Colombia Table of Contents
Unlike the militaries of several Latin American countries, the Colombian military did not significantly affect national developments during the nineteenth century. During the war for independence from Spain that began in 1810--the period from which most Latin American armies, including Colombia's, trace their official traditions--patriots from the territory that is now Colombia played a subordinate role to that of leaders from other parts of the Viceroyalty of New Granada. Many of the Colombian patriots' key military leaders, with the important exception of General Francisco de Paula Santander, were killed during the initial phase of the independence struggle that ended in 1816; their troops, which consisted mainly of poor, uneducated peasants, gradually came under the command of forces led by the Venezuelan Simón Bolívar Palacio. Indeed, in 1819 Bolívar became the first president of Gran Colombia (see The Independence Movement , ch. 1).
Data as of December 1988