Media Center

Press Release


  July 24, 2002

The member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) offered glowing tributes in Washington today, in memory of Venezuelan patriot and South American liberator Simón Bolívar, on the 219th anniversary of his birth.

After a brief wreath-laying ceremony at a statute of Bolívar just outside OAS Headquarters building, United States Ambassador Roger Noriega, the OAS Permanent Council Chairman, led a special Council session in honor of the general who paved the way for the independence of Venezuela, Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Referring to Bolívar's enduring influence and legacy, Noriega noted that at least 11 U.S. towns and cities were named for the 19th century hero.

"Simon Bolívar dreamed of a Hemisphere united in the traditions of freedom and liberty in the exercise of democracy," Noriega recalled, explaining how much the modern inter-American system owes to Bolívar's ideas and ideals. He observed that the work of the OAS "sets the stage to fulfill Simon Bolívar's dreams of a united Hemisphere—a Hemisphere united in its belief in, and defense of, democracy and a commitment to improving the lives of all citizens of the Americas"

For Bolivia's Permanent Representative, Ambassador Marcelo Ostria Trigo, his country's very name is "a permanent tribute to its founder." Recalling that "Bolivians always speak of Bolívar with reverence," Ambassador Ostria Trigo said the Liberator's powerful and visionary philosophy and message still resonate around the Americas. He cited the scourges of poverty, corruption, drug trafficking and terrorism, insisting they demand the kind of joint effort that Bolívar advocated.

In his remarks on behalf of the Caribbean Community nations, Guyana's Ambassador Odeen Ishmael highlighted Simón Bolívar's special ties to the Caribbean region where he drew inspiration and influenced the "evolutionary" independence process. He referred to the South American hero's celebrated Letter from Jamaica, which articulated a "system of republican government throughout Spanish America with checks and balances modeled after the British system of government;" his visits to Haiti; and the crucial support he also secured from Guyana. "It was not unusual for some Guyanese at that period to team up with the British and Irish recruits and join the independence forces in the Orinoco province."

Ambassador Blasco Peñaherrera, Permanent Representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Bolivarian countries, used the work of Ecuadorian scholar Rumazo González to portray Bolívar as an "extraordinary human being whose boundless vision, formidable and multifaceted talent as well as heroic and unswerving commitment largely set the stage for the founding of our republics in the Americas and the forging of a common destiny based on freedom, justice and progress which, unfortunately, we have not yet been able to attain."

Reference: E-150/02