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Bicentennial of the independence of Peru

July 27, 2021 - 23:38 By Korea Herald
Peruvian ambassador Daul Matute Mejia(right)with President Moon Jae-in at a reception in the gardens of the Blue House for diplomatic corps in 2019.(Peruvian Embassy in Seoul)

This year 2021 marks 200 years of the independence of Peru and the absolute end of Spanish colonial rule in our country.

Some thinkers state that the independence of Peru and the uprising against Spanish domination began with the capture of the Inca Atahualpa on the afternoon of Nov. 16, 1532 in Cajamarca, which led to the conquest of the Inca Empire by Francisco Pizarro.

Atahualpa’s successors tried on several occasions to retake the government of the country, reconquer their empire and install their government. These actions did not end up successful due to, among other things, incipient reasons of superiority such as new weapons technology, use of cavalry and new tactics and war strategies different from those used by the Incas and the Quechua people. Others also warn that pre-Inca cultures played a negative or neutral role against the Incas.

The real fact was that the conquest of the Inca Empire and imposition of a new political, economic and social structure brought an end to a very advanced governmental system or structure for its time. Likewise, it also stopped a very unique process of South America, despite the existing contradictions as in any political system.

If we make a retrospective analysis of the actions carried out to reconquer the lost empire or to fight against the already imposed Spanish domination, we can find different rebellions, uprisings and confrontations on the side of the descendants of the Incas, the Peruvian mestizos and the Creoles, children of Spaniards born in Peru.

Once Atahualpa fell, the Spanish chose Manco Inca as his successor hoping to make a puppet government with him. He fled from Cuzco and goes to the town of Yungay where a contingent of 10,000 men defeated the Spanish, surrounded Cuzco and took the fortress of Sacsayhuaman defended by the “Canari,” Indians who were allied to the Spanish. Cuzco was besieged for three years.

Later, Manco Inca was assassinated by Almagristas soldiers and was succeeded by Sairy Tupac (1544-1558), Cusi Yupanqui (1558-1570) and Tupac Amaru from 1570-1572, the fourth and last Inca rebel from Vilcabamba. The latter was captured and, after a summary trial, was sentenced to death in June 1572, beheaded and, according to some historians, with him extinguished not only the last stronghold of the Inca resistance but the royal Inca dynasty (Tupac Amaru had no male descendants).

But the son of one of his daughters named Juana Pilco-Huaco, married to a chief from Surimana, had a son named Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui Noguera, who took the name of Tupac Amaru II, and he carried out battles with strong opposition against the Spanish people. Upon being captured he was executed by dismembering his body. He led the so-called Great Rebellion that began on Nov. 4, 1780; This was followed by rebels such as Tupac Catari, Felipe Velasco Tupac Inca Yupanqui, etc.

In the colonial government ruled by the Viceroys assigned by the King of Spain who constituted the metropolis, there were the nobility, middle class, people and slaves. This inequality was accentuated by racial differences and by the differences between Spaniards born in Spain and Spaniards born in the “Indies,” the so-called Creoles. The rivalry between Spaniards and Creoles was accentuated by the inequality between them. The Creoles demanded equality in treatment, to be elected as part of the government system, to have equal rights and enjoy the same privileges, without differentiating the place where they were born.

The Viceroyalty of Peru and the other Viceroyalties in South America were harmed by the monopoly and commercialism imposed by Spain. The Criollos and Spaniards advocated free trade and freedom of industry, which would allow a greater development of agriculture and the wine and pisco industry in general, for the Peruvian case. It was logical that thriving industrial, agricultural and mining classes were developed and co-appointed so they had an active participation in the emancipation of Peru and the other Spanish Viceroyalties in the Americas.

In that sense, it was the Latin American emancipatory and libertarian deeds that took place that were persecuted throughout the colonial period, counting on outstanding and brave men who, in turn, received the support of indigenous, mestizo and creole segments, and even from Spanish people.

It is indisputable that the development of the intellectual, spiritual and scientific movements that appeared in the 18th century in Europe, called the Enlightenment era, influenced the American libertarian movements, which did not exclude Peru. There was a marked influence of the so-called “illustration” among the children of the Creoles in Spain and throughout Europe. These ideas spread throughout the Americas, influencing libertarian ideas against the central Spanish oppression. As is known, the illustration was characterized by leaning absolutely in the “power of reason,” to reach the knowledge and mastery of nature, development of the chemistry, physics, biology, astronomy, medicine sciences and so on.

