The Crazy Dolores Cacuango

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“The Crazy” Dolores Cacuango was an indigenous rebel who fought for education, land, women and the indigenous people. She rescued the identity of her people, from whom they detached, with repudiation and mistreatment, their rights and their language.

Dolores was born on October 26, 1881 near Cayambe. Since she was born, she grew up deprived. Her parents had a huasipungo, but no salary. She worked, but had no education. This made her face her reality, from which she fled to create a better one.

At age 15, she left home because she did not want to get married and ended up working as a domestic worker in Quito in the home of a military man. She took advantage of the books in the library to teach herself to read and write in Spanish. And little by little, she realized that she had to return to the place where she had escaped to teach and fight.

There is a story in which they say that Dolores, or Mama Dulu, as they called her, met Juan Albamocho who, in a certain way, “discovered” the rights of the indigenous people. Juan used to disguise himself as a beggar and would stand outside the lawyers’ offices, where he would listen to all their conversations. In one of those he heard that indigenous people had rights. And that’s how she went to announce it to everyone she knew, and that’s how rebellion sparked in Mama Dulu.

Dolores Cacuango sought to strengthen the population against those who wanted to continue abusing them, especially their ignorance. In one movement, in 1926, she demonstrated the leadership she led, both in her power to organize and in her words. Her speeches, which she voiced in Quechua and Spanish, called directly to the hearts of the indigenous people. Her speeches demanded respect for everyone, especially for women, who also suffered rape, mistreatment and pregnancy from their employers.

A year after this movement, Dolores married Luis Catucuamba, with whom she would dedicate herself to agriculture and her only surviving son. Of the 9 she gave birth to, only Luis remained alive and followed the same search as her mother, a bilingual education for her people.

In 1944, The Crazy Dolores, named for her passionate and crude speeches and for her convening power, was part of the creation of the first indigenous organization in Ecuador, Federación Ecuatoriana de Indígenas (FEI) which was sponsored by the Communist Party of Ecuador.

Their fight would never end. As she became more active in the fight, she began to help in and out of Cayambe. She participated in the riots, helped to create unions and stubbornly kept the protection of women in the focus of her speeches, without neglecting the search for decent education, both in Quechua and Spanish, for the indigenous people. She knew that ignorance was what was crushing her people.

Thus, in 1945, she formed the first autonomous indigenous school together with María Luisa Gómez de la Torre, who would never leave her side. Apart from this initiative, Dolores was training leaders of different groups to continue the fight, that is part of her legacy.

But their fight turned into a threat. Soon, in the dictatorship of Ramón Castro Jijón, in 1963, the persecution began. He closed the schools that Dolores had opened in different locations, destroyed her house and forced her to live in secret. Which didn’t stop her. She gave herself ways to continue supporting those who could do it head-on, and she schemed with the movements to continue.

And that perseverance resulted in the approval of the Agrarian Reform. Although they did not comply with everything they demanded for their peoples, they demonstrated with an entry of 10,000 indigenous people to Quito led by La Loca Dolores, that the movement was strong.

Some of her goals were achieved in life, but it was her legacy, after her decadent death on April 23, 1971, that achieved her goal of providing bilingual indigenous education to her people. From her, her whole life remains as a record and as an example of struggle, as well as the phrase that has spread everywhere: ““ We are like the mountain grass that grows again after being cut, and like the grass of the mountain we will cover the world ”