His political aim was freedom for all the people of Latin America from the tyrannical Spanish monarchy. His struggle to establish democracy in South America left him a legend as hero and liberator.
Manuela Saenz was born in Quito and married by her father to a wealthy older Englishman, James Thorne. She travelled in elite social circles in Lima but became disenchanted with the lifestyle and was increasingly drawn to the politics of the rebel factions trying to liberate Peru from Spain.
She left her husband and returned to Quito where she met Simon Bolivar. The attraction was immediate. They began a love affair that was deep, passionate and lasting. Manuela remained with Bolivar as his mistress and confidante until his death in 1830. As well as being his mistress Manuela kept his personal papers, helped organize troops and raise money for campaigns. Twice she saved his life from assassins. He began to call her "The Liberator of the Liberator."
She earned recognition for her role in the revolution, being named a Colonel of the Colombian army and was awarded the Order of the Sun.
Bolivar faced discontent from within his circles and began to lose power to insurgents. He resigned and was about to flee to Europe when he died from tuberculosis in 1830.
Manuela became unwanted by the regime that followed and was exiled to Jamaica. From here she returned to a small coastal village in northern Peru where she lived in isolation, her attempts to remain in touch with the revolutionary process through correspondence gradually dwindling. After 25 years of obscurity she died from diphtheria and was buried unremarked in a mass grave.
It wasn't until 2010 that her role became known and appreciated. Hugo Chavez presided over a ceremony in which symbolic parts of her remains and grave dirt were reinterred in Venezuela beside her great love, Simon Bolivar.