Aspíllaga Family

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Aspíllaga Family

Aspíllaga Family, Peruvian plantation owners. The matriarch of the family, Catalina Ferrebú de Aspíllaga, immigrated to Lima from Chile in the 1820s. Sons Ramón (d. 1875) and Antonio went into the family's transport business, which operated between Lima and Callao. As partners of financier Julián Zaracondegui, they purchased a large property on the northern coast, Hacienda Cayaltí. Ramón managed the plantation with his sons Antero (1849–1927) and Ramón (1850–1940) and eventually took control of it. Earlier they had purchased a cotton farm in the Pisco Valley, Hacienda Palto. They stocked both enterprises with indentured Asians, whom they overworked with impunity. They then sank the profits into commercial urban real estate and developed close ties with English lenders. Younger brothers Baldomero and Ismael helped out, but the older sons Antero and Ramón ran the family business. The Aspíllagas became linked with other wealthy families of Lima through marriage, and they joined the prestigious Club Nacional.

In politics, the Aspíllagas helped organize the Civilista Party. The younger Ramón sat briefly in the national Chamber of Deputies. After 1906 Antero was elected to the Chamber of Deputies and then moved to the Senate, where he carefully guarded the interests of export planters. He lost as the candidate of the Civilista Party in the presidential elections of 1912 and 1919. On the eve of the ballot count in 1919, Augusto Leguía, a contender for president, conspired with the army to nullify the vote, despite the fact that he probably would have won. Thereafter the family concentrated on its plantation and on mining and banking. Family members sat on the board of directors of the powerful Banco Popular, from which they received large low-cost loans in the 1930s. On the plantations they fiercely opposed all efforts to organize labor and became hated opponents of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), which tried to organize field workers into unions and teach them to read in night classes. The Aspíllagas supported Luís Sánchez Cerro for president in 1931 and General Oscar Benavides thereafter. After World War II they withdrew from direct management of Hacienda Palto but continued in sugar despite shrinking returns. In 1968 the military reform government seized control of the Aspíllaga plantations, compensating the owners with government bonds.

See alsoPeru, Political Parties: Civilista Party; Plantations.


Dennis Gilbert, La oligarquía peruana: Historia de tres familias (1982).

Michael Gonzales, Plantation Agriculture and Social Control in Northern Peru, 1875–1933 (1985), esp. pp. 29-32, 166-194.

Additional Bibliography

McEvoy, Carmen. La utopía republicana: Ideales y realidades en la formación de la cultura política peruana, 1871–1919. Lima, Perú: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Fondo Editorial, 1997.

Peloso, Vincent C. Peasants on Plantations: Subaltern Strategies of Labor and Resistance in the Pisco Valley, Peru. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

                                      Vincent Peloso