Saturday 1 March 2014

Javiera Carrera, Revolutionary Icon

Francisca Xaviera Eudoxia Rudecinda Carmen de los Dolores de la Carrera y Verdugo (Santiago, Chile, 1st March 1781 – Santiago, Chile, 20th August 1862)

Javiera Carrera, 1813
Javiera Carrera, 1813

To Chile today to meet Francisca Xaviera Eudoxia Rudecinda Carmen de los Dolores de la Carrera y Verdugo; better known as Javiera Carrera, she fought alongside her family for the freedom of her country.

The Mother of Chile was born into an aristocratic family to parents Ignacio de la Carrera y Cuevas and Francisca de Paula Verdugo Fernández de Valdivieso y Herrera. Beautiful, intelligent and strongly willed, Javiera attracted many admirers in her youth and at the age of 15 married Manuel de la Lastra y de la Sotta, with whom she had two children. A widow within two years, she took for her second husband a Spanish aristocrat, Pedro Díaz de Valdés, and the couple had five children together though they eventually became estranged.

Javiera fought fiercely for at the forefront of the struggle for an independent Chile alongside her brothers, Luis, José Miguel and Juan José. Javiera proved herself a powerful and dedicated woman, even sewing the first Chilean flag and becoming known throughout the country for her efforts on behalf of independence. She was also keenly aware of the position of women in her country and spoke passionately on the subject of education for girls.

When the country gained its independence in 1811, the Carreras were swept into positions of power; as the political situation settled cities of the family emerged, who questioned the power and apparent haughty attitude of the siblings. 

Javiera Carrera, 1850
Javiera Carrera photographed in 1850

In 1814 the Spanish regained control of Chile and Javiera was left with no choice but to go into exile. She and her brothers travelled to Argentina, where Javiera was placed under arrest and held in a Buenos Aires convent. She escaped her prison and fled via boat to Uruguay, where she heard the devastating news that her three brothers had been executed.

It would be three years before Javiera could return to Chile, where she devoted herself to having the bodies of her brothers repatriated from their graves in Mendoza, Argentina. This was finally done in 1828 and Javiera finally retired to the countryside, where she lived out the rest of her days in peace surrounded by friends and family.

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