Chayanta, Revolt of (1927)

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Chayanta, Revolt of (1927)

Revolt of (1927) Chayanta, one of the largest peasant rebellions in twentieth-century Bolivian history, in which up to 10,000 indigenous rebels attacked haciendas and towns throughout the central highlands between Potosí, Sucre, and Oruro. The uprising lasted about a month, and although it was violently suppressed by the army, the revolt effectively ended the period of hacienda expansion at the expense of highland traditional communities. During the early 1920s community Indians of south-central Bolivia, who had previously fought the alienation of their lands primarily through nonviolent means, became radicalized as legal methods and passive resistance failed. Organized around new leaders, including Manuel Michel, a monolingual Quechua-speaking mestizo, the movement attempted to incorporate not only community Indians but also hacienda peons and urban intellectuals (including the Bolivian Socialist Party). The leaders' principal goals were to fight for the establishment of schools in the communities and for a redistribution of hacienda lands to Indians, whether peons or community members. Shortly after the revolt broke out on 25 July 1927, the rebels took control of a number of haciendas in the Chayanta area (northern Potosí). They killed a landowner but caused few other fatalities. Indigeneous communities elsewhere attempted to rise up but were quickly suppressed. The government mobilized the army and by mid-August had brought the rebellion under control after killing hundreds of Indians. Hundreds more were jailed and the leaders exiled. Armed conflict continued in the countryside at much lower levels of violence for some years thereafter.

See alsoIndigenous Peoples: Quechua.


The most thorough general description of the revolt is contained in René Arze Aguirre, Guerra y conflictos sociales: El caso rural boliviano durante la campaña del Chaco (1987), pp 11-25. See also Olivia Harris and Xavier Albo, Monteras y guardatojos: Campesinos y mineros en el norte de Potosí, rev. ed. (1984), pp. 59-71; and Erick D. Langer, "Andean Rituals of Revolt: The Chayanta Rebellion of 1927," in Ethnohistory 37, no. 3 (1990): 227-253.

Additional Bibliography

Barnadas, Josep M., and Guillermo Calvo. Diccionario histórico de Bolivia. Sucre: Grupo de Estudios Históricos, 2002.

Grindle, Merilee Serrill, and Pilar Domingo. Proclaiming Revolution: Bolivia in Comparative Perspective. Cambridge, MA: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University, 2003.

Grunberg, Angela. The Chayanta Rebellion of 1927, Potosí, Bolivia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Klein, Herbert S. A Concise History of Bolivia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Schultze M., Juan Carlos, and Roberto Casanovas Sainz. Tierra y campesinada en Potosí y Chuquisaca. La Paz: Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Laboral y Agrario, 1988.

Stern, Steve J. Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987.

                                         Erick D. Langer

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Chayanta, Revolt of (1927)

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