As earlier as 1810, Bolivar sent Luis López Méndez and Andrés Bello to London with instructions to explain the junta’s break with the Spanish Regency to the British Foreign Secretary and to seek British diplomatic and naval protection. This trip’s failure did not discourage Bolívar from continuing to see relations with Britain as an essential aid to independence as he continued asking for British help when in exile in Jamaica in 1815 and after.
In 1819, the Britannic Legion was send to serve to Simon Bolivar’s military forces who were fighting for the independence of Colombia.
After he won the independence war against Spain, and already as president of the new Republic, Bolívar also launched a diplomatic offensive in Europe to seek for recognition from Britain in particular. In 1820, he sent the vice-president Francisco Antonio Zea to cultivate relations in the United States and Europe. Zea focused his first efforts on London, where he was rebuffed. (1)
In April 27th 1822, the British government declared all trade with Colombia legal; and later, in 1823, the Foreign Minister Canning sent James Hernderson as British Consul to Bogotá, followed by other consulates in Guajira, Cartagena, Maracaibo and Guayaquil (which by then was part of Gran Colombia).
In 1825 The Maritime, Trade and Friendship Treaty was signed between the two countries. With this treaty, the British Government gave to Colombia the official recognition as an Independent State . This same year, Manuel José Hurtado, Colombia’s envoy in London, was presented to King George IV thus becoming the first Spanish American minister to be received by the English King, and the first Spanish American diplomat to be received by any court in Europe, although Mexico and Argentina were recognized by Britain in the same year. This was the end off a carefully planned British presence in the new lands of America, hence Canning’s famous assurance that now ‘Spanish America is free; and if we do not mismanage our affairs sadly, she is English’.” (1)
Bolivar was not wrong, because the Britain’s recognition of the Colombian republic in 1824 had important implications for Colombia. With British recognition, the war with Spain was effectively over and the chances of Spanish re-conquest virtually eliminated. The access to British commerce and capital also promised a bright future. Now that it was free, Bolívar believed, Colombia could become ‘the heart of the universe … the bond, the centre and the emporium of the human race’.(1)