Bicentenary of Death of Jean Baptiste Bideau in 2017.
TRIBUTE was paid last Sunday to an outstanding Saint Lucian Jean Baptiste Bideau who featured in the Venezuelan war of independence alongside the Liberator, Simon Bolivar.
The occasion was the 199th. anniversary of Bideau’s death and the beginning of activities to mark the bicentenary of that event next year.
Governor General Dame PearletteLouisy, Venezuelan Ambassador LeiffEscalona, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, students and a large group of descendants of the Bideau family, most of whom live in Desruisseaux, Micoud, attended the wreath laying ceremony in Place Bideau in downtown Castries which began with the anthems of both nations performed by musicians of the Saint Lucia School of Music.
Honours were carried out in front of the bust of Bideau, with musical background provided by the Venezuelan trumpeter Agustin Astorino, who works as a Professor at the Saint Lucia School of Music.
During the ceremony, the Proclamation of the Guiria Headquarters, signed by Bideau on January 19, 1813, was read by Dean MaximinBideau, a relative of the honoured hero.
Saint Lucian historian Dr.Gregor Williams, made a brief presentation on the events in the life of Jean Baptiste Bideau, alongside two of the most important heroes of the Venezuelan Independence, Francisco de Miranda and Simon Bolivar. He also spoke of the close relationship Bideau had with Santiago Mariño in the Independence process of Eastern Venezuela.
“In late 1811, Bideau, a shipbuilder, who traded with Venezuela, joined Miranda, a famous patriot, in support of the War of Independence of Venezuela … After Miranda was dismissed, he joined Simón Bolivar and other patriots … and died in Venezuela on April 7, 1817, defending the garrison at the Casa Fuerte de Barcelona, of which he was commander,” said Dr. Williams.
Venezuelan Ambassador Escalona spoke of the close historical ties among Venezuela, Saint Lucia and the Caribbean and the “common roots that have been formed as part of the same historical and cultural identity.” She referred to Bideau as “a powerful symbol of solidarity, freedom, heroism, and is a symbol, because he is the visible face of an unquantifiable number of men and women who fought for our independence.”
The Venezuelan diplomat also reflected on the position of various Saint Lucian and Venezuelan historians who claim that a historical injustice which needs to be repaired was committed against Bideau.
According to the Ambassador: “Jean Baptiste Bideau, is much more than a brave soldier who fought for the cause of the Independence of Venezuela and South America, who participated in the liberation of the Venezuelan East alongside General Santiago Mariño, who accompanied Simon Bolivar in the two expeditions which departed from Haiti to Venezuela in search of its freedom and in July 1816 in the central coast of Venezuela (Ocumare de la Costa), Bideau returned alone on a boat to rescue the Liberator and save him from certain death at the hands of the enemy army.
“But Jean Baptiste Bideau, is much more than that. He is a solid bridge that interweaves the story between Venezuela and Saint Lucia, and we could also say between South America and the Caribbean”.
Escalona told the attendees: “Next year 2017 will mark the 200th anniversary of the death in combat of Bideau, and from today, in Venezuela and Saint Lucia, activities have started with the aim of paying tribute to this Caribbean hero and publicize his deeds, not only in Venezuela and in Saint Lucia, but throughout the Caribbean region, where this brave soldier operated.”