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Juana Azurduy de Padilla

Juana Azurduy de Padilla
Juana Azurduy de Padilla

Juana Azurduy Bermudez (July 12, 1780 or 1781 - May 25, 1862) was a Latin American guerrilla military leader.

She was born on July 12, 1780 or 1781 in the town of Chuquisaca, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (now Sucre, Bolivia).[1] She was Mestizo by ethnicity meaning she was half Spanish and half indigenous. “Her mother married into a family of property” meaning she married into a more wealth family. Her father however was killed by Spaniards, and the killer apparently got away without any repercussions. She grew up in Chuquisaca and at the age of 12 joined a convent to become a nun.[2] She was eventually expelled at the age of 17 because she rebelled far too often. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805,[3] a man who shared her love of the indigenous populations in Bolivia. She spoke Spanish and two South American languages: Quechua and Aymara.[4]


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Military life and career 1.2
    • Later life 1.3
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Early life

Juana Azurduy was born in Toroca, a town located in the Municipality of Potosí in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (present-day town of Ravelo, Potosí Department, Bolivia) on July 12, 1780. Her parents were Don Matías Azurduy, a rich white owner of many properties and Doña Eulalia Bermudes, a chola from Chuquisaca.

Military life and career

Upon their return they raised an army and joined in the fighting in the area. She fought a guerrilla style war against the Spanish from 1809 to 1825.[5] On March 8, 1816, her forces captured temporarily the Cerro Rico of Potosí, the main source of Spanish silver, also leading a cavalry charge that resulted in the capturing of the enemy standard. For these actions she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on August 16, 1816, by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata at Buenos Aires.[6] However during a battle in November 1816, she was injured and her husband was killed while trying to save her, at which she led a counterattack to recover his body. When the Spanish eventually counter-attacked in 1818, she fled with some of her soldiers to Northern Argentina where she continued to fight under the command of the Argentinean governor/ guerrilla leader, General Martín Miguel de Güemes. She was appointed to the position of commander of patriotic Northern Army of the Revolutionary Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. With this army she was able to establish an insurrection zone, until the Spanish forces withdrew from the area. She was so determined to the cause that she actually fought while she was pregnant, at one point, giving birth to her daughter, then returned to the fight relatively soon after. At the highest point of her control, she commanded an army with an estimated strength of 6,000 men.[7]

Later life

After her military career was over she returned to Sucre (Chuquisaca), where she died on May 25, 1862. Throughout all the conflicts she lost her four sons and her husband, and yet she continued to perform her duties until she retired and eventually died. At the time of her death, she was forgotten and in poverty, but was remembered as a hero only a century later. She was awarded the rank of general of the Argentine Army in 2009.[8] She also has “The National Programme for Women's Rights and Participation” of Argentina is also named after her.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Pallis, Michael “Slaves of Slaves: The Challenge of Latin American Women” (London: Zed Press, 1980) pg. 24
  2. ^ Knaster, Meri ”Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times”(Boston: G.K Hall and Co. 1977) pg.501
  3. ^ Knaster, Meri ”Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times”(Boston:G.K Hall and Co. 1977) pg.501
  4. ^ Chasteen, John Charles “Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History Latin America 2nd ed.” (New York: W.W Norton and Company, 2006), pg. 110, information that was not cited directly, is from the previously mentioned book.
  5. ^ Pallis, Michael “Slaves of Slaves: The Challenge of Latin American Women” (London: Zed Press, 1980) pg. 24
  6. ^ Felipe Pigna (2004). Los mitos de la historia argentina 1, Chapter: "La tierra en Armas. Los infernales de Martín Miguel de Güemes: Flor del Alto Perú" (The Flower of Upper Peru). Grupo Editorial Norma: Buenos Aires.
  7. ^ Davies, Catherine, Brewster, Clare, Hilary Owen. “South American Independence. Gender, Politics, Text” (Liverpool: Liverpool University, 2006) pg. 156
  8. ^ The Argentine President promotes Juana Azurduy to General in the Argentine
  9. ^ Programa "Juana Azurduy" de Fortalecimiento de Derechos y Participación de las Mujeres (in Spanish)
  • Salmonson, Jessica Amanda.(1991) The Encyclopedia of Amazons. Paragon House. Page 26. ISBN 1-55778-420-5
  • , in Spanish. Planeta: Buenos Aires.The Woman Lieutenant ColonelLink to the Book Chapters of: Pacho O'Donnell (1994).

External links

  • Juana Azurduy, Bicentenario 2009 - Jenny Cárdenas on YouTube
  • Juana Azurduy - Mercedes Sosa on YouTube
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