Today is a holiday in Venezuela. It is the day our first national caudillo, Simón Bolívar, was born in 1783. Mind: Bolívar had some good ideas - none of them original - and some very bad ones. After he miserably failed as a military to defend Puerto Cabello, an easy job Miranda had given him, after he betrayed Miranda and delivered him to the Spaniards to save his own skin, he managed to lead military troops for some time. He got rid of people who could become a competition to him, like Piar. He also got Venezuela into incredible debts with Britain in order to get enough mercenaries and weapons to further his cause. In the end, Venezuelan troops led the liberation of several lands and Bolívar was acclaimed as "the Liberator", as if hundreds of thousands of others hadn't done more for the same thing - paying with their lives in very violent ways.
Bolívar did not have much money to pay mercenaries and national military men, so he gave them land and power and in that way Venezuela became the most militarily obsessed country in South America. It did not fight anymore with other countries in Latin America (it couldn't have done it), but its military just dedicated themselves to be declared some sort of superior caste...the inheritors of "The Liberator".
Venezuelan military decided to promote the cult to Bolívar. Pseudo-historians decided to transform Bolívar into a demi-God. This helped them in their careers, specially as the military were strengthened by this. Now there is no Venezuelan with political ambitions who would dare have a more critical view of Bolívar, the caudillo who wanted to rule for life. This has done a lot of damage to the country: every new generation of military and politicos claim to be the "prophets" of this new Bolívar religion.
What would have happened had Bolívar not been born? Nothing, really. We would have got our independence at the same time, a little bit later or a little bit earlier. We would have probably let Bolivia and Peru be liberated from within or by Argentine and Chilean forces. We would have got less debts with the Britons. We wouldn't have had to lose so many lives. We would not have a third of all muninipios called after some military strongman. Other than that, things would have been probably more or less the same.
Today Chávez felt the need to come over to Venezuela for the usual rites of worship. Here you see some of his very kitsch tweets on Bolívar today:
"Let'sSingWIthPabloNedura:Everything has your name, father, in our home, everything that is ours comes from your life, your inheritance is our daily bread"
"Sunday 24 July, bless you, day of God we declare you, day of Fatherland, day of Subleme Birth, let's sing to Simón Bolívar the Eternal"