Saturday, June 23, 2012

Understanding Patriarchy


A powerful essay on re-thinking what patriarchy means experentially, culturally, and as a concept that is used and debated in feminist, academic, and activist circles.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Anacaona: La Madre De Resistencia En El Caribe

The legacy of Anacaona, the Taína queen who fought against the incoming Spanish, echoes throughout the Carribbean. She is recognized as a supreme figure of resistance, an idol of Boricua and Dominican culture, and a semblance of the matrilineal heritage that made up the historical tribes of the islands. Anacaona (1474 – c. 1503), Taíno for "Golden Flower", was chief of Xaragua, and wife of Caonabo, chief of the nearby territory of Maguana. These were two of the five highest caciques that ruled the island of Haiti when the Spaniards settled there in 1492. It was this year that Columbus and his men landed in the island of Quisqueya (the Spaniards would re-name it Hispaniola) where the Taínos had resided for years and built communities divided up into the five chiefdoms .

At first, relations between the Spanish and Taínos were relatively friendly and resulted in mutual exchanges of items from each culture. Eventually, the Taínos saw the Spanish's long-term (or short-term) plan of taking over the lands and their people. The Taínos resisted the conquest, led by Anacaona after her husband was captured, made prisoner, and died while being shipped to Spain. In spite of the tragic event of having lost her lover, Anacaona, who was charismatic, fired up the warrior spirit in the Tainos and invigorated them to fight for their communities. The Spaniards, however, eventually outnumbered the Taínos once the majority of them were wiped out by diseases, swords, and horses. Anacaona's daughter, Higuemota, and granddaughter, Mencia, were saved by the massacre by tribal leaders who were put in charge to get the young as far away from the island. Anacaona, accused of being a traitor, was hung in Xaragua in 1503. Today, Anacaona's name and story is told and mentioned in many songs written by Puerto-Ricans, Haitians, and Dominicans. These islands recognize the history of Anacaona as fundamental to the current cultures and symbolic of the greatness of the matriarchal organization that had prevailed in Carribbean society before contact with the Spanish.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"On the Front Line: Guerilla Poems of El Salvador"


Back cover description: "More than poetry of combat, this bilingual edition is a record of the struggles, hopes and dreams of a war-torn country, providing a vivid description of the conditions in El Salvador today".

This collection of poem is not only filled with great poetry from guerillas and other participants in the civil war of El Salvador but it encompasses letters, songs, and homages written by women or to women who were compañeras or leaders in the long line of revolutionary struggle. The theme of love, as in most places where women are written about, is significant in many of the poems but there are also poems where the male writers acknowledge their female comrades, not for their gender, or to salute a romantic interest, but to acknowledge their actual presence as friends who commit themselves to serve the people.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Isabel de los Ángleles Ruano

   Isabel de los Ángeles Ruano was born in Chiquimala, Guatemala in 1945.  She lived part of her childhood in Mexico from 1954 to 1957. In 1957, she returned to Guatemala where she attended Instituto Normal de CentroAmérica (INCA) and graduated as a teacher of primary education. Friends at INCA report that when she arrived to school, she brought with her an immense wealth of knowledge of literary works and important writers. Her intelligence and constant contemplation of life was reflected most naturally in her passion for poetry. On this account, she chose to pursue her literary career most fervently and became acquainted with well-known writers in Guatemala.

