Túpac Amaru II. Public domain.
236 years ago last May, José Gabriel Condorcanqui – known as Túpac Amaru -, his wife, Commander Micaela Bastidas, Bartolina Sisa and other heroes were viciously murdered by the "civilized" Spaniards, eager to keep the American colonies under the rule of the Spanish Crown to plunder their riches.
The fight of Túpac Amaru and the brave Tupamarista women was a continental political struggle which shook the structures of colonialism in America. He advocated radical change in the economic, social and political structures, he sought liberation from the Spanish yoke, and gave his life for his ideals.
The fight of Túpac Amaru and the brave Tupamarista women was a continental political struggle which shook the structures of colonialism in America.
His sacrifice helped to change the framework of colonial domination and, eventually, the independence of Latin America. But not only this: his ideas live on with increasing vibrancy.
Túpac Amaru was the predecessor of Latin American independence: 30 years after his uprising, the American revolution broke out. The American Revolution came in 1774, the French Revolution in 1789. Between the two, the official or Catholic-nationalist historiography finds absolutely nothing to say until the wars of 1810 and 1824. Nevertheless, Boleslao Lewin, Rodolfo Kusch, José Carlos Mariátegui, Alcira Argumedo, Felipe Pigna and Enrique Dussel have offered a different outlook on the real dimension of the Túpac Amaru rebellion.
Túpac Amaru revisited
The so-called first American independence took place from November 1779 to May 1780. The initial 7 months of liberation were later extended until 1784 by the indigenous leaders of Peru, Upper Peru, Bolivia, and northern Argentina, where the rebellion’s social content was welcomed with enthusiasm by the different communities.
Túpac Amaru was the predecessor of Latin American independence: 30 years after his uprising, the American revolution broke out.
This is what the social, libertarian program proposed by Túpac Amaru consisted in:
1. The abolition of slavery
2. The abrogation of taxes, of the ban on the course and free sale of some goods, alcabalas (sales taxes), customs, cadastres, diezmos (the so-called “king’s tenth” tariff) and quintos (a 5% due).
3. The freeing of slaves, indigenous people and mestizos from sweatshops, mandatory public service and master’s duties.
4. The restitution of all ancestral lands to their rightful owners.
5. The redistribution of goods and properties among the poorest.
6. The restitution of women’s power and respect to women.
7. The integration of all regions for the liberation from the invaders.
8. The freedom and independence of the peoples of America to form an Indian-Mestizo-Creole nation on the basis of recognition and harmony.
Túpac Amaru’s political project, with total disobedience at its core, was integral, unitary and inclusive and it encountered a positive response in many sectors. His key proposal was the creation of an Indian-Mestizo-Creole nation in which we could all live and share in harmony, as opposed to the Spanish-Mestizo-Creole-British nation, set in a European mould and based on the permanent extermination of the native peoples.
Túpac Amaru’s political project, with total disobedience at its core, was integral, unitary and inclusive and it encountered a positive response in many sectors.
The following is one of the public proclamations Túpac Amaru made over and over demanding freedom and independence for the peoples of Abya Yala - that is, America:
"I, Don José I by the grace of God, Inca, King of Peru, Santa Fe (Bogotá), Quito, Chile, Buenos Aires, and the continents of the South Seas, Duke of the Superlative, Lord of the Caesars and Amazons with dominion over the great Paititi, Commissar distributor of the divine mercy, etc. Inasmuch as it has been repeatedly agreed upon at my Council’s meetings, some secret, some public, the Kings of Castile have usurped my crown and the power over my people for nearly three centuries, and burdened the vassals with unbearable taxes, tributes, customs, alcábalas, bans, cadastres, diezmos, quintos, spears, viceroys, court hearings, mayors and other ministers, all alike in tyranny, selling away and auctioning justice to those who subscribe to the faith according to which things should belong to whoever pays the most and which is shared by secular and ecclesiastical employees alike, with no fear of God, breaking like animals the natives of the kingdom, taking the lives of all those who do not know how to steal, all of which deserves the most severe objection. That, together with the cries that have reached heaven, is the reason why, in the name of the Almighty God, we order and command that none of the said persons should pay or obey in any way the European intruders... I order that the oath made to my Royal Crown in all the cities, towns and places in my dominions be repeated and published."
After his victory in Sangarará, Túpac Amaru failed to take Cuzco, which was unguarded, and this gave advantage to the Spanish troops, who were then able to surround and catch and kill him along with other brave fighters.
