The History of the Struggles of the Peruvian People

"All those who exploit their brethren are foreigners." - (J.G.C., "Túpac Amaru")


Each and every revolutionary movement is the result of the historical development of the struggle of a people to achieve liberty and justice. The Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) is, in that sense, the highest expression of the struggles of the Peruvian people, and represents the interests of the only class which is capable of directing those interests historically at this stage: the proletariat.

A Millinery People and a Forger of Cultures

Man first walked Peruvian soil twenty thousand years ago. This was during the Paleolithic age. Nonetheless, in an unequal advantage of possibilities for struggle against rugged natural surroundings, he began to build what was to become one of the most important American cultures.

In this manner, the construction of Peruvian civilization was the product of lengthy processes of the accumulation of experiences and the development of knowledge which, every certain period, would come to significant revolutions. The first of these was the Neolithic Revolution, which occurred between 3500 and 7000 years before our era and which permitted the appearance of agriculture, the domestication of animals and the birth of the first villages. With this revolution came about, furthermore, group property, while production and distribution continued to be collective. The remains of this cultural past can be seen in Guitarreo, Chilca, Paracas, Kotosh, Lurín and Huaca Prieta.

Between 1200 and 1,000 years before our era, the second revolution came about. With it, the great social division of labor appeared, along with social classes and the State. It is the period of the great cultures, with Chavín being the culmination of this great process.

Extending throughout almost the entire north, Chavín spread out to Ica and its influence was felt in the south of the country. The lands were divided up and a part of them passed into the hands of the dominant class as group property, while the people continued along with their collective property, production and distribution. It was possibly in this epoch when the ayllu (familial/clan unit of social organization) came about. The oppressive class sustained its domination through a combination of ideological domination based on a 'ferocious-gods' religion, whose faces are reflected in the sculpturesque figures of Chavín, and the military force which reminds us of the trophy-heads and the quarterings engraved in the walls of Sechín. This dominion permitted the use and administration of the unremunerated work of the people and the construction of the great cities (the great ceremonial centers) where the powerful religious and military elite lived. Furthermore, in exchange for free work and the rights to the products of the artisans and other privileges, this class had to direct the labor of the development of the infrastructure and the technical-scientific advancement for the benefit of the society-at-large.

After this great historical leap came the epoch of the great withering away of the centralized process. The regional and local powers became fortified and, most probably helped by a natural disaster, which destroyed powerful Chavín, whose ruins were occupied by the barbarous huaracinos. After the fall of this great political-religious center, small local cultures and regional States flourished amidst a process of development and growing centralization. This is how we came to have Vicus, Virú, Salinas, Gallinazo, Pechiche and Garbanzal (which later would come to be the Mochica State); the so-called Proto-Lima cultures, Baños de Boza, Maranga, Playa Grande, Miramar and Ancón; as well as Paracas (caverns at first and subsequently a necropolis) which anteceded the Nazca State; and Recuay in the Northern Sierra and Tiawanacu in the South-East.

Shortly after this accumulation of productive forces and perfecting of the sociopolitical structure, a new historical leap was produced with the formation of the Wari Empire: the first intent at the construction of a national unity. This was developed between 500 and 1,000 years before our era. Their control extended from the territories that today comprise the departments of Huánuco and La Libertad to part of Bolivia and the north of Chile. This empire came about through the unity of the regional cultures of the Huarpa, Nazca and Tiawanacu and, in later expansion, through the submission of other ethnic groups. It is the period in which the renowned 'great cities' appeared. The principal of these cities was that of Huari. These 'great cities' were found in the current department of Ayacucho, and Huari is considered to have been the capital of the empire, and it has been calculated to have had around 50,000 inhabitants. The other cities were Viracochapampa, in Huánuco; Chavín; Pikillakta, in Cuzco; Tiawanacu in Bolivia; and Pachacamac, which was the great religious center of the religion each held in common.