   In 1966, at 21 years of age, Isabel traveled again to Mexico, this time to publish her first works of poetry titled under "Cariátides" (Caryatids, or sculpted female figures which are used as columns in buildings--such as in the architecture built in Ancient Greece) with a prologue written by the Spanish poet, Leon Felipe who is said to have told her: "You are a child, an angel, a poet. You have a destiny. And you have to come to tell us something".  She returned to Guatemala to work as a journalist, which had also been a long ambition of hers. In the 80s, she began to exhibit a mental disorder. She quit her job as a journalist and became a street vendor instead. She also began to wear men's clothing, It is not clear as to whether this was a personal choice or part of her mental delirium. Her bizarre story of a "poet gone mad" does not censor her tremendous reputation. She is still regarded today as one of Guatemala's best writers who can still be found walking the streets of the capital, lost in a far reality of her own, yet filled with joy and gratitude.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Two posters created by the organization of radical women of color against violence. Visit to learn more about them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Young Sandinista soldier, 1979.
"Liberate prisoners to the street. Yesterday, today and always; solidarity"

This poster of the Zapatista woman with the child on her back is a foreshadow of my future piece on zapatista women that I plan to post up here in the future. :)

Frida Kahlo: Mexican Artist

Reblogged from

[ B ] Manuel Álvarez Bravo - Frida Kahlo in the studio of the artist (1930)

    Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón, known simply as Frida Kahlo, was born in her beloved family home,  la Casa Azul (or “the Blue House”) in Coyoacán, Mexico on July 6, 1907. Frida Kahlo’s celebrated self-portraits reflect a lifetime of pain and sadness that began at the tender age of six when Frida was stricken with polio, confining her to a bed for nine months of her young life.  Kahlo never fully recovered from her childhood illness and, from that point forward, she always walked with a limp.  However, while the effects of Frida’s polio may have slowed her down, they certainly couldn’t extinguish her spirit.

    An athletic and energetic tomboy, Frida Kahlo was one of the only female students at the National Preparatory School where she surrounded herself with bright intellectuals who piqued her interest in politics.  It was at school that Kahlo caught her first glimpse of Diego Rivera, the man she would later marry, who had been commissioned to paint the first of his many famous murals in the Bolívar Auditorium.  Only a few years later, Frida and a friend were riding the bus together when it collided with a street car, impaling her with a metal handrail, breaking her collarbone and her ribs, and fracturing her spine and pelvis.  In the months following her nearly fatal accident, bedridden for the second time in her life, Kahlo began painting self-portraits:  deeply personal, piercing works that would soon become her trademark. Just as Frida Kahlo was haunted by her childhood encounter with polio for most of her life, she would be similarly plagued by the consequences of her accident for years to come.  The metal handrail failed, however, to fracture Frida’s soul and the spirited artist found solace in painting and politics, joining the Young Communist League and hob nobbing with Mexico’s artistic elite, through which she was formally introduced to Diego Rivera, the muralist she had pined for in her high school days.  Rivera was enthralled by Kahlo’s “primitive” art and his encouragement led to a romance.  The pair wed in 1929 and Kahlo soon followed her new husband to the United States, where he had been commissioned to paint his remarkable murals.
    Though she was in the States to support her husband’s work, Frida Kahlo’s searing self-portraits started  garnering attention and praise.  Yet, as her success grew, Kahlo still struggled with the effects of her accident:  a series of heartbreaking miscarriages was, by far, the most agonizing result of the collision.  Frida exorcised her pain through art.  Her 1932 painting, Henry Ford Hospital, depicts a nude Kahlo in the Detroit hospital with bloody sheets and her dead fetus attached to her by a blood red cord.  Kahlo also used her work to reveal the trauma she experienced as a result of her husband’s many affairs, though she herself wasn’t immune to infidelity.  She had a brief affair with Russian socialist, Leon Trotsky, when he stayed with Kahlo and Rivera in the Blue House in 1937.  The couple divorced in 1939 but re-married the very next year.
    As Frida Kahlo’s health declined in the years that followed, she struggled to paint quickly enough to satisfy her growing number of international fans and funders, who couldn’t seem to get enough of her raw and revealing work.  Despite this devoted following, Kahlo only ever had one solo exhibition in her homeland of Mexico and it took place in the spring of 1953.  An ambulance escorted Frida to the show and she greeted the crowd from a bed in the center of the gallery.  A little over a year later, Kahlo died in the Blue House, finally free of a lifetime of endless pain.  When she was alive, Frida’s genius was often overshadowed by that of her husband.  In death, Frida Kahlo is no longer just Diego Rivera’s wife; she casts her own shadow as the mother of feminist folk art and an emblem of contemporary Mexican culture.


Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia

"Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia records the contribution of women of Latin American birth or heritage to the economic and cultural development of the United States. The encyclopedia, edited by Vicki L. Ruiz and Virginia Sánchez-Korrol, is the first comprehensive gathering of scholarship on Latinas. This encyclopedia will serve as an essential reference for decades to come.

In more than 580 entries, the historical and cultural narratives of Latinas come to life. From mestizo settlement, pioneer life, and diasporic communities, the encyclopedia details the contributions of women as settlers, comadres, and landowners, as organizers and nuns. More than 200 scholars explore the experiences of Latinas during and after EuroAmerican colonization and conquest; the early-19th-century migration of Puerto Ricans and Cubans; 20th-century issues of migration, cultural tradition, labor, gender roles, community organization, and politics; and much more. Individual biographical entries profile women who have left their mark on the historical and cultural landscape.

With more than 300 photographs, Latinas in the United States offers a mosaic of historical experiences, detailing how Latinas have shaped their own lives, cultures, and communities through mutual assistance and collective action, while confronting the pressures of colonialism, racism, discrimination, sexism, and poverty."

Pretty awesome that this exists. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Delfina Góchez Fernández

    Born in June of 1958 in El Salvador, Delfina (also referred to as simply "Delfy) was a poet, guerrillera, and lover of the Salvadoran pueblo. In 1977, she was admitted to the Central American University (UCA) where she studied psychology and became involved with the student political movements. She was a dedicated personality, who could balance both her academic studies and her work with the revolutionary organization, Fuerzas Universitarias Revolucionarias(Forces of Revolutionary Universities), otherwise known as, FUR 30. On January 11, 1980 FUR-30, along with numerous amounts of other revolutionary organizations, many whom were guerrilla groups like the FUR-30, coordinated a massive demonstration where people took to the streets to protest against the government, the police, and the paramilitaries. Delfina took part in these demonstrations the same year that she joined the FUR-30.

     In the organization, she carried out responsibilities which demanded a lot of work. She was promoted to director of security personnel in the BPR (Bloque Popular Revolucionary, the larger revolutionary group that served as an umbrella for the organizations and also contained members who would found and become part of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front). It is said that on the day of the demonstrations, Delfina committed herself to carrying out tasks which seriously put her life at risk.

     Comrade Delfina was shot on May 1979 while she was at a demonstration outside the embassy of Venezuela, which aimed to bring food and medicine to the comrades who were occupying it. This demonstration by the BPR was heavily repressed, killing two other comrades alongside Delfina. But this was not done without her expressing poetically her death at the hands of the enemy because of her love for her people. In her poetry, Delfina expressed the conviction that everyone should live giving their lives for others. The poem she wrote, "I'll Die Gladly", is the voice that carries out her fierce loyalty to the people and her boldness in the face of the enemy. I've provided the poem in both Spanish and English for my bilingual comrades. It has become one of my favorite guerrilla poems of all time:

Poem originally in Spanish:

"Con gusto moriré."

A mí me van a matar.
¿Cuándo? No sé...

Lo que sí tengo claro es que moriré así,
asesinada por el enemigo.

Como quiero seguir luchando,
siempre estaré luchando para morir así.
Como quiero morir junto al pueblo, nunca me separaré de él.
Como es nuestro grito el que llegará, deberé gritarlo siempre.
Como el futuro y la historia están con nosotros,
jamás me desviaré del camino.
Como aspiro a ser revolucionaria,
mis puntos de vista y todas mis aspiraciones estarán
a partir de ello.

No tendré miedo nunca.

Todo lo que haga tiene que ser un golpe al enemigo,
en cualquier forma que se dé.
Siempre estaré activa.

