A Meeting of Giants

Not long after being appointed "Protector of Peru," and with the supposed hope of annexing Guayaquil into the newly forming Peruvian nation, Argentine independence leader José de San Martín met with Simón Bolívar -- El Libertador -- in the city of Guayaquil on July 26, 1822. They were also to discuss the broader future of South America, now free from Spanish rule. Details of the "closed-door" meeting remain the subject of much debate among historians. But soon after the famous Guayaquil encounter, San Martín decided to abandon the independence struggle in Peru and retire to Argentina. He later went into self-imposed exile in France, leaving Bolívar to finish the Peruvian campaign.

According to some, San Martín wanted Bolívar's assistance in supplying troops for the swift conclusion of the faltering Peruvian independence struggle. Despite their common objectives, Bolívar's refusal to cooperate, even when San Martín offered to serve under him, resulted in San Martín's withdrawal from the independence struggle. Other historians suggest that Bolívar and San Martín clashed on the subject of how the new South American nations should be organized: Bolívar favored the idea of independent republics, while San Martín wanted to retain, in some measure, the European monarchy system. San Martín was thus supposedly pressured by Bolívar to resign, as he was a hindrance to Bolívar's vision of a free and independent South America. Although a failure for San Martín, the Guayaquil meeting, which lasted no more than a few hours, was followed by a banquet and a ball at which the two independence heroes made toasts to the hasty conclusion of the war and to Bolívar's health and success in future undertakings. Today, a prominent sculpture and monument on the Malecón Simón Bolívar commemorates the historic meeting.

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