With the Wari Empire, the division of the lands became even more complex. It was the reflection of a torturous process of development of the dominant classes, whereby, besides going about imposing diverse strata of nobles and chieftains, the great division between two blocks emerged: the religious nobility and the political-military powers, under the predominance of this second power block. Each one of these strata went about appropriating, under the system of group property, large tracts of land in which the people had to work without remuneration. This process generated the necessity of looking for new lands as the geographical structure of the times was very lacking in terms of arable land. With the longed-for conquest of the science of irrigation, resulting from 20,000 years of experience and discoveries (drainage systems, sidewalks, etc.), new techniques were acquired for the betterment of the land that was currently held, as well as for the acquisition of new lands. Another of the great achievements of this period was construction of the road system and the system of wayside food storage sites for the empire's military forces (tambos).

All of these changes generated a relation of firm hegemony. The people of the time did not only see in this ruling class its exploiters. Rather, it also saw in that class its leaders and guides. The cities represented, for example, new scientific-technical advancements in architecture, planning and administration; this being the product as much of the concentrated forces of local artisans as well as of scientists. All of this took place with these combined forces working under rules and principles strictly established by the dominant class.

But the intents at unity saw themselves overcome by regional ambitions which were also fortified by these above-mentioned advancements. This eventually led to the falling apart of the powerful Wari Empire. Between the years 800 and 1450, this process gave way to the constitution of structured regional kingdoms, like those of the Chimús, the Huancas, the Chancas, the Cuscos, the Aymaras, etc. These, being sustained through the development of the productive forces, further perfected the forms of class domination. It is known that in Chimú there existed a maximum nobility directed by a king named Ciquic, followed by the Alaec, or great chiefs, and then by the Fixl, who were the equivalent of knights. After these came the people themselves, or the Paraenz, and then, within this structure as well came the Yana, or serfs. In this period, agriculture, artisanry and the construction of great metropolises like Chan Chan demonstrated a notable development. Under these conditions, one of these ethnic groups, the Quechuas, initiated a violent process of conquest that brought forth the most extensive empire of Precolumbian America.

Let us stop for a moment to analyze the complex structure that was formed in this process of 20,000 years. The societal class division had been produced and a small minority possessed enormous expanses of territory. But this possession was not in individual terms, rather, it was in collective terms, as a group, a class, a State. It was the people who had to work these lands, construct the roads or the wayside food storage bins, extract the minerals and provide the artisans. But, in contrast to the slave-holding societies, the people did this without losing its own lands. It is true that this population felt the growing exploitation. But it is also certain that it accepted the hegemony of the dominant class: this dominant class was sustained from the "tributes" of public works, as well as the organization and planning of social production. For this reason, the direct confrontation between the people and the exploiters was not an open confrontation. Rather, it was silent, dual; that is to say that it was a mixture of unity and rejection. This confrontation was channeled through the chiefs, who were those who, as the social fabric became more and more complicated, went on superimposing themselves more and more. These chieftains played out a dual role: they were oppressors of the supreme dominant class and, as well, they channelized the demands of those from below.

In conformance with how this channelization process was developing, the difference between the polar social extremes grew wider. The nobility who lived in the great cities enjoyed every type of commodities (servitude and artisans) and their functions were reduced to those of the exercise of politics, arms and religion. On the other hand, the people continued isolated in their ayllus and small villages. The ayllu constituted the basic organization of the people, and has withstood not only time, but each and every attempt to destroy it, from the Conquest until today. Collective property, production and distribution permitted the ayllu to form links of identity and solidarity which, for the most part, were the cornerstone of how national identity, ideas of race and ethnicity, and customs have survived up till the present time.

This unequal structure was sustained, furthermore, with a dissuasive power and a consensus over the people, as were the religious ideas which since the Wari Empire, had achieved the image of a sole god, creator of the universe - a trademark of highly developed societies - and a world vision based on the unity of opposites and the idea of development as a byproduct of accumulation in addition to the great leaps which, to some extent, negated the previous stage. That is to say that it was a world vision, perhaps now viewed as primitive, yet which was directly linked to dialectical thinking.

The other basis of domination was military power. We had a situation in which the nobility's power was to the political and military science imposed itself, definitively, over religious power. This phenomenon reflected two extremely important questions: on the one hand, it expressed that there had been a notable development of the productive forces which permitted a surplus which was accumulated in the wayside storage houses, in order to sustain the powerful bureaucratic-military structure of the new State. And, on the other hand, this "independence" of power, or what Karl Marx called the apparatus which apparently located itself on top of society, gave rise to a much broader vision of national integration.