Lo que si es seguro es que me van a matar.

Y mi sangre regará nuestra tierra
y crecerán las flores de la libertad.
Y el futuro abrirá sus brazos y caluroso,
lleno de amor, nos acogerá en su pecho.
Nuestra madre,
nuestra patria,
reirá feliz al estar de nuevo con su hijo, con su pueblo,
con el niño que lloraba un pedazo de pan
Y que hoy crece como río.
Con la madre que moría lentamente
y hoy vive su lejano sueño de ayer.
Con el eterno combatiente cuya sangre
alimentó el día que algún día llegará.
Sí, con gusto moriré, llena de amor.

Quiero morir de la manera más natural en estos tiempos en mi país:
¡Asesinada por el enemigo de mi pueblo! 

English translation:

"I'll die gladly"

They are going to kill me
I don't know..

What I do know clearly is that I'll die
that way, assassinated by the enemy.

As I continue fighting,
I will always fight to die that way
As I will want to die with the people,
I will never be seperate from them.
As our cry continues to come,
we will have to shout it always.
Since the future and history is with us,
never again, will I turn away from the path
Since I aspire to be a revolutionary,
my perspectives and all of my aspirations
will always be a part of them.

I will never be afraid.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Marxism, Mariategui, and the Women's Movement

"Marxim, Mariategui, and the Women's Movement" is a political piece analyzing the women's movement in Peru through the lenses of the works of Karl Marx and Jose Mariátegui, a Peruvian and Marxist philosopher whose essays are highly esteemed in Latin-America. and the cover of the book names Catalina Adrianzen as the main author of this writing but there is other evidence that this was written through a collaboration of other women who were part of the Communist Party of Peru. Comrade Norah, for example, is said to have been one of contributing authors. Nonetheless, my guess is that Adrianzen, whom we know so little about, was the figure who did most of the editing and pulled the pieces together.  So far, this is the only biography I have been able to find on Catalina:

"CATALINA ADRIANZEN, a Peruvian researcher and feminist, founded and led the People's Women's Movement in the central Peruvian Andean city of Huamanga in the 1970s.   This movement was tied to the Communist Party of Peru faction that would eventually become known as the "Shining Path, and throughout the 1970s, Adrianzen directed the party's work amongst women.   

After the Shining Path launched its guerrilla war, which lasted from 1980 until the mid 1990s, Adrianzen directed armed cells in the region of Cuzco.In 1982 she was arrested in connection to an incendiary attack on an agricultural cooperative.She was tortured in jail, which left her with emotional scars that led to her internment for several years in psychiatric facilities.    

She later left Peru and settled into exile in Sweden, where she has worked at university."- Marxists.Org

Andrianzen was, in particular, an anthropologist and wife of Antonio Díaz Martínez, who played a major role in the development of the Shining Path's ideology. It is my guess that Adrianzen and Comrade Norah knew each other since they were both part of the Communist Party of Peru and involved in mobilizing women.Why the book title starts with "Marxim" rather than "Marxism" like the online publication is something I've been looking into. I'm planning on either buying this book  through amazon or just printing it and reading it. Can't make up my mind yet as to whether it's worth paying $10. To anyone who is interested in reading it, click here for the online version. So far, from the skimming that I've done, the beginning takes a theoretical approach and analyzes the women's status or situation from a broader and general view. In the latter half, the grounded argument in women's position in relation to what is going on in Peru begins.

Women in the Guerrilla by Che Guevara

Che Guevara's piece on women's role in a revolution written in 1958.

The part that the woman can play in the development of a revolutionary process is of extraordinary importance. It is well to emphasize this, since in all our countries, with their colonial mentality, there is a certain underestimation of the woman which becomes a real discrimination against her.

The woman is capable of performing the most difficult tasks, of fighting beside the men; and despite current belief, she does not create conflicts of a sexual type in the troops.

