Back in the Day: Colombia's independence heroine is martyred

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Back in the Day: Colombia's independence heroine is martyred

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November 14, 1817 Policarpa Salavarrieta, a spy for revolutionaries in present-day Colombia, is executed by pro-Spanish royalists. Salavarrieta, known to contemporaries as La Pola, was a seamstress who repaired the clothes of Royalist families in Bogotá, a cover which allowed her to collect and smuggle intelligence to Revolutionary leaders fighting for the independence of New Granada (now Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador). She was arrested after police caught another insurgent who was carrying a list given to him by her of Royalists and Patriots. She was killed by firing squad four days after her trial. Most historians consider La Pola as the most significant woman of New Granada’s independence struggle; in 1967 a law was passed in Colombia making November 14 ‘Day of the Colombian Woman’ in honour of her. Her image also adorns the Colombian 10,000 Peso banknote (see above, author: Fibonacci).

Also on November 14: Moby Dick is published (1851); WWII: the Battle of the Somme ends after four and a half months (1916); Polish Solidarnosc leader Lech Walesa is released from prison (1982).

Born on November 14: Claude Monet (1840), Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1922), Charles, Prince of Wales (1948), Dominique de Villepin (1953), Condoleezza Rice (1954), Adam Gilchrist (1971).