Andean Storm Part 3: A Tragic End

When Tupac and his warriors did try and besiege Cusco on 28th December, it didn’t go well. They had lost any initial support given to them by mestizos and creoles. By 10th January, the rebels had failed disastrously and had to retreat.

By this point, there was in-fighting within the rebel camp. Other caciques began to turn on Tupac out of jealousy. They objected to the idea of him being the leader of all indigenous. Consequently, he was betrayed by another cacique in April 1781 during a battle in Tungasuca and was captured by the Spanish.

Micaela fled with her sons Hipólito, Mariano and Fernando. But, soon they too were betrayed for a large sum of money. Tied up and dragged to Cusco, it was the saddest entrance to the city anyone had ever seen.

Once there, the family were split up; they couldn’t even say goodbye to each other.

Micaela was put on trial on 22nd April 1781. Accused of harshly punishing indigenous people who wouldn’t obey her husband, they tried to trick her into naming other insurgents, but she refused to utter a single word throughout the whole ordeal. Micaela Bastidas did not ask for mercy, she did not apologise and she did not betray any of the movement’s followers.

The Spanish began to torture Tupac a week later, but he bravely wouldn’t speak a word either.

The Spanish accounts of what happened next are meticulously detailed. They wanted the consequences of rebellion written down for all posterity.

18th May was chosen as the day on which the leaders and their family members would be executed one after another.

Micaela had her hands and feet tied and was dragged from the cell by a rope around her neck while the town crier announced her wrongdoings.

The others had similarly been dragged out to the main square in Cusco to watch each other die. Because the women were just as important as the men in the rebellion, they were punished with the same level of severity.

First up was a low-level leader, then Hipólito, who could’ve been no more than twenty years old. Micaela was stoic and silent while she watched them hang her eldest son.

Uncle Francisco Tupac Amaru was the third victim, followed by Tomasa Tito Condemayta.

At 11am, 36-year-old Micaela was brought forward. First, they tried to cut out her tongue but she point-blank refused and so they gave up. Next, they tried to kill her via the garrotte, but her neck was so slender that this method failed and so they resorted to kicking her to death. How gentlemanly of them.

Finally, Tupac himself was put to death. They cut out his tongue, tried to kill him by dismemberment and when that failed, they beheaded him.

Their youngest son, Fernando, who was just twelve years old at the time, had been forced to watch the cruel deaths. His death sentence had been commuted to having his tongue cut out because he was so young.

The dead were decapitated so that their heads could be rammed onto spikes erected on the top of a hill alongside plaques proclaiming their crimes to serve as a warning to others. At this point, Micaela’s tongue was finally cut out and her body was cut up. Micaela’s and Tupac’s four limbs were sent in various directions and their torsos were burnt on the hill. Nobody could claim that they were still alive and in a Catholic culture that believed your body should be intact for the afterlife, the Spanish were trying to ensure they didn’t enter heaven.

Even the Spanish Court weren’t best pleased about these proceedings. It was excessive even for them. And if all of that wasn’t enough, the family’s assets were seized and their house was demolished. There was no inheritance for the two brothers who had survived the executions. Indeed, Fernando, his brother Mariano, and their father’s half-brother were the only survivors by this point. The brothers were exiled to Spain; however, Mariano died in a shipwreck just outside Portugal on the voyage over. Fernando fell into a depression due to all that had happened and due to the mistreatment he received in Spain. His low spirits stayed with him until he died of tuberculosis.

Micaela and Tupac’s immediate family were wiped out. They had no descendants.

TBC