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Valentina Ramirez: A Revolutionary Heroine of Mexico

Meet one of Mexico's Mulans

By Abel GreenPublished 7 months ago 4 min read

Valentina Ramírez Avitia was a Mexican hero who fought bravely alongside Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. She was a trailblazing figure who dared to challenge the status quo and break free from the conventional roles that women were expected to play during her time. She also payed the price for it.

Born in 1894 in the state of Durango, Mexico, Valentina grew up in a time when women were largely relegated to domestic roles and had few opportunities for education or professional advancement. However, Valentina was determined to forge her own path and become more than just a housewife. She was fiercely independent and had a strong sense of justice and a desire to fight for what was right.

When the Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910, Valentina's father was quick to join the fight for freedom and justice. Unfortunately he was killed in combat. Convinced her father's cause was just, Valentina waited until Pancho Villa's revolutionary forces passed through her town, disguised herself in her brother's clothes, hid her long hair braided under her sombrero, and joined the army pretending to be a small thin man named Juan Ramírez. It's remarcable that this happened in 1914 at the time, she was only 17 years old!

Valentinaquickly proved herself to be a skilled and fearless soldier. She fought in several battles, including the Battle of Tierra Blanca, where she was wounded. Despite her injuries, Valentina continued to fight, wasand she was eventually promoted to the rank of lieutenant thanks to her valour in the battle of Culiacan where her actions allowed the revolutionary forces to take the cathedral.

It's unclear exactly how Valentina's true identity was discovered, as there are different versions of the story. Some sources say that a doctor discovered that she was a woman while treating her wounds, while others suggest that her fellow soldiers suspected that she was not a man and investigated further lifting her sombrero and discovering her long hair. Regardless of how she was discovered, when her true identity as a woman was revealed, she was forced to leave the military.

Valentina returned to her hometown, where she was reportedly rejected by her brothers and other family member who found her actions to be a violation of traditional gender roles, they were particullarly angered by the fact that she was not present at the moment of their mother's dead. As a result of this rejection, she left her hometown and eventually settled in the state of Sinaloa.

Unfortunately Valentina's disgraces did not end here. She lost her first husband to disease and became separated from the second. Even though she worked as a school teacher, she became deeply impoverished. She became hopeful after the Mexican government announced that all former fighters had a right to access a pension in gratitude for their services. Valentina presented her documentation but was rejected when officials argued that her pension should be denied because she had falsely represented herself as a man.

Valentina Ramírez Avitia's later years were marked by hardship and adversity. After being denied her pension as a veteran, she struggled to make ends meet and ended up working as a maid, cleaning and ironing clothes from her small shack. Once she became too old to do so she became a beggar in Culiacan's Cathedral.

In a tragic turn of events, she was hit by a truck at some point in her later years and was left crippled. In an effort to help her, the local government tried to institutionalize Valentina in a state-run nursing home. However, Valentina refused to be limited, and escaped the institution preferring to maintain her independence and dignity.

Her final days were filled with both struggle and compassion. She lived in a small shack in Navolato, where she took care of several dogs that she had rescued from the streets. Despite her own difficulties, Valentina remained dedicated to caring for others, including these four-legged companions.

Tragically, Valentina's life came to a sudden and untimely end when her shack caught fire one night. The cause of the fire was a candle that one of her dogs had accidentally knocked over while playing. Valentina was unable to escape the flames and was killed in the blaze.

Despite her significant contributions to the cause of Mexican revolution, becoming the inspiration for several songs and legends and being known as the Lioness of Norotal, Valentina was buried in a common grave, alone and forgotten.


About the Creator

Abel Green

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