The Tupac Amaru Rebellion

Charles Walker

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online July 2016 | | DOI:
The Tupac Amaru Rebellion

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The Tupac Amaru Rebellion raged across the Andes from 1780–1783. Centered in southern Peru, from Cuzco to Lake Titicaca, it also allied with the Katarista uprisings in Upper Peru (Bolivia). In addition, revolts inspired by Tupac Amaru took place in what became Argentina, Chile, and Colombia. José Gabriel Condorcanqui was a kuraka or ethnic intermediary in three small towns sixty miles south of Cuzco and a merchant who worked the Cuzco to Potosí circuit. Well-educated and bilingual (Spanish and Quechua) he claimed lineage from the Incas, thus the Tupac Amaru (e.g., Tupa or Túpac, Amaro) name. His wife, Micaela Bastidas, was an important commander in the uprising, overseeing the rebel base in Pampamarca and logistics. The rebellion began in November 1780 when Tupac Amaru seized and executed a local authority, the corregidor Antonio Arriaga. Tupac Amaru organized his indigenous followers and attacked other corregidors, ransacked haciendas, and razed the hated obrajes, or textile mills. He claimed to be fighting in the name of the King of Spain. He and Micaela sought a multiethnic and multiclass alliance, recruiting not only Indians but also mestizos, blacks, Creoles, and “good” Spaniards. Tupac Amaru returned from the Lake Titicaca in late 1780 to lay siege to the city of Cuzco, Peru’s second largest city and still considered the by many to be the “Inca capital.” Although he surrounded Cuzco with tens of thousands of troops, the rebels could not take the city. The royalists received important reinforcements from Lima in early January. After three months of intense fighting, they captured Tupac Amaru, Micaela Bastidas, and much of their inner circle in April 1781, executing them in a gruesome public ritual in Cuzco’s central plaza on May 17. Led by Tupac Amaru’s cousin, Diego Cristóbal Tupac Amaru, their son Mariano, and another relative, the rebellion continued for two years, centered in the area around Lake Titicaca. The rebellion became more of a caste or total war as neither side took prisoners. The exhausted rebel leaders signed an armistice in early 1783, but hardline royalists broke the treaty and executed Diego Cristóbal in even more horrific fashion than Tupac Amaru and Micaela Bastidas. Tupac Amaru became a hero in Peru. He became even more famous in 1968 when General Velasco Alvarado’s military regime made Tupac Amaru its icon. The Tupamaro (Uruguay) and MRTA (Peru) guerrilla groups as well as the rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur are named after him.

Article.  6579 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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