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The Bicentennial Celebration

juana_azurduy_de_padilla.jpg

Today we celebrate 200 years of the first liberty fights in South America, as Bolivia holds the honor to have brave ancestors who were the first to tell the Spaniards they would not oppress these lands anymore. Today I want to exalt and pay a humble tribute to Liutenant Colonel Juana Azurduy de Padilla, a Bolivian woman born in Chuquisaca in 1780, who passed away 82 years later totally poor, forgotten and was buried in a common grave.

She was married to Manuel Ascencio Padilla, she spoke Spanish, Quechua and Aymara.She and her husband began to fight for liberty on May 25th, 1809, in Chuquisaca and up to the western jungles of Santa Cruz. She saw her four sons die in combat, and she fought while pregnant with her fifth daughter.She also lost her husband in combat. They fought against the royal army and made them escape, but in 1811, on June 20th, one royal general, Goyeneche, defeated them and took Juana and her sons to prison, from where her husband recovered them, but all their cattle and properties were confiscated by the Spanish Crown.

This is the reason why when she was older she got poorer and died in misery. Other battles were won, and Bolivia was free on August 6th, 1825, being the last country to be freed. Ironically, it had been the first country to begin the fight.

There are songs about her and President Morales has in recent days created a Juana Azurduy de Padilla Bonus, that will be paid to pregnant mothers and mothers with children under six months of age, that will begin to be paid next month, in good timing with the beginning of his new presidential campaign for the December election. This is the kind of policy that has gained him very big numbers of voters in the last referendum. Good for the mothers, good for him. This should have been done many years ago, in my humble opinion.It is a small amount of money, but for many poor women it represents the difference between giving birth to a healthy baby or not. The name of Liutenant Colonel Juana Azurduy could never be used better.

So as you can see, we cannot judge only one side of a president. We need to understand that there are good things and bad things in every administration. We must applaud the good deeds, but we cannot hush the wrong ones.

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LauraB's picture

So interesting

I didn't know about Lieutenant Colonel Juana Azurduy de Padilla. I can't help but remember when I was in Bolivia- La Paz mostly, I thought I had entered a matriarchal culture. It seemed that the Aymara women lived very centered as if they were made from the very soil of the land. I had traveled throughout So. America for 6 months, and Bolivia was the last country I was in. There was something unique and wise in the people. I will forever be struck by that. Juana Azurduy's story brought back my own personal memory.

It sounds like the bonus for pregnant mothers and mothers with children under six months of age is a great way to remember her. Do you know if there has been any historical fiction writtten about her?

Thanks for the post

Laura

jap21's picture

The book

There are a few books about her. All of them in Spanish, though. If you care to have one, I can buy it for you and send it by mail. Let me know.

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

LauraB's picture

Book

Jackie,

You are very kind to make this offer...I'm afraid my Spanish is not adequate to read a historical book though.
Thank you so much.

Enjoy the day...here we have crystal clear blue skies- something that in Portland can be elusive in May.
I love sitting here in my home imaging your country where I was privileged to explore many years ago. Maybe one
day I will have the chance to travel there again and meet you!

Love,

Laura

jap21's picture

Dear Laura

Sorry it took me long to answer. For a moment I lost track of my comments. Thank you for having this cute image of my country. It is indeed beautiful. And you have not come to the south!

We have roses all winter, although it gets very cold and it is not so green anymore. It hardly ever snows here in the south, and we are in a beautiful valley full of vineyards, and when you go to the countryside, you can still see lots of butterflies all around, as well as lots of birds of all colors. We are the happiest department of Bolivia, they say, and they are right, as people are always telling jokes, making parties and having barbecues at their homes.

There are lots of rivers that have crystall clear waters, where you can still take a bath. There are river crabs in there. And there is very nice fishing lakes and rivers, as well as horseriding.

My house is open for you anytime. Please come over. I can't wait to meet you!

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

jap21's picture

Nice trip

It is so beautiful to travel across South America. The colors, the tastes, it is all unbelievable. Bolivia is the country with the most indigenous ascend. All of us at some point in time have or have had, an indian or many indians in our heritage. This is what makes us so special.

Yes. We indeed have a matriarchal society, in the way that silently, women are the ones who work more, and bring the food on the tables. But our society is also Machista, as women are still doing the laundry, cooking and serving the food to their men, regardless of how bad they are being treated or how little help they get from them. We are working very hard to overcome this, though.

We have made a lot of progress in the last 25 years. NGOs have made a specially good job on empowering women. Although in my opinion, we have all lacked a sense of levelling social empowerment with educational empowering, as many of our women are still not going to school enough.

But we are working to get there.

Thanks for reading.

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

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