Things That Matter

11 Latina Revolutionaries You Must Know About

There are two undeniable facts about how history is written. One: it is written by the winners. Two: it is mostly written by, for and about men. The role of women in social and political change is only now being acknowledged and properly recorded and commented upon. However, for centuries women have lived in the shadows of history, while at the same time being key actors of historical events.

Here’s a list of 11 women who have rebelled against injustice, the patriarchy and those who oppress their people. As always happens, some of these figures are controversial. 

1. Marichuy

“But it’s precisely because we are the ones who feel the deepest pain, because we [experience] the greatest oppressions, that we women are also capable of feeling the deepest rage”

Credit: 1508971902830-Reportaje-Marichuy_Zapatistas-131-e1511293964532. Digital image. Feministing.


This nahua indigenous woman attempted to run for the presidency of her native Mexico in early 2018, but she could not get the necessary signatures to guarantee her run. Nevertheless, she ignited the hearts and  minds of students, activists and intellectuals. 

Credit: marichuy-2-780×450. Digital image. Chispa OC.


One of her main supporters was the writer and essayist Juan Villoro, who mobilized his influence in political and literary circles. He saw in Marichuy hope in balancing the deep inequalities faced by women, particularly of indigenous origin, in Mexico. 

2. Gioconda Belli

“It had never crossed my mind that a man could think he had the right to stop me from being who I was”

Credit: El-pais-de-las-mujeres.jpg Digital image. Havana Times


This Nicaraguan poet is a symbol of fierce political convictions and a refreshing look at the role of women in society. Belli expresses her femininity through verses that sometimes verge on the erotic. Throughout her life she has spoken out against injustice, whoever the perpetrator is. 

Credit: gioconda_beli. Digital image. Literal magazine


In her novels, Belli writes about the struggles of the indigenous populations under Spanish rule, and about everyday mechanisms of repression. 

3. Josefa Ortíz de Domínguez a.k.a La Corregidora

Credit: josefa-ortiz-de-domingo. Digital image. Mexico desconocido.


She is considered to be one of the precursors of the Mexican independence, which is quite a feat given that Latin American independence wars have been told as “the men who liberated us” narratives. 

Credit: DXS8eMKWAAg2JCH. Digital image. Mexico 21.


She was a wealthy woman whose husband ruled over the city of Queretaro (there are numerous stadiums and streets named after her today). Like other Mexican freedom fighters of the time (the war for independence started in 1810), she basically saw no reason why the then New Spain should keep paying taxes to the debilitated Spanish Crown.

4. Comandanta Ramona

“Our hope is that one day our situation will change, that we women will be treated with respect, justice and democracy”

Credit: a7c2076279be5526946186ed04f7f900. Digital image. Pinterest.


When the Zapatista movement got the international spotlight in 1994 one of the most recognizable profiles was that of Comandanta Ramona, who died in 2006. What she lacked in physical height she made up in dignity, courage and compassion for her fellow dispossessed.

Credit: unnamed_1-678×380 _. Digital image. Voices in Movement.


Ramona was not her real name, but a moniker. She was of tzotzil mayan heritage. The Zapatistas wore masks to hide their identity because, they claimed, they did not want to be protagonists but rather just representatives of the faceless and voiceless. 

5. Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo)

Credit: 40-años-de-la-primera-ronda-madres-plaza-mayo-foto-pablo-ernesto-piovano-copia . Digital image. Desinformemonos.


Between 1976 and 1983 Argentina suffered from one of the most severe and ruthless dictatorships of the twentieth century. Hundreds of political activists, most of them young, disappeared and were most likely killed. In 1977 a group of mothers whose children were unaccounted for marched in Buenos Aires downtown, in defiance of the right State laws. 

Credit: Madres old photo. Digital image. openDemocracy.


These courageous women marched every week for years, until they announced their final march in 2006. They became a symbol of quiet and peaceful resistance around the world. 

6.Eva Perón

“I demanded more rights for women because I know what women had to put up with”

Credit: eva-peron-1951-1150×862. Digital image. Remezcla.


One of the most famous symbols of early female power in politics. She was the wife of Argentinian president Juan Perón and as First Lady she became a symbol of all those who support labor rights and implement public policies that benefit the most vulnerable. 

Credit: 3422584. Digital image. Mental floss


One of her biggest challenges was advocating for the right of women to vote. Universal suffrage was the firs, but not the last, battle that Latina women have faced in order to truly be heard in politics. 

7. Celia Sánchez

Credit: Sanchez. Digital image. Roberto Landori.


Like all Cuban revolutionaries, her legacy is controversial: some see her as a hero who helped Castro overthrow a tyrannical regime; others see her and the leaders of the Revolución Cubana as tyrants themselves. Truth is that Sánchez embodied a role often taken up only by men: guerrilla fighter. 

Credit: celia-sanchez. Digital image. Radio Bayamo.


She was a close friend of Fidel Castro and once the Batista government was overthrown she was named Secretary to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, an important role through which Castro entrusted State affairs to one of his oldest and more loyal comrades. 

8. Soldaderas

Credit: 0cbc268db5f98f30e0bf4d29549b8d08. Digital image. Inmense hotels.


The Mexican Revolution was a conflict full of enigmatic characters like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. But perhaps none are as intriguing as a group of women who not only took on domestic chores and tended for the soldiers, but took up on arms themselves. 

Credit: soldaderas-640454381. Digital image. History.

Soldaderas, as they are commonly known, were mostly of indigenous origin. Their fierce nature and gender-stereotype-breaking has been immortalized in photographs, pieces of silent cinema and corridos, popular songs that persist even today.  

9. Rigoberta Menchú Tum

“Peace cannot exist without justice”

Credit: tum-13442-portrait-medium. Digital image. Nobel Prize.


Along with thousands of indigenous women in Central America, Rigoberta suffered the atrocities of civil wars and iron-fisted governments. Contrary to most, however, she said “enough is enough”. The soft-spoken K’iche’ Maya feminist has organized not only women, but the indigenous population in general, and built bridges with other indigenous groups in the continent. 

Credit: portada-96-724×400. Digital image. Infinite Fire.

She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 “in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples”. Her recent political views have been quite controversial, as she has defended the rule of Bolivian president Evo Morales, who is seen by some as a populist. 

10. Paulina Luisi

Credit: DraPaulinaLuisi[1]. Digital image. Great Thoughts Treasury.


One of the founders of modern Uruguay. She was a revolutionary for many reasons. In 1909 she became the first woman to get a medical degree in her country, an almost impossible feat considering the gender power dynamics of the time. She was also the first Latin American woman to represent her country in the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations). But her biggest achievement was… 

Credit: 231px-Paulina_Luisi_-_1929_-_Planisferio. Digital image. Wikipedia


… getting women to vote! Yes, she was a restless advocate for the right of women to be involved in political life and Uruguay became the first country in America to set things right. 

11. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén

“Don’t take under consideration stereotypes, prejudice or anything apart from reason”

Credit: ana-irma-bn-1. Digital image. 80 grados


It is not easy to be a black girl in a Latin American country, more so if you identify as gay. But Ana Irma Rivera Lassén is an awesome Puerto Rican powerhouse who became the first black woman to head the Bar Association of Puerto Rico. She is an amazing lawyer and unapologetic feminist. 

Credit: Ana. Digital image. 80 grados.


Talk about a power move: she was once forbidden to enter the court in pants instead of a skirt. She sued the judge… and won! Burn!

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

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A post shared by America Ferrera (@americaferrera)

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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