Violence and relations of power in Andean-based Peruvian narrative since 1980


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Violence and relations of power in Andean-based Peruvian narrative since 1980
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vi, 250 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Cox, Mark R., 1959-
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1995.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 243-249).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mark R. Cox.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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I would like to express my thanks to the members of my

supervisory committee for their support: Dr. Adolfo Prieto,

Dr. Charles Perrone, Dr. Reynaldo Jimenez, and Dr. Tony

Oliver Smith.

Dr. Andres Avellaneda, the chair of the committee, was

patient in reading the many versions of the dissertation,

always had time to discuss my progress, and kept me


I am also grateful for the guidance of Dr. Randal

Johnson, who left the University of Florida before I was

able to complete my work.

Dr. Tomas G. Escajadillo was kind enough to lend me a

personal copy of his dissertation.

Finally, I would like 'to thank my family for their

support, and, especially, to my wife, Silvia, for all of her

invaluable help and support.








The Indian, Indigenista Narrative, and Criticisms
The Development of Indigenista Narrative .
Contemporary Indigenismo, or Neoindigenismo. .
Obstacles Facing Contemporary Neoindigenista
Writers . . .
Themes in Contemporary Indigenista Narrative .
The Choice of Works . .


Political Indigenismo . .
Definitions of Indigenista Narrative .
Two Criticisms of Indigenista Narrative .
Extraliterary Factors and Indigenismo .
The Development of Indigenista Narrative .
Historical and Literary Developments since the
1950s . . .

1970S . . .

Manuel Scorza . . .
Hildebrando Perez Huarancca . .
Conclusions . . .


Felix Huamin Cabrera . .
Samuel Cavero Galimindi .
Julio Ortega . .
Miguel Garnett . .
Luis Castro Padilla . .
Mario Vargas Llosa . .

. 112

. 112
. 119
. 134
. 141
. 155
. 164








Cecilia Granadino .
Andres Diaz Nunez .
Julian Perez .
S6crates Zuzunaga Huaita
Oscar Colchado Lucio .
Mario Guevara Paredes .
Reynaldo Santa Cruz .
Dante Castro Arrasco .
Luis Nieto Degregori .
Enrique Rosas Paravicino





. . 178
. . 183
. . 185
. . 192
. . 199
. . 200
. . 202
. . 205
. . 210
. . 224

. 237

S. 243

S. 250


Abstract of the Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Mark R. Cox

May 1995

Chairman: Andr6s O. Avellaneda
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures

The dissertation analyzes violence and relations of

power in Andean-based Peruvian narrative since 1980 from

literary, sociological and historical perspectives. A

constant presence in Peruvian literature since 1848,

indioenista narrative has been and continues to be an

integral part of the debate about the Indian. The

dissertation examines short stories and novels by eighteen

writers dealing with the period after 1980, the year when

Peru returned to civilian rule and the Sendero Luminoso

guerrilla movement began its armed struggle. The focus is

on the narrative interpretation of the Indian and the

guerrilla war during this period.

Chapters 1 and 2 examine critical theories and debates

about indigenista narrative and its development.

Indiaenista narrative is part of the larger debate about the


role of the Indian in Peru. Many critical studies of

indiaenista narrative mistakenly focus on subjective

interpretations of the authenticity of a text's description

of the indigenous world. They fail to consider that both
literary and political indiaenismo are exterior, not
interior, visions of the Indian. In addition, these critics
reveal their own political ideologies in attacking or
praising certain particular writers. It is more fruitful to
analyze indiaenista narrative as a reflection and an
influence in the exterior debate about the Indian. With
roots in the chronicles of the conquest, indiaenista
narrative has been produced continuously since 1848.
Chapter 3 studies two works that take place in the

1960s and 1970s and interprets them in light of the

revolutionary potential of the Indian. Chapters 4 and 5

examine six novels and forty-one short stories published
since 1986 by sixteen writers. The focus is on the
narrative treatment of violence and relations of power in
relation to the indigenous peoples and the guerrilla war.




A constant presence in Peruvian narrative since 1848,

indioenista narrative is an important source for

understanding changing ideas about the Indians and their

world. In spite of criticisms of indiaenismo,

pronouncements of its death, and literary critics ignoring

it, many writers continue to write indicenista narrative of

high quality and to address important issues in contemporary

Peru. Marking a new era after twelve years of military

rule, in 1980 the country returns to civilian rule and the

Sendero Luminoso guerrilla movement begins its armed

struggle. Through the analysis of novels and short stories

by eighteen writers, the dissertation examines the state of

contemporary indigenista narrative, its major

preoccupations, and what the works say about contemporary


The Indian, Indiqenista Narrative, and Criticisms

Indians, the "Indian problem," and indiaenismo are the

result of the conquest of the Americas. Guillermo Bonfil

Batalla asserts that the conquest grouped the autochthonous

peoples under the label of Indians, who were seen as

different and inferior. The colonizers justified their

domination as a magnanimous effort to civilize the Indians

(UtoDia v revoluci6n 19). Indiaenistas are usually mestizos

or whites who, in an environment primarily exterior to the

indigenous world, formulate differing ideas of the Indians

and their role in the country. Henri Favre defines

indiaenismo as the following:

Llamamos "indigenismo" una corriente de
pensamiento y de ideas que se organizan y
desarrollan alrededor de la imagen del indio. Se
present como una interrogaci6n de la indianidad
por parte de los no indios en funci6n de
finalidades propias de estos Gltimos. (qtd. in
Barre 29-30)

By definition indicenista narrative is an exterior

perspective of the indigenous world. Jose Carlos Mariategui

argues that critics commit a great injustice if they attack

indiaenista narrative for not describing the indigenous

world from within. It is a literature written by mestizos.

