Ana María Martínez de Nisser

Last year, in the week proceeding Mother's Day, I did a special on famous women of Colombia. This year, I am adding a few more names to the list. You can read about all of the women I have highlighted by clicking on the WOMEN label to the left. For today, the spotlight falls on a heroine from Antioquia -- Ana María Martínez de Nisser.

Ana María was born in Sonsón, Antioquia, on December 6, 1812. Her father was a teacher in Sanson.

Her early years were spent in school where she was an excellent student. Those who knew her have written that she was very bright and quick, and was able to speak fluent French as well as English.

She was married in 1831 to a man from Sweden -- Pedro Nisser. Nisser was a gold dealer and businessman.

Events in Colombia from 1839-1841 were not pleasant, the country experienced the first on many civil wars. This war was know as the Guerra de los Supremos (or Guerra de los Conventos). Here is a brief explanation:

The war started over, what else, religion. The then President of Colombia, José Ignacio de Márquez, sanctioned a law which ordered that any convent which housed fewer than 8, was to be closed and taken over by the government. Several such convents were in Pasto, Nariño. In Pasto to the south, there lived several caudillos, known as the Supremos, who were already opposed to the Marquéz government. The Supremos did to want a strong central government and were hoping to start a rebellion that would allow them to eventually become more powerful and allow them to set up their own rules and laws that would benefit them personally. By 1840, caudillos in Medellin were supporting the rebellious cause.

Ana María and her husband, however, supported the government during this war. As a result, her husband was sent to prison in Rio Negro. When her husband was taken, Ana María became enraged and decided to fight herself for the government, and asked to join the army of Braulio Henao. At first, Henao thought she crazy. "Women simply do not do that!" However, she convinced him by saying the following, "What man, whose is afraid, will stay behind once he sees me marching in the rows with you!" He allowed her to she put on a solders uniform and marched in the army ranks with her father and two brothers.

On May 5, 1841, she was among the soldiers that fought in the Battle of Salamina. When she ran out of bullets, she grabbed a sword and fought. The Battle of Salamina was the last battle of the war and it was won by the governmental troops of which Ana María was a part.

The Congress of Colombia gave her actions official recognition and she was actually crowned in a celebration held in Medellín. She also wrote a book about her experience called "La Revolución de Antioquia en 1842", which was published in 1843.
She died in 1872 and is buried in the cemetery San Lorenzo in Medellín.



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