On Friday, May 18, 1781, the following nine persons, shackled and handcuffed, were taken out of “La Compañía” prison: José Verdejo, Andrés Castelo, Antonio Oblitas, Antonio Bastidas, Francisco Túpac Amaru, Tomasa Condemayta, Hipólito Túpac Amaru, Micaela Bastidas and José Gabriel Túpac Amaru. At 12 noon that day, after witnessing the death of his colleagues, Túpac Amaru was executed. His limbs were sent off to different places as a public warning, while the rest of his and Micaela’s bodies were sent to Picchu, were they were burnt and their ashes thrown into a stream.
Túpac Amaru’s political project proclaiming the abolition of slavery, duties, indigenous forced labour, and the colonial domination of the American peoples, was much more forward-thinking than the principles of the American and the French revolutions. For the very first time, by the end of the eighteenth century, it proclaimed equality and real and effective freedom for all the peoples of America through the abolition of all forms of slavery and servitude - something neither George Washington, nor Napoleon, nor anyone else dared to raise. Túpac Amaru, as the prime mover of human rights, equality, freedom and American independence, deserves a seat of honour along with our greatest heroes.
Only the racist vision of Latin American historiography and sociology - based on the structural racism of our societies, the mestizo-creole racial supremacy imposed by the European invasion and expressed in genocidal slogans such as 'civilization or barbarism' and ‘order and progress' – can try to conceal Túpac Amaru’s rebellion as American emancipation.
Túpac Amaru, as the prime mover of human rights, equality, freedom and American independence, deserves a seat of honour along with our greatest heroes.
“I’ll be back and there will be millions of us”
Despite the overwhelming pain at seeing his loved ones die, the tortures he suffered and the terrible martyrdom that awaited him, Túpac Amaru, with great courage and dignity, defied yet again the criminal Spanish invaders and before the executioner cut his tongue off, he said in both Kichwa and Castilian: "Tikrashami hunu makanakuypi kasha" - "I’ll be back and there will be millions of us".
Túpac Amaru’s death was not the end of the libertarian spirit he stood for. His example was followed by other natives, his struggle transcended the limits of the viceroyalty and left its imprint throughout America. And today, more than ever, his fight and his libertarian thought continue in each one of the leaders of the different resistance organizations, the teachers, the leaders and the youth who in this century, are standing up to these governments with fake progressive revolutionary faces which remain the faithful servants of the extractive and genocidal policies of the great transnational corporations.
Today, more than ever, his fight and his libertarian thought continue in each one of the leaders of the different resistance organizations, the teachers, the leaders and the youth.
Despite the terrifying repression, Túpac Amaru’s libertarian cry has been kept alive all this time by many leaders who continue in permanent resistance. To us, he is an example of consequence and dignity. This is a political project which is continued by each of the indigenous peoples’ communities and nationalities, gathered in regional organizations such as ECUARRUNARI, CONFENIAE, CONAICE and represented in the national organization CONAIE, the Andean CAOI, and other teachers’, youth and women organizations and trade unions.
Here we are, the descendants of Túpac Amaru, who for more than five hundred years have never stopped fighting for our lands and ideas in search of freedom, justice and democracy, facing the fake and crippled "human rights" which are being trampled on today by those who rule at the service of the accumulation of power, riches and markets, here we are with our strong loyalty and deep moral and ideological commitment. Here we are resisting and fighting, defending natural resources, our lands and territories, for food sovereignty, a seed law, education and the restitution of our rights.
Imamantak Tupak Amaru Makanakurka
1. Ñukanchik allpata kichushkamanta tikrachinkapak
2. Llaki wakcha kawsaypi runakunata rikushpa
3. Wiwa shina mitakunapi, obrajeskunapi, sinchi llankachishkamanta
4. Wayra apamushkakuna waktashpa ayllukunata charik yachashka wañuchinkakaman
5. Yaya Incakunapak sumak Inti Wasita wakllichinkapak kichuskamanta
6. Wayra apamushkakuna Inca shutita mana kusha nishkamanta
7. Abya Yalapi kawsak runakunata mana riksirina munashkamanta
8. Pay killkashkakunawan wayra apamushkakunata llaki llaki runa kawsayta allichiy nishka mana uyashkamanta
9. Sumak Warmikunata wakllichishkamanta.
José Antonio de Areche, Mata Linares mishu, kay chunka pusak aymuray (1781) watapi, chawpi punchapi, Cusco Wakay panpapi wañuchirka…
Shinapish, Tukuy pachapi kaypimi kanchik…Kawsakunchirakmi… Kawsashunrakmi.
For our self-determination.
This article was previously published by lalineadefuego.