This statue to Simón Bolívar was dedicated in 1957 as a symbol of friendship and commerce between New Orleans and the nations of Latin America. Bolívar became one of Latin America's leading revolutionary generals, with victories that led to the independence of Panama, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia (which was named after Bolívar). Many Americans supported the efforts of Latin American revolutionary Bolívar during the 19th century. Although he helped to liberate Latin America from Spain, Bolívar’s legacy is troubled by the region’s instability during the period that his military held control.
Anti-colonial rebellions erupted throughout Latin America in the early 19th century. For example, Chile fought and secured independence in a bloody series of wars between 1810 and 1826. Mexico also secured its independence between 1810 and 1821, followed by Venezuela between 1811 and 1823, and Argentina between 1810 and 1818. With the leadership of revolutionary general Simón Bolívar, the people of present-day Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama fought and defeated Spanish forces between 1819 and 1826. In the wake of the Haitian Revolution, Southern leaders feared that Latin American independence might become a threat to the institution of slavery. If the United States failed to expand its influence over the region, Southerners protested, the rebellions against Spain might become the opening phase of a continental revolution against slavery. At the same time, the Monroe administration welcomed the rebellion against Spain for strategic reasons, seeing an independent Latin America as a boon for US commerce. Monroe’s successor, John Quincy Adams, was particularly supportive of the new republics and accepted Simón Bolívar’s invitation to send delegates to a trans-continental congress in Panama despite Southern protest. Although the United States continued to isolate the black republic of Haiti, the government extended full diplomatic recognition to each of the new republics by 1826.