Peru, 1781

Speaking the Language of the Conquerors



Túpac Amaru II


José Antonio de Areche, representative of the king of Spain, commander of the army and judge of the high court, knows the danger of memory. He decrees:

Indians are forbidden to wear the dress of the gentry, and especially of the nobility, which serves only to remind them of what the ancient Incas wore, bringing back memories that merely cause them to feel more and more hatred for the ruling nation….They should adopt our Spanish customs and the Castilian [Spanish] language….


But it didn’t work.  In Uruguay in the 1960s and 1970s, there arose a group of urban guerrillas struggling to free the country from an oppressive dictatorship.  They called themselves the Tupamoros, after Tupac Amaru.  Today in Peru, women attempting to work for social justice have formed a reflection and action group called the Micaela Bastidas Committee.

-Eduardo Galeano, Memories of Fire: Faces and Masks, 57, 59

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