Historical Figures

Alfonso Ugarte

Alfonso Ugarte Vernal , son of Narciso Ugarte and Rosa Vernal. Born on August 2, 1847 and died, heroically, at the age of 33 , defending the national flag from the hands of the enemy during the battle of Arica. Educated in mercantile schools in Valparaíso and Europe (1861-1867), he ventured with marked success into agriculture, commerce and the exploitation of saltpeter. He was also an efficient public servant after the ferocious earthquake of 1869, as mayor of Iquique (1876) and member of the city's charity. He was going to travel to Europe again for business matters of the firm Ugarte, Zeballos y Compañía that he had founded, when the war with Chile broke out (April 1879).

Despite such a difficult situation, he decided to stay and invest his personal fortune in favor of the defense of the country; he started a collection to support the troops and paid, with his own money, for uniforms, supplies and pack animals. He commanded the Iquique , a battalion that he also financed personally, participating with him in the battles of San Francisco and Tarapacá (November 1879). In the latter he was wounded in the head, despite which he traveled the battlefield to contain the repase of those who fell in the war. He did not want to withdraw from the war despite having been attacked by malaria and, from Arica, he swore to the flag given by the ladies of his homeland to the Iquique battalion.
Beside Francisco Bolognesi, he heroically participated in the battle of Arica (June 7, 1880) and, when he was surrounded by the enemy at the nose, he jumped into the sea defending the honor of the national flag. Historian José A. del Busto has reconstructed that glorious moment as follows: