The Pincheira Brothers: the Chilean Rebels Defending Fernando VII


In the turbulent 19th century, Chile bore witness to a clash of cultures and ideologies. The Pincheira brothers emerged as key figures in this period, advocating for the rights of Fernando VII in the southern regions of Chile and Argentina. This article delves into their intriguing story, from humble beginnings to becoming legendary defenders of their cause.

The Pincheira Brothers

From Workers to Revolutionaries

At the turn of the 19th century, Chile was in upheaval. Criollos, descendants of Europeans, rebelled against the Spanish Crown, leading to the proclamation of an independent regime. The Andean independentist army, against all odds, defeated the royalists, solidifying Chile’s independence. However, life in southern Chile remained largely unchanged for the mixed-race majority, who watched these events from a distance. It was in this context that the Pincheira brothers emerged.

Between Robin Hood and Rustlers

The Pincheira brothers’ resistance strategy was marked by surprise attacks, looting, and clashes with revolutionaries, setting the stage for a veritable caste war. The aristocratic class supported the independence government, viewing it as an avenue to absolute power. For the common people, especially in southern Chile, the royalist cause represented a shield against the abuses of the wealthy. The Pincheira brothers quickly gained fame, earning respect from both the common folk and indigenous Mapuche communities.

The “Ché Guevara” of the King: A Popular Legend

As the royalist guerrilla began to wane, the Pincheira brothers rose to prominence, carving their place in history. Isolated and without external support, they led their followers to the east of the Andes, establishing a thriving community. With over two thousand men under their command, they operated as a quasi-indigenous society, blending Spanish and native traditions. Financing their operations through cattle theft and ransom payments, they also undertook social projects to garner support.

A Whole Myth of the Pampa

Amid Argentine civil wars and conflicts with Brazil, some independentistas sought security in collaboration with the Pincheira brothers. This led to a treaty where the eldest brother was named “general of the southern border,” marking the zenith of their power. However, in the ensuing decade, internal divisions, changes in regional authorities, and the death of some brothers weakened their influence. The eldest brother faced defeat and capture, eventually leading to a presidential pardon. The remnants of their guerrilla community dispersed, leaving behind a lasting legend.


The Pincheira brothers’ legacy endures as a testament to their resilience and commitment to their cause. From workers to revered leaders, they navigated a tumultuous period in Chilean history, leaving an indelible mark on the Southern Cone’s folklore. Their story serves as a reminder of the complexities and sacrifices inherent in the pursuit of ideals.

References and Bibliography

  1. Villalobos, S., Silva, O., & Silva, F. (1974). Historia De Chile. Editorial Universitaria.
  2. Barros Arana, D. (1884). Historia general de Chile. Editorial Universitaria.
  3. Pinto Rodríguez, J. (1972). Guerra a muerte: El exterminio de los indios amigos. Editorial Andrés Bello.
  4. Bengoa, J. (2003). Historia del pueblo mapuche: Siglos XIX y XX. LOM Ediciones.

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