Colombian Leadership

A hilarious article in today's NY Times detailed a story over 250 years in the making. A story of leadership, arrogance and come-uppance. I encourage you all to read the full article.

Colombians dressed up for Independence Day, including one as the one-legged military hero Blas de Lezo.

Credit            Andrea Bruce for The New York Times

In 1741, a 186 British warships and 26,000 men, including 4,000 American colonists, tried to conquer Cartegena, protected by 6 warships and 6,000 men. The Columbian leader, Blas de Lezo, repulsed the men, losing an eye and a leg in the battle. His statue marks the site of the battle, incorrectly portrayed as missing an arm as well.

All was as it should be until October 31 of this year when Prince Charles of England visited and unveiled a black granite plaque hailing “the valor and suffering of all those who died in combat whilst seeking to take the city” was placed at the colonial fort where British troops were repulsed nearly three centuries ago.

This display of arrogance was not lost on the Columbians. “In London, why don’t they put up a tribute to the Nazi pilots that bombed the city during World War II?” asked Juan Carlos Gossaín, the governor of Bolívar, according to local news media.

On November 5th, Jaime Rendon, a local animal rights activist and gadfly took matters, and a small sledgehammer, into his own hands. He smashed the plaque, was arrested, quickly released and is now a national hero.

“You don’t play around with history here,” Mr. Rendón said. “You’re not going to put up a plaque in New York in honor of the people who knocked down the twin towers, isn’t that right? For us it’s the same thing.

Now the pedestal on which the broken plaque stood has become a tourist attraction and source of national pride.

Photographing the pedestal that held the plaque honoring British attackers.

Credit            Andrea Bruce for The New York Times