In Mexico, the Spanish puppet-Tlatoanis could not hinder the anger of large groups against the heavy forced labor, the social misery and the forced Christianizing.
The first major Indian resistance was due to Caxcanes in present Mexican states of Jalisco, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. In 1540, they resisted the Spaniards slavelike conditions and executions by entrenching themselves on Mount Mixtón, and they held it until 1542 when the Spaniards, with the help of Aztec and Tlacan troops, conquered the mountain. The aftermath became a longlasting guerrillawar and that thousands of Caxcanes in iron chains were deported to mining or were executed. Many women and children were raped and forced to move. But the longing for freedom was alive.
The Spaniards in Peru knew that the Inca Empire had been wellorganized, so they nominated some candidates that the Indians could choose for a local government.
The cooperation strengthened the Spaniards social control exercised through the local chiefs who previously had obeyed Sapa Incas orders; as a kind of bailiff, they now secured laborforces for the Spanish gentlemen who had flowed to the country: nobles and traders, peasants, adventurers, churchmen, artists and women. In 1560 there were about 8,000 Spaniards in Peru; in addition, slaves were sailed from Africa and forced to work hard with Indians in fields and mines.
However, the policy of cooperation did not succeed as well as the Spaniards had wanted, hoped and believed. First, the country was marked by rivalry between the conquistadors and afterwards some of their sons refused to obey the Spanish King. Monastic orders lay in conflicts and from the rainforest, Manco Inca and his successors waged war against Spanish forces. Indians were forced to relocate, and that also sparked discontent.
Taki Unquy grew up around 1564, claiming that the holy places were bothered by Catholic missionaries. The movement was the only resistance movement that came from below, was the own of the oppressed and had to secure their own liberation. The goal was to spread the Indian faith as a tool to escape the Spaniards. The movement existed for less than 10 years.
Around 1742, a new religious movement emerged in the rain forest around the Indian Juan Santos Atahualpa, who had been trained by Jesuits and who claimed to be a descendant of the Inca Atahualpa. He promised the Indians salvation when he was crowned Sapa Inca in Lima. Although the movement existed a generation after Juan Santos Atahualpas death, it remained local in the central highlands of Peru, triggering no real social revolt.
It was as if the Indian people could choose between impotence in the Spanish gentlemens Catholicism or in the persecuted Andean ancestral worship.
Exploitation and injustice continued without much opposition from the oppressed.
Spain, too – now under King Carlos 3rd from the House of Bourbon – changed. In the 1700s, the economy was reorganized and the administration centralized. The colonies were exploited more systematically, as the international competition was intensified. It aroused anger among those at the bottom of the social pyramid, but also in the Creole middle class, ie. ‘the whites’ of the colonies, who began to speak of independence.
In Mexico, opposition to the Spanish colonial power appeared in a particular way within the church. In 1794, after 250 years of Spanish rule, the Virgin of Guadalupe became a figure of unification against the Spanish colonial power.
On her saints day that year – when both the Viceroy and the Archbishop were present – the Dominican Servad Teresa de Mier preached at her image, claiming that it was 1750 years old and that it had been painted on the Apostle Saint Thomas coat! The week after, the Archbishop announced that the priest should be excommuni-cated, imprisoned and expelled from Mexico for 10 years. The sermon was considered a political provocation: a postulate of Mexicos Christianity before the Spaniards! It was an attack on the Spanish gentlemen in the colonies to claim that Indians should have met Jesus twin Thomas!
At that time Christianity had not reached Spain! This is simply awful! Some must have screamed.
The sermon promoted the smoldering national-revolutionary notions that Mexico was something in itself and not just a Spanish colony. Many of the Creole middleclass, who had Spanish roots, which were, of course, generations old, but which gave privileges at the expense of the Indian population, were greatly dissatisfied with being governed from Spain, so they fought for independence, Independencia.
Miguel Hidalgo was a university rector in the city today known as Morelia in the state of Michoacán, and from there he spread the liberal ideas he had read were discussed in Europe. Then he was dismissed. Instead, he became a village priest. The experience of misery in the village of Dolores in the state of Guanaujato also prompted him to demand social justice for Indians and mestizos, who he urged to become self-sufficient, which would be a violation of Spanish law protecting selected productions.
Men around Hidalgo were planning an uprising, but the government snapped up plans. María Josefa Cresencia Ortiz Téllez-Giron – wife of the local governor – warned the insurgents, so plans had to be speeded up. On September 15, 1810, Hidalgo got like-minded with arms to open the city jail, rang the church bell, gathered 300 people, and delivered the sermon now called El Grito de Dolores, the Cry of Dolores, in which he CRIED to fight the government.
The few churchgoers turned into hundreds of thousands – intellectuals, liberal priests and poor Indians – armed with working-tools, weapons and Virgin of Guadalupe-flags as well as social, national and religious arguments fought for Mexicos independence.
