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Martina Chapanay: the cuyana avenger

Who was the montonera gaucha Martina Chapanay, avenger of “Chacho” Peñaloza and icon of the female force in the midst of colonial struggle. His life does not appear in books, but is present in the popular imaginary of San Juan.

Urban Legends
Martina Chapanay

 This woman is a historical icon of San Juan and Argentina.   Its name  echoes by its absence  in history manuals, but it  rumbles in the popular imaginary.  Martina Chapanay  was a chasqui  of the Army of the Andes, a bandolera, member of the gauchas montoneras and sergeant of the San Juan police, but was also much more...


The beginning of a legend

 He was born in Valle del Zonda , province of San Juan. Some say it was February 22, and  in his honor they wanted to establish the day of the Cuyana woman.   However, there is no certainty about the date of this fact. She was the daughter of a Huarpe warlord of that name and a white captive. His mother was a woman of great goodness and devotee Christian,  who turned her home  into a school for local children.  From it, he learned the values and the kindness of giving. From him, his thirst for struggle.  

Martina, at a young age, learned to  orient herself in the valleys and mountains.   And also to  ride and tame horses  . He knew how to handle  the bow and the boleadoras,  when none of that was a propitious task for a woman. Little by little, he began to position himself  at the height of any gaucho man : He learned to fight and became the protagonist of stories where he  stands out for his audacity and bravery.  


But his story was real

 Despite so much symbolism and mysticism printed in its history,  reality accompanies these heroic attitudes.  There are records of his bold passage through this world,  and it is known that he fought until the last minute.  From 1822, Martina was part of the montonera that consolidated  Facundo Quiroga 's army. Obviously,  he took part in the battles that the Rioja warlord gave.  

But after the  murder of Tigre de los Llanos , she returns to the community for a certain time. Until  the politics of Buenos Aires centralism,  which sheared the inhabitants of the provinces,  leads her back to the fight.   He quickly found his way and  joined the forces of the Sanjuanino warlord Nazario Benavídez.  Martina Chapanay continued to maintain her federal militancy,  participating in the battle  of Angaco and the Sitio to San Juan.


New winds of revenge

In 1859, Benavídez was murdered by  Sanjuanino liberals, friends of Sarmiento. She refolds and then  approach the montonera of Ángel Vicente Peñaloza, aka “El Chacho”.  And it stands out again for his bravery and bravery.  For the third time he sees his boss die in the hands of the enemy:  this time it was El Chacho.

Martina returns to Valle Fértil, the area of her ancestors and resides there until  she faces death face to face,  and is defeated .   He died in 1874, in the  town of Mogna, where a wooden cross  indicates where it was buried.


Argentinian Heroine

 His innumerable and heroic exploits are part of the true story,   which includes women as protagonists.  His passing through this life left an  indelible memory in the collective memory of the Cuyano people .  Her image of a brave woman , committed to defending the poorest families and claiming the rights of those impoverished provinces, persists in the west of the country. yet, their influence does not appear in books, academies or schools. Today,  only a popular cueca remembers it and makes a dont in the popular imaginary  so that its history does not forget among many more...

 “ Martina Chapanay was the nobility of the place.  

 Good cuyanita with a brunette face, 

 brave and serene must not forget you.”  

La Martina Chapanay — Cueca de Hilario Paintings


Publication Date: 10/04/2021

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