Atusparia Revolt

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Atusparia Revolt

Atusparia Revolt of 1885, the largest regional rebellion of primarily peasant composition in nineteenth-century Peru. It was a direct consequence of the Peruvian civil war (1883–1885) between the Reds (a nationalist resistance movement led by Andrés Cáceres) and Blues (a peace-with-Chile faction led by Miguel Iglesias) that followed the disastrous War of the Pacific (1879–1883). In their battles against the Blues, who then controlled the provincial government in the department of Ancash, the rebels were at times led or aided by non-indigenous Red militants. The revolt itself, however—which now bears the name of Pedro Pablo Atusparia, alcalde ordinario or district varayoc (headman) of the northern half of Huaraz province in 1885—was mobilized by subaltern Indian headmen, who fielded tens of thousands of their compatriots in siege warfare against Blue elements among the mestizo and creole population that dominated the valley towns of the Callejón de Huaylas.

Rebels burned the provincial treasury archive, which held the poll-tax registers. Indians considered the new poll tax to be illegitimate because it did not guarantee access to common lands, as the indigenous head tax had in earlier decades. The varayoc signed petitions protesting the postcolonial state's disregard for "Indian rights" and criticized its tendency to collapse into the "criminal projects" of warring caudillos. Rebels controlled the region for two months until Blue counterinsurgency forces from Lima put down the revolt in torrents of blood. After repression and the conclusion of the civil war, however, resistance continued; the poll tax was successfully boycotted until its official abolition in 1895.

See alsoWar of the Pacific .


The most comprehensive treatment of the Atusparia revolt is William W. Stein, El levantamiento de Atusparia (1988). It builds on Cesar A. Alba Herrera, Atusparia y la revolución campesina de 1885 en Ancash (1985). A more recent study that places the revolt in its historical context is Mark Thurner, "From Two Nations to One Divided" (Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, 1993).

Additional Bibliography

Chambers, Sarah C. From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender, and Politics in Arequipa, Peru, 1780–1854. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

Méndez G. Cecilia. The Plebeian Republic: The Huanta Rebellion and the Making of the Peruvian State, 1820–1850. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

Soria Casaverde, María Belén. El Dorado republico: Visión oficial de la Amazonia peruana, 1821–1879. Lima: Seminario de Historia Rural Andina, 2006.

Thurner, Mark. From Two Republics to One Divided: Contradictions of Postcolonial Nation Making in Andean Peru. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

                                        Mark Thurner