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BESIDE BOLIVAR: The Edecán Demarquet


The convention mentioned by Bolivar was one of several that would now be held, as Bolivar tried to constitutionally expand his powers:

The congress of Ocaña met on 2 March, 1828. A new constitution, giving the executive stronger and more permanent authority, was submitted. When it was found that the majority was opposed to its adoption, the friends of Bolivar vacated their seats, leaving the body without a quorum. From his country-seat in the neighborhood of Ocaña, Bolivar published an address, which, while reprehending the proceeding of his partisans, appealed to the country to support him in introducing stability and order.


In the midst of these concerns, on April 20, 1828, Demarquet was a witness at the marriage of General Sucre. Though the relationship between the two men is barely documented, this gives some idea of how close Demarquet was to the hero known as the “Great Marshal of Ayacucho” and who, at 31, had already been Bolivia's first president. Such a friendship is not surprising, given how devoted both men were to the same cause and the same man. Sucre, in fact, had consulted Bolivar earlier about his plans for marriage: “As I have always submitted to you my personal business, more as my father and friend than as a chief, I will consult you about the most important.” Alfonso Rumazo Gonzalez, Biografia de Sucre, 259-260.

This marriage must have been a welcome respite from the increasing tensions around them.

Popular conventions in Bogota, Caracas, and Carthagena called upon the liberator to adopt extraordinary means to establish tranquillity and security, and in August, 1828, he was invested by popular elections with dictatorial powers. The anti-Bolivar republicans entered into a conspiracy to assassinate the president. Vice-President Santander and the other leaders of the party were implicated in this crime. Bolivar was attacked in his bedroom in Bogota, 25 Sept., 1828, but escaped by leaping from the balcony and hiding from the murderers.

In fact, he survived largely through the unhesitating bravery of Manuela Saenz, who diverted the assassins long enough for him to escape, earning her ever after the nickname “The liberator of the Liberator.”

The chief instigators were tried. Santander was convicted and condemned to banishment, and Gen. Padilla expiated with a felon's death his part in the plot. This occurrence prompted Bolivar to exercise more arbitrary powers, a course that augmented the popular suspicions of his aims and motives and the aversion to a military dictatorship. A decree was issued from Bogota, 27 Aug., 1828, by which Bolivar assumed unlimited authority in Colombia.


And so, less than year after Demarquet's exuberant letter, one of Bolivar's close associates had tried to kill him, and Bolivar himself was taking measures which would only make him more unpopular.

The assassination attempt was not the only evidence of internal dissension. Demarquet was now marginally involved in tensions between Sucre and Florès, whose resentment is evident here:

Quito, November 26, 1828.
Hon. Mr. Liberator Simon Bolivar, etc.., etc., etc.
My dear General and Liberator
En route for this city in Ambato I received a letter from General Sucre announcing his appointment as Supreme Commander and decided that was not acceptable. I came here and General Torres gave me the interesting letter from Y. E. confirming General Sucre. The same day I did what was necessary to persuade this General to execute Y.E.'s order but all in vain, because he firmly resisted. I then spoke to General Torres, Colonel Demarquet and Dr. Thompson, to urge General Sucre and convince him I could not continue in command against the true intention of Y. E. They agreed, but the General refused. I confess to Y. E. I thought of going back to my house and giving command to General Héres, believing that this would compromise General Sucre, and doubtless would have done so, were it not for the supplications of friends and the thought of any resentment this might inspire, and any disorder that would follow. So I feel obliged to keep command of the army and defend the country until Y. E. the Chief has appointed my successor.
Speaking frankly to Y. E., it is very agreeable to assure you I do not have the slightest feeling that I am a friend of General Sucre, because I gave detailed explanations of the annoyance we had from him so that nothing, nothing will change my feelings, and that even in death I will be friends with Y. E. so long as that is acceptable to you.
Y. E.'s letter V E. has touched me too, because I consider the effect on Y.E.'s soul of the exaggerated news Colombia's murderers gave Y. E. from the South. As speaking of these departments is to speak of me, Colonel Demarquet is going to the capital, to inform Y. E. of the current state of things in the South.... Looking for a trustworthy person, I preferred Demarquet, because he is by all evidence a friend of Y. E., a very honest man and above all is in business and knows people and things. ... I leave the pen and I conclude this letter to go to Guayaquil, for I am determined to defend that department, unless General La Mar invades Azuay; in which case I will give him a defeat on the terrain that I choose and will continue on to Lima.
Count on me Y. E. I'll work ardently and die if necessary. In the meantime I am Y. E.'s profound admirer, incorruptible friend, very obedient, humble servant,

Juan José Florès.

