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Andrés de Santa Cruz

In office
January 27, 1827 – June 9, 1827
Preceded by Simón Bolívar
Succeeded by Manuel Salazar y Baquíjano

In office
August 11, 1836 – August 25, 1838
Preceded by Felipe Santiago Salaverry
Succeeded by Agustín Gamarra

In office
May 24, 1829 – February 20, 1839
Preceded by José Miguel de Velasco
Succeeded by José Miguel de Velasco

In office
October 28, 1836 – February 20, 1839

Born December 5, 1792(1792-12-05)
La Paz, Bolivia
Died September 25, 1865 (aged 72)
Beauvoir, France
Spouse(s) Francisca Cernadas

Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana (December 5, 1792, La Paz, Bolivia – September 25, 1865, Beauvoir, France) was President of Peru (1827) and Bolivia (1829-1839). He also served as Supreme Protector of the short-lived Peru-Bolivian Confederation (1836-1839), a political entity created mainly by his personal endeavors.


Early years

Santa Cruz was born on December 5, 1792 in the city of La Paz, which at that time had been recently transferred from the Viceroyalty of Peru to the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata. His father was a Spaniard, José Santa Cruz y Villavicencio, and his mother an Indian, Juana Basilia Calahumana, cacique of the town of Huarina. In later years, Andrés de Santa Cruz would claim that through his mother he descended directly from Inca rulers. He began his studies in his hometown at the San Francisco Convent and continued them at the San Antonio Abad Seminary in the city of Cuzco, but in 1809 he deserted and returned to La Paz.

Military career

Upon returning home, his father enrolled him as an alférez in the Dragones de Apolobamba Regiment of the Spanish Army. As such, he participated in the battles of Guaqui (July 20, 1811), Vilcapugio (October 1, 1813) and Ayohuma (November 14, 1813) where Argentine Independentist forces attempting to liberate the Upper Peru (modern day Bolivia) from the Spanish rule, were defeated. He also took part in the campaigns to suppress the insurrection of Mateo Pumacahua (1814-1815), further demonstrating his loyalty to the Spanish Crown. His luck run out at the Battle of La Tablada (April 15, 1817) where he was captured and taken as prisoner of war to Buenos Aires. Nevertheless, he managed to escape, first to Rio de Janeiro and then to Lima. As a reward he was named Commander of Chorrillos.

War of Independence

At the time of the landing of the rebel army of José de San Martín on the Peruvian coast, Santa Cruz was commander of militia forces in the region of Huarochirí. In that position, he fought against the independetist in the Battle of Pasco (December 6, 1820), but the royalists were defeated and Santa Cruz captured. Taken to San Martin's headquarters at Huaura he decided to switch sides and joined the Patriot Army (January 8, 1821). Santa Cruz ascended rapidly, reaching the rank of Colonel later that year and that of Brigade General in 1822 for leading Peruvian troops at the Battle of Pichincha (24 May 1822). He revolted against the Peruvian Congress on February 26, 1823, and forced it to elect José de la Riva Agüero as President. As commander of a Peruvian Army expedition he occupied the port of Arica and defeated a royalist army at the Battle of Zepita (August 27, 1823) but failed to exploit his victory and retreated hastily.

When Simón Bolívar assumed the presidency of Peru (February 17, 1824), Santa Cruz joined his army and was named Chief of Staff of the Peruvian Division. In that condition, he participated of the Battle of Junín (August 6, 1824). Afterwards, he was named Prefect of Ayacucho and then Chief of Staff of the Patriot Army during the campaign for the liberation of Bolivia. As a reward for his actions he received the titles of Marshal and Prefect of Chuquisaca on April 1825. Named President of the Government Council in Lima, he was left in charge of the Peruvian Executive after Bolívar returned to Gran Colombia on September 4, 1826, until the collapse of the Bolivarian regime in Peru on January 27, 1827. He then temporarily assumed the post of President until June 9, 1827, when José La Mar was elected by Congress.

