Embrace of Bolívar and Morillo in Santa Ana, Venezuela

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Embrace of Bolivar and Morillo.

This monument stands proudly within a small town in Venezuela. It honors an unlikely moment of peace between two political adversaries.

On November 27, 1820, Simón Bolívar, who was at the time president of Gran Colombia, and Spanish general Pablo Morillo met to sign a temporary armistice. Until then, Bolívar had been operating under his Decree of War to the Death, which was a policy of no mercy toward Spaniards and Spanish loyalists in America.

Morillo, the head Spanish forces in Venezuela, came to the table because of the effectiveness of Bolívar's ferocious independence movement and because of the recent mutiny of officers back in Spain. The mutiny is an important background because it was a decisive move by liberals in the royal military that restored the fledgling Cadiz Constitution, which protected the rights of Spanish people under the monarchy.

The armistice recognized Bolívar’s presidency and intended to set the country on a peaceful path to independence. The armistice did not last, even though Morillo would forfeit his command as a result of it, returning to Spain and defend the Cadiz Constitution.

What's especially notable about the meeting is how much both generals and their senior staff liked each other. Morillo wrote fondly of the meeting, saying that they planned to erect a monument and Bolívar, whose many talents included making friends in unlikely places, made reference to the many toasts that the group drank together. The monument that the men agreed to that evening was indeed erected, and stands to this day in the small town of Santa Ana.