• Juan Miret

Simón Bolívar and Tulsa

May 4, 1991. That day, Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez visited Tulsa. He presented a sculpture to the city and received an honorary degree from the University of Tulsa.

The sculpture, a bust of Simón Bolívar, The Liberator, was unveiled in a special ceremony in Downtown.

Plaza of the Americas housed Bolívar until 2006. At the time, Tulsa Mayor Rodger Randle accepted the gift on behalf of the city.

Then, in 2006, a group met around the statue, outside the Gilcrease Museum to celebrate the 223rd anniversary of the Venezuela-born leader's birthday and to honor the values for which he stood.

"Freedom is our most treasured asset in the United States, Oklahoma and Tulsa," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor. “Simón Bolivar represents the great independence and freedom that we are so lucky to experience today.”

The bust of Bolívar was moved to the Gilcrease Museum from the Plaza of the Americas, after Citgo relocated its headquarters from Tulsa to Houston.

Visiting Bolívar at the Gilcrease is an incredible opportunity for the Latinx community in Tulsa and Oklahoma. His legacy about freedom, democracy, social justice, equality and human rights, are universal and borderless.

The number of Venezuelans that have been fleeing the country had surpassed the Syrian exodus at its peak. It is already one of the largest migration dramas of modern history. There are about 6.8 million displaced Venezuelans. Exile is grief and having the opportunity to reconnect with our roots while visiting and honoring Bolívar, is an extraordinary gift that the Gilcrease Museum has provided to immigrants for many years.

The museum will be demolished in order to start building a new site on July 4. Visiting Bolívar should be part of any to do list.

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