José Olaya

José Olaya

Born 1782
Died June 29, 1823

José Silverio Olaya Balandra (Chorrillos, 1789 Lima,  June 29, 1823) was an Afro-Peruvian hero in the Peruvian War of Independence.[1]


Son of Jose Apolinario Olaya and Cordoba and doña Melchora Balandra.[2] He had 11 siblings. In the struggle for the independence of Peru, the hero acted as secret emissary carrying messages between the Government of Callao and Lima Patriots by swimming. He was discovered, arrested and subjected to torture and sentenced to death despite the torture, he never revealed his mission and willingly swallow the letters assigned to the mission. The independence of Peru, first declared in Huaura in November 1820 and July 28, 1821 in Lima, had become effective only in Lima and in the north, but Cuzco, the central highlands and south were still under the rule of the royal army.

When José de San Martín recognized the little support that give political and military forces, he resigned to the Constituent Congress of Peru, 1822. The congress appointed as President of the Republic José de la Riva Agüero and Congress President Francisco Xavier de Luna Pizarro. The royal army, taking advantage of the patriotic troops were far, took Lima and members of Congress felt compelled to take refuge in the Real Felipe Fortress in Callao. It is at this stage where José Olaya, a fisherman by trade, did not hesitate to serve as a link between the ships of the squadron Liberator (formed by units of the Republic of Chile) and the soldiers of the patriotic forces (Argentina, Chile and Peru) located in Lima, even if it meant walking across fields and swimming the sea.

Imprisoned by the royal army, he was tortured in order to obtain information about the patriotic forces. José Olaya Balandra was not frightened to pain. He suffered two hundred whips and two hundred beatings with sticks, not yielding even though they tore his nails. Finally, on the morning of June 29, 1823 he uttered the phrase:

If a thousand lives I had, gladly would I give them for my nation.

And then was shot in the passage of the Plaza Mayor of Lima. Now there is a street called Pasaje Olaya.


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