Simon Bolivar planned to conquer the Spanish Caribbean in the first quarter of the 19th century to cut the supply lines with the mother country, a plan that was frustrated due to illness and that could have changed the course of history, Spanish writer Fermin Goñi claims in his latest book, as the Latin American Herald Tribune reports.
The author, who is in San Juan to present his book on Bolivar “Todo llevara su nombre” (Everything will bear his name), said Monday in an interview with Efe that the Venezuelan politician and military leader had devised a plan to snatch Puerto Rico from the Spaniards given that it was an island with significant strategic value for the control of the colonial Americas.
“Puerto Rico was the key from the strategic point of view for the supply line between Spain and its American colonies,” said the author, who is also a journalist, noting that taking control of the Caribbean island was part of a plan that included the capture of Cuba, a move that would have inflicted the coup de grace on the mother country’s activities in the New World.
“If Bolivar had not suffered from tuberculosis he would have gone to Puerto Rico,” said the writer, who in recent years has specialized in the study of the great American forefathers.
“It would have meant taking the San Felipe del Morro castle, which nobody had taken up to then,” said Goñi, who is convinced that taking control of a military bastion like San Juan would have led to the unraveling of Spanish power in the Caribbean more than half a century before it finally occurred.
Goñi said that Puerto Rico was not a completely strange territory to Bolivar, given that the Venezuelan military man had been to the island-municipality of Vieques – which is part of the larger island – in 1816 during a resupply stopover en route to Haiti.
Bolivar died on Dec. 17, 1830, in the Colombian town of Santa Marta from complications of tuberculosis, from which he had suffered for years, and so his plan that could have meant Spain’s early exit from the Caribbean region came to naught.
As history unfolded, Cuba and Puerto Rico remained the property of Spain until Madrid’s defeat in the Spanish-American War in 1898.
The idea of invading Puerto Rico, and afterwards Cuba, appears in the correspondence between Bolivar and Diego Ibarra, the Venezuelan army commander during that country’s war for independence.
Goñi said that his speculation and analysis is backed by his critical reading of some 16,000 pages of Bolivar’s correspondence, significant historical source material on which he based his novel.
Published in the Americas by Roca Editorial, Goñi’s work on Bolivar follows three other books he has published in recent years: “Los sueños de un libertador” (2009), “Una muerte de libro” (2011) and “El secreto de mi jardin” (2013).
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