Daniel Florencio O'Leary, Memorias del general O'Leary

Two days later, Sucre sent a long letter with the returning Demarquet, ending with a more positive view of relations between the two:

Quito, November 28, 1828.
To. Y. E. General Bolivar, and so on., etc.
My General:
As Demarquet will instruct you on the news coming yesterday from Guayaquil, Guisse having destroyed the battery of Cruces, and shelling this city on the 22nd, I forgo talking about the event, because we do not know the result. General Florès left here this morning for the South; but if this is already any invasion of Guayaquil, or calls for entry into Cuenca, it is useless to repeat that at the slightest danger I will be at that moment in the army.
The same Demarquet will inform you that I have been quite close with General Florès: that we parted on the best terms and that our troubles not only did not show but that people have seen us in such good harmony that they have noticed nothing.
I think him quite satisfied with my conduct towards him, for which I rejoice...

A. J. de Sucre


Note, even in the midst of an ill-tempered letter, Florès' measure of Demarquet: “Looking for a trustworthy person, I preferred Demarquet, because he is by all evidence a friend of Y. E., a very honest man and above all is in business and knows people and things.” This seems to be as good a summation as will be found of how others saw the edecán. (It also, very much in passing, shows that Demarquet was already viewed as a businessman as much as as a soldier.)

But other quarrels were not so easily settled: “It was at a time when party passion in Colombia was inflamed to an extraordinary degree that Peru, in 1829, declared war against the dictator of Colombia.” Appleton's

Whatever the complexities behind the conflict, its focus lay at Guayaquil.

On January 11, 1829, O'Leary and Florès wrote Bolivar in English, apparently in case the letter got intercepted, as several had (Florès may have composed the letter and O'Leary put it into English). Demarquet was presumed to have returned by then:

I have not written to Y. E. since we left because of the troubled state of Patia and of the difficulty of sending mail by the coast. Colonel Demarquet will have informed Y. E. of the rout of the Peruvian squadron in the Guayaquil river and of the death of Admiral Guise. The frigate Protector and some small boats nonetheless remains before Punta de Piedra and threaten the city, whose garrison is currently reduced to the Ayacucho battalion and two companies of artillery
On January 17, 1829, from La Plata, José de Espinar reported that Colonel Carlos Eloy Demarquet had submitted to the Liberator important and detailed information about Peruvian forces invading South Colombia. In the report Demarquet says that in the Cauca Valley reigns "a well-pronounced public spirit" and that their expression of attachment and fidelity to the Government are determined and the residents have vigorously rejected "the suggestions, threats, slander and evils of [Hilario] Lee and [José Mary] Obando. With this report and others and several interventions, Demarquet showed his great efficiency...

Here is Espinar's letter (which largely cites Demarquet):

From the general secretary of H. E. the Liberator's
Headquarters at La Plata, January 17, 1829
To H. E. the minister secretary of state of war dispatches

From the reports received from the Liberator Colonel C. E. Demarquet it appears:

That the Southern army, 8,000 men strong today, well equipped, is in an excellent state of discipline and enthusiasm, burning to fight the Peruvian army.

That the department Guayaquil has displayed extraordinary enthusiasm and has decided for the government of Colombia.

That two hundred foot of Giraldo have reached Guayaquil.

That the squadron of Hussars commanded by the commandante Barriga and the rest of Pichincha have come to Bolivia with General Brown.

That General Florez [sic] returns at the start of December from Guayaquil to Pasto with the Pichincha Battalion and a squadron.

That the province of Buenaventura and Commander Governor Francisco Garcia have performed with an admirable steadiness. That having been invited to rebellion by the factious Lopez, and through him to open communications with General Lamar, it not only refused the first, but intercepted the second, in which the rebels petitioned General Lamar for the help of the troops that he had offered. I enclose to Y. E. the original official letter from Commander Garcia.

That in the Cauca Valley is a well-pronounced public spirit, that its accession to the government and its fidelity to its commitments spontaneous are well determined: to have vigorously resisted the suggestions, threats, slanders and evils of Lopez and Obando.

Finally, everywhere you hear only cries of revenge against the perfidious Peru, and hatred and abhorrence for the rebels.

I have the honor to share with Y. E. the satisfaction of the council of ministers and the public, all which can be learned from the content of this note through the press.

God preserve Y. E.
José de Espinar.

Collection de documentos relativos a la vida pública del libertador de Columbia y del Peru, Simon Bolivar, Volumes 17-18

In 1829 Demarquet was the private secretary of Bolivar at Buijo, and later was named the Liberator's first aide de camp. Both were together in Ambato in May, 1829

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