President of Bolivia

Removed from power, Santa Cruz was named Peruvian ambassador to Chile, but he was recalled to Bolivia where he had been proclaimed as President. Sworn in on May 24, 1829, he found a country afflicted by endemic internal disorders and very near to bankruptcy. Measures undertaken to resolve these problems included purging conspirators, reforming and strengthening the Army, reforming the bureaucracy, reforming public finances, issuing new currency, issuing a new Constitution, issuing a new Civil Code based on the Napoleonic Code and establishing Cobija as a free port. The authoritarian regime imposed by Santa Cruz brought stability to Bolivia at a time when most countries in Latin America faced widespread unrest. Furthermore, it formed a solid base from which to pursue his main project, the Peru-Bolivian Confederation.

Peru-Bolivian Confederation

Flag of the Peru-Bolivian Confederation.

As President of Bolivia, Santa Cruz instigated several failed plots to achieve a political union with Peru, taking advantage of that country's chronic political unrest. His best opportunity came in 1835 when the Peruvian President Luis José de Orbegoso requested his assistance to fight the rebel army of Felipe Santiago Salaverry. Santa Cruz defeated Peruvian caudillo Agustín Gamarra at the Battle of Yanacocha (August 13, 1835) and Salaverry at the Battle of Uchumayo (February 4, 1836) after which Salaverry was summarily executed.

At the instigation of Santa Cruz, a Congress of the Peruvian southern departments (Arequipa, Ayacucho, Cuzco and Puno) gathered at Sicuani and declared the establishment of the Republic of South Peru (March 17, 1836). A similar assembly at Huaura of the northern departments (Amazonas, Junín, La Libertad and Lima) founded the Republic of North Peru (August 11, 1836). Both recognized Santa Cruz as Supreme Protector with extensive powers that enabled him to create the Peru-Bolivian Confederation on October 28, 1836. He then summoned to the city of Tacna representatives of both legislatures together with those of the Bolivian Congress assembled at Tapacarí to establish a Constitution for the new State. Under his direction, they signed a pact on May 1, 1837 which named him Supreme Protector for a ten-year period.

Diego Portales

Invested with considerable powers, Santa Cruz endeavoured to establish in Peru the same type of authoritarian order he had imposed in Bolivia. He issued a Civil Code, a Penal Code, a Trade Regulation, a Customs Regulation and reorganized tax collection procedures allowing an increase in state revenues while restraining expenditures. However, the Confederation generated resistances among several groups in both countries, which resented the dilution of national identities. An important number of Peruvian politicians opposed to the idea of the Confederation fled to Chile where they received support from the powerful Minister Diego Portales. Together they amassed a military expedition against Santa Cruz, led by Admiral Manuel Blanco Encalada, but they were encircled by Santa Cruz and had to surrender by the Treaty of Paucarpata, signed on November 17, 1837. The Chilean Government organized a second expedition, which defeated the Supreme Protector at the Battle of Yungay (January 20, 1839) and forced the dissolution of the Confederation.

Later years

After resigning from his post as Supreme Protector (February 20, 1839), Santa Cruz fled to Ecuador from where he plotted unsuccessfully to regain power. On October 13, 1843 he disembarked at Camarones in the Peruvian province of Tarapacá but was captured while trying to reach Bolivia. Delivered to the Chilean Government, he was imprisoned at Chillán from 1844 until 1846 when he was freed. He was named ambassador to several European countries by Manuel Belzú (1848-1855) and then ran for president of Bolivia but was defeated by General Jorge Córdova. After staying for a while in Argentina, he returned to France where he lived the rest of his life at Versailles. He died at Beauvoir, near Nantes on September 25, 1865. One hundred years later, in 1965, the remains of the old Marshal were repatriated from France by the military government of the day and reinterred ceremoniously beside the Presidential Palace in Bolivia.


  • Basadre, Jorge, Historia de la República del Perú. Editorial Universitaria, 1983.
  • Tauro del Pino, Alberto, Enciclopedia Ilustrada del Perú. Peisa, 2003.

See also

Preceded by
Simón Bolívar
President of the Government Council of Perú
1826 – 1827
Succeeded by
José de La Mar
Preceded by
José Miguel de Velasco
President of Bolivia
1829 – 1839
Succeeded by
José Miguel de Velasco
Preceded by
Confederation created
Supreme Protector of the Confederacy
1836 – 1839
Succeeded by
Confederation dissolved


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