Genocide and Millennialism in Upper Peru: The Great Rebellion of 1780-1782

By Nicholas A. Robins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11

Conclusion

The rebellion in Upper Peru was a vortex where millennialism, nativism, genocide, and symbolism dialectically mixed with reformism, coercion, division, and deceit. While the most noted rebel leaders such as Túpac Amaru and Tomás Catari were prospective in their orientation, the majority of the rebels in the field were essentially retrospective, seeking a more strict return to pre-Hispanic ways. 1 If Túpac Amaru often stopped with his troops to hear Mass, Tomás Catari welcomed counsel from his priest, and Túpac Catari used Catholicism to foster his image as a deity, other rebels such as Simón Castillo and Santos Mamani attacked churches, ordered the execution of priests, and made a pyre of sacred articles. One of the few consistencies in the uprising was its diversity, something that should be acknowledged instead of a fruitless search for uniformity.

For most rebels, with the end of Spanish rule they envisioned a society free of corregidors, repartos, mita, taxes, ecclesiastical dues, and tribute. Free from these onerous exactions, they would live under their Inca demigod in possession not only of their lands but also of many of the material goods of their former masters. The inhabitants of this new order would use Indian languages, clothing, and customs and those non-Indians who survived would serve their former subjects. The ascendance of the Indian gods, so long awaited, not only protected the rebels, but emasculated the power of the Christian God.

In the eyes of many Indians, this new world was within grasp. It was at once a very large step and a very small one. Enduring eschatological prophesies, both native and Christian, assured the rebels of divine intervention on their behalf and that the time had come for the return of native

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