Home exhibitions Hilarion: Memoirs of a Triqui hero of the independence

Hilarion: Memoirs of a Triqui hero of the independence


Rafael Doniz and Bernardo Porraz

Juan de Córdova Library of research
San Pablo Cultural Center, Independencia 904, Colonia Centro, Oaxaca, México
september 13th to december 7th, 2014

Hilarion is the name of a heroic character in the collective memory of the Triqui people of San Andrés Chicahuaxtla, but also that of a rebellious man forgotten by others. His feats were achieved in the post-Independence era, when men and women with strong personalities took advantage of political turbulence to pursue local interests outside the control of the dominant state forces. Most of them, including Hilarion, fell into official oblivion, labeled as crooks and bandits; they are stray bullets in the formation of the nation. Their lives were buried as adverse notes in the official archives, from where they can be exhumed only through academic research.

However, after almost two centuries, Hilarion still lives in the tales and legends of the Triqui people, which are passed orally from generation to generation. Over the years, his figure acquired legendary qualities and a certain mysticism, typical of a hero of legends. The tendency to literary creation -inherent in any oral text- shaped his character as an example of an advocate of Triqui interests in times of great conflict. His actions against the abusive Spanish ranchers and his ability to anticipate the moves of the authorities that were after him made him a kind of “Chucho El Roto” who hid for years in the caves of the mountains in the Triqui territory. Even today the caves occupied by Hilarión are identifiable, and one of them is still known as such: “the cave of Hilarión”. When the Triquis suffered the continuous mistreatment and gradual invasion of their lands, Hilarion helped them, distributing gold in exchange for tortillas and challenging local and state authorities. According to some people, he was even a character with extraordinary powers, especially nahualistic, who during the persecution by the authorities was able to become a ‘lion’ of the mountain or a rotten branch by the side of the road, thus avoiding being found and mocking the power that was adverse to the Triqui people’s interests. His death -according to the Triquis- was the result to the betrayal of one of his compadres, who invited him to drink, only to turn him in to his enemies. In this way, the story acquired a moral message that calls for caution in the fight against the interests of forces outside the community.

Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova