Before the Spaniards founded the first Spanish city in Peru in 1532, there was an Empire called the Tawantinsuyu, which means “four parts together.” The Incas built the Tawantinsuyu. The Incas were a culture from the highlands, or Andes, that conquered many different cultures all the way from Ecuador to Chile. All these people were different in culture, but not in race. The Tawantinsuyu worked, in a way, like the Roman Empire. The different cultural groups could live by their own values and beliefs, and they could preserve their religion and language.
However, they should do everything according to the Empire law; they should learn Quechua, which was the official language, and work for the best of the Empire. When the Spaniards arrived in these lands, they destroyed the existing order and created a new one. They killed the Inca, who was the Emperor, or “Son of the Sun,” the highest deity. They reorganized everything to the way that worked best for them, and this best way was called “Reducciones de Indios.
” This Reduction of Indians consisted of one Lord (a Spaniard) and a determined number of Indians who worked for him and paid tribute to him. In return, he taught the Indians about faith and the Catholic religion. In this way, the Indians would no longer be “savages” and would become “persons.”
The natives from different cultures believed that time was cyclical. The time had periods that started in chaos which a hero would transform into order; then it would return to chaos, which would be followed by another period of order.
At the moment that the Spaniards were organizing their colony, the Indians felt it was the end of their world and the start of the chaos. In this moment, the Myth of the Incari was created.4550The myth says that the Spaniards killed the last Inca, and they cut off his head, his arms, and his legs. They buried these parts in different and faraway places, because they were afraid of the Inca s power. The Spaniards thought that, in this way, they would be sure that the Inca was dead. What they did not know, according to the myth was that the head of the Inca was alive, although weak. The head searched for its body all across the Empire, and when the head got its body together again, the Inca would rebirth, defeat the Spanish, and rebuild his Empire.
This myth explains what was going on at that time. It shows how the head of the Empire was destroyed and, therefore, why the Indians were weak. Since the natives believed in a cyclical time, there would come the order again, and the hero would be the Inca. That never happened. What happened was that the Spaniards were defeated by the Criollos, who were the result of the mixture between Spaniards and Natives. These Criollos were not Indians or Spaniards, but they spoke Spanish, dressed, ate, etc., like Spanish people. The Criollos started ruling their country without other cultures and races. What Peru ended up with by the nineteenth century was a “white” richer, more educated, and powerful class and a “not white” poor working class. By the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, Peru suffered the worst ever economic and political crisis. In these moments, when all the country was supposed to get together to fight against poverty and the terror of The Shining Path, this myth, as well as others, began circulating again among the people from the Indian culture and others. It is true that they did not believe in it, but it was part of the hysteria of the time.
No one trusted anyone else during that time, and the differences among Peruvians were stressed instead of forgotten. What was terrible, in my opinion, was that this confirmed that the social crisis in Peru was as deep and as old as it could be. I wonder how Peruvians can fix something that has existed since 1532 and how much time it is going to take.