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Martyrs of the Revolution of the People
Colombia, South America

A poem by Ja A. Jahannes
Savannah, Georgia

Historical Notes
by Clara Agüero Ortiz

Clara Agüero Ortiz.
Clara Agüero Ortiz.
Most often revolutions have been started by intellectuals and individuals of the middle class. In 1782, a revolt in the Spanish colony of Nueva Granada, which later became the nation of Colombia, was begun by ordinary poor citizens in reaction to deplorable economic conditions and other oppressive circumstances. On February 1, 1782, the Spanish representatives retaliated by hanging and dismembering the four leaders of the revolt and sending their body parts to their home towns as a warning to others. That affair has been captured in several monuments and plazas around the country and in recent years in a monumental sculpture by Vallejo in the Chicamocha Canyon in Santander, Colombia. The uprising and its heroes are taught with emphasis in the history books of Colombia. "Martyrs of the Revolution of the People" is dedicated to the gallant men who lead the uprising and their memory.

To read this poem in Spanish, click here.

Martyrs of the Revolution of the People
Colombia, South America

The spirits of the cities of your births
Welcomed your return,
Heroes against oppression,
Expressing our discontent.
They made a horrific ridiculing spectacle,
Hanging you to strike fear
Where fear could not find comfort.
In the witnessing plaza, before the damning hour,
The first day of February, 1782,
They decapitated you shamelessly,
Losing their heads,
In arrogant public display.
The winds swept the streets that day
Claiming your souls.
Evil in cabal conspired to destroy you,
Not knowing that time is the arrangement for everything.
They call now your names in history.
Scattered bones, skulls, hands and feet,
Are not the keepers of the soul.
Where are the names of your defilers?
Vilified footnotes to infamy.
No one remembers their names, their stations.
Juan Manuel José Ortiz Manosalvas, you came again to Socorro.
Jose Antonio Galán keeps watch over Guaduas.
Isidro Molina keeps vigil in Santafé.
Lorenzo Alcantús is in San Gil, still.
The salt they spread on your worldly goods,
Sustains your descendants who number legions.
The tyranny that ruled has long since lost its rule.
They say among the families
Today the young ones
Hear the whisper of those winds.
A new Colombia is beginning.

© 2010 Ja A. Jahannes.
Dr. Ja A. Jahannes is poet, writer of fiction and nonfiction, psychologist, educator and a social critic. He is a frequent columnist, and his work has appeared in diverse publications and anthologies. Dr. Jahannes has lectured throughout the U. S., in Africa, Asia, South America and the Middle East and Europe.

Clara Agüero Ortiz is a direct descendant of Juan Manuel José Ortiz Manosalvas who was born in El Socorro, Santander, Colombia.

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Published in In Motion Magazine February 4, 2011

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