Ramon Castilla y Marquesado was a Peruvian caudillo and President of Peru four times. His earliest prominent appearance in Peruvian history began with his participation in a commanding role of the army of the Libertadores that helped Peru become an independent nation. Later, he led the country when the economy boomed due to the exploitation of guano deposits. Castilla's government abolished slavery and modernized the state.
Born in Tarapaca (then part of the Viceroyalty of Peru), the second son of Pedro Castilla, of Spanish-Argentine origin, and Juana Marquezado de Romero, who was of part Aymara descent. In 1807 he traveled to Lima at the age of 10 to study with his brother and later continued his education in Concepcion, Chile, also helping his brother with his business. In 1817 he enrolled in the Spanish colonial army during Peru's War of Independence, fighting against the independence forces sent by Argentine general Jose de San Martin.
Castilla became a prisoner of war, but managed to escape and returned to Peru in 1821, deserting the Spanish Army and offering his services to Jose de San Martin, who enrolled him in the Patriot Army with the rank of lieutenant (a rank he had held with the Spanish Army). When San Martin resigned as "Protector of Peru", Castilla sided with Jose de la Riva Aguero, who in turn shortly became president in 1823.
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