Thursday, August 06, 2009

Pedro Pascasio -- Child Hero with Integrity


I SOOOOO Love to tell my boys this story!

Pedro Pascasio Martinez Rojas, is the 12 year old boy hero of Colombian Independence. Born on October 20, 1807, in Belén, Boyacá, to a VERY POOR peasant family. He became enamored of the idea of liberty.

His whole family worked for one of the wealthy land owning families of Belén, the family of Juan Jose Leyva. Even at his young age, Pedro Pascasio was expected to serve the Leyva family. In his capacity as servant, Pedro Pascasio overheard his employer and his Criollo friends discuss Bolivar's progress and their hopes for liberty from what they considered to be Spanish tyranny.

Pedro was inspired by their revolutionary conversations. He wanted nothing more than to join Bolivar. But, no one would take him seriously. He was just a child.

Then, something happened that would change his life forever. On July 18, 1819, Simón Bolivar arrived at Belén, and stayed at the Leyva home. While exactly how it happened is unclear, Pedro did indeed join Bolivar and was placed in charge of the care of Bolivar's horse.

Immediately following Bolivar's victory at Puente Boyacá, Pedro Pascasio was ordered to take the horse to find fresh grass. As he went with another servant -- El Negro José, they were surprised to find the missing Spanish General behind some large rocks. The young boy ordered the General to surrender. The General, knowing that the child was obviously a peasant. Offered him riches -- a bag of gold that he was carrying with him. Despite his family's needs, he responded to the General that he thought more of his liberty than his needs. The General surrendered to the young boy and was taken back to Bolivar.

General Bolivar was so impressed he named Pedro Pascasio a Sargeant and promised him a military pension.

The story to this point is just awesome. So, I'll let you know that I always stop there with my boys, but the truth is. Pedro Pascasio never knew freedom. The tyranny passed from the Spanish to the Criollos. He remained in poverty and the promised military pension was never paid.

In his old age, he said the following:

"I wanted a peaceful country, a clean, loving and free country. I do not know if I will die with that dream or if the dream will die with me."

In the late 1800's, a Colombian senator recognized the error of never paying Pedro Pascasio his pension, and though he was long dead, the money was given to his surviving daughter -- Bernabela, the second to youngest of his eight children.

This is the monument in honor of Pedro Pascasio and El Negro José that is found not too far (about 1/2 mile) from Puente Boyacá. It has been placed near the Piedra de Barreiro. Worth a stop if you decide to follow my Been There, Done That -- liberty weekend trip while in Colombia.

2 comments:

Aimee Perez said...

What a beautiful and powerful story.

Anonymous said...

Podriase pensar que ello ha sido escrito por un Colombiano.
Yo sè quien escribe de nosotros, me parece sencillamente hermoso. Te quiero mucho,
CARGAR