Latinas in the U.S. come from a long line of influential, barrier-breaking, rebel Latin American women. Through Remezcla’s Herstory series, we introduce readers to the women warriors and pioneers whose legacies we carry on.
Women aren’t present in Uruguay’s historical record until the early 1900s. Before that, traces of female icons exist but are few and far between. In the 18th and 19th centuries, politics and revolution were men’s affairs. To be sure, it was men, protagonists of the Colorados and Blancos traditional parties, that periodically plunged the country into civil war. Still, women also fought these battles. Sometimes, they accounted for half of the personnel in each side’s army, yet these warriors rarely made it into history books.
Women appear later. In the 20th century, women campaigned hard to secure dignified labor conditions, stable democracy in times of tyranny and equal rights for women. Today, Uruguay is heralded for its progressive policies such as same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization. It’s often thought of as a beacon and an exception in Latin America, where wealth inequality and corruption reign freely. It’s hard to imagine that this could be true without the courage and commitment of the women who we highlight in this Herstory chapter.
The presence of Indigenous women is conspicuously absent. Settlers and the “founding fathers” exterminated the native people of Uruguay almost completely in the course of 200 years. There’s work to be done to rescue the stories of the Indigenous and Black women that resisted. Needless to say, the list of the following 10 Uruguayan women is only introductory. Here are ten women who changed the course of history:
María Josefa Francisca Oribe y Viana
María Josefa Francisca Oribe y Viana was a heroine of the Uruguayan independence movement against Spanish rule. Born into a Royalist family, she was married to an Italian merchant, and was a…