Andean Storm Part 1


Two hundred years after the last Inca ruler (Tupac Amaru) died, a rebellion began to bubble away in Peru. The most famous members of the uprising were a wife and husband:

We don’t know a lot about the couple’s childhood, but we know they grew up near Cusco. Bilingual José was indigenous and studied at a Cusco school for the sons of caciques. His father was the leader of 3 towns, including Tungasuca where José was born. Raised in a family that had a certain amount of wealth, his upbringing was fairly comfortable.

Meanwhile, Micaela Bastidas was mixed-race and impoverished. Her father was either a black man or a white priest (sources vary) and she was raised single-handedly by her indigenous mother. She was a bit of an outcast in the indigenous community she grew up in, because of her mixed ethnicity. Micaela’s childhood ended abruptly when she got married aged just 15 to José Condorcanqui, an event that greatly improved her status and economic situation. Soon afterwards, she became a mother. The couple had 3 sons together: Hipólito, Mariano and Fernando. Micaela at first stayed at home to raise the boys, while José became a mule driver, owning 350 beasts in total. These hybrid animals are well-adapted to high altitude and he would take them from one place to another loaded with saddlebags to transport things for other people. While travelling around, he saw a lot of other indigenous people being severely abused by the Spanish and creoles (people of Spanish descent who were born in Peru).

This broke his heart and made him seethe with rage. He, his wife and other indigenous acquaintances dreamed of a Peru free from the disease of racism, a nation where everyone would be united and there would be no more servitude, extortionate taxes or forced labour. Their hearts’ desire was freedom and equality and they knew something had to be done to try and achieve those goals.

A few years later, in 1776, José’s brother died, meaning that José inherited the title of cacique of 3 towns in the area he was born in. For that reason, he stopped travelling about with the mules and settled in the region to sort out disputes and advocate for its inhabitants.

In 1777, he presented documents in Lima to ask that people from his province wouldn’t need to go to the mines in Bolivia and that his descendance from Tupac Amaru be officially recognised. José claimed to be directly descended from the last ruler of the Neo Inca State called Tupac Amaru through the ruler’s daughter whose name was Juana Pilco Waco. Both petitions were rejected, but José re-styled himself by taking the name Tupac Amaru II all the same.

Another source of inspiration came from Inca Garcilaso. This mixed-race guy was born in 1539, just a few years after the Spanish Conquest. Garcilaso’s mum, Isabel Chimpu Ocllo, was an Inca princess who was abandoned by Garcilaso’s father so was able to raise her mixed-race son instead of having him snatched from her. Inca wasn’t his real name but a nickname he gave himself to show his pride in his heritage, which is a credit to his mother. He went on to write a famous history book about the Incas entitled ‘Comentarios Reales de los Incas’.

These rejections further fuelled the couple’s anger and their desire to take matters into their own hands grew and grew.




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Helen Pugh

Helen Pugh


#Inca history where #women take centre stage! Ebooks & paperbacks for kids + adults in English & español. She/her #womenshistory #SouthAmerica.