Tiempos heróicos / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

Heroic Times

     At Bolívar’s demand the most errant of armies left the Oriente province. Toward the Centro province it proudly advanced, dispersing and disconcerting the enemy in endless combat, which would flame up like sudden fires. Its leaders had terrifying names of sonorous barbarism: Bermúdez, Azcue, Arrioja. In them was accomplished the concept of heroism, whose standard Homer bequeathed us, because young and unfortunate were the paladins at that hour like the protagonist of the Iliad. The first of all, Santiago Mariño advances, who brings a lion by the mane: José Francisco Bermudez, who in his life gave the most fierce, overwhelming display of Venezuelan valor. Liberty did not count among its ranks a more splendid gentleman than that ill-fated rival of Bolívar, prodigious in sacrifice, bold and dashing as a Byron. With a lyre, he would have been the image of Apollo. This man reached the highest military rank in a single sweep, fortunate at the beginning of his career, as if favored by a spirit: at twenty-four he was a general, and preceded Bolívar in redeeming Venezuela.

     He later waned because of his foolish insubordination, and this waning in the story has been unjust. The alleged crime of his rebellion is a minor fault. The disobedience of the young caudillo finds its explanation and even its justification in regional jealousies, quite natural in those days, since the provinces that eventually constituted Venezuela had until then been true independent nations, under the common rule of Spain. Of the liberators, only Bolívar had the vision of the great homeland, and he hoped to extend it and he did, perturbed and ephemeral, between two oceans. Perhaps he felt the great influence of those generous and delirious apostles of humanity, of the great homeland without borders, who appeared so frequently in the eighteenth century. The rest of the liberators, for reasons of education, were disposed to urge on such vast ideals.

     Laureano Vallenilla Lanz is the one who considers Don Simón Bolívar in this, his almost unheard of phase of unifier. Because of the urgency of his will, because of the ascendancy of his genius in the ungovernable soul of his lieutenants, because of Piar’s sacrifice, Venezuela is a single nation from the stairwell of the Andes to where the Orinoco rejects with its waters the Atlantic. He twined the mistrustful hosts under the Venezuelan flag, surrounded by death in a hundred fields, like an idol satisfied by hecatombs. And he did more: centuries ahead of his time, he deposited in the fecund and mysterious heart of time the seed of future great evolutions.

La torre de Timón (1925)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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