Hence, it is indiaenista, not indiaena (306). Antonio

Cornejo Polar contends that Mariategui's comments are

crucial in doing away with the idea of indicenista narrative

as an interior expression of the Andean world and

establishing the base for a more coherent interpretation of

it ("El indigenismo y las literaturas heterogeneas" 17).

Unfortunately, many critics have not heeded Mariategui's

clarification that indigenismo is an exterior perspective

and continue to judge works based on their own subjective

conceptions of the indigenous world.

Efrain Kristal argues that judging indiaenista

narrative on the basis of subjective opinions of the

authentic description of the indigenous world is not

productive. Critics choose writers who describe their own

conception of the Indian and manipulate the genre to show

how other works lead up to a more complete vision of the

Indian (The Andes 8). What occurs is a nearly endless

succession of competing interpretations of the most correct

representation of the indigenous world. Kristal argues that

many critical works are "fictional and misleading," because

they choose a writer based on a "particular political (or

anthropological) position," with the result of "taking it

out of the context within which it is relevant, namely a

political or an anthropological discussion" (8). Instead of

contesting the authenticity of the description of the

Indian, he proposes that a more fruitful approach is to

analyze the relationship of indiaenista narrative with the

political debate about the Indian (xiii). Therefore,

understood as an exterior perspective, indigenista narrative

reflects and influences debates about the Indian.

Many criticisms of the formal structures of indiaenista

narrative are related to the process of the relegation of

indiaenista and regional narrative to a subordinate position

in relation to the boom. During the struggle, many

associated with the boom contended that indiaenista

narrative was defective and impure (Cornejo Polar,

Literature v sociedad 67-68). Pierre Bourdieu argues that

one of the struggles in the field of cultural production is

to gain the power to define what a writer is and to exclude

others from the dominant definition ("The Field of Cultural

Production" 323). He further argues that the meaning of a

work changes with each change in the field (313). Within

these bounds, much of the criticism of indiqenista narrative

since the 1960s can be understood as the struggle to

supplant the dominance of regional narrative within the

field of cultural production or as a consequence of regional

narrative's loss of a dominant position.

However, those affiliated with the boom, armed with

European and North American theories of the novel, did not

consider the unique requirements of indiaenista narrative.

Mariategui points out that much of Peruvian literature can

not be studied with methodologies appropriate for other

national literatures formed without a conquest (210). Many

critics of indiaenista narrative fail to consider that it

must remain faithful to its indigenous referent and to

western formal structures. Antonio Cornejo Polar says that

the result is heterogeneous literature, where

se trata de literaturas en las que uno o mas de
sus elements constitutivos correspondent a un
sistema socio-cultural que no es el que preside la
composici6n de los otros elements puestos en
acci6n en un process concrete de producci6n
literaria. (Literatura v sociedad 60)

Due to this, it is defective or is a creative response to

the demands of describing the indigenous world with western

formal structures.

The Development of Indigenista Narrative

Indicenista narrative is part of a constant

preoccupation with the role of the Indian. Much more than a

literary school, it has roots in the chronicles of the

conquest and has been a constant in Peruvian literature

(Cornejo Polar, Literatura v sociedad 36-37). The

chronicles of the conquest treat many themes that become

prominent in indigenista narrative. Since Narciso

Arestegui's El Padre Horin (1848), the production of

indicenista narrative has been a continuous process in Peru.

It is influenced by and influences the political debate

about the Indians and their conception.

The chronicles of the conquest are the first written

works to address the role of the Indian in Peru.

Particularly germane to the study of the roots of

indigenista narrative are the chronicles of the Inca

Garcilaso de la Vega, Titu Kusi Yupanqui, and Felipe Guamin

Poma de Ayala. Each criticizes various aspects of the

conquest, principally the brutal subjugation and destruction

of the native populations. The works fall under Antonio

Cornejo Polar's definition of heterogeneous literature,

because, like indigenista narrative, they reflect European

and indigenous influences and describe the indigenous world

for a non indigenous audience. They contrast an idyllic

past with the chaos of the present to criticize the abuses

of the conquest. The concept of the trinity of the abusers

of the Indian is not a creation of Manuel Gonzalez Prada,

but rather Felipe Guamin Poma (Guaman Poma, La nueva cr6nica

13). While the chronicles are not indiqenista narrative,

they do contain many of the formal and thematic elements

later found in indiaenista narrative.'

Indigenista narrative in the nineteenth century centers

on the Indian as an agricultural worker or as a key in the

industrialization of Peru. According to Efrain Kristal,

three of the dominant factions in Peru in the nineteenth

century are liberals, civilistas, and the industrial elite.

Each group has members who write narrative reflecting its

political ideology and, in turn, influence the political

debate about the Indian. The liberals, primarily the rural

oligarchy, want to do away with some abuses of the Indians

to have more productive agricultural workers. Narciso

Arestegui's El padre Horin (1848) is an expression of

liberal thought. Both the civilistas and the industrial

elite want to industrialize Peru, although through different

1 For a comparison of Felipe Guamin Poma de Ayala and
Jose Maria Arguedas, see Roger Zapata, Guaman Poma.
indiaenismo v est6tica de la dependencia en la cultural
peruana, Minneapolis, MN: Institute for the Study of
Ideologies and Literatures, 1989.

means. The key is that the Indian is central to

industrialization. Writers such as Ladislao Grana, Juana

Manuela Gorriti, Juan Vicente Camacho, and Ricardo Palma

have works that reflect civilista thought. Manuel Gonzilez

Prada, after the War of the Pacific (1879-83) and before his

conversion to anarchism, is the main spokesperson for the

industrial elite. Clorinda Matto de Turner's trilogy of

novels, including Ayes sin nido (1889), reflects the

ideology of the industrial elite (Kristal, The Andes 37-


In the first part of the twentieth century, especially

from the 1920s to the 1940s, indigenista narrative is the

dominant literary form in Peru. Ciro Alegria and Jose Maria

Arguedas are two of the principal indiaenista writers of

that era. Efrain Kristal argues that Alegria's works during

this period reflect the influence of the ideology of the

APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana), primarily

in the valuing of the indigenous community ("Del

indigenismo" 67-68). In "No soy un aculturado..." (1968)

Jose Maria Arguedas credits the influence of Mariategui,

Lenin, and socialism for giving direction to his work (El

zorro de arriba v el zorro de abaio 14).

