Dona Manuela Saenz was born December 27,1795/97 in Quito, Ecuador. Manuela or Manuelita as she is commonly known as also was called “Libertadora del Libertador”, given to her by her rumored lover; revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar. Manuela is a revolutionary hero, but before we can indulge ourselves in the decadence that is Manuela’s life we must go back to the beginning…
As we know Manuela was born in Ecuador, though it is questionable as to what year she was born, though historians have narrowed it to either 1795 or 1797. When Manuela came of age she was sent to a convent, where she learned to read and write. However, Manuela was forced to leave the convent when it was discovered that she had been intimately involved with an army officer; Fausto D’Elhuyar. For several years following Manuela lived with her father until he arranged her marriage to an English merchant; James Thorne. Through Thorne’s status Manuela lived as an aristocrat in Lima, Peru. As a woman of high society in Lima, Manuela held many gatherings that had guests that ranged from political leaders and military officers. These particular guests shared revolutionary secrets with her, so it made a lot of sense that in 1819-20, when Bolivar took part in the successful liberation of New Granada, Manuela became an active member against the viceroy of Peru; Jose de la Serna e Hinojosa.
After brazils’s independence Manuela left Thorne and travelled to Quinto where she met Simon Bolivar. The following eight years Manuela’s life was dedicated to Bolivar. As one of the first women involved in the revolution; Manuela received the “Order of the Sun” (Cabelleresa del Sol). Gained the title “Libertadora del Libertador” after an attempted mutinous attack on Bolivar in 1828, Manuela helped him escape.
When Bolivar died, Manuela became a thorn in Francisco Paula Santander’s side after he returned to power. Santander exiled Manuela to Jamaica, where she attempted to return to Ecuador n 1835, but Ecuador revoked her passport. Manuela ended up living in Northern Peru, there she met American author; Herman Melville. For the next 25 years Manueka sold tobacco and translated letters that North American whale hunters wrote to their Latin American lovers. In 1847, Thorne was murdered in Pativilca and Manuela was denied the 8000 pesos of inheritance by enemies.
That ladies and gentlemen was the story of Manuela. Her life ended when the stairs in house collapsed and paralyzed her in 1856. Now that is a horrible way to die was my first thought…then my imagination kicked into overdrive . Manuela was buried in a common graveyard and most of Bolivar’s letters were destroyed.