In February 1878, Bolivia established a new tax on the Chilean company “Compañía de Salitres y Ferrocarriles de Antofagasta (CSFA), violating the 1874 treaty that prohibited the application of new taxes, generating protests in Chile. On your side. The Bolivian government of Hilarion Daza, considered the matter as internal, to which Chile sent a warning saying that it was no longer subject to the 1874 treaty.
Exactly on February 13, the Bolivian army was installing itself in its battalions and regiments.
This caused the entry of Chileans into Bolivian territory, just at 23 °.
At 24 °, a small town was located between two descending branches of the Andean mountain range, which, according to grandfather Huáscar, sitting on the padded bench and gently installed by Ernesto, owner of the only stall selling magazines and national newspapers and The town's international events are located in the center of the central square of that border town that had the banks of the Loa River as its limits (see maps), in the department of Litoral, which celebrated the passage of the soldiers to the capital.
With a little more than a thousand inhabitants, its central square was full of people, clutching flags, jars of toast, mote con quesillo and roasted legs of lamb, destined for "the courageous defenders of the land", who received all food and drink in the mouth, in addition to gifts, flowers from admirers at every corner.
-The soldiers are arriving! The people crowded to see them shouted happily.
The applause and "cheers" invaded the roads parallel to the river, with people who went from one side to the other, in the desire to carry pots of food, soft drinks, bread, fruits, as well as all kinds of food for the colorados, well as jars all the joy stamped on their faces that showed the simplicity of their lives in their toothless mouths.
The children of the town shot out to see what was happening, accompanying the band.
- They are the Colorado of Bolivia! - exclaimed the people, applauding the prestigious infantry.
One of them in particular, named Juan - although called Juancito by everyone - left his little wooden box where he kept rags, brushes as well as bitumen on one side, sitting on a large stone inside the crystal clear river that crossed the town of north to south,
Embraced by the music, Juancito, still sitting on the rock, began to kick the water, following the musical cadence.
- nobody follows the band like me! - He shouted, continually hitting the box, placed under his arm.
Then, the parade of soldiers little by little skirted the river where he was with other children playing, following the path to the central square, a block away.
Without hesitation, Juancito ran across the river, passed over stones and river mud, to join the band that accompanied the soldiers, many of them, volunteers
Come! ! - He told the other boys who came out of their houses to see the band, the only one in the world capable of lifting the people out of the affliction they were in because of the war
I thought we were in a war, said Grandfather González - an old man who spent the whole day sitting on a bench gently padded by Ernesto Orellana Antezana, owner of the stall selling national and international magazines and newspapers, passing a bag of oranges, from where they went removing and peeling with teeth and nails. ?????
In the square, the children and young people of the town made noise, shouted, ran, and some even played ball, like Juan Pinto, for whom those days of war would never be forgotten - for the excitement of being summoned.
- But if you are not old enough to be summoned - Nildita, Ernesto's assistant who was sitting next to the grandparents, was saying to him like everyone else.
It is when Genoveva Ríos went on one of her walks around town, and she stayed in the square, to, let's say, listen to the music.
- Hi Gen! - Nildita greeted, offering a stool for her to sit on.
"Have an orange," Ernesto offered, with a newspaper bearing the colors of the national flag: red, yellow and green. She looked at the flag, for more than five seconds.
- how is your dad? - Nildita asked her, hugging her, because the girl was an orphan.
"Good, thank you," she replied.
- that good!
- Are you going to war? - I ask grandfather, curious.
-As a policeman you should not go because he has to take care of the safety of our people
- Very well !
- But I would like to go ...
-? Your ? Children cannot go to war - Ernesto commented, putting his hand on his big round belly, a symbol of wealth and glory for those who had it.
- does not matter!
- No, it is not. They say that the enemy's troops are already in the desert, always advancing. Soon they are here.
- Well, I'm not afraid of them!
That same afternoon, the government released an official statement:
The government, in order to protect citizens from enemy attacks, has been obliged to respond to them, and has declared war against the enemy. We are thus asking for the collaboration of the entire population to evacuate to the shelters determined for this purpose, together with the compulsory help of those over eighteen years of age, in addition to volunteering by all citizens in the care of our brave soldiers who fight against the enemy."
-Well, it is better that we go and see each other after the conflicts - Grandfather sentenced, grabbing his cane to leave.
- Yes. It's better - they all said, with fear in their eyes.
And they left, saying goodbye between tears and delayed hugs.
Joy became sadness, and the square gradually became empty
Only Genoveva remained seated, waiting for her father.
Suddenly, she hears a balboon: a group of enemy soldiers entered the square, breaking the benches of the square
Genoveva hid behind a tree, and, as they advanced, she turned around, as if for her not to be seen
The four men went to the mayor's office, where a national flag was raised.
Ellis soon wanted to rip her off her mast
And with the help of a tree trunk, they pulled it, setting fire.
- Damn! - exclaimed Genoveva who, horrified, found a national flag in the entrance garden of the volunteer building, on the front sidewalk
Taking advantage of the fact that these men laughed and seemed drunk, she crossed the square, hiding behind light trees, until she reached the central statue. She stayed there for a minute, until she reached Ernesto's post, staying behind the post.
She again she hid between the trees, until she reached the volunteering, closed.
And without looking to the sides, she jumped up and tore off the volunteer flag, a brand new flag that carried the national emblem
She folded it up, and put it inside her pocket, like a handkerchief.
At that very moment, her father arrives, skirting the walls of the houses, and pointing at the group of enemies.
She runs towards hers, about ten meters, pulling the flag out of her pocket and handing it to her father, surprised by the girl's bravery.
-Very good - she said, covering her head with her coat, listening to a transmission on the megaphones installed around the square, commanded by Prefect Zapata:
- “Sent by my government to occupy the Prefecture of this department, I will only be able to leave by force. You can use this one, which will find Bolivian citizens unarmed, but willing to sacrifice and martyrdom. There are no forces with which to counter three Chilean armored ships, but we will not abandon this port until after the armed invasion is consumed. From now on and for when there is reason, I protest on behalf of Bolivia and my government against the unspeakable attack that is being carried out. God save you. "
It was February 14, when the invasion of Chilean troops was officially declared.However, it is said that on May 26, from 10 in the morning, the Chilean artillery broke fire against the troops of the established alliance among the allies, including Juancito Pinto, who carried out orders with drumbeats guiding the deployments of Bolivian soldiers.
- Stay in the trench! - They were the orders he received from superiors.
The little one fulfilled them almost always
However, after an attack by the enemy troops, he saw that one of the enemy soldiers had fallen right into the trench.
- He has a gun! - He exclaimed, he stepping on the body of the enemy soldier, and taking the weapon from him - the one that was large and heavy.
- It does not matter ! What matters is that with this weapon, I am going to defend my country
And Juancito came out of the trench, with a pistol in his hand, without looking that there were other men behind him.
Armed enemies, who mercilessly fired at him.