Remains of Early Venezuelan Feminist Saenz Laid to Rest in Caracas

Venezuelans commemorated the arrival of the symbolic remains of “independence fighter and feminist” Manuela Saenz to Caracas on Sunday.

By Steven Mather - Venezuelanalysis.com

Saenz.jpg

A portrait of Manuela Saenz
A portrait of Manuela Saenz
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Caracas, July 6th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelans commemorated the arrival of the symbolic remains of “independence fighter and feminist” Manuela Saenz to Caracas on Sunday.

The emotional service took place on the 199th anniversary of the Venezuelan declaration of independence.

She was laid to rest at a service at Panteon Nactional alongside her comrade and lover Simon Bolivar, who won independence for Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez described her as the “Mother of the Nation.”

“If we call Bolivar the Father of the Nation, you, we call the General and Mother of the Nation, the Mother of the Revolution,” he said.

Saenz was born in Ecuador in 1797 and died in Peru and her remains have been in the latter country since her death in 1856.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa was also at the Panteon and he said: “Manuela Saenz represents the Latin American woman because she was an activist in struggle, she dressed like a man to fight with the troops of the army, she saved the life of Bolivar on more than one occasion.”

“She was a woman who gave herself completely to the causes of revolution and independence,” he said.

Correa added that she “was an orphan as her mother died at birth and so was given by her father to a convent of nuns of the conception, due to the morals of the society at the time she was branded an illegitimate child.”

Historian Luis Felipe Pellicer described her as a woman ahead of her time. “She wasn’t just the Liberator of the Liberator for saving his [Bolivar’s] life in an attack on September 25 [1828], she was a liberated woman, of thought and action, a woman advanced for her time and now.”

“She was one of the first feminists.”

Venezuelans celebrated the return of Saenz’s symbolic remains over the weekend with various activities in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture such as painting for children and by watching short, historical films of the era of Saenz.

Her remains left Peru  in May and arrived in Venezuela via Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia.