Esmeralda Arboleda Cadavid

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Esmeralda Arboleda Cadavid
Photo of Esmeralda Arboleda Cadavid.jpg
Colombia Ambassador to Austria
In office
PresidentCarlos Lleras Restrepo
Preceded byIgnacio Escobar López
Succeeded byVicente Huertas de Francisco
10th Minister of Communications of Colombia
In office
1 September 1961 – 7 August 1962
PresidentAlberto Lleras Camargo
Preceded byCarlos Martín Leyes
Succeeded byAlfredo Araújo Grau
Senator of Colombia
In office
20 July 1958 – 1 September 1961
In office
Personal details
Born(1921-01-07)7 January 1921
Palmira, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Died16 April 1997(1997-04-16) (aged 76)
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Samuel Uribe Hoyos
Francisco Cuevas Cancino (1968–1997)
ChildrenSergio Uribe Arboleda
Alma materUniversity of Cauca (LLB, 1939)

Esmeralda Arboleda Cadavid (January 7, 1921[1] – 16 April 1997) was a Colombian politician and the first woman elected to the Senate of Colombia, serving from 1958 to 1961.

A leader of the women's suffrage movement in Colombia, she and fellow suffragist Josefina Valencia Muñoz, were the first women appointed to a national legislative position in Colombia as part of the National Constituent Assembly in 1954, where they presented what would eventually be the Legislative Act No. 3, which modified Article 171 of the Colombian Constitution of 1886 granting universal suffrage to women. She also served as the 10th Minister of Communications of Colombia, as Ambassador of Colombia to Austria, and as Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations.

Personal life[edit]

Esmeralda was born in Palmira, Valle del Cauca on January 7, 1921[2] to Fernando Arboleda López and Rosa Cadavid Medina with five other sisters named, Fabiola, Mireya, Violeta, Soffy & Pubenza "Puma". Her father was then the mayor of Palmira, Valle de Cauca. She attended school in Bogotá, and graduated from the University of Cauca where she earned a Bachelor of Laws in 1934, becoming the first female lawyer of her alma mater. In 1946 she married Samuel Uribe Hoyos, a Colombian engineer with whom she had her only son, Sergio Uribe. Arboleda Cadavid is also cousins with current mayor of Cali, Norman Maurice Armitage.


She entered private practice in Cali, where she focused on labour law concerning the disparity in wages by the Pacific Railway to its employees. She later moved to Bogotá, where she entered the women's suffrage movement.

She was involved in the National Feminist Organization of Colombia, which operated under the leadership of María Currea Manrique and former First Lady of Colombia Bertha Hernández Fernández .[3]

When General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla came to power in a military coup d'état, the women's suffrage movement had an ideological split between those who opposed military rule and those who supported the regime. Arboleda became an ardent opponent of military rule, and publicly voiced her concern for and criticism of the President. Pressured by both sides, President Rojas, who had maintained the National Constituent Assembly begun by his predecessor, the deposed Roberto Urdaneta Arbeláez, named two women to the assembly. Arboleda was appointed to represent the Liberal Party, and Josefina Valencia Muñoz to represent the Conservative Party, becoming the first women to serve in a Colombian national legislative body. As part of the assembly, they introduced the Legislative Act on the Citizenship of Women. On 25 August 1954 the plenary of the National Constituent Assembly approved the Legislative Act No. 3 which modified Article 171 of the Colombian Constitution of 1886, granting universal suffrage to all Colombian women.

Arboleda continued her vocal opposition to and criticism of the Government of President Rojas; for this, she was harassed, spied on, and threatened. The Government pressured Bavaria S.A., where her husband worked, to fire Uribe to pressure his wife. The escalation reached its apex when a group of men tried to kidnap her in front of her mother's flower shop. She then went into exile with her husband and child to Boston, where her sister Violeta Arboleda was living with her husband Irving Glickman. She returned to the country in 1958 at toward the end of military rule, and ran for office in the 1958 legislative elections; She was elected Senator of Colombia and was sworn in as the first female senator of Colombia on 20 July when Congress convened following a four-year hiatus.

On September 1, 1961 she was appointed Minister of Communications by President Alberto Lleras Camargo, a post she held for the remainder of President Lleras's term.[4] She also served as Ambassador of Colombia to Austria, concurrently serving as Non-Resident Ambassador to Yugoslavia, and Minister Resident to the United Nations International Organizations in Vienna.

In 1968 she was appointed by President Carlos Lleras Restrepo Deputy Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations serving under then ambassador Julio César Turbay Ayala. It was during this assignment that she met Francisco Cuevas Cancino, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, whom she married in 1968 during a ceremony on the grounds of the United Nations Headquarters.[5] She also worked as Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women,[6] and as consultant for UNESCO for International Women's Year.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arboleda, Esmeralda (1980). Influence of the Mass Communication Media on Attitudes Towards the Roles of Women and Men in Present Day Society (Special Report). New York City: United Nations Economic and Social Council.. She died on April 16, 1997.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Quien es quién en Venezuela, Panamá, Ecuador, Colombia: Con datos recopilados hasta el 30 de junio de 1952". 1952.
  3. ^ Peláez Mejía, Margarita María, Derechos Políticos y Ciudadanía De Las Mujeres En Colombia: Cincuenta Años Del Voto Femenino [Rights and Citizenship of Women in Colombia: Fifty Years of the Female Vote] (DOC) (in Spanish), University of Vigo, retrieved 2010-09-16
  4. ^ González Díaz, Andrés (1982). Ministros del siglo XX, Vol. 2 [Minister of the 20th Century, Vol, 2]. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
  5. ^ "Contrayente". Hispano Americano: Semanario de la Vida y la Verdad (in Spanish). Mexico City: Tiempo SAdeCV (54): 64. ISSN 0018-2192. OCLC 1644318.
  6. ^ Arboleda Cadavid, Esmeralda (1980). Report of the Special Rapporteur, Dr. Esmeralda Arboleda Cuevas (International government publication). New York City: United Nations Economic and Social Council. OCLC 24149966.