Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Argentina’s Forgotten Black Hero, Dubbed as the Mother of Her Country

The first news of María Remedios del Valle on the battlefield goes back to her participation of her defense against the English invasions as she attended and kept the soldiers’ backpacks to lighten their march to battle wrote, the combat corps commander.

On July 6, 1810, María joined her husband and two children in the ranks of the auxiliary army and stood out in three other battles before falling into Spanish hands with six gunshot wounds to her body. She was whipped in public for nine days; survived the punishment, and escaped and rejoined the fight for Argentina again.

On September 23, 1812, on the eve of a major battle, she went before the general and begged him to let her help the wounded that were piling up on the front lines. The general refused stating that the battlefield was no place for women. Remedios del Valle defied the general’s orders and soon became legend among the troops, which began to refer to her as the mother of their country. The general finally gave up and admitted the only woman into his militia.

On 11 October 1827, the deputies of the Board of Representatives of the province of Buenos Aires called her a heroine, and were it not for her race, gender, and impoverished condition, she would have become nationally renowned. It was later recommended that her biography be written and a monument made in her honor, but that was too much for Argentina. They could not handle a poor, black female getting all the glory that should go to white men. 

However, a street in the city of Buenos Aires and one in two other cities were named after her. In addition, three schools and a woman’s house were named in honor of Maria Remedios del Valle as well.

She died alone and in misery begging in Buenos Aires on November 8, 1847. It should not be forgotten that the black population of Buenos Aires in 1810 was more than 20%. The Argentine blacks were a substantial and essential part of the independence struggle covering 65% of the battle stations for independence.

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