Peru, 1746: Guerrilla Victory

General Jose de Llamas exudes arrogance when he walks.  The most prestigious officer in Peru, he is fresh from the war with England where he commanded twelve thousand men.  Rejecting suggestions to plan carefully, Llamas has nothing but disdain for these jungle “savages” whom he will put down in quick order.

At the beginning of March, he heads into rebel territory with 850 soldiers.  The humidity rots their supplies and the mules go lame.  The men fall sick and some die.  When they reach Mount Salt they are fatigued and demoralized.  They were supposed to meet other soldiers under the command of Troncoso.  But at that moment Troncoso is being beaten so badly by the indigenous forces of Juan Santos that he has to retreat to avoid annihilation.

With the indigenous is a woman named Dona Ana who was born from the union of an indigenous and a black slave.  She commands a company of fifty women.

Neither Llamas nor those who follow him can either find or defeat Juan Santos.

-Steve Stern, ed., Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 43, 44; Daniel Valcarcel, Rebeliones Indigenas, 61, 62

Peru, 1780: El Grito de Tinta



Tupac Amaru I Micaela Bastidas

November 4: Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui is having dinner in the home of his former tutor. The other dinner guest is the local corregidor Antonion de Arriaga, an intransigent man who has used his power to cruelly oppress the people.  Jose Gabriel excuses himself on the pretext of having an unexpected visitor.  With a small band of loyal followers he waits and captures the corregidor.

November 10: Jose Gabriel proclaims that he is the legitimate heir of the last Incan ruler Tupac Amaru I. He takes the name of Tupac Amaru II and declares a royal order giving him the power to seize, try, and punish corregidores and their aides.  He promises the people that he will abolish the mita and the reparto and other forms of labor abuses.  He calls upon the people to follow him.

He then takes his first act as their new ruler, and the body of Antionio de Arriaga swings from the scaffold, surrounded by indigenous men with muskets, pikes, and slings.  The people pledge their lives to him.

November 18: After hearing of Arriaga’s execution, Spanish authorities in Cuzco send a force of six hundred soldiers and seven hundred loyal Indians.  Tupac Amaru II marches out to meet them at Sangarara where he wins a great victory.  The Inca’s ranks swell to sixty thousand.

November 26: Tupac Amaru II issues a proclamation of emancipation freeing everyone, including the slaves.

December 6: Micaela Bastidas, the wife of Tupac Amaru, is back at the command pot, governing the country and sending letters to her husband.  She is the movement’s chief strategist.  She understands better than he that their power lies in moving quickly before the Spaniards can call up reinforcements.


Dear Chepe:

You are causing me grief and sorrow.  While you saunter thorough the villages…our soldiers rightly grow tired and are leaving for their homes….I have warned you sufficient times against dallying….I gave you plenty of warnings to march on Cuzco immediately….

Your wife


After I finished this letter, a messenger arrived with the news that the enemy from Paruro are in Archos.  I shall march out to meet them though it may cost me my life.

-June E. Hahner, ed., Women in Latin American History, 36-37


Micaela is very beautiful.  Her thin nedk belies her indomitable spirit.  She was the one who had advocated the death of Arriaga.  She carried bullets in her mantilla, to shoot him in case he escaped the hanging.  While her husband is away she is the government—issuing passports, sending supplies, preventing crime, issuing edicts, appointing officials, and taking charge of prisoners.  Generals report to her and priests ask her for assurances and help.  She is the chief propagandist for the cause, recruiting new followers.  She even goes out personally on expeditions saying, I will die where my husband dies.

-Lillian Fisher, The Inca Revolt

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