OCTOBER 9, 1800


Born in Zapaluta, now La Trinitaria, Mexico, Melo grew up in Ibagué, Columbia.  In 1819, he joined the Liberation Army and fought in the key battles for South American independence.  In 1835, after being exiled, he overthrew Columbian President José María Vargas.  Failing to install a government, he again was exiled and went to Europe in 1836 to study socialist political texts.  In 1840, returning to Ibagué, he became a symbol of the government’s resistance to change.  With street unrest, Melo abolished the Constitution, closed the Congress, and arrested the President and Vice President.  On December 4, 1854, Bogotá was taken militarily.  Melo was tried and exiled for 8 years.  He moved to Mexico with his son.  As defender of the Mexican border with Guatemala, Melo organized the defense of Chiapas before the incursions of the conservatives under the orders of Mexican General Juan A. Ortega.  On June 1, 1860, Melo was assassinated on orders from Ortega.   

Source:  Gustavo Vargas Martinez, “Jose’ Maria Melo,” Banrepcultural.  Retrieved 7/15/2019, http://enciclopedia.banrepcultural.org/index.php/José_María_Melo
Painting:  Author unknown.  Date: Circa 1850.  Public Domain in Columbia:  The copyright has expired according to “Law 23 of 1982 on Copyright, Articles 11, 21-29”, amended by “Law 44 of 1993, Article 2” and “Law 1520 of 2012, Articles 4, 6 and 10” (details). Over 80 years past the date of first publication.  Public Domain in the US:  Pre-1/1/1925.  Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.    

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