Simón Bolívar
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One of Latin America's most important historical figures, Simón Bolívar was born on 1783 in Caracas, Venezuela and would go on to be famous for his role in Latin America's long, but eventually successful, struggle for independence from Spain. An excellent general and charismatic politician, Bolívar is hailed as "The Liberator," who not only freed his home country from Spanish rule but also went on to be instrumental in the early years of the free republics that arose in the aftermath.

He came from a wealthy background and began his military career at the age of 14, when he enrolled in a military academy that had once been run by his father. It was here that he learned many of the skills that would help him later in his quest for Latin American independence.

After a stint in Europe, Bolívar returned to Venezuela in 1807. He joined the Venezuelan revolution in 1810 and, with good strategy and military successes, led the revolutionaries to Venezuela's independence in 1811; strife within the country led to Venezuela being retaken by Spanish forces in 1814, and Bolívar was promptly exiled. After his return, he continued to lead rebel forces and, in 1819, established the republic of Greater Colombia, which included present-day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. He continued in his campaign and victories in Peru saw the fall of Spanish rule.

His vision involved a united country, but various movements across the territory of Greater Colombia made this vision impossible. He resigned from his post in 1830 and died shortly after.

He had no problem financing his campaigns, as he came from a considerably wealthy background and even claimed to be a descendant of King Fernando III of Castile. His childhood was harsh, however, with both his parents passing away at an early age. Nevertheless, he was to receive a brilliant education, kept in the loop of reality by his instructor, Simón Rodríguez, who attempted to mould and develop his character for the outside world.

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