Today in the Americas, Congress of Panama

congress-of-panamaToday, in 1826 (183 years ago), the Congress of Panama met to discuss what to do after the wars for Independence. The meeting in Panama was gathered by Simón Bolívar, the Liberator of South America, whose goal was always a union of states, a federation, a Pan-American movement.

It was also one of the first instances of US interference, as President Adams sent men to meet at the conference, but died in route.

A more interesting side story was Bolívar’s turn towards despotism, or at least, the turn of his thoughts. In language that is not emphasized by his admirer’s today, Bolívar wrote to Francisco de Paula Santander, Vice President of Colombia on July 8, 1826.

“I regard the Congress of the Isthmus as a theatrical play, and I view our laws as did Solon, who believed that laws only served to burden the weak without restraining the strong. While these thoughts keep passing through my mind, newspaper writers proclaim that heroes are subject to laws and that principles take precedence over men. What an ideology! This is to be a celestial land where laws personified will engage in combat in place of heroes, while principles, like the Fates, will direct affairs and govern man…

I am convinced, to the very marrow of my bones, that our America can only be ruled through well-managed, shrewd despotism. We are far from emulating the happy times of Athens and Rome, and we must not compare ourselves in any way to anything European. Our origins have been of the most unwholesome sort: All our antecedents are enveloped in the black cloak of crime. We are the abominable offspring of those raging beasts that came to America to waste her blood and to bred with their victims before sacrificing them. Later the illegitimate offspring of these unions commingled with the offspring of slaves transplanted from Africa. With such racial mitures and such a moral history, can we place laws above heroes and principles above men?…

I repeat: all is lost; and since everything progresses in a manner counter to my ideas and opinions, let them manage without me…Where is there an army of occupation to impose order? Africa? – we shall have more and more of Africa. I do not say this lightly, for anyone with a white skin who escapes will be fortunate…The sad part of it is that the ideologists, who are the vilest and most cowardly of men, will be the last to perish…The masterminds of this tempest – Pérez, Michelena de Francisco, and all those other wretches – will fan the first fires of the pyre that will consume our remains. Their one reward will be that they will go last…”


~ by Daniel on March 14, 2009.

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