Contemporary Indigenismo, or Neoindiaenismo

In the 1950s and 1960s indiaenista narrative cedes its

dominant position in the cultural field to an urban

narrative heavily influenced by the boom. Antonio Cornejo

Polar and Luis Fernando Vidal argue that since the 1950s

there are two general currents in Peruvian narrative. The

first, represented by Jose Maria Arguedas, focuses on the

disintegration of the old oligarchicc) social order, and the

redefinition of the dominated sectors in the sierra. The

second current, represented by Mario Vargas Llosa, deals

with the construction of a new order (Nuevo cuento peruano

15-18). Efrain Kristal notes that one of the principal

historical reasons for the change in focus in Peruvian

literature is the massive migration from the Andes to the

cities. The migration is the result of the bankruptcy of

the traditional agricultural economy based in the

latifundios, which has been one of the major subjects

treated in indigenista narrative ("Del indigenismo" 57).

With the eclipse of the landed oligarchy, a new dominant

group, composed of three groups, gains power. Kristal says

that some works of three of Peru's more well-known writers

are associated with the dominant group. Julio Ramon Ribeyro

describes the vision of the oligarchy in decline, Mario

Vargas Llosa (in his first novels) the new middle classes,

and Alfredo Bryce Echenique a new dominant sector allied

with international commerce that benefits from exports,

imports, and, at times, industrialization (69). Kristal

concludes that, as a presence in urban narrative and in

indiqenismo, the Indian continues to have a major impact on

Peruvian narrative and is the key to understanding the

recent transformations in Peru (69-74).

One of the most rigorous critics of indiqenista

narrative, Tomas G. Escajadillo says that neoindiaenismo

begins in the 1950s and continues to the present.

Essentially, neoindigenista writers use more contemporary

narrative techniques and the narrative focus becomes broader

due to social, political, and economic changes in the sierra

("La narrative indigenista" 19-32). Early neoindigenista

writers include Eleodoro Vargas Vicuia, Carlos Eduardo

Zavaleta, and Jose Maria Arguedas's later works, such as Los

rios Drofundos (1958) and "La agonia de Rasu-Niti" (1962)

(272). In La narrative indigenista he analyzes

neoindiaenista writers published after 1971.2

Obstacles Facing Contemporary Neoindiaenista Writers

In spite of efforts to establish a strong domestic

publishing industry in the late 1950s and early 1960s,

writers with the most national and international success

have published outside of the country. Manuel Scorza's

efforts to promote the publishing industry and to expand the

literary audience in Peru and other Spanish-speaking

countries in the late 1950s and early 1960s was a stunning,

but ephemeral success. According to Antonio Cornejo Polar,

2 He also mentions these groups in "Tres narradores neo-
indigenistas," and "Los ileaitimos en la literature neo-



the international response to Mario Vargas Llosa's La ciudad

v los Derros (1964) had two results. The first was to

largely end efforts to develop national literature through a

domestic editorial system. The second was to show the

effectiveness of the international route that Vargas Llosa

followed ("Sobre el 'neoindigenismo'" 551-52). Cornejo

Polar and Vidal say that, after Vargas Llosa and Scorza, the

only other writer to be completely successful in following

the international route is Alfredo Bryce Echenique. They

also point out that in 1982 three books of short stories

were published in Peru. In the same year almost two

thousand people participated in the short story contest

sponsored by the newsweekly, Caretas. Of the seventeen

finalists, only two or three had published in the genre

before. As judges for literary contests, they note that the

number of published works does not reflect the quantity of

indiaenista narrative written. In addition to the weak

publishing industry, writers face a small reading public and

a developing economy (Nuevo cuento peruano 11-13).

According to Carlos Calder6n Fajardo, there are two

distinct groups of young writers divided along class lines.

He argues that one group, inspired by the models of Mario

Vargas Llosa, Julio Ramon Ribeyro, and Alfredo Bryce

Echenique, tends to avoid writing about the realities of

contemporary Peru. The other group, many of popular

extraction, writes about themes such as subversion,

violence, the shanty towns, Andean influences in the city,

and other social themes. He contends that both groups are

almost mutually exclusive and even have their own different

critical communities ("El 'boom' subterrineo de la narrative

peruana" 105-6).

The Peruvian and international critical communities

ignore most neoindiaenista writers after Arguedas. Even a

writer of the stature of Manuel Scorza has had to face being

shunned by many in the critical community. Tomas G.

Escajadillo criticizes the Peruvian critical community's

almost complete silence about Scorza's works ("Scorza antes

de la 6ltima batalla"). Friedhelm Schmidt points out that

most of the items in his bibliography of Scorza are minor

references, reviews and interviews. He contends that this

is evidence of the international critical community's lack

of a systematic preoccupation about Scorza's works

("Bibliografia de y sobre Manuel Scorza" 273). Critical

reflection about other indiqenista writers publishing since

1980 is sparse at best. Tomas G. Escajadillo's articles and

recent book are a pleasant exception. While there are

newspaper and journal articles, they have a limited

circulation within Peru.

Themes in Contemporary Indigenista Narrative

While the traditional trinity of exploiters of the

Indian (landowners, priests, and government authorities)

still appears in the narrative, the landowner and the system

of pamonalismo are less of a focus. The criticism falls

more on society and the system as a whole than the

traditional socioeconomic system based on landowners.3

This reflects the effects of the agrarian reforms of the

1960s (although incomplete) and the decline of the landed

oligarchy. In the works analyzed landowners and priests are

less prominent, while the government and society are usually

indifferent or hostile to the needs of the camDesino.

