General Manuel Carlos Piar: Liberator of Venezuela

Young Manuel Carlos studied mathematics under his tutor, Colonel Tomas Mires, to whom he had been entrusted by his father, Fernando Piar, but, upon reaching maturity at the age of 17 he soon sought to join the cause of liberty for the Latin American race. He hoped to have the privilege of meeting General Simon Bolivar, the famed Liberator. At this time he was a fluid speaker of Spanish, French, Dutch and English, as well as being an excellent swordsman.

The year of 1798 would find the young Manuel Carlos planning his escape from his father and his uncles among his relatives, who were watchful of the boy who seemed restless. There were ways, however, to get news about the foray on the Venezuelan coast, and a year later, like other youths of his time in the Americas, he met a young man by the name of Marino, and they were both able to enlist in the military service for the liberation of Venezuela. Influenced by the ideals of liberty of the period, Manuel Carlos was eager to enter into battle.

When next we see him he appears with the rebel forces headed by Sebastián Francisco de Miranda y Rodriguez, the forerunner to Simon Bolivar, better known as Francisco de Miranda, the precursor. They were returning from an expedition from an area known as Del Coro in 1806. The defeated band under Miranda decided to disband at Trinidad, however, and Manuel Carlos, still full of rage at their unsuccessful campaign, swore revenge and sought other opportunities to continue fighting.

Historic documents would find him again in the battle near Cumaná. Victorious the band arrived in the capital city of Caracas on the 19th of April 1810. He personally reported to superior officers with the Official Writings which would become proof of the band’s adherence to the Movements of the 19th of April 1810. By this time Manuel Carlos was 27 years old and had been fighting since he was a boy of 17 years old.

He was to find distinction for his prowess in battle when next we find him engaged in battle after battle from Cacheupo, Maturin, Magueyes, Corosillo and Cumanacoa where he fought valiantly. Recognized for his leadership in battle and his bravery, the following year he was nominated and appointed alferez, ensign, the equivalent to lieutenant in today’s navy.

On 30 September, 1811 the young lieutenant, with a salary of second lieutenant in the Venezuelan Armed Forces was assigned to Puerto Cabello where he served with the then Colonel, Simon Bolivar, distinguished himself valiantly. He would go on to become a member of the fleet of Lieutenant Fernandez Vinoni and, with his knowledge of ocean warfare, he would be promoted to Captain in 1812.

During that year of 1814, now a Brigadier General, Piar led troops fighting in the provinces of Barcelona, Caracas and Cumaná. He lost an engagement with the forces of José Tomás Boves near El Salado and the momentary defeat of the new Republic forced an escape to the far west provinces of Oriente where he joined General Santiago Mariño in battle. After the victorious battle of Chacachare where he was recognized a hero, he was promoted to secretary of the Republican Junta. His signature was historically prominent as secretary of the proceedings declaring the Republic, which had been raped by the Spanish General D. Domingo Monteverde. The battles would not end there.

Historians recount that battle after battle General Piar would carry out the Liberator, General Simon Bolivar’s, slogan “War to the death.” Cruel, as he was brave, Captain Piar killed the hated Spaniards without quarters. Every Spaniard captured was eliminated.

On May 1817 Captain Piar’s men won a crushing victory at San Felix over the Spaniards, when the revolution needed that kind of victory for encouragement the most. The Battle of San Felix made his prowess a topic of renown and he was promoted to General-in-Chief of the Army. As a general he was placed by some scholars above General Bolivar.

This story will continue.

3 responses to “General Manuel Carlos Piar: Liberator of Venezuela

  1. Wow – makes me think of my hero, Ernesto “Che” Guevara (in his personal life more than his political life). Venezuela is one of the few Latin American countries to go against the USA in modern politics.

    Great article!

    salud – sebastian

  2. Carmen Ibelis

    I am from Venezuela and Piarista 100%, and in my opinion Manuel Carlos Piar is our true Liberator of Venezuela. There are many questions that have not been answered in the history of Venezuela. Here are are some:
    The hateful assassination of Piar was a conspiracy that had benefits to those who planned it. Why twenty priests (and not two dozen) were assassinated on May 8, 1817, immediately after Bolivar took power of Guayana and not before? They were arrested in February of 1817 and under Piar their lives were preserved even after the battle of San Felix on April 11, 1817.
    Why did Bolivar install the Supreme Headquarters of the Republic, on October 15, 1817, and incorporate the province of Guayana into Venezuela, one day before the Piar execution? Why did Bolivar not allow Piar’s body to be buried at the burial ground of Angostura?

  3. Carmen,

    Thank you for stopping by with what is more like an additional history lesson- a badly needed one. The circumstances surrounding the treachery and cowardice behind General Manuel Carlos Piar’s assassination are quite similar to what happened to Panama’s own hero and consummate Patriot, General Victoriano Lorenzo. His vilification and consequent state promoted assassination is now only too much a part of our shameful Republican history. His body was also disappeared after his execution and his family was summarily dismissed when they tried to claim his body for Christian sepulcher. You may read about it here:

    Roberto Reid