It has been a few weeks since I returned from my travels to Peru on Oct 31, and only now as I visit Los Angeles am I able to write about what this trip meant to me. I went to Peru to visit my family and to take some time off. In Peru, I visited Cuzco for the 5th time with my compañero Estria and his mother
This trip to Cuzco, unlike many trips in the past, was a spiritual journey for me because, for the first time, I fully understand the genocide and the exploitation that was the Spanish invasion. Growing up in a Chicano community, I have for many years understood the impact of invasion, conquest and colonization on the people of Mexico. Growing up for a few years in Mexico City, I was able to witness firsthand the effects of colonization today, 500 years later. Whether it was witnessing how the indigenous people of Mexico, the original people of the land, are treated as second class citizens because of a caste system imposed by Spanish colonization, or witnessing the widespread impact of Cathlolicism all over the country, Mexico has taught me the effects of a holocaust that happenned 500 years ago.
But still, I did not understand how that same Spanish invasion affected my ancestors, the Incas. While I knew that atrocities were committed by the Spanish monarchy and the church, I did not understand the intricacies of this history.
In my many visits to the city, one of my favorite teachers of this history has been Juan Bravo. I have never actually met Juan Bravo, nor have I ever read any of his books... it his mural on Avenida del Sol that has shown me through images the story of the great empire of the Incas, known as the Tahuantinsuyo. In particular, one of the pieces in this mural of Inca history that most touches my heart, is the murder of Tupac Amaru. His death, in my eyes, most symbolizes the monstruosities committed by the Spanish.
Tupac Amaru was a mestizo that led a revolt against the Spanish empire around 1781. His wife, Micaela Bastides, was also part of the resistance. In this bottom she is represented to the bottom left, her body murdered by the Spanish. His three children were also murdered, at a time when Tupac Amaru was being chased by the Spanish. This photo is a portion of the mural that shows the sacrifice of Tupak Amaru, who is suspended in air held apart by four horses. In the painting, the horses are represented as minotaurs. The four minotaurs represent: the monarchy (white minotaur), slave labor (black minotaur), the military (red minotaur), and the clergy (yellow minotaur).
In actuality, Tupac and his wife received one of the harshest sentences ever given in the history of Latin America. Tupac's extremeties were to be tied to four hourses and he would be pulled apart as he was alive. The remains of he and his wife were to be mutilated and placed on sticks to display to surrounding villages. The governor ordered that Quechua not be spoken, Quechua dances and other forms of cultural express were prohibited.
The day of the sentence in the main town square, before hundred of onlookers, Micaela Bastides' tongue was cut off and she was hung. Since her neck was too small for the noose, she was brutally kicked in her womb and breasts until she died. This happened before Tupac's eyes. Tupac suffered a similar fate. His tongue was also cut off before his limbs were tied to four horses. As the horses pulled in opposite directions, they could not break him. It is thought that his large indigenous frame was too strong for the four animals. Ultimately, the Spaniards gave up and he was mutilated. In the painting, Tupac is being honored by a female figure, most likely, Pachamama, the name in Quechua for mother earth.
Tupac's life will forever by remembered by freedom fighters throughouth the world. The deceased rapper, Tupac, was named after him. We have named our Taller after Tupac Amaru to honor his fight. Viva Tupac Amaru!
I encourage you to view a full tour of the mural by Juan Bravo, please visit my photo album on the left bar.
(photo by estria/ transistor6.com)