Peru: One Country, Two Cultures

By Juan Guaján, Resumen Latinoamericano on January 28, 2023.

In these days, the Peruvian brothers and sisters are leading important demonstrations. It is a transition between the power of those who identify themselves with the culture of the conquistadors and who still continue to govern, and those who symbolize a new model capable of giving their place to the identity and culture of the descendants of the original peoples.

But… Peru is not just any country. From what -today- are its lands, in pre-Columbian times, the Inca empire -the most important of our America- spread, whose extension went deep into territories that today are part of our country. The Viceroyalty of Peru, of which we were a part, had its headquarters there.  The liberating forces of the Army of the Andes arrived to its capital – Lima – who’s Chief – José de San Martín – sealed, together with Simón Bolívar, the South American independence and was declared Protector of Peru.

Its indigenous population is, together with the Bolivian and Ecuadorian, one of the most important in the region. The Quechua and Aymara languages are spoken throughout the Andean area, forming a link between peoples that today recognize different nationalities.

Its peasantry, especially in the Sierra, is organized in some 5 thousand communes that control 15% of its territory and 20% of the national population, but coastal policies do not reach them.

In a similar way to what happened two centuries ago, the Andean region continues to be the scenario where the central aspects of cultural predominance for the coming times are being played out.

In the 19th century, all of Our America subject to Spanish rule achieved political independence, but fell under the domination of those who had the power of the ports and control of international trade. The triumphs of that independence were shipwrecked there, but not the will to recover them.

Today’s Peru, with 7 presidents in the last 5 years, is a sample of an unresolved historical crisis. On the one hand, the Peru of the poor, the indigenous Peru, the Peru of the highlands and the jungle. There, for the last 5 centuries, Peru has suffered contempt and genocide from the other Peru, the white Peru, the coastal Peru, the Peru of Lima, where the power is located. In both the indigenous presence is important, being even greater than that of the mestizos, but the latter – in the highlands and in the jungle – are mostly integrated to the indigenous interests and culture. This clashes with the power and the values of progress and individual advancement of the white people of Lima.

The recent coup d’état, is one of these “institutionalist coups” with strong parliamentary protagonism (Haiti 2004; Honduras 2009; Paraguay 2012; Brazil 2016 and Bolivia 2019) imprisoned Peruvian President Pedro Castillo weeks ago. This new Condor Plan or rebirth of the National Security Doctrine put an end to a weak and vacillating government, elected by the poor people. But this new Coup unleashed the anger contained for centuries against the elites who govern from Lima, without attending to the demands and culture of these submerged peoples.

These same peoples sheltered the heroic action of Tupac Amarú and his attempt at independence. From the defeat of that effort and from the unity desired by our first patriots were born the countries of Our America that we know today, which -in a few years- gave themselves their liberal constitutions that still endure.

The obscene inequality that separates these two realities that coexist under the name of Peru explains what is going on now in the streets; the attempt of the poor people to reach Lima and occupy it.

Justifying and naturalizing this fracture, the usurper President Boularte has said that “Puno (one of the most critical areas) is not Peru”.

We will never know the number of fallen fighters who are paying with their lives the price of this attempt to rescue sovereignty.

Power has already made public its policy: Repression. The people have theirs: Resistance. The attitude of solidarity of the indigenous peoples of the highlands and jungle, maintaining the logistics of the thousands of demonstrators, is moving. Also noteworthy is the attitude of the young people who opened the doors of the University to welcome the demonstrators. No less exciting is the gesture of Bolivian indigenous communities that bring food to their brothers of the Tahuantinsuyo (where “tahuan” is 4 and “suyo” means region). That is, the 4 original regions of the Inca Empire and that the Peruvian-Bolivian Confederation tried to reunify (1836/1839).

There are many governments, some of them of progressive thought, that do not want to see this drama of the Peruvian people. They claim to do so in the name of democracy, which is founded on legal and institutional principles of western origin that have endorsed and endorse the genocide of the indigenous people.

It is impossible to know the final destiny of the struggle that the Peruvian people are waging today. But there is no doubt that it is a link in those transitions that our peoples are beginning to go through in search of their second and definitive independence and for a new social model, where the values of solidarity and collaboration are superior to the selfishness and profit that today rule in our societies.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – Buenos Aires