In the rigorous combatant life the woman is a companion who brings the qualities appropriate to her sex, but she can work the same as a man and she can fight; she is weaker, but no less resistant than he. She can perform every class of combat task that a man can at a given moment, and on certain occasions in the Cuban struggle she performed a relief role.

Naturally the combatant women are a minority. When the internal front is being consolidated and it is desirable to remove as many combatants as possible who do not possess indispensable physical characteristics, the women can be assigned a considerable number of specific occupations, of which one of the most important, perhaps the most important, is communication between different combatant forces, above all between those that are in enemy territory. The transport of objects, messages, or money, of small size and great importance, should be confided to women in whom the guerrilla army has absolute confidence; women can transport them using a thousand tricks; it is a fact that however brutal the repression, however thorough the searching, the woman receives a less harsh treatment than the man and can carry her message or other object of an important or confidential character to its destination.

As a simple messenger, either by word of mouth or of writing, the woman can always perform her task with more freedom than the man, attracting less attention and at the same time inspiring less fear of danger in the enemy soldier. He who commits brutalities acts frequently under the impulse of fear or apprehension that he himself will be attacked, since this is one form of action in guerrilla warfare.

Contacts between separated forces, mess ages to the exterior of the lines, even to the exterior of the country; also objects of considerable size, such as bullets, are transported by women in special belts worn beneath their skirts. But also in this stage a woman can perform her habitual tasks of peacetime; it is very pleasing to a soldier subjected to the extremely hard conditions of this life to be able to look forward to a seasoned meal which tastes like something. (One of the great tortures of the war was eating a cold, sticky, tasteless mess.) The woman as cook can greatly improve the diet and, furthermore, it is easier to keep her in these domestic tasks; one of the problems in guerrilla bands is that all works of a civilian character are scorned by those who perform them; they are constantly trying to get out of these tasks in order to enter into forces that are actively in combat.

A task of great importance for women is to teach beginning reading, including revolutionary theory, primarily to the peasants of the zone, but also to the revolutionary soldiers. The organization of schools, which is a part of the civil organization, should be done principally through women, who arouse more enthusiasm among children and enjoy more affection from the school community. Likewise, when the fronts have been consolidated and a rear exists, the functions of the social worker also fall to women who investigate the various economic and social evils of the zone with a view to changing them as far as possible.

The woman plays an important part in medical matters as nurse, and even as doctor, with a gentleness infinitely superior to that of her rude companion in arms, a gentleness that is so much appreciated at moments when a man is helpless, without comforts, perhaps suffering severe pain and exposed to the many dangers of all classes that are a part of this type of war.

Once the stage of creating small war industries has begun, the woman can also contribute here, especially in the manufacture of uniforms, a traditional employment of women in Latin American countries. With a simple sewing machine and a few patterns she can perform marvels. Women can take part in all lines of civil organization. They can replace men perfectly well and ought to do so, even where persons are needed for carrying weapons, though this is a rare accident in guerrilla life.

It is important to give adequate indoctrination to men and women, in order to avoid all kinds of misbehavior that can operate to hurt the morale of the troops; but persons who are otherwise free and who love each other should be permitted to marry in the Sierra and live as man and wife after complying with the simple requirements of the guerrilla band.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Women in History - More than Just Heroines

 A great article I found concerning Latina heroines that are ignored in history. I did a biography on Juana Azurduy  and Policarpa Salavarietta before. I have just learned about the other women mentioned in this article and I am definitely looking forward to finding out more about them.

By Humberto Márquez

 CARACAS, Sep 8 , 2009 (IPS) - Juana Azurduy or Manuela Sáenz, Bartolina Sisa or Gertrudis Bocanegra, Luisa Cáceres or Policarpa Salavarrieta - these heroines attest to the participation of women in the struggle for Latin America’s independence from Spain, a revolutionary movement that began two centuries ago this year.

