On the Trail Of Latin American Heroes

by Dave


On Saturday evenings, National Park Service ranger Mike Balis leads a walking tour along Virginia Avenue in Northwest to talk about men who were important figures in the liberation of much of South America from Spain. With Hispanic Heritage Month beginning Monday, the walk is a great way to learn about South America’s history.”It’s a neat story [that is] in many ways is parallel to our own,” Balis says. “To fight and die for a dream? That is powerful, and that is a connection we have.”

A little farther down the road commonly referred to as the Avenue of the Americas is a statue of Gen. José de San Martín. Born in what is now Argentina, de San Martín studied in Spain, became a sympathizer of the revolution in South America and traveled to Buenos Aires in the early 1800s. He was able to amass an army, help liberate Argentina from Spain, march across the Andes and then liberate Chile.

The next statue on the tour is of one of the general’s contemporaries, Simón Bolívar who was in the north, busy contributing to the independence of a long list of countries including Venezuela, [Colombia] and Peru. The two met in Peru, and Bolívar became the leader of the armies. Both men’s efforts led to the end of much of the Spanish rule on the continent.

The last statue on the tour is of José Artigas, known as the father of Uruguay’s independence. After leading forces to defeat the Spanish army, Artigas created a government modeled after the United States.