Gendering Latin American Independence
List All Links | List Writing | List Archives | List References | List All People

Home » Database » Search » People

Vicenta Juaristi Eguino

Other names/titles:
Gender: F
Ethnic origin: White

Biographical details

An upper-class woman, from La Paz, Bolivia, born in 1784 whose home was used as a centre for Independence activities. She gave money to support the army and funded a factory where women made cartridges and cannon balls. When Bolívar entered La Paz she presented him with a gold key. She avoided exile by paying a fine. A school was named after her. (Knaster, 501, 502.)

She used her enthusiasm and fortune for the independence cause. (Otero, 318)

She was fined 6,000 pesos and exiled from the province of La Paz for disloyalty to the king on 16 November 1816. (Gaceta de Caracas, 14/5/1817, p.1022)

She was born to Spanish parents. Her mother died in childbirth and her father soon afterwards leaving her in the care of her natural brother, Pedro Eguino. He educated her, giving her liberal ideas and sentiments. She had an immense fortune that she put at the patriots´ disposal in July 1809. She put her servants into the independence army, and encouraged others to join up. Her brother Pedro led a battalion in Potosí. He was defeated and La Paz was occupied by 5,000 royalist troops. Vicenta Eguino was condemned to 6 years in prison and Pedro to death. She was pardoned by governor Juan Ramírez after she paid a substantial fine and gave 4,000 pesos to clothe the army. Pedro Eguino was also reprieved and he travelled to Río de la Plata where he joined the Argentine army. She continued to work for the cause acting as a centre of communications from Lima, Cuzco and Buenos Aires. In 1811 Pedro Eguino's battalion was dressed and equipped at Vicenta's expense, and she gave each soldier money. The patriots suffered a defeat, Pedro went into exile and Vicenta hid in a hacienda. The Spanish repression brought about an Indian uprising in the town of Caracato and they marched determined to kill the Spaniards. The local priests tried in vain to stop them and called on Vicenta Eguino to intervene. She and her friend Ursula Goizueta went on horseback to the leaders of the march and, speaking to them in their own language, she persuaded them to return to Caracato, where she gave them food and resources. They later went to Oruru to fight for the patriots. Pedro Eguino was taken prisoner again and was taken to Viacha, Peru; Vicenta visited him there and gave him and the other prisoners food and news of the revolution. In 1814 she contributed money to the Cuzco expedition to La Paz. During the siege of La Paz, 1814, Vicenta Eguina moved between her house and the adjoining bunker, Caja de Agua, ordering over 20 armed soldiers to meet there. She confronted a Spanish commander and the patriots took the plaza. The Spaniards took refuge in the cathedral, among them Eguina's uncle, Tadeo Medina. But the patriots were defeated soon afterwards and Vicenta Eguina was captured and sentenced to death. The Spanish chiefs were nonetheless bowled over by her beauty, her serenity and eloquence; there was an appeal to the viceroy on account of her Spanish lineage and her sentence was commuted to a 10,000 peso fine and perpetual exile in Cuzco. On hearing of this Eguina is reputed to have said, "¡Me era muy dulce morir por la patria; pero necesito la vida para contribuir a la victoria y completar mi esperanza!" In 1819 she received news of the death of her brother in Copiapó, Chile. In 1823 she offered her sons José and Félix to General Santa Cruz to fight for the cause. On 18 August 1825 she received Bolívar when he came to La Paz in triumph. At the entrance to the city she built a great triumphal door, and Bolívar was presented with a golden key. She read a patriotic speech to Bolívar (cited below) and she opened the door with the gold key. This was then presented to Bolívar who in turn gave it to Sucre. (Urquidi, 161-178).

She died in 1857.

Life Events

Born 1785
Other 1809She joined the independence cause.
Other 1811She dressed and equipped her brother's battalion.
Other 1814She helped to secure victory for the patriots during the siege of La Paz.
Other 1816On 16 November 1816, she was fined and exiled by the royalists.
Other 1819Her brother died in battle in Chile.
Other 1823Her two sons fought for the independence cause.
Died 1857


Knaster, Meri, (1977), Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from Pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times

Otero, Gustavo Adolfo, (1946), Los ideales de la mujer boliviana

Pérez Vila, Manuel, (1983), Gaceta de Caracas

Urquidi, José Macedonio, (1918), Bolivianas ilustres, heroinas, escritoras, artistas, Tomo I

Lavrin, Asunción, (1978), Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives; Contributions in Women's Studies, No.3.


Speech: Speech


Resource id #43 (98)

Resource id #47 (186)

Resource id #51 (109)

Resource id #55 (137)

Resource id #59 (29)

Resource id #63 (10)

Resource id #67 (35)

Resource id #71 (58)

Resource id #75 (34)

Resource id #79 (2)

Resource id #83 (8)

Gendering Latin American Independence

School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Trent Building, University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 5655