Friday 31 January 2014

The Execution of José Félix Ribas, Rebel

José Félix Ribas (Caracas, Venezuela, 19th September 1775 - Tucupido, Venezuela, 31st January 1815)

José Félix Ribas by Martín Tovar y Tovar, 1861
José Félix Ribas by Martín Tovar y Tovar, 1861

After our sojourn to the bitter cold Russian winter yesterday, it's time to travel a little further afield for the tale of a Venezuelan rebel who was at the forefront of the fight for his country's independence.

Ribas was the youngest of eleven sons born to a prominent and wealthy family in Caracas, Venezuela. Fiercely intelligent and deeply charismatic, he was educated in a Caracas seminary amd assumed a civil service job, settling into adult life as the husband of María Josefa Palacios in 1796. However, as his politcal interests grew he became more and more involved in Republican politics and by 1808, was part of a conspiracy to revolt that saw his arrest and imprisonment.

As the people of Caracas gathered to decide their future on 19th April 1810, Ribas moved through the town encouraging them to take a stand against the ruling powers and they rallied to his call, overthrowing the Spanish authorities.

In the First Venezuelan Republic he proved an important figure in the the interim government, taking charge of the city of his birth and its environs.  Named Colonel of the Barlovento Battalion, he became a leading member of the Sociedad Patriótica organized by Francisco de Miranda, which encouraged rights and free speech for all citizens.

Ribas invested his personal wealth in the military and fought proudly alongside Simon Bolívar, whom he joined in exile when the First Republic fell after just two years. From his exile he continued to fight on for independence and was known to his men as a courageous and valiant soldier with a keen eye for strategy.

When Ribas and his surviving soldiers fled after the Battle of Maturín he was betrayed to the royalists by a slave and captured. The rebel leader was beheaded and his severed head was returned to Caracas, where it was displayed as a warning to the people.


Unknown said...

I spent some time in Argentina and I find the whole South American history, particular the revolutions and struggles, so fascinating. Pretty tragic ending, though.

Catherine Curzon said...

I would love to visit South America; it's not a place I know vast amounts of but my sister adores Argentina too!

TCW said...

Do visit Argentina! It's a wonderful country. There are now direct flights from London and you don't need a visa or inoculations (unless you are travelling to some northern regions where there may be a malaria risk).

Here's my take on Buenos Aires: