One of the more unusual Bolívar Bicentennial publications is this set of largely administrative documents compiled by José M. de Mier and issued in Colombia by the Presidencia de la República. The compiler is an ardent Santanderista who makes clear in his introduction that, while he profoundly admires the Liberator, he feels that Bolívar contributed to destabilizing the Gran Colombia he himself created by his violations of its constitution and laws. Belisario Betancur, in a separate prologue entitled “Clarividencia y Generosidad,” strikes a more conventionally Bolivarian note, observing that many of the institutions of Gran Colombia were not really very practical: “Por muchos de estos decretos . . . sopla un viento de irrealidad” (p. xiv). Be that as it may, the compilation is more than anything else a tribute to those very institutions. Tomos 1-4 present “Decretos de la Secretaría de Estado y del Interior” of the years 1821-31, including everything from routine appointments to major national regulations. Tomo 5 offers, for the same years, “Documentos de la Secretaría de Estado y Relaciones Exteriores,” with not just decrees but some formal correspondence and the treaties and agreements signed. Tomo 6 contains additional diplomatic materials under the heading “El Libertador y Algunas Misiones Diplomáticas,” and tomo 7 rounds out the set with assorted indexes.

All documents are transcribed from copies or originals in Colombia’s Archivo Diplomático y Consular. Many of the documents, especially the more important ones, have been published before, although only in tomo 6 is information on prior publication included with the documents. That volume also stands apart in that it has materials relating to missions undertaken before the establishment of Gran Colombia, e.g., Lino de Clemente’s mission to the United States in 1818. Apart from the importance of the documents, the publication is welcome for the quality of paper and printing and the size of the edition (5000 copies). Though some of the contents are also available elsewhere, there will certainly be times when this is the easiest collection to locate.