But at the same time, their celebration embodies the shroud that political and historical accounts have thrown over the countless unnamed women who fought or suffered in the quarter-century long process spanning from 1809 to 1824, like in so many other periods of history.

On Jul. 14, Argentine president Cristina Fernández granted Lieutenant Colonel Juana Azurduy (1780-1862) a posthumous promotion to the rank of general. Azurduy lost five of her six children while she fought for the independence of Upper Peru, present-day Bolivia, which at the end of the colonial period was part of the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata and under the direction of Buenos Aires.

Two years earlier, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa had also granted a posthumous promotion to general to another revolutionary woman, Manuela Sáenz (1797-1856), who is known in history as the "immortal love" of Simón Bolívar (1783-1830) and who held the rank of colonel in the liberation army.

Correa’s promotion was granted as part of the commemoration of the anniversary of the 1822 Battle of Pichincha, in which the Quito-born heroine fought.

"That’s not history, it’s politics," Inés Quintero, assistant director of the Venezuelan Academy of History, told IPS. "The role of women in the movement for independence is not vindicated by granting a title to an individual woman. That makes no sense, because history is not about settling scores," she argued.

Instead, the researcher said, "as women’s issues pay off in terms of the visibility that women are demanding, there are certain icons - these heroines - that are incorporated as part of the rhetoric, to give the impression that something is being done about the situation of women."

For Sara Beatriz Guardia, of the Peruvian Centre for Studies on Women in the History of Latin America, "a change in rhetoric can be observed, which is prompted by the importance that the study of the role of women in history has gained in recent decades." The trend fits right in with the series of "bicentennial cycle" celebrations that began this year evoking the first revolutionary uprisings, which occurred in 1809 in Quito and La Paz. The celebrations will continue over the coming years with the commemoration of the declarations and battles of Spanish America’s campaigns for independence.

This process, and the bloody confrontations that marked it, was ushered in by early movements in the late 18th century, some of which had an undeniable female involvement and their fair share of heroines, which official historiography in some cases highlights and in others obscures.

One example of these early female independence fighters is Micaela Bastidas (1745-1781), wife of Túpac Amaru II (José Gabriel Condorcanqui, 1738-1781), who fought beside him in the great rebellion he led in Peru in 1780. When the uprising was stifled, they were both executed on the same day, along with the lesser-known Tomasa Condemayta, captain of the women’s battalion, which had defeated the Spanish troops in several battles.

Another is Bartolina Sisa (1753-1782), Aymara heroine and wife of Túpac Katarí (Julián Apaza, 1750-1781), a rebel leader who mobilised 40,000 Indians against the Spanish crown in Upper Peru in the early 1780s.

Sisa led troops into battle and exhibited skills as a strategist when the Aymara foces laid siege to the cities of Sorata and La Paz. When the movement was defeated, Sisa was savagely tortured and finally hung.

"Later, the Creoles (white European descendants) gained the independence that was vital for them to further their interests, and the uprisings that had been led by Indians were played down and forgotten, even though they had shaken the foundations of the colonial system," Guardia notes in her essay "Las mujeres y la recuperación de la historia" (Women and the Recovery of History).

Moreover, "the participation of these women was erased, as if their gender – even though they gave their lives for their people - somehow made their actions less meaningful and less important than those of the heroes of our history, who were all male," the Peruvian researcher added.

The participation of many women also stood out once the Creole wars for independence broke out. Women like Manuela Cañizares (1769-1815), who hosted the meeting in which the Quito revolutionaries issued the first "cry for freedom" in 1809, or María Ignacia Rodríguez (1765-1817), who supported the patriots in Mexico.

Gertrudis Bocanegra (1765-1817) organised a network of Mexican insurgents. When she was captured by the Spanish, she refused to betray the patriots even under torture. In the end, she was executed by the Royalists, as the forces loyal to the Spanish crown were known.

