Manuelita Sáenz (1790 - 1859)

Manuelita Sáenz (1790 - 1859)

Of tenderness, war and Manuela Sáenz

History is made by the peoples even if those who hold the power of oppression and exploitation would like to deny it. That is how it has been since time immemorial and will continue to be, not because we say so but because objective and scientific analysis of the historical development of humanity has shown it to be so.

And from the peoples, in the course of their history, there arise outstanding men and women whose actions and thinking the official historiography has tried to submerge in the trunk of oblivion. Particularly in the case of women: there has been constant concealing, twisting and denying of their contributions.

They are not few, the women who history only sees at the side of a man, and this is what they have wished to reduce their role to. But the peoples possess a historical memory which gives sustenance to our new fights for freedom and independence. That was the case with Manuelita Sáenz, the eternal lover of freedom’s cause.

Hated by some: “The crazy Manuelita”, “witch”, “whore”, as Santanderism dubbed her; Dear Manuelita, Manuelita the warrior, for the others, “our colonel” as they call her now in the countryside of her homeland. She knew how to put her physical talents and political abilities to work dialectically.

Jean Baptiste Boussingault, a Frenchman, described her as having black eyes with an elusive look, somewhat heavy, happy but not given to conversing much, and mainly, “she possessed a mysterious charm to make others love her.”

General Simón José Antonio (

General Simón José Antonio ("Libertador") Bolívar y Ponte
(1783 - 1930)

She was intuitive, sharp, resolute and firm in decisive moments in the struggles for independence and in the very defense of the Liberator against the Santanderist conspiracies designed to take the life of Simón Bolívar.

It cannot be denied that an important part of her life was the sentimental relationship that united her to Bolívar, but primarily she fought for that which was her dream: the unity and the independence of our countries. She put it this way: “My country is the American continent. I was born under the equator.”

She was not a woman to shut herself away in the cloisters of victory or in the idle wardrobes of the palace; she was with the soldiers, attending to the needs of her women, in all kinds of battles.

A letter from Sucre to the Liberator reveals her virtues in the battles for independence:

Ayacucho, Front of Battle. 1824. Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre y de Alcalá (1795 - 1830)

Ayacucho, Front of Battle. 1824.
Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre y de Alcalá (1795 - 1830)

“Ayacucho, Front of Battle
December 10, 1824
To His Excellence, the Liberator of Colombia
Simón Bolívar

Dear General:
I have the satisfaction of sharing with Your Excellency the combats waged in Ayacucho, that have served to increase the glory of the Colombian armies.

Lady Manuela Sáenz has been particularly outstanding for her valour; joining the Husars division right from the first moment and then the Victors, organizing and distributing food to the troops, attending to wounded soldiers, fighting bravely right under the enemy’s fire; rescuing the wounded.

Providence has favored us exceedingly in these combats. Lady Manuela deserves special honor for her conduct; such that I exhort your excellency to bestow upon her the rank of Colonel of the Colombian Army.

Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre y de Alcalá (1795 - 1830)

Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre y de Alcalá (1795 - 1830)

May God PreserveYour Excellency,

Antonio José de Sucre.”

And she knew how to fill her life with that dialectic of hate and tenderness to give herself completely to the Bolivarian project.

At Manuelita’s side and with the Bolivarian ideal as part of its guide, the FARC-People’s Army is leading the way towards the New Colombia

Martín Tovar y Tovar (1828-1902). Capitulation of Spaniards in fight near Ayacucho.1824

Martín Tovar y Tovar (1828-1902).
Capitulation of Spaniards in fight near Ayacucho.1824

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