The Tawantinsuyo

In the years following 1400, the quechuas were expelled from the shores of Lake Titicaca and emigrated to Cuzco, where diverse ethnic groups lived. This was also where the Wari Empire had one of its most important cities: Pikillakta. After uprooting the groups who occupied the valley, the quechuas lived in constant conflict with their neighbors. And this equilibrium was broken when Pachacútec (a name which simultaneously means "creation" and "destruction") achieved the defeat of the chancas and initiated an explosive process of expansion which produced, as a result, the constitution of Tawantinsuyo. It was an empire that, after the conquests of Huayna Cápac, extended itself from Pasto, in Colombia, to Maule, in Chile, and to the north of Argentina, including all of Peru, Bolivia and the majority of what is now Ecuador.

In this sense, the Tawantinsuyo was the end product of all of this economical-social development in our land. In conquering the other cultures, the incas absorbed all of the previous knowledge, what was permitted in their brief existence - 100 years after their expansion and only 30 years of what we now know as their final expansion - in which the economy was that which was most developed. In order to make this possible, the road system was linked in two of its major parts (the coastal road and the mountain road) which crossed the empire from north to south and connected with a countless number of smaller paths and, furthermore, they constructed roadways which penetrated the jungle. Throughout these roadways, they erected a series of food stashes and supply warehouses, destined for sustaining the great mobilizations of the armies, the populations and the State functionaries. Throughout the empire, the most diverse forms of irrigation were generalized, along with drainage systems, pathways and forms of seed betterment, with a system of engineering so developed that, with its abandonment through the centuries, has proved a fatal blow to Peruvian agriculture. In introducing the system of ceramic molds, they also originated a great advance in artesanry, and architecture achieved its maximum splendor in the construction of numerous cities. Planning itself was one of the most admirable conquests of today's world since it permitted, regardless of the lack of technical skills in comparison with today's techniques, to satisfy the basic necessities of a population which was calculated between 12 to 16 million inhabitants. In order to be able to construct all of these works, millions of arms were mobilized through the "mita", which is the name attributed to the free labor which the people rendered unto their oppressors.

The dominant classes were headed by the Quechua nobility. Their 'upper crust' was composed of the Incas and their 10 royal families (panacas). In their hands rested the strings of power. After these powers came the regional nobility who struggled between their fight for autonomy and their integration with the Incan state. They often stopped being part of the Incan army of conquest in order to become rebel armies, and vice versa. In order to overcome these conflicts, the incas adopted joint measures: the decimal structure based in state functionaries who reordered the ayllus; the replacement of rebel curacas for Yanacun curacas of absolute fidelity to the Incan empire; the transfer of rebel populations to zones of absolute control; and of loyal populations to zones of conflict, etc.

The population was comprised of three principal sectors:

1) The "jatunrunas" organized in ayllus, who continued with their collective traditions and who helped themselves mutually through a reciprocal system denominated "minka" ("Today you help me, and tomorrow I will help you".) They were the free labor force at the service of State ("mita").

2) The "mitimaes" who were those displaced from their lands of origin and transferred to new areas. Their treatment depended upon the reason for their transfer: if it was as a sign of loyalty, they brought with them certain privileges; if it was for chastisement, they lived in the conditions of "second-class citizens".

3) The "yanacunas", who were considered slaves by some. Recent studies demonstrate, nonetheless, that a very complex spectrum existed under this denotation: while some were serfs, others were State functionaries or curacas directly designated by the Inca. But, as well there were those existed who were treated as slaves; a sector of the population displaced from their communities or their lands who were put at the service of the State.

Within the empire, women received a complex treatment. In their respective classes, whether in the nobility or amongst the people, she had an important form of participation, and the signs of matriarchal society still existed. But the women of the lower classes, when they were placed at the disposition of the nobility, lacked all types of rights. Furthermore, according to the descriptions of Huaman Poma de Ayala, religion strongly discriminated against women.

The Incan conquest used its diplomacy under military pressure or the direct force of arms. In both cases, it was accompanied by proposals of "reciprocity" between the dominant classes of the conquerors and the conquered. But, any intent at rebellion was bloodily repressed, this being the reason that the grist of the struggles which shook Tawantinsuyo were for ethnic autonomy. In this power struggle, the most advanced role corresponded to the incas, whose action, conscious or unconscious, marched towards the creation of the indigenous nationality. In this sense, its expansion was not only a conquest, rather, it was, as well, a process of integration.

