Juan Galindo (1802–1839) was a Central American explorer and army officer. He fought for Central American independence from Spain and led the charge that took the fortress at Omoa, the last Spanish stronghold in Central America.
Galindo was born in Dublin in 1802 as John Galindo. His father, Philemon Galindo was an Englishman of Spanish descent and his mother was Irish. He left for the New World before he was twenty and, although little is known about his early career, he appeared in Guatemala in 1827. His participation in the army of General Francisco Morazán led to him being made governor of Petén. He received a large land grant there and was charged with pacifying the Lacandon Maya.
Galindo's father was a government official in Costa Rica. Galindo worked for the government of the United Provinces of Central America. In addition to his military duties, his work included a stint as governor of Petén and diplomatic missions to Havana and the United States. During this time, he wrote accounts of local conditions, topography and landmarks.
Galindo also explored and wrote descriptive accounts of various ancient Maya ruins, including Palenque and Copán. In 1834, while serving as governor of Petén, he visited Copán and noted the sculpted high-relief stelae there. They are notable as they were first to point out the close resemblance between the contemporary Maya peoples and the carved images of the ancient Maya to be found amongst the ruins. Contrary to ideas that the ancient Maya architecture had been created by peoples such as ancient Egyptians, Polynesians, or even the Lost Tribes of Israel, this suggested that they were built by the contemporary Mayas' ancestors. In 1836, Galindo was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.
Galindo was a loyal supporter of the liberal central government of President Francisco Morazán. When civil war broke out in Central America, he fought in various battles, but was killed when a Nicaraguan army overran the city of Tegucigalpa.
- Drew 1999, p.50.
- Drew 1999, p.51.
- Drew 1999, pp.51–52.
- American Antiquarian Society Members Directory