Colonial Legacies in Peru

Colonial Legacies in the Viceroyalty of Peru
Colonial Legacies
Chasteen argues that: "For Latin America, conquest
and colonization by the Spanish and Portuguese
created patterns of social domination that became
eternal givens…" (p. 29)
Is this a convincing argument?
Native American Settlements
At the Time of the Encounter
Maya: 1800 B.C.
Aztec: 1325 – 1521
In 1521 Hernán Cortés conquered the capital,
Tenochtitlan, and defeated the Aztec Emperor
Hueyi Tlatoani Moctezuma II
At it’s height the Mayan empire was extensive
and advanced; the empire went into decline in
the 8th and 9th centuries and only a few
centers remained at the time of the Encounter.
Portuguese and Spanish settlers assimilated,
enslaved, or exterminated most Tupis. They
were decimated and today occupy only small
reserves in the Amazon basin
Inca: 1100 – 1572
Francisco Pizzarro captured Atahualpa in
1532; assassinated him in 1533 and placed
his brother, the collaborater Manco Inca
Yupanqui, on the throne. The last Inca
stronghold was discovered and the last ruler,
Túpac Amaru, captured and executed in
Colonialism in The Andes:
Before the Encounter
Settlement Patterns
Inca civilization
 Communal landholding
Social Life
Village life
Political Life
Loose empire
 Tribute and Mita
Economic Life
Herding, soil enrichment, and agriculture.
The Encounter
Movement of Europeans
 Spanish
conquerors in the
Americas were
"undisciplined adventurers"
who moved across Latin
America in waves
 Disease often preceded
the explorers and nearly
always followed them
 Settlers lagged far behind
the explorers
Colonialism The Andes
After the Encounter
Settlement Patterns: Viceroyalty of Peru
• Explorers did not reach Peru until
fairly late. However, they were very
interested in the apparent mineral
wealth that they saw
• Permanent settlement centered in
the productive lowland and costal
areas and near sources of mineral
in 1784
Colonialism The Andes
After the Encounter
Social and Political Life
Village life disrupted, in part
Permanent migration and resettlement was rare
 European colonialism built on and intensified indigenous forms of
authority and empire
Social stratification
Tribute and forced labor
The more marginal the land for productive use, the more likely
that village life would remain intact.
Economic Life
Mining was the center of Peruvian economic importance.
Labor intensive
 Local markets sprang up around the mines, often staffed by
women, to support the laborers
Potosí: Before the Encounter
Evidence dates silver smelting in the Andes to
around 1000 to 1200 A.D., long before the Incas.
The Incas harnessed local labor through the Mita
system to create a silver industry that thrived until
the Spanish took it over.
Indigenous techniques: open-cut digging and
smelting in guayrachinas.
Potosí: Spanish Colonialism
Jaime Villalobos, geologist: "Mining,
whether in colonial times, or whether
by the private sector or by the stateowned Bolivian Mining Corporation,
has taken non-renewable resources
from the area and left behind only
contamination and poverty."
The Spanish discovered the silver mines
at Potosi in 1545
In total around 2 billion ounces of silver
were extracted from the mountain during
the colonial era
In 1570 the population of Potosí was
around100,000. The mita system of
forced labor brought over 13,000
indigenous workers per year to Potosi
Minting coinage was Potosi's other
Fray Antonio de la Calancha, 1638:
"Every peso coin minted in Potosi has cost
the life of 10 Indians who have died in
the depths of the mines."
Potosí: Now
The mines and mills at Potosi are still active
working conditions are similar to Colonial
Work from dawn till dusk
Child labor
Extreme temperatures
Coca leaves
Health concerns: respiratory ailments,
infant mortality, life expectancy
Dynamite is used to blast away the ore
The pay is about $5 a day
Renewed corporate interest in Potosí
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