and not become a piece of propaganda. All I have to do is look at the history of how cinema has been used by those in power for their own ends. My fear is that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez may use this film for his own political purposes. Two excellent examples of propaganda cinema are the films “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefensthal in Nazi Germany and “Ivan the Terrible” by Sergei Eisenstein in the former Soviet Union. The film will be a fitting tribute to Simon Bolivar if it is not turned into a propaganda piece for those in power today.

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