The Huaso and the Washerwoman by Mauricio Rugendas (1835)

Banditry (Spanish: bandidaje) was a considerable phenomenon in 19th century and early 20th century Central Chile and Araucanía. Many bandits achieved legendary status for their brutality and others for being regarded folk heroes.[1] The bandits usually preyed on haciendas and their inquilinos.[1]

The Chilean War of Independence (1810–1826) shaped an era of banditry as the war transitioned into irregular warfare known as Guerra a muerte (1819–1821) which was particularly destructive for the Biobío area and ended only to see a period of outlaw banditry occur until the late 1820s.[2] The rise of banditry made travel dangerous; indeed, 1812 is held as the date from where travel between Concepción and Santiago was not longer safe for small groups.[3] The Pincheira brothers, a royalist outlaw group based on indigenous territory east of the Andes, was defeated and dissolved in 1832.[4]

In the words of Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, banditry was a "national plague, worse than lepra or cholera."[3] Following Chilean victories in the War of the Pacific against Peru, veterans begun to return in 1881, leading to a surge in banditry.[4] The return of the veterans coincided with the Chilean Army's crushing of Mapuche resistance during the Occupation of Araucanía (1861–1883). This allowed opportunities for bandits and veterans-turned-bandits to immigrate to the newly opened Araucanía territory,[5][4] leading to sudden rise in violence in a region that was recovering from Chilean-Mapuche warfare.[6] Bandits that immigrated to Araucanía allied with displaced Mapuche and made cattle theft their chief business.[5] Stolen cattle was sold in marketplaces through the region.[5]

Thus Araucanía continued to be an insecure zone for many years.[6] Assaults and robbery were common in the region.[7] Because of this until the 1920s carbines, revolvers, and other firearms were common in the households of Araucanía.[7] Banditry in Araucanía and Central Chile began to be suppressed in the late 19th century with the creation of the rural police Cuerpo de Gendarmes para las Colonias, a predecessor to Chile's main police force Carabineros de Chile.[1] Hernán Trizano led this policing force until 1905.[8]

Notable bandits

Independence Era

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Bandidaje rural en Chile central (1820-1920)". Memoria Chilena (in Spanish). Biblioteca Nacional de Chile. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  2. ^ Villalobos et al. 1974, pp. 406–413.
  3. ^ a b Salinas 1986, p. 59.
  4. ^ a b c "Bandidaje rural en Chile central (1820-1920): Cronología". Memoria Chilena (in Spanish). Biblioteca Nacional de Chile. Retrieved 30 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d Salinas 1986, p. 60.
  6. ^ a b Cádiz Villarroel, Francisco Felipe (2013). "Chilenización institucional y progreso en Villarrica, Chile, 1900-1920" (PDF). Procesos Históricos (in Spanish). XII (23): 58–73. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  7. ^ a b Ferrando 1986, p. 620
  8. ^ "Historia de Carabineros de Chile". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2013.