Two hundred years to the date of the bloodiest battle of the Independence campaign, on July 25, the monument created to remember the more than 700 lives lost in the Pantano de Vargas was the venue for a military ceremony presided over by Colombia’s vice-President Marta Lucía Ramírez.

After handed a pyrrhic victory in the marshlands of Eastern Boyacá, General Simón Bolívar, accompanied by the roughriders of the Los Llanos and his patriot army dealt a decisive blow against the Spanish at the Batalla de Boyacá on August 7, 1819.

The monument to the spear-wielding horsemen of the Eastern Plains, known by their Spanish name as Lanceros was designed by the Antiochian sculptor Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt. As part of the ceremony, the 14 horses that were given to Bolívar by Colonel Juan José Rondón and formed the patriot army’s first cavalry were also given a special tribute.

With representatives of Colombia’s Armed Forces, senior government officials, foreign dignitaries, and the historical regiment of the Army in attendance, the fanfare, Thursday, at Pantano de Vargas marked the highlight of this country’s year-long bicentenary celebrations.

General Bolívar’s victory was also secured with the help of the British Legion, commanded by Colonel James Rooke, who during the battle was injured and died from his injuries three days later. To mark the participation of the Dubliner, as well as all foreign fighters in the battles that led to Colombia’s Independence, representatives of the British Army participated in a ceremony that was both a solemn act and celebration of the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity.

Photos by Richard Emblin