As their power grew, the Quechua nobility also advanced themselves in terms of economic enrichment. Since the beginning of their expansion, the individual ownership of property was introduced, when Pachacútec forcibly removed the other ethnic groups from the Cuzco valley and divided up their lands between the 10 royal panacas of the incas. Lastly, upon assuming their roles, each inca went about appropriating new lands and gave away other lands as gifts to their military chiefs and their favorite nobles. With this process, individual private property appeared. The expropriation of these enormous riches also had negative effects. A sector of the nobility became a type of "social parasite" and the power struggles that had always existed between the panacas grew. It is for that reason that, with the death of Huayna Cápac, this vying for power came to be transformed into civil war between the two panacas of Cuzco: Huáscar's panaca, which belonged to that of Hurin Cusco; and that of Atawalpa, which was part of the panaca of Hanan Cusco. The Spanish historians of the time deformed the content of said confrontation and official history has continued to present it as a "north-south" conflict. This perspective has served to hide factors such as, for example, it was Atawalpa who brought down and burned Tumipampa for his loyalty with Huáscar, or that the latter assassinated a large part of the nobility of Cuzco for its identification with Atawalpa.

The Spanish Conquest and the War of Resistance

Pizarro and his men took maximum advantage of this crisis and offered to reestablish the autonomy of the regional lordships. With this, they sought to isolate the defenders of Tawantinsuyo. And still within the Incan nobility, an important sector preferred to support the conquistadores and to continue enjoying their privileges as opposed to walking down the difficult road of the defense of their homeland. Despite these occurrences, the Spaniards were only able to impose their rule after a period of various decades. In the heroic war of resistance which our people let loose, the following different stages can be differentiated:

1) Since the arrival in Puná, in 1531, until the death of Atawalpa, the Iberians, except for a few skirmishes, did not have any major difficulties. Thinking that they would easily annihilate him personally, the Inca himself prohibited that the Spaniards be fought. This error was fatal: it permitted Pizarro the ability to develop a strategy in order to be able to defeat the incas and to be able to establish a policy of alliances which served this function.

2) The resistance directed by Quisquis, Challcuchimac and Rumiñahui - With the support of the autonomist ethnic groups and Huáscar's allies, the Spaniards won this campaign.

3) The war which was directed by Manco Inca, which practically expelled the Spaniards from the new cities which they had constructed, particularly from Lima. After the initial defeats, the incas redeployed themselves to Vilcabamba and they converted it into their last State capital, which went along restructuring itself by incorporating other ethnic groups, modernizing its army and generating a war economy. From there, they constantly made occupation unbearable for the Spaniards and maintained their authority over a great part of national territory, to the extreme that the Spaniard's power only existed in the cities and in the surrounding regions or where the collaborationist curacas held sway.

Once Manco Inca was assassinated by a Spanish agent, the leadership of the struggle passed into the hands of Sayri Túpac. It then fell on Titu Cusi Yupanqui and, with his death, on Túpac Amaru I. It was only in 1572 that, after 42 years of war against the defenders of Tawantinsuyo, the Spaniards were able to take the last capital of the incas, after a battle in which almost all the defenders perished. After that, Túpac Amaru I was drawn-and-quartered by the Spaniards in the Plaza de Armas of Cuzco, in an effort to dissuade future rebellions. But, through Inkari, the people "eternalized" all this in its collective memory: it is the myth which speaks to us of the quartered inca and whose followers were dispersed throughout the territories of the homeland, but who later returned to Cuzco in order to unite with their people and to return to head the rebellion. For this reason, Túpac Amaru I was the last inca, and not Atawalpa, as "official" history claims.

The reason for the Spanish victory not only revolved around their advanced technology and their military arts, but, more than anything else, in the lack of clear, collective vision of the dominant Peruvian class of the time. As well, the open treason of a large part of that class also contributed to the Spanish victory because, far from opting for resistance, the collaborationists preferred to submit themselves to the oppressor. With the defeat of the war of resistance against the conquistadores, the possibility of the constitution of an Incan nationality was forever stifled.

The history will continue step by step,.......!