His critical spirit came to question the regime of the Absolute Government, the economic system and religious beliefs; philosophers such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, as well as scientists such as Linnaeus, Lavoisier, Watt, Volta, Franklin, Fahrenheit, Laplace, and others emerged. The European rulers understood this movement, but they used it to their advantage, creating the governments called “Enlightened despotisms” in benefit of themselves, without favoring their peoples or the peoples of their colonies.

In the Americas this resurgence of new liberal ideas positively influenced those who already considered themselves Americans and were fighting for greater political and economic freedom.

Undoubtedly the French Revolution and the independence of the United States influenced and breathed new life into the emancipation of the Latin American countries. The Americans proclaimed the natural rights of man and the principle that the government aims to safeguard these rights and pursue the good of the governed. These ideas circulated throughout the Spanish colonies.

In relation to the French Revolution, the books of Rousseau and Montesquieu were secretly disseminated and nurtured the revolutionary ideas of the Creoles, the Social Contract became the bible of the “independentistas,” the ”Declaration of the Rights of Man“ was translated and printed by the neo-Granada Creole Antonio Narino and circulated in Spanish America. When the French Emperor Napoleon I invaded Spain in 1808, Kings Carlos IV and Fernando VII were taken prisoners and gave rise to the appearance of the Government Boards in Spain and America, originating the fight between the Spanish authorities and the Creoles and mestizos. The boards created in Spanish America did not last long and were defeated by Viceroy Jose Fernando de Abascal.

The Boards encouraged and allowed the germination of the ideas of independence, these arose against the authorities of the colonies and were declared rebels by the Regency Council. In consequence, it began the fight between the old authorities, supported by the Spanish and their armed forces against the Creoles, supported by the Cabildos and sometimes by the audiences.

In Peru, as in other Latin American territories, the Jesuits were expelled in 1767, after been pointed out as enemies of the Spanish throne so they collaborated with the emancipatory movement from Europe. They spread the revolutionary ideas promoting the separation of America from Spain, as is the case of the Jesuit of Arequipa (southern region of Peru), Juan Pablo Vizcardo y Guzman, author of the ”Letter to the American Spanish,” which had an enormous influence in American emancipation.

Among the notable Peruvians who helped the independence can be mentioned: Francisco Javier de Luna Pizarro, Manuel Perez Tudela, Mateo Pumacahua, Jose de la Riva Aguero, Toribio Rodriguez de Mendoza, Jose Faustino Sanchez Carrion, Hipolito Unanue and hundreds of Creoles and Spaniards who changed their side to help the independence of Peru and, later, occupied positions of political responsibility in the new entity that was formed as Republic.

Undoubtedly the libertarian armies of Don Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar played a preponderant role for the freedom of Peru and Latin America.

Don Jose de San Martin landed in the Bay of Paracas, in the department of Ica, south of Lima and summoned numerous cities on the coast of Peru for the cause of independence. On July 28, 1821, he proclaimed the independence of Peru by pronouncing the famous prayer: ”From this moment Peru is free and independent by the general will of the peoples and by the justice of their cause that God defends.“

On the other hand, Simon Bolivar represented the consolidation of Peruvian independence and sealed with the Battle of Ayacucho, the total independence of the Americas.

It is precise to understand that the independence of Peru is a chapter in the Spanish-American wars of emancipation that began on a continental scale in 1808. These conflicts confronted the Spanish monarchy with the recent American states that sought to obtain their independence.

”The independence of Peru was considered crucial to guarantee the independence of the other countries of South America“

Today Peru is a vigorous and energetic nation, democratic and sovereign, respectful of human rights and inclusive, which enters the 21st century with the vision of leading its people to a better quality of life and entering fully into the fourth industrial revolution.

On July 28, Mr. Pedro Castillo Terrones will be sworn in as the new president for the next five years and will govern the destinies of the nation.

The Embassy of Peru in South Korea wishes all compatriots a happy national holiday and thanks the Korean people for the friendship and cooperation that they have always shown us.

Long Live Peru!
Que viva el Peru!

Daul Matute Mejia is Peruvian Ambassador to South Korea. -- Ed.