Land and agriculture continue to be the predominant

economic themes. In many texts there are direct and veiled

criticisms of landowners that amassed vast tracts of land

and the incomplete agrarian reforms of the 1960s. The

legacy of these two factors results in many camDesinos being

left with poor and inadequate land. Government programs

designed to help the campesino are largely ineffective and,

at times, are counter to their needs. A consequence of the

weak agricultural economy is the continued migration to

urban areas in the sierra and the coast.

Three kinds of teachers in the narrative reflect

changes in society. Tomas G. Escajadillo mentions two types

of characters. The first is teachers who aid the

established order. The second is teachers associated with

the SUTEP, the principal teachers' union (Arroyo 96). The

3 For example, see Tomas G. Escajadillo, "Hildebrando
P&rez Huarancca," and Jose M. Iztueta, "En torno a Los

teachers affiliated with the SUTEP work to help communities

progress, but they and the communities are often victims of

a system that fears changes in the status quo and threats to

its power. Teachers who join the guerrillas make up the

third category.

The guerrilla war becomes a prominent theme in works

published in 1986 and after. While the military and police

appear in previous indigenista narrative, usually repressing

land seizures by campesinos, the task of confronting the

guerrilla movement is a theme unique to the present.4 Most

works condemn the violence by the repressive forces and the

guerrillas, but others are positive toward one group or the

other. Other actors that appear in some works are the

paramilitary rondas campesinas.

The Choice of Works

The dissertation is purposely incomplete for many

reasons. It is nearly impossible to include every

indioenista work and every short story or novel that

discusses the guerrilla war. Except for the third chapter,

the emphasis is on works published since 1980 that deal with

contemporary violence and relations of power in the Peruvian

sierra. Due to this, many excellent writers and works that

primarily focus on the revalorization of the Indian are

4 While there are narrative works about the guerrillas in
1965, Sendero Luminoso has had much more of an impact on the

excluded. Works that treat the guerrilla war outside of the

sierra region are also excluded. The goal of the

dissertation is to help fill in a gap of critical studies of

contemporary narrative fiction visions of the sierra since

the beginning of the Sendero Luminoso's armed struggle in


The focus of the dissertation is on the relationship of

the texts with the larger context of social, political, and

economic developments in Peru since 1980. Chapter 2

examines theoretical questions about indigenista narrative

and summarizes its development. Chapter 3 analyzes two

works from 1979 and 1980, both related to revolution. The

fourth and fifth chapters analyze novels and short stories,

respectively, about the period after 1980.


Indians, the "Indian problem," and indigenismo are the

result of the conquest of the Americas. According to

Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, the term Indian refers to the

autochthonous colonized sector of society and to a colonial

relationship. He argues that a colonial situation requires

a global definition of the colonized peoples as different

and inferior. In this way the colonizers justify their

privileged position and rationalize the conquest as a

magnanimous effort to civilize the colonized peoples (19).

The subjugation of the Peruvian Indians has been a difficult

task. Unlike the relatively quick conquest in Mexico, in

Peru it took the Spanish almost forty years to defeat the

Neolnca empire. Since the conquest, there have been many

uprisings. With the beginning of the armed struggle of

Sendero Luminoso in 1980, campesinos become the principal

participants as victims, guerrillas, or members of the

repressive forces.

The role of the Indian is a question that has been a

major component of Peruvian political and literary discourse

since the conquest. Most of the discussions are classified

as indiaenismo, which generally has two sides: the

revalorization of the indigenous peoples and social protest.

The focus of this dissertation and this chapter is on the

social protest tradition of indigenismo. This chapter

focuses on definitions and overviews of political

indiaenismo and indigenista narrative fiction, extraliterary

factors and the narrative, and a summary of the development

of indigenista narrative and related historical developments

since the conquest.

Political Indigenismo

While political indiqenismo attempts to help the

Indians, it is not an entirely altruistic endeavor. Henri

Favre defines indigenismo as the following:

Llamamos "indigenismo" una corriente de
pensamiento y de ideas que se organizan y
desarrollan alrededor de la imagen del indio. Se
present como una interrogacion de la indianidad
por parte de los no indios en funci6n de
finalidades propias de estos Gltimos. (qtd. in
Barre 29-30)

The key is that Indians have little to do with indiaenista

theories or their implementation. They are merely the

beneficiaries (or victims) of policies created by others on

their behalf. This is not to say that indigenistas are

insincere or do not want to help the Indians, but the

results of their ideologies and policies are often of most

benefit to the indiaenistas.

Marie-Chantal Barre argues that the principal goal of

government indigenista policies is to integrate the Indian

into the dominant society, which results in the

disintegration of the communal system. Since the conquest

the government expects the indigenous populations to

assimilate into an alien, all-encompassing system that

includes a new system of production, a new religion, and a

new culture. Marxists support their integration into the

modern capitalist sector of society, because they believe

that the proletarianization of the Indians is a necessary

step toward socialism. In the process of incorporating the

indigenous populations into the dominant society, the

communal system begins to disintegrate. Although laws

recognize the right of existence of indigenous communities,

individualistic agrarian reforms favor the development of

individual property and the expansion of capitalism. While

integrationist policies have positive benefits, they also

lead to the disintegration of communities (85-91). In

conclusion, the conquest drastically altered the indigenous

world and left a legacy of policies designed by non Indians

to incorporate them into alien structures. Indioenista

policies have the contradictory effects of aiding the

indigenous peoples and also destroying or greatly

transforming their traditional way of life.

