Libertadores: A collection of eight films about the heroes of latin american independence

TUPAC AMARU (1738-1781)


One could say that Tupac Amaru initiated Latin America and Peru’s independence in 1780. His fight against the Spanish became a separatist rebellion directed against oppression and injustice. None other was as pure in ideals, geographic dimension or political importance.

In the 16th century, viceroy Toledo had tried to erase the memory and the image of the Incas, with no success. However the way the Incas were viewed by the correjidores of the 18th century, explained why they used the figure of Tupac Amaru after centuries of oppression and passivity.

Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui was nicknamed Tupac Amaru after his grandfather Tupac Amaru I and was born in 1738 in the city of Qosco. He studied at the Jesuit School where he learned the history of the Bible. It isn’t adventurous to think that the story of Moses, liberating his village, inspired him to do the same with his. Amaru was also supported by the theories of Francisco Suarez, a Jesuit.


His social program was clear from the beginning yet his political program varied according to the new situations. In 1777 he approached the Spanish authorities for the first time and proposed that they:

  • Eliminate the mita, the abusive tax that all natives had to pay.
  • Denounce the inhuman struggles they were subjected to, especially in the mining industry.
  • The extinction of obrajes, prisons where adults, children and old men were forced to knit without rest.
  • Denouncing the existence of corregidores, who forced Indians to purchase all sorts of unnecessary objects.
His proposals were not taken into account. Tupac Amaru began to prepare the insurrection by buying firearms as well as convincing native Indians to support his cause. In 1780, a native Indian bishop, by the name of Moscoso, excommunicated a corregidor called Arriaga, who was hated by Indians. Tupac Amaru sent to detain him and forced him to sign a letter asking authorities for money and arms and called all villages of the province to join together in Tungasuca, where he was held prisoner. After executing Arriaga, he began the largest uprising in America. Echoes of the rebellion traveled as far as Nueva Granda and Rio de la Plata, provoking other uprisings.

Followed by an enthusiast number of Indians, he began to travel thru village and cities, from Salta to Cuzco, destroying obrajes on his way and proclaiming the following:

  • Freedom to Indians and slaves.
  • That clergymen do not fear their position. He would only abolish the tyrannical rulers.
  • He promised the Creoles that they would live like brothers and destroy the bad government.
In January of 1781, numerous creoles – Comuneros of Nueva Granda – and more than five thousand Indians, took arms.

Tupac Amaru wanted to avoid a blood bath. But while he negotiated, his enemy defeated him. However, the political measures adopted by the leaders of the Realists made many desert or take sides with them.
The measures were to:

  • Prohibit free trade with corregidores.
  • Reprieve all of those involved with the insurrection, except the leaders.

Tupac Amaru tried to attack but the Realist army was warned in advance and he failed. On the night of the 5th of April a battle was fought. After a bloody struggle, Condorcanqui had to retire, leaving thousands of corpses behind.

Tupac Amaru went to the south, where a group of traitors arrested him by surprise and took him to Qosco and turned him into the Spanish. Tupac Amaru, submitted to torture, was sentenced to death.

On the 18th of July of 1781, Tupac Amaru was forced to be witness to the killing of his loyal followers. Then, it was his turn.

They first cut his tongue for talking against the King. They tied his legs and arms to four horses so his limbs could be ripped apart but the horses could not bear Condorcanqui´s strength. The viceroy’s representative untied the horses and ordered his head to be chopped off.

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