Colombia History V – Independence to Modern Day
We conclude this very brief introduction to Colombian history starting at Colombia’s independence. After Simón Bolívar’s troops won the war against the Spanish in 1819, Northern South America was united in one large country, called “Gran Colombia” (Great Colombia); this includes all of modern-day Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
Bolívar, you’ll remember, was a great military leader who desperately wanted a united “Gran Colombia”, imitating the United States to his north. But he also wanted a strong central government, seated in Bogotá, with him as president. Neither Venezuela nor Ecuador agreed, and indeed Venezuela nearly started a civil war to gain independence from Colombia! As a last-ditch peace proposal, delegates from all parts of the country gathered in Bogotá… but Bolívar held firm to his plan for a strong central government, and when Venezuela and Ecuador refused to cave in, all the supporters of Bolívar simply walked out from the convention. Venezuela and Ecuador became independent without bloodshed by 1831.
Colombia never achieved the high hopes of its founders. Major moments further in its history include three (three!) separate military coups, sharp political battles over the role of the Catholic Church in the official government, and a four-year civil war that 115 years later is still not really resolved. Tensions resulting from that war led to Panama wanting its independence; when Colombia reneged on a promise to the U.S. to allow a canal to be constructed in Panama, Panamanian leaders revolted. America did not exactly start the revolution, but Panama could never have maintained its independence without America standing to defend it against Colombia. (Eventually America paid Colombia some $25 million dollars as an apology for intervening in Panama’s independence.) In the 1950’s, Colombia collapsed into violence, and has not yet truly overcome it. Rebel forces, such as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), are still waging guerrilla warfare against the central government.
The rebels in Colombia trust in Communism to bring them security; they fund their activities through the sale of illegal drugs. They use violence to achieve their goals, and increase instability for the country as a whole. This opens the door for organized and unorganized crime throughout the country, and has led to countless kidnappings, rapes and murders in all parts of Colombia. Only within the last two decades or so has Colombia’s military made significant progress against the rebels.
What does Colombia need? It doesn’t need a political solution, and it surely doesn’t need the drugs. It doesn’t need the violence, and it doesn’t need the corruption. It doesn’t need to have Panama, Ecuador or Venezuela back, and it certainly certainly certainly doesn’t need Spain or the United States to come rescue it – what Colombia needs is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After so many centuries of pain and anguish, Colombians now can find out about the everlasting life that Jesus Christ offers by grace through faith! And all it takes is someone to go down there and tell them. And all that missionary needs is someone here to send them. So, what will you do? Does God want you to go, or does he want you to send? It’s your choice. Remember the lost! Remember how much God sacrificed to save you, and remember how He loves the lost people of Colombia just as much!
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