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Water Turned Off at Bolivar’s House

June 2, 1999

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ Simon Bolivar, the great 19th South American liberator, was a master military strategist whose armies drove the Spanish off the continent.

But his legend didn’t scare bureaucrats at Bogota’s water company, who recently turned off the taps at his refurbished estate _ wreaking havoc at the popular national landmark.

The spacious stucco home _ where the Venezuelan-born Bolivar lived sporadically with a mistress before his death in Colombia in 1830 _ had not paid its bills, company officials claimed.

Water was partially restored Wednesday after senior government officials intervened.

The mansion-turned museum stayed open during the cutoff, which forced it to cancel dozens of school field trips and nearly dried up lavish gardens the government just spent $30,000 to replant, said Rosalba Galindo, director of educational programs at the home.

Treated water shut off ten days ago has been restored. But the company still hasn’t turned on a natural source Bolivar bathed from and which is now used to water the gardens, she said.

Free access to the natural stream was guaranteed in a contract dating to Bolivar’s time.

``An aqueduct official didn’t know about the document and decided to cut the water service for nonpayment,″ Culture Minister Alberto Casas said in a radio interview.

Reopened in July after a seven-year, $1.1 million restoration, the Quinta de Bolivar contains cannons, military medals and a desk where Bolivar is said to have written death sentences for the conspirators who tried to kill him.

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