Mexicos independency was achieved in 1821. The Mexican bourgeoisie – Creoles – had liberated the country from the Spanish colonial government, with support from mestizos and Indians.
Mexico was a huge country, populated first and foremost by Indians and mestizos, and constitutionally it became a federal republic. In 1836, English-speaking settlers in the Mexican state of Texas declared that they would no longer be part of Mexico but would be independent. The movement was turned down by the Mexican military, but in 1845 the United States incorporated Texas.
1846-1847 US-American troops crossed the newly drawn borders and even occupied Vera Cruz and Mexico City. Mexico lost more than half its area: Texas, California, most of New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. In 1853, the rest of New Mexico and Arizona was sold to the United States.
From the independency in 1821 to 1850, Mexico was in turmoil: 50 governments couped each other – followed by violence, blood and death.
The Yucatán Peninsula had not been ruled from Mexico City, but directly from Spain. When Mexico became independent, the bourgeoisie of Yucatán opposed the central government in Mexico City and declared its independence. The upper class of the Yucatán armed Mayan Indians, who soon afterwards turned the weapons towards their masters. The war is called the Caste War and was fought 1847-1855/1901. After bloody fighting, the Indians laid down their weapons, because as peasants they cared for their land; in those years, the white masters revenge hit, and half of the Indian population of the Yucatán Peninsula lost their lives.
Also in Peru, resistance to Spanish colonial rule arose in the 18th century. The bestknown resistance leader was the regional leader José Gabriel Condorcanqui, a mestizo with the title of Marquis of Oropesa. Allegedly he was the greatgreatgreatgrandchild of Túpac Amaru, the last Sapa Inca in the rainforest, so José called himself Túpac Amaru 2nd. In 1780, he let a Spanish city bailiff arrest, accuse of cruelty and subsequently execute. Túpac Amaru 2nd hated the Spanish rule, dreamt that the Inca era could be restored and was now at the head of a Indian uprising.
Túpac Amaru 2nd organized peasants, assaulted Spanish military units, and with stolen weapons and workingtools, the Indian army marched towards Cusco. The 6,000 rebel troops won a battle outside the city but could not conquer the city.
Túpac Amaru 2nd was betrayed by his own officers, captured and sentenced to death in 1781. On the same day, he was forced to attend the execution of his wife, their son, a brother-in-law as well as some of his officers. Then he was executed: by four horses were tied to his arms and legs at Plaza de Armas in Cusco, and they tore him to death.
After the execution, his army conquered large parts of present-day Bolivia and Argentina, but then the rebellion was turned down, and speaking Quechua was forbidden.
Some areas in the rainforest remained under Indian control, so Spanish law enforcement – military units and missionaries – remained at a safe distance. The interest in these Indian controlled areas changed when, in the 19th century, it was found out to drain latex from the rainforest rubber trees and use the rubber. Then the Indian resistance was brutally defeated.
The Peruvian bourgeoisie was conservative and characterized by the presence of enormous Spanish, royalist forces. White racism towards Indians was reinforced during this period. While self-conscious citizens of the other Spanish colonies of America began their struggle for independence in the years 1810-21, the bourgeoisie of Peru remained loyal to Spain, which by many means defended its policy, while the homeland changed itself during the Napoleonic wars.
In 1821, foreigners – the Argentine General José de San Martín and the Venezuelan General Simón Bolívar and their troops with financial support from Chile, which Argentine San Martín had first invaded – succeeded in throwing the Spanish forces out of Peru.
Even after Peru was declared independent, however, the conservative Peruvian bourgeoisie fought the new independent Peruvian government. In 1824, the Spanish resistance was largely defeated and in 1826 the last Spanish troops were forced out. A Spanish attempt to recapture Peru took place in 1866, when a Spanish navy bombed Limas port city Callao.
The overwhelmingly large Indian population of Peru remained immersed in apathy, seeking solace in either Andes faith, Catholicism, or mixed religion; the peasants were thinking on daily life without making plans for changes of the society.
The groups and classes that implemented national independence in South America belonged to the native feudal aristocracy; they were descendants of the Spanish colonizers, who were full of inferiority complexes facing the Spaniards in the motherland. The victors did not intend to change the social structure of the colonies. The Indians were still the silent, oppressed majority.
But in North America – where Mexico is located – ideas about revolution were formulated by groups that intended to change the country, Paz believes.
That was the starting point anyway – until the officer Augustín de Iturbide, who had bloody fought for the Spanish King, switched sides to the rebels who gave him the rank of general and in 1821 fought for Mexicos independence. The following year, at a lavish ceremony, he crowned himself Emperor; his reign lasted a year and was followed by military coup, military coup and military coup …
Violence increased machismo, an imagined male superiority, but also a growing contempt for selfimportant carreerists.
(pp. 459-464 in volume 2, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
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