Dolores Cacuango Quilo: Biography

María Dolores Cacuango Quilo (October 26, 1881 - April 23, 1971), was an indigenous activist and leader who promoted the struggle for the rights of Quechua and peasants in Ecuador. It is also considered an important figure in the feminism of the s. XX.

Cacuango concentrated his activism in favor of the defense of the lands, the abolition of slavery and the Quechua language. Thanks to this, he managed to found the Ecuadorian Federation of Indians (FEI), which became an important party in alliance with the Communist Party of Ecuador.

Biography of María Dolores Cacuango Quilo

Despite not having received formal education, Cacuango promoted the foundation of the first bilingual school (Quechua-Spanish), to bring knowledge to the children of indigenous and peasants.


  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 First years
    • 1.2 Marriage
  • 2 Political life
    • 2.1 Leader
    • 2.2 Participation in surveys
    • 2.3 Espionage
    • 2.4 Participation in the First Congress of Indigenous Communities
    • 2.5 Communist party and presidential campaign
    • 2.6 Invitation to international congresses
  • 3 Political activity in 1944
  • 4 Last years
  • 5 References


First years

María Dolores Cacuango Quilo (also known as Mamá Doloreyuk) was born in the San Pablo Urcu large estate in Cayambé, Pichincha Province, Ecuador; on October 26, 1881.

His parents were Andrea Quilo and Juan Cacuango, laborers or Indians, who were workers who had no salary. Due to the poor and humble environment where she grew up, Dolores was unable to attend school, so she learned to read and write as an adult.

When she was 15 years old, she started working as a domestic worker in the farm where her parents worked, in order to solve the debts acquired by them. It would be there where he would see the disparities between the life of the landlords and that of the Indians.

At the same time he learned Spanish, a language that he would also use to propagate his ideas years later during his life as an activist.


He married Luis Catucuamba in 1905 with whom he had nine children, of whom eight died due to the poor and unhealthy conditions in the house where they were staying in Cayambe.

He survived his eldest son, Luis Catucuamba, who would later become an educator for indigenous communities.

Political life

At the beginning of the s. XX began to produce a series of pro-indigenous emancipations and movements with the intention of publicizing the rights of the same in the haciendas and in the lands where they worked.

In fact, it is estimated that the first contact with the policy that Cacuango had was when listening to the exclamations of the Indian Juan Albamocho in rallies organized in Cayambe. Albamocho used to disguise himself as a beggar to attend the conversations that took place in the law firms.

Dolores was also influenced by the stories of the uprising in Zuleta in 1891 and the uprising of the Indians of Píllaro in 1898.

He even witnessed the revolution alfarista, which nationalized the ecclesiastical assets. Although it was thought that these lands would be returned to the Indians, they were actually administered by the Public Assistance Board.


In 1926 he managed to achieve political prominence by becoming a leader during the popular rebellion of Cayambe, led by the Indian Jesús Gualavisí. In the beginning, the promoter of the protest was the Union of Peasant Workers, a union that also formed part of other demonstrations and strikes in the area.

At first, Caguango stood out for having an energetic speech in Quechua and Spanish, as well as for his ability as a leader.

Participation in surveys

Dolores was part of the indigenous uprisings in the haciendas of Pesillo and Moyurco, in his hometown.

These sought the end of mistreatment and abuse towards indigenous people, the elimination of compulsory work for women and an increase in payment for the hours completed. Despite the repression against the demonstration, the proposed objectives were achieved.


Cacuango and other groups of women, carried out tasks of recruitment, espionage and defense in different events.

Participation in the First Congress of Indigenous Communities

In 1931 he participated in the First Congress of Indigenous Communities, promoted by Jesús Gualavisí, which served for the organization of the left in the country.

However, the main leaders - among whom was Dolores - suffered reprisals from the president of the moment, Isidro Ayora.

Before the congress was concentrated, the army closed the roads and then imprisoned several leaders. They also set fire to the homes of the settlers; Several people, including Cacuango, lost their possessions.

Communist party and presidential campaign

As a result of these events, Dolores joined the Communist Party as a representative of the indigenous communities.

For 1934 he collaborated in the presidential campaign of the candidate Ricardo Paredes, when he made initiatives focused on the peasants and indigenous people.

Invitation to international congresses

She was invited by the Confederation of Workers of Latin America (CTAL), a congress that was held in Cali, Colombia. There he manifested the abuses in which the farm workers were exposed by the government of the day.

Political activity in 1944

Probably, 1944 was the most active year for Cacuango: it formed part of the revolutionary days and on May 28 of that same year, he led the assault on the Carabineros barracks in Cayambe.

He also partnered with another indigenous leader, Tránsito Amaguaña, to form the Ecuadorian Federation of Indians (FEI), an organization that promotes human rights, especially for the defense of the rights of the less favored classes.

Cacuango was aware that illiteracy and ignorance of Spanish represented serious problems in the indigenous community. For this reason he founded the first bilingual school (Quechua-Spanish) in 1946. This was the first of a system of educational centers that were located in several towns of Cayambe.

It should be noted that these schools were also subject to raids by the army and received very little support from public assistance. The same settlers found themselves in need of contributions to keep them active, although 18 years later they were definitively closed.

Last years

During the 50s and 60s, Cacuango began to have a less active life within politics. He remained in the Communist Party but without being part of the FEI.

On the other hand, during the dictatorship of General Ramón Castro Jijón in 1963, she was persecuted and even described as the Loca Cacuango.

A year later, thanks to conflicts and social pressures, the agrarian reform was approved. As it did not meet the needs of peasants and indigenous peoples, Cacuango led a mobilization with more than 10,000 indigenous people from Cayambe to the capital.

Dolores Cacuango died in 1971 after spending several years in solitude and under threat from the government. However, her history and legacy were recognized over time, until she was considered one of the most important figures in Ecuador and Latin America.


  1. Brief history of Dolores Cacuango. (2009). In Women who make history - brief biographies. Retrieved: March 2, 2018. In Women who make history- breces biographies of
  2. Dolores Cacuango. (s.f.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved: March 2, 2018. In Wikipedia from
  3. Dolores Cacuango. (s.f.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved: March 2, 2018. In Wikipedia of
  4. Dolores Cacuango (1881-1971). Mama Dolores. (s.f.). In Blog: artists or warriors. Recovered: March 2, 2018. In Blog: artists or warriors of
  5. Kersffeld, Daniel. (2014). Dolores Cacuango, unrepeatable leader . In The Telegraph. Retrieved: March 2, 2018. In El Telégrafo of
  6. Transit Amaguaña. (s.f.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved: March 2, 2018. In Wikipedia of

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