Remembered primarily as the lover of Simón Bolívar, celebrated leader of South America's crusade for independence, Manuela Sáenz was a revolutionary in her own right. Born December 27, 1797 (maybe), in Quito, Ecuador, Manuela participated in the liberation movement before meeting Simón. They met in 1822, after she left her husband in Lima, and returned to Quito. Theirs wasn't just a romantic partnership. She joined him on campaigns, delivering food, medicine, and partaking in combat. She fought in conflicts at Pichincha, Junín, and Ayacucho; at the recommendation of Simón’s second in command, she was presented the rank of colonel. Manuela demonstrated her fidelity again when she prevented Simón’s murder by launching herself at assassins, granting him the chance to escape. Consequently, she was bestowed the nickname, “The Liberator of the Liberator.”
After Simón’s death in 1830 from tuberculosis, his adversaries seized power. Now an unwelcome troublemaker, Manuela sought refuge first in Jamaica, then Peru. Penniless, she earned money selling tobacco, candy, and translating correspondence. She passed-away November 23, 1856 during an outbreak of diphtheria; her possessions were burned, and her body dumped in a communal grave.
Today, Manuela’s legacy is being reexamined. She’s now gaining recognition and admiration for her involvement organizing, bankrolling, and joining in the insurrectionists’ plots. On July 5, 2010, after journeying through Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, her symbolic remains were given a full state burial in Venezuela; they rest beside Simón’s. Likewise, to commemorate the Battle of Pichincha’s 185th anniversary, Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, designated Manuela, Generala de Honor de la República de Ecuador (Honorary General of the Republic of Ecuador).
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The History Bitch
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