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Women in the History of Latin America

Never mind the machismo: these women changed their world


From Evita Peron to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, women have always played key roles in the history of Latin America. Here are a few of the more important ones, in no particular order:

1. Evita Peron, Argentina's Greatest First Lady

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You've seen the musical and the History Channel Special. But what do you really know about "Evita?"

2. Manuela Saenz, Heroine of Independence

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Manuela Saenz, best known for being the Mistress of the great Simón Bolívar, Liberator of South America, was a heroine in her own right.

3. Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemala's Nobel Winner

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Rigoberta Menchu is a Guatemalan Indian activist who became famous for winning the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize. Her story is told in a biography of questionable accuracy but indubitable emotional power. Today she is still an activist and attends native rights conventions.

4. Anne Bonny

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Anne Bonny was a female pirate who sailed between 1718 and 1720 with John "Calico Jack" Rackham. Along with fellow female pirate and shipmate Mary Read she made headlines in 1720 at her sensational trial, at which it was revealed that both women were pregnant. Anne Bonny disappeared after she gave birth, and no one really knows for sure whatever became of her. 

5. Mary Read

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Like her fellow pirate Anne Bonny, Mary Read sailed with the colorful "Calico Jack" Rackham around 1719. Mary Read was a fearsome pirate: according to legend, she once killed a man in a duel because he had threatened a young pirate she had taken a fancy to. Read, Bonny and the rest of the crew were captured with Rackham, and although the men were hanged, Read and Bonny were spared because they were both pregnant. Read died in prison shortly thereafter.

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