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Today in Latin American History:  Costa Rica’s War Heroine Pancha Carrasco Was Born

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Today in 1826 Costa Rican war heroine and a woman ahead of her time, Pancha Carrasco was born in San Jose.

Carrasco was the first woman in the Costa Rican military, moved by duty to her country. Carrasco was an army medic and cook during the 1856 invasion of Costa Rica by American William Walker who was seeking to turn the country into an English-speaking colony under his control. When President Juan Rafael Mora called upon his countrymen to join in fighting invaders from Nicaragua – she heeded the call, one of the few women that did.

Walker had taken control of Nicaragua years earlier and sought to invade and take control of Costa Rica in 1856. It was during the Battles of Rivas that Carrasco felt compelled to take arms along with the men on the front line, becoming a national hero by filling her kitchen apron with bullets and fighting alongside the men. After battle she walked back, while helping treat the injured and help bury the dead, from the Nicaraguan front line to Costa Rica as cholera was devastating the troops.

Carrasco was already a pioneer learning how to read and write at a time when women were not allowed to go to school. In the 1840s before joining the national army she led a group of women fighters opposed to the dictatorship of Francisco Morazan while riding horseback, again something most women at that time did not do.

Costa Rica has honored this heroine with many honors including naming a military vessel after her and having a postage stamp made in her honor. In 1994 she was declared “Defender of the Patriotic Liberties” and in 2012 she was formally recognized as one of the country’s national heroes.

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