Definitions of Indicenista Narrative

While there are many definitions of indicenista

narrative, critics have traditionally divided indiaenista


narrative into two periods. In La novela indianista en

Hispanoam6rica (1934), Concha Mel6ndez argues that narrative

about the Indian should be called indianista. One form is

romantic and the other is the social vindication of the

Indian (Rosemburg 54). In spite of her divisions, the

critical community usually makes a distinction between

indianismo and indiaenismo. For example, Luis Alberto

Sanchez states that indianismo emphasizes exotic and

emotional aspects of the Indian, and indiaenismo focuses on

social demands based on economic and agrarian problems

(Echevarria 289-90). The only change is a different name,

but the distinctions remain the same.

Tomas G. Escajadillo, one of the more rigorous critics

of indiaenista narrative, proposes three categories:

indianismo, orthodox indigenismo, and neoindiqenismo ("La

narrative indigenista" 271-72). He argues that there are

two focuses of the indigenous theme in indianismo. The

modernist version includes Abraham Valdelomar's Los hilos

del sol (1921) and Ventura Garcia Calder6n's short stories

that have Andean themes. Romantic-realist-idealist

indianismo consists of works like Narciso Arestegui's El

Padre Horan (1848) and Clorinda Matto de Turner's Ayes sin

nido (1889). He considers Matto de Turner's novel a

precursor or antecedent of indicenismo (6).

Escajadillo argues that orthodox indiqenismo begins

with Enrique L6pez Alb6jar's Cuentos andinos (1920) and

culminates, but does not end, with Ciro Alegria's El mundo

es ancho v ajeno (1941) and Jos6 Maria Arguedas's Yawar

fiesta (1941) (272). His three conditions for this period

are: 1) the vindication of the Indian, 2) the creation of

flesh and blood characters, overcoming the limitations of

the romantic idealization of Indians, and 3) sufficient

proximity in relation to the Indian and the indigenous world


Escajadillo says that neoindiaenismo begins in the

1950s and continues to the present. Early neoindicenista

writers include Eleodoro Vargas Vicuna, Carlos Eduardo

Zavaleta, and Jos6 Maria Arguedas's later works, such as Los

rios profundos (1958) and "La agonia de Rasu-Niti" (1962)

(272). In an interview with Carlos Arroyo, he says that in

a forthcoming book (La narrative indiaenista) he analyzes

neoindiaenista writers published after 1971. He classifies

them in three groups according to their age. In the first

group are Manuel Scorza, Carlos Eduardo Zavaleta, Edgardo

Rivera Martinez, and Marcos Yauri Montero. The second group

consists of Felix Huamin Cabrera, Victor Zavala Catano,

Oscar Colchado Lucio, and Hildebrando Perez Huarancca. He

includes some twenty younger writers in an appendix, but in

the interview he only mentions Julian P6rez (95-96).

Principal characteristics of neoindicenismo are: 1) the use

of magical realism or lo real maravilloso, 2) the

intensification of lyricism, 3) the use of newer, more


innovative narrative techniques, and 4) the broadening of

the area represented in the narrative in consonance with the

development of the indigenous problematic ("La narrative

indigenista" 19-32).

Escajadillo contends that indiuenismo is more than a

simple literary movement. He cites Jose Carlos Mariategui's

argument that indiqenismo arose as an effort to solve the

"Indian problem." According to some, there has been no

solution, and some aspects of the problems facing the

indigenous peoples have worsened ("Tres narradores neo-

indigenistas" 7). Escajadillo argues that the number of

contemporary young neoindiaenista writers is evidence that

indiaenismo is not dead: "Todo esto demuestra que la

modernidad compete una de las mas grandes estupideces cuando

decreta la muerte del indigenismo y que la realidad

desmiente lo que algun dia dijeron Carlos Fuentes, Mario

Vargas Llosa o Jose Donoso" (qtd. in Arroyo 96).

Antonio Cornejo Polar emphasizes the importance of

perceiving indigenismo as a long, historical and literary

process. He argues that romantic indiqenismo is a better

term than indianismo, because it is one period of a long


Esta manera de entenderlo tiene la ventaja, entire
otras, de evitar una periodizaci6n absolutizada,
con etapas que en verdad es impossible distinguir
con rigor; al reves, permit percibir el curso del
indigenismo como una amplia y casi ininterrumpida
secuencia, cuyo origen esta en las cr6nicas como
se ha visto, que se plasma diferencialmente de
acuerdo a las variantes que la historic general de


la literature peruana puede detectar con relative
facilidad. En otras palabras: el indigenismo
romantico es simplemente una etapa de un largo y
accidentado process que recorre, y en cierto modo
vertebra, el curso de la literature peruana. De
esta manera la oposici6n entire indianismo e
indigenismo pierde importancia, sin desaparecer
del todo por supuesto, para permitir una
comprensi6n mas cabal de la profundidad hist6rica
del indigenismo. (Literatura v sociedad 36-37)

Whether a writer is influenced by the literary

techniques of romanticism, realism, magical realism or some

other ism, each generation has seen the need to write about

the indigenous world. Following Antonio Cornejo Polar's

argument, the dissertation focuses more on the indiaenista

tradition than trying to promote any specific critic's

definition of a period of indigenista narrative.