Women of this period pushed their fathers, sons, brothers, husbands or boyfriends to embrace the cause of independence. Like the Chilean Javiera Carrera (1781-1862), who although an adversary of national hero Bernardo O’Higgins, was part of the patriot movement.

Or the Nueva Granada (Colombia) native Policarpa Salavarrieta, a great underground independence fighter, who was shot to death by a firing squad in Bogotá in 1817, along with her boyfriend, Alejo Sabaraín.

Venezuela's most famous heroine is Luisa Cáceres (1799-1866), wife of General Juan Bautista Arismendi, who the Spanish tried to break by imprisoning the young Cáceres under atrocious conditions, while she was pregnant. She miscarried and was held prisoner for two years, from 1814 to 1816, before she was finally banished.

Many women were outstanding soldiers, like Azurduy, who fought in guerrilla warfare and participated in major battles, including the battles of Ayohuma (1813), Potosí and La Laguna (both in 1816), where she was injured and saw her husband, Manuel Padilla, die as he tried to rescue her.

Sáenz fought in the battle of Pichincha, which paved the way for Bolívar’s troops to march into Peru. She accompanied Bolívar in his campaigns and political efforts, and after preventing an attempt on his life by opponents in Bogotá in 1828, she began to be known as "the liberator’s liberator."

But many more women participated throughout the entire war, providing support in the rear, in logistics, and as soldiers. As the late Venezuelan historian Vinicio Romero told this reporter in an earlier interview, in the 1821 battle of Carabobo, dozens of women were thought to have died on both sides of the battlefield.

Women had a significant participation in the troops in Mexico, and in the Colombian army (which covered the territory of present-day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela). In the Andean sub-region, indigenous communities, including women, were incorporated into the war efforts.

Thousands of indigenous women followed the trail of Argentine General Juan Álvarez de Arenales (1770-1831), José de San Martín’s (1778-1850) deputy, during the 1819-1820 campaign in the Peruvian Andes.

History that ignores women

Even popular literature reflects the pivotal role that women have played in wars throughout history. "There’s hardly been a war in which women did not participate," Swedish journalist and novelist Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) wrote as a foreword for the last novel in his "Millennium" trilogy, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest", published posthumously this year.

As an example, the best-selling author mentioned that in the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), there were an estimated 600 women soldiers, who dressed up as men to fight.

In a remark that could very well apply to the revolutionary wars of Spanish America, Larsson noted that history books have always had a hard time talking about women who don’t respect the boundary that separates the sexes, and at no other time is this boundary so sharply delineated as when a war breaks out or weapons are involved.

Which is why, for Quintero, "understanding the process is not about identifying exceptions and highlighting the heroines, but about understanding that throughout history the way the various actors are involved is conditioned by their situation at the time of each historical event."

"Going beyond heroines or exceptions will enable an understanding of the true role women played. For example, the fact that armies admitted the need to incorporate women into their ranks, while the political constitutions that followed their independence efforts, in contrast, denied women any participation in decision-making," Quintero said.

To give women their rightful place in history, it is necessary to grasp that "women fought, but they also fled, hid, suffered, planted, cared for their homes, families and farms, loved, raised their children, lost their husbands, and fought on the opposite side - like the forgotten royalists did," she said.

Quintero is the author of a historical biography of Simón Bolivar’s sister, María Antonia Bolívar, a supporter of the Spanish crown.

According to Guardia, "the prevailing trend in historical studies disregards the space of everyday life as an object of study, and in doing so it also disregards women, whose predominant sphere of action has been that space. Nonetheless, everyday life is at the heart of historical events."

For Quintero, "When a distance is established between ordinary people and exceptional beings, as in the case of Sáenz, the real role of women is not vindicated by history, only the role of heroines is, from the perspective of the patriotic code of those who create the discourse.

"But that doesn’t change the view of women’s role in history, it makes no difference in women’s lives or in the problems that affect today’s women," she concluded. (END)