Why was Simon Bolivar dictator of Peru? Didn't he want a democracy?

Question:

Why was Simon Bolivar dictator of Peru? Didn't he want a democracy?

Simon Bolivar:

Simon Bolivar is the main protagonist in the modern history of Latin America, specifically in the process and the outcome of the wars of independence from the Spanish Empire during the first decades of the 19th Century in Latin America. He had a main role in this process not just because he led the armies and succeeded, but also because he helped to shape the political and social structures of new nations, like Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. He was deeply inspired by the liberal ideas of the 18th Century, and he believed that independence must lead the South American nations to unity, democracy, freedom, and social and economic wealth.

Answer and Explanation:

Simon Bolivar was indeed declared Dictator of Peru in 1824. But, it is necessary to understand it in a historical perspective. At this moment, the independence of Peru was not secured, and there were threats of division and anarchy. Specifically, Bolivar feared that this state of general anarchy within the army would lead the Spaniards to conquer again the lost territories. For Bolivar, this was unacceptable. Nevertheless, it is necessary to point out that the declaration of Bolivar as a Dictator of Peru has been criticized by historians who saw in this a contradiction of terms: How can a leader of democracy and freedom accept the role of such a contradictory nature? It has also been pointed out that some of the decisions made by Bolivar as Dictator of Peru affected specific groups, such as former slaves and Indians, because it reversed the end of slavery and imposed taxes to sponsor the war against the Spanish Empire. Overall, the struggle of Bolivar for independence and freedom was based on a strong belief in democracy. At the same time, he was a strong leader who made his decisions believing that these were the best to defeat the Spaniards. Possibly, in a context of instability and anarchy such as this, Bolivar imposed his leadership by strong means. The consequences were clear: on one hand, he succeeded while he was in charge. But, on the other hand, his leadership was threatened by others who wanted to be in power and had different ideas and interests. As soon as he died, in 1830, the new nations started a cycle of civil wars and political instability, whose consequences are still present.


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Simon Bolivar: Biography, Facts & Accomplishments

from AP World History: Help and Review

Chapter 22 / Lesson 10
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