The first steps towards the independence of Perú

As it would be impossible for us to render in but a few words a detailed account of the Great Rebellion, led by Tupac Amaru II and the participation of his wife and his relatives, we have made use of articles and visual materials published by Peruvian scholars to tell this chapter of our history.

During the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, Spain held a vast territorial domain in the Americas. Through its power, Spain was able to consolidate its existence as an empire. Spain’s abuse of such power led to the first and most important social protest during its colonial rule. This movement ended with the execution of Tupac Amaru II, his wife, his children, and his relatives, and a campaign of terror and torture to prevent further uprisings. Nevertheless, the seeds of emancipation had been planted throughout Spanish America.

José Gabriel Condorcanqui or Tupac Amaru II (Resplendent Serpent in Quechua) was the leader of mestizo origin who led the most important rebellion in the Vice-Royalty of Peru. He was the son of the chief Miguel Condorcanqui Usquiconsa and a descendant of Tupac Amaru I, the last Inca Sapa of the Vilcabamba resistance. Tupac Amaru II was born in Surimana-Canas, Cuzco on March 19, 1738 and he was educated at the Jesuit school of San Francisco de Borja. Later, he attended art classes at the Universidad Mayor de San Marcos and became fluent in Latin, Quechua, and Spanish. Tupac Amaru II inherited on an interim bases the chiefdoms of Pampamarca, Surimana, and Tungasuca and enough mules to devote himself to the transportation of goods throughout the different communities. While engaged in this enterprise, he learned about the mistreatment that the Spaniards were committing against the indigenous people. Thus, he met future adherence to the cause of the Great Rebellion.

In 1760, Tupac Amaru II married, by the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, Micaela Bastidas Puyacahua, who would play an important role in the independence movement against Spanish oppression. The couple had three sons: Hipolito, Mariano, and Fernando.

Micaela Bastidas Puyacahua was born approximately in 1745. She was the daughter of Josefa Puyacahua and Manuel Bastidas, a Spaniard who had probably African roots, which is why she was called Zamba, due to her cinnamon complexion. Micaela was probably illiterate or had a most elementary education, which was common for women of that time. Her mother tongue was Quechua, but she also understood Spanish. Micaela was a woman of courage, great intelligence, and sharp intuition. She had no wealth.

Micaela’s marriage to Tupac Amaru II raised her social position. She is considered one of the most important women in the early heroism of the independence movement of Spanish America, which began as a reformist movement against bad governance, against the mita (forced labor), and against the increase of taxes, which culminated in the Great Rebellion of Tupac Amaru II. Micaela identified with the cause by supporting her husband through advice concerning strategy and organization.

Tupac Amaru II and his wife, Micaela Bastidas Puyacahua, who was tortured without consideration for her gender and her children, gave their lives with honesty and heroism for the cause of equality and social justice.

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