Eduardo Avaroa Hidalgo

Eduardo Abaroa Hidalgo ( San Pedro de Atacama , 13 of October of 1838 – Calama , 23 of March of 1879 ) was a businessman and Bolivian military.


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  • 1 Biography
  • 2 In the war
    • 1 Battle of Calama
  • 3 Death in combat
  • 4 Knowledge in Bolivia
  • 5 Sources


Originally from the town of San Pedro de Atacama , on the Pacific Ocean coast, then located within the Bolivian State, which was part of the short-lived Peru-Bolivian Confederation. [1] He was the son of Juan Abaroa and Benita Hidalgo.

He married Irene Rivero and had five children. Abaroa was an accountant and businessman who works in a silver mine located in the Litoral department, territory that belonged to Bolivia at that time. [one]

In the war

With the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1879, which confronted Bolivia with Chile , he joined the Bolivian troops with the rank of colonel. During the Chilean invasion, he led the civil resistance in the Battle of Topáter , where he died. Currently, he is considered one of the most important Bolivian heroes of the Pacific War.

Battle of Calama

He was one of the first of the civilians to volunteer with the colonel of militias, Don Ladislao Cabrera. It became his right arm for defense preparations. When everything was ready, Cabrera advised him to return to his family’s side. He replied: “I am Bolivian, this is Bolivia and I am staying here.”

During the Battle of Topáter, the 23 of March of 1879 , the first shock armed of war, Colonel Abaroa was part of a Bolivian outnumbered force whose mission was to defend a bridge (current Topáter bridge) crossing over the river Loa and was the access road on the south side to the city of Calama .

He launched into the fight with unshakable decision. It was not enough for him to stay in one of the trenches of the Topáter. He crossed the river leading Major Patiño, the Burgos officer and the 8 riflemen. Patiño, Burgos and the soldiers were taken prisoner. He remained in a ditch armed with his Winchester that he had carried from the beginning and two other collected from fallen companions at his side. The peon who came with him from San Pedro de Atacama helped him carry them.

Chilean second lieutenant Carlos Souper narrated in a letter that was published in a Valparaíso newspaper :

Eduardo Avaroa.

When the enemy abandoned the trenches, we advanced, jumping pits and fences, arriving at a small fence, where there were many bushes and a pit 10 yards long, with a little bridge less than 1 yard wide to pass through. We were surprised to see that a Bolivian from inside fired more than 100 men, between cavalry and the 2nd line, who were going to pass through there. Well friends, he gave us hard bullets and it was impossible to catch him no matter how much he wanted it.

Colonel Villagrán, in charge of the Chilean detachment and with whom Abaroa had met the previous day, considered Abaroa’s action as reckless but patriotic, for which at first he gave orders not to shoot him down. However, after hours had passed and with wounded Chilean soldiers, he ordered Abaroa to surrender.

Death in combat

Colonel Villagrán could not wait any longer since Eduardo Abaroa’s forces caused many casualties to the Chilean army and it was very difficult to find him in the trenches. Colonel Villagrán ordered the firing of the rifles. Of the almost one hundred rifles fired at him, three shots hit him, and he was left lying. While trying to continue shooting, he died to the amazement of the Chilean soldiers who saw him as a great threat, along with him 20 Bolivians had fallen.

After the battle, Abaroa’s body was buried with military honors by the Chilean Army, on March 23 , 1879 in the Calama cemetery. His burial was done with hero honors, twenty-one shots were fired in his honor and he was wrapped in the Chilean flag – in the absence of a Bolivian flag – for this posthumous tribute.

Knowledge in Bolivia

On March 23, 1952, for the 73rd anniversary of his death, the Bolivian Government repatriated Abaroa’s body, which was escorted to the border by the Chilean army with military honors, where it was received by its Bolivian counterpart.

In his exhumation, remains of the Chilean flag were recovered with which he was buried and casings of the bullets fired in his honor. He was later buried with honors and amidst an impressive crowd in the Plaza de La Paz named after the hero. Plaza Abaroa also contains a large bronze statue of the Bolivian martyr, presented in a challenging posture, as he would have been presented the moment before his death. Curiously, in life Abaroa had never visited the city of La Paz.

The patriot signed his entire life with “v”: Avaroa, but in the following decades he was cited in the bibliography with “b”: Abaroa. Thus his descendants were called.

His country honored him with a series of postage stamps that quoted his last words.

The Avaroa province was named in his honor, in addition to the Eduardo Abaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve.

March 23, the anniversary of Abaroa’s death, in Bolivia is remembered as the Day of the Sea, lost in the Pacific War in which Chile faced the Peru-Bolivian alliance.


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