Two Criticisms of Indiaenista Narrative

One criticism concerns the formal structures of

indilenista narrative, much of it coming from those allied

with the boom. This criticism can be understood within the

larger context of the struggle between individuals, groups,

and institutions identified with the boom and those

associated with regional and indigenista narrative. Pierre

Bourdieu argues that part of the struggle within the field

of cultural production is which group gains the power to

define what a writer is ("The Field of Cultural Production"

323). Due to this, "The meaning of a work (artistic,

literary, philosophical, etc.) changes automatically with

each change in the field within which it is situated for the

spectator or reader" (313). Within these bounds, much of

the criticism of indiaenista narrative since the 1960s can

be understood as the struggle to supplant the dominance of

regional narrative within the field of cultural production

or as a consequence of regional narrative's loss of a

dominant position. Antonio Cornejo Polar notes that the

insurgent group "puso especial enfasis en demostrar que la

novela anterior, incluyendo la novela indigenista a veces en

primera linea, era una 'novela primitive' o una 'novela

impura'" (Literatura v sociedad 67). An example of this is

Mario Vargas Llosa's polemical statement in 1964: "El

fracaso del indigenismo fue double: como instrument de

reivindicaci6n del indio, por su racism al reves y su

criterio hist6rico estrecho, y como movimiento literario por

su mediocridad estetica" ("Jose Maria Arguedas y el indio"

142). Cornejo Polar says in many of the criticisms "lo que

se buscaba era frecuentemente no mas que enfatizar la

originalidad adinica de los nuevos narradores

hispanoamericanos" (Literatura v sociedad 68). He adds that

in many of the criticisms there is an awareness of

indigenous elements in indigenista narrative, but that the

critical interpretation is mistaken (68).

In analyzing the formal structures of indiaenista

narrative, it is crucial to consider the influence of the

indigenous world. Jos6 Carlos Mariitegui argues that much

of Peruvian literature can not be studied with methodologies

valid for other national literatures formed without a

conquest (210). The indigenous influences force changes in

the structure if the writer is to be faithful to the

referent. Antonio Cornejo Polar says that the result is

heterogeneous literature, where

se trata de literaturas en las que uno o mas de
sus elements constitutivos correspondent a un
sistema socio-cultural que no es el que preside la
composici6n de los otros elements puestos en
acci6n en un process concrete de producci6n
literaria. (Literatura v sociedad 60)

The delicate balancing act of indiqenista writers forces

them to make compromises regarding the theories of the

formal structures of the novel and the referent. The result

can be considered to be an aesthetic failure or a creative

response to the problem of representing the indigenous world

with alien literary forms.

Another criticism of indioenista narrative is that

there is a lack of an interior vision of the indigenous

world. In many cases the critic considers Jose Maria

Arguedas to be the paradigm for what indiaenista narrative

should be. In 1964, Mario Vargas Llosa maintained that most

indiaenista writers can not speak about the Indian with

authenticity ("Jos6 Maria Arguedas y el indio" 141).1

1 Almost three decades later, Vargas Llosa is the subject
of similar criticism. Ricardo Gonzalez Vigil writes: "Por
primera vez, en una novela de Vargas Llosa, various dialogos no
suenan como si hubieran sido pronunciados por series vivos.
En convergencia con este desajuste, Lituma en los Andes
no penetra cabalmente en la mentalidad andina" ("Los Andes
desde afuera" 14).

However, for him, Jose Maria Arguedas's knowledge of the

Indian is much more profound, because "los conoce desde

adentro y es l6gico, pues, culturamente hablando, ha sido un

indio" (142). Catherine Saintoul says that "Todos los

textos [indigenistas]... llevan impresa de algun modo esta

mirada exterior y deformante, exceptuando s6lo a Jose Maria

Arguedas" (51). Edgardo J. Pantigoso also speaks of the

exterior perspective that distorts the indigenous world

(62), and he goes so far as to say "Arguedas creci6 indio"

(64). Even such an important literary critic of indiaenismo

as Tomis G. Escajadillo uses the same basic criteria of

analysis. Two of the three conditions for orthodox

indiaenismo are flesh and blood characters and sufficient

proximity in relation to the Indian and his world ("La

narrative indigenista" 271). These conditions are extremely

subjective and subject to the particular preferences of the

critic and the era. Many critics have used, and continue to

use, this criteria as the basis for including or excluding a

particular work or writer in indigenista narrative.

Efrain Kristal takes issue with classifying this

literature by the veracity of the portrayal of the Indian.

In The Andes Viewed from the City: Literary and Political

Discourse on the Indian in Peru: 1848-1930, he attacks "the

fallacy-ridden assumption" that indiaenista narrative should

be interpreted by the precision of the description of the

indigenous world (XI). According to Kristal, this leads to

critics choosing writers who describe their own conception

of the Indian. Based on the writer chosen, critics

manipulate the genre to show how lesser works lead up to a

more complete vision of the Indian (8). What occurs is a

nearly endless succession of competing interpretations of

the most correct representation of the indigenous world.

For example, he cites an 1890 work on Clorinda Matto de

Turner by Emilio Guti6rrez de Quintanilla. Gutierrez argues

that Aves sin nido is the first realist narrative about the

Indian, and compares it with an earlier work by another

writer, which he considers a failed attempt to describe the

Indian (7-8). Later interpretations of Matto de Turner's

novel are highly critical of her depiction of the indigenous

world. Kristal argues that many critical works are

"fictional and misleading," because they choose a writer

based on a "particular political (or anthropological)

position," with the result of "taking it out of the context

within which it is relevant, namely a political or an

anthropological discussion" (8). Instead of contesting the

authenticity of the description of the Indian, Kristal

proposes that a more fruitful approach is to analyze the

relationship of indigenista narrative with the political

debate about the Indian (xiii).

While Kristal has a convincing argument, his claim that

Jose Carlos Mariategui was one of the first to interpret

indiaenista narrative based on the accuracy of the portrayal


of the Indian is incorrect. The key to Kristal's argument

is that Mariategui makes a distinction between indiaena and

indiaenista writers and argues that the former will come

closer to expressing the realities of the indigenous world

than the mestizo writers who make up the latter group (3-4).

To bolster his argument he cites this portion of a paragraph

from Mariategui:

La literature indigenista no puede darnos una
version rigurosamente verista del indio. Tiene
que idealizarlo y estilizarlo. Tampoco puede
darnos su propia inima. Es todavia una literature
de mestizos. Por eso se llama indigenista y no
indigena. Una literature indigena, si debe venir,
vendri a su tiempo. Cuando los propios indios
esten en grado de producirla. (Mariategui 306)

However, Kristal does not quote the first sentence of the

paragraph, which warns against what he accuses Mariategui of


Y la mayor injusticia en que podria incurrir un
critic seria cualquier apresurada condena de la
literature indigenista por su falta de
autoctonismo integral o la presencia, mas o menos
acusada en sus obras, de elements de artificio en
la interpretaci6n y en la expresi6n. (Mariategui

Cornejo Polar interprets the same paragraph

differently. He believes that Mariitegui's assertion about

indiaena literature is debatable, because the production of

indigenous literature has continued in a parallel course

with literature in Spanish ("El indigenismo y las

literaturas heterog6neas" 17). However, he argues that his

definition of indigenista literature is crucial because

"significa la cancelaci6n de la utopia indigenista, como

presunta expresi6n interior del mundo andino, y establece

las bases para fundar una nueva y mas coherente

interpretaci6n del indigenismo" (17).

In conclusion, these two criticisms are based on

impractical expectations of indirenista narrative. The

groups associated with the boom were struggling to achieve a

dominant position within the cultural field and indirenista

and regionalist writers stood in their way. It is natural

that they would find indiaenista narrative to be defective

in relation to their own texts. Even neoindiaenista writers

influenced by the narrative techniques of the boom, like

Jose Maria Arguedas and Manuel Scorza, have suffered in the

aftermath of relegating indigenista narrative to a

subordinate position in the cultural field.2 It is also

erroneous to expect indigenista narrative to conform to

theories of the novel developed within a European and North

American context. Mariategui and Cornejo Polar accurately

point out that the production of indigenista narrative

occurs in a different environment. To expect it to conform

to alien literary forms and to ignore its referent is both

unrealistic and naive. In the 1920s Mariategui clearly

stated that indiaenista narrative is, by definition,

2 For example, Arguedas reacts to his polemics with some
boom writers in El zorro de arriba v el zorro de abalo. For
observations on the reception of Scorza, see Tomis G.
Escajadillo's "Scorza antes de la Gltima batalla," Revista de
critica literaria latinoamericana 7-8 (1978): 183-91, and
"Scorza y el neoindigenismo. Nuevos planteamientos,"
Literaturas andinas 5-6 (1991): 5-22.


exterior. Furthermore, Kristal convincingly argues that

conceptions of the Indian are inherently subjective and

influenced by the political and literary debate about the

Indian. Instead of each generation of critics denigrating

previous narrative visions of the Indian, it is far more

fruitful to analyze indiqenista narrative within the context

of the political debate on the Indian and other

extraliterary factors.

Extraliterarv Factors and Indiaenismo

While extraliterary factors influence all literature,

indioenismo is one of the clearer examples of this. In

fact, many indiaenista writers have suffered political

persecution for their political activities and/or writing.

In 1895 Clorinda Matto de Turner fled into exile in

Argentina and the Catholic Church excommunicated her. Ciro

Alegria and Jos6 Maria Arguedas spent time in jail in the

1930s, and Alegria and Manuel Scorza were exiled, the former

in the 1930s and the latter in the 1950s.

One useful theoretical tool in analyzing this

literature is Pierre Bourdieu's theory of the field of

cultural production, which encompasses the examination of

the social conditions of the production, distribution, and

consumption of cultural goods. There are three levels of

analysis. The first is the works, and the individual and

class backgrounds of writers, their trajectories, and their

positions within the field. The second is the structure of

the field, which includes writers and those involved in

legitimizing and consecrating narrative works, such as

publishers, critics, and the public. The third level is the

analysis of the literary field within the context of

relations of power in the nation (Johnson, The Field of

Cultural Production 25).

One of the emphases in Pierre Bourdieu's theory is the

struggle for a dominant position in the field of cultural

production. For him, "the field of cultural production is

the site of struggle in which what is at stake is the power

to impose the dominant definition of the writer and

therefore to delimit the population of those entitled to

take part in the struggle to define the writer" ("The Field

of Cultural Production" 323). This struggle has historical

winners and losers, but there are always competitors waiting

to substitute their own definitions for the dominant one.

These competitors include many individuals and groups such

as writers, publishers, literary critics, and the public.

With every change in the field, a work's meaning can also

change (313-17). In a larger context, this conflict relates

to struggles within the country.

The struggle in the field of cultural production
over the imposition of the legitimate mode of
cultural production is inseparable from the
struggle within the dominant class (with the
opposition between "artists" and "bourgeois") to
impose the dominant principle of domination (i.e.,
ultimately, the definition of human
accomplishment). (322)


Within the specific context of Peruvian indigenista

narrative, it has been a major participant in describing and

defining the indigenous populations of Peru and offering

solutions to the "Indian problem."

One of the clearest examples of the relationship

between the political debate on the Indian and the cultural

field is the writings of Jos6 Carlos Mariategui. He places

indiaenista literature within the context of a greater

political, social, and economic struggle. In Siete ensavos

de interDretaci6n de la realidad peruana (1928), he writes,

"El problema indigena, tan present en la political, la

economic y la sociologia, no puede estar ausente de la

literature y del arte" (300). For him, indiaenista

literature plays an important role in the indiaenista

movement, and in the initial stages of a socialist

revolution with the Indian as the base. He compares

indiaenista literature with the prerevolutionary Russian

literature about the peasant in Czarist times, or mulikismo.

In describing and condemning the feudal conditions of the

Russian peasant, he argues that mulikismo played an

important role in the initial stages of the Russian

revolution (299-300). He believes that indiaenista

literature will play a similar role in Peru:

Los "indigenistas" autenticos--que no deben ser
confundidos con los que explotan temas indigenas
por mero "exotismo"--colaboran, conscientemente o
no, en una obra political y econ6mica de
reivindicaci6n-- no de restauraci6n ni de
resurrecci6n. (304)


Mariategui set the foundation for understanding indiaenista

literature as much more than a simple literary movement.

Understood as much more than a simple literary school

or movement, indigenista narrative both reflects prevailing

political and anthropological debates about the Indian and

helps to create different conceptions. The dissertation

will attempt to integrate the analysis of the indiaenista

texts in the following chapters within the broader Peruvian

social, economic, political, and cultural context. The

focus is on the relations of power in the Andean region and

the consequent violence as perceived by the various writers


The Development of Indigenista Narrative

The Chronicles

Many of the conflicts in contemporary Peru have their

origins in the conquest, which essentially divided Peruvian

society into two often antagonistic groups. The chronicles

reflect the conflicting visions of the conquest. Some

justify the conquest, others are critical, and some reject

its legitimacy. Critics such as Antonio Cornejo Polar argue

that the chronicles also can be understood as the roots of

indiaenista narrative: "En muchos de estos textos esta

present el sistema que madurara much mas adelante, sobre

todo en la gran novel indigenista" (Literatura v sociedad


The mestizo chronicles of the colonial period are

similar in form and content to indigenista narrative.

According to Martin Lienhard, there are three types of

chronicles. European chronicles, such as those of Hernin

Cortes and Pedro Pizarro, have little influence from

indigenous thought. The Popol Vuh and other indigenous

chronicles come from oral traditions and have little or no

influence from the transcriber. The mestizo chronicle does

not refer to the writers' origins. Rather, Lienhard defines

it by the narrative's heterogeneous nature. For example,

mestizo chronicles can view history from a diachronic,

synchronic, or cyclical perspective (105-6). Once armed

resistance fails, resistance through writing begins. The

Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, Titu Kusi Yupanqui, and Felipe

Guaman Poma de Ayala criticize the conquest and the abuses

committed as a result of it.

The son of a Spanish conquistador and an Inca princess,

the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was one of the first mestizos

in Peru. In his Comentarios reales (1609 and 1617) there is

a certain nostalgia toward the Inca Empire, and a strong, if

subtle, criticism of the conquest. His description of the

Inca empire is of a near-utopian society destroyed by the

conquest. By describing the advances made by the Inca

society, he criticizes the conquest and debunks the idea

that the Indians are savages who need to be civilized.


Titu Kusi Yupanqui, the penultimate Inca, dictated his

Relaci6n de la conquista del Peru (1570) shortly before his

execution. According to Rolena Adorno, his principal goals

are to prove his claim as the rightful heir to the Inca

empire, and to argue that the Incas are Christians and

allies of the crown (From Oral to Written Expression 13).

He contrasts the peaceful overtures of the Incas with the

European strategies of deceit, betrayal and violence, which

violate their own moral code as well as that of the Indians.

In this way he attempts to prove his loyalty to the crown

while justifying armed resistance (Chang-Rodriguez 20).

The strongest criticism is in Felipe Guaman Poma de

Ayala's Nueva cr6nica v buen gobierno (1580-1615). His

basic thesis is the following. There is no conquest because

the Incas donate the Tawantinsuyo to the King of Spain and

no further need for evangelization, because they are now

Christians. The corrupt colonial government should be

changed for an Inca-based state, governed by the Indians

under the King's jurisdiction. In conclusion, he is against

colonial government and for a native government, anti-Inca,

but pro-Andean, and anti-clerical but pro-Catholic (Adorno,

Guamin Poma 5).

The condemnation of the conquest in Guaman Poma's

chronicle is similar to many of the criticisms found in

indiaenista narrative. Emphasizing the greed of the

conquest, he uses fifty-two related words in only four pages

(Guamin Poma 10-13). He uses the same strategy as many

indigenista writers in contrasting a nearly perfect society

in the past with a critical view of the present. For

example, in one instance he speaks directly to the reader

and lists many vices that he has never seen among Indians

(275). He then gives examples of the vices of the

Spaniards: "todo lo malo lo tennis y lo ensenfis a los

pobres indios; como entire ustedes se roban, lo hac6is much

mas a los indios pobres, diciendo que habeis de restituir lo

robado; pero no se ve que se hace dicha restituci6n" (275-

76). Another connection with the indiaenista tradition is

Guaman Poma's naming the trinity of exploiters of the

Indian. He writes that while the conquistadors were bad,

"AGn peores que estos, son sus descendientes, los espaioles

de esta epoca, como: los corregidores, Frailes y

encomenderos quienes son tan codiciosos que se venden por el

oro y plata y van directamente al infierno" (13). According

to Escajadillo, in indigenista narrative the triangle

consists of the large landowner, the priest, and civil,

political, and military authority ("La narrative

indigenista" 100).

These three works contain many elements later found in

indiaenista narrative. They reflect the influence of the

European and indigenous worlds, and, as is the case with

indiaenista narrative, describe the indigenous world for a

non indigenous audience. They contrast an idyllic past with


a tumultuous present, and use the latter as a springboard

for criticizing the conquest. The Inca Garcilaso is the

most subtle in his criticism. Titu Kusi uses the present to

justify his violent resistance to the representatives of the

crown and Guaman Poma negates the legitimacy of the

conquest. The trinity of exploiters of the indigenous

peoples is not the creation of Manuel Gonzalez Prada, but

rather dates back at least to Guaman Poma. While the

chronicles are not indiqenista narrative, they contain many

of the formal and thematic elements later found in

indiaenista narrative.

Nineteenth Century Indigenismo

Peruvian indicenista narrative began in the 1840s. In

The Andes Viewed from the City: Literary and Political

Discourse on the Indian in Peru: 1848-1930, Efrain Kristal

analyzes the relationship between economic and political

changes in Peru and changing literary expressions about the

Indian. According to him, three of the dominant factions of

Peruvian society in the nineteenth century were liberals,

civilistas, and industrialists.

In general, the liberals reflected the ideology of the

rural oligarchy. They wanted to make minimal changes in the

status quo, such as ending abuses of the tribute system. In

doