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Like similar colonial settlements, Mompós came about due to its favorable location along the Magdalena. The absence of unfriendly indigenous tribes also helped foster a successful colony. Mompós grew considerably during the colonial era, when the river was the fastest route to Honda, and subsequently Bogotá. It is said that more money passed through Mompós than through Cartagena, thanks to the bootlegging of precious metals, tobacco and alcohol to and from the Ecuadorian port of Guayaquil.

Simón Bolívar’s numerous stays in Mompós create another historical connection to Latin American history. While there, Bolívar raised an army of willing mompósino volunteers to aid in his march on Caracas. It is rumored that Gabriel García Márquez built this history into “The General and His Labyrinth,” and possibly into his other books as well. Bolívar once proclaimed, “If to Caracas I owe my life, to Mompós I owe my glory.”

The aforementioned are high points in the history of this colonial wonderland, but all of this came to an end when the river somewhat changed its course and fluvial travel became less important.

By Richard McColl
With over five years travelling and working in Latin America, Richard feels most at home here in the big Continent. From the former Scottish...
10 Feb 2012

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