About Estatua de Policarpa Salavarrieta
The Estatua de Policarpa Salavarrieta, which is situated in Colombia´s capital city, Bogotá, depicts a woman who is considered by many Colombians to be a heroine of the country’s Independence movement: Policarpa Salavarrieta Ríos.
History of the Estatua de Policarpa Salavarrieta
Salavarrieta Ríos, also known as ‘La Pola’, was a young woman of Spanish origin from Guaduas in Socorro (present-day Colombia). From 1815 she lent her support to the Patriot guerrilla forces which fought against Spanish rule during the Spanish ‘reconquest’ of viceroyalty of New Granada (a Spanish colonial jurisdiction which corresponded mainly to the territories which comprise modern Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama) during the Latin American Wars of Independence.
Salavarrieta Ríos spied for the Patriots and sent information to their fighters. In Bogotá, she worked as a seamstress, a profession which allowed her to enter the houses of prominent Royalists and to obtain information to pass to the insurgents. She also entered prisons to take food to captured soldiers, taking advantage of the opportunity to supply them with information about the military situation.
In 1816, she was discovered, captured, imprisoned and sentenced to death by the Royalist general Juan Sámano.
This statue, which was designed and crafted by the Colombian sculptor Dionisio Cortés, represents the moment of her execution in Bogotá’s central plaza (today called the Plaza de Bolívar) on 14 November 1817. Salavarrieta Ríos is depicted seated, with her hands tied behind her back and her eyes open, waiting to be killed.
As she walked towards her execution, Salavarrieta Ríos is said to have issued a rousing call to her countrymen and countrywomen for rebellion and defiance: ‘Do not cry for me; cry for the slavery and the imprisonment of your downtrodden people. May my destiny serve as your example. Rise up and resist the outrages which you suffer with so much injustice.’
Her other frequently quoted last words, which are engraved on one of the plaques at the base of the statue, were: ‘Even though I am young, and a woman, I have more than enough valour to suffer this death and a thousand more deaths. Long live liberty.’
The statue was commissioned, sculpted and erected in celebration of the first centenary of Colombian Independence. It was unveiled on 29 July 1910.
Estatua de Policarpa Salavarrieta today
Policarpa Salavarrieta is a Colombian national hero: you’ll find her on Colombian currency and old postage stamps, as well as this particular statue. This statue is part of a much wider cultural of memory and commemoration.
She was buried in La Candelaria in the ex-convent of San Agustin, so the statue’s location has an added layer of significance.
Getting to Estatua de Policarpa Salavarrieta
The statue is located on the eastern fringes of Bogota on Calle 13. You can walk here from La Candelaria – it’s a 10 minute walk from Museo del Oro and about the same again to the foot of Cerro de Monserrate. If you’re coming from further afield, you can get the TransMilenio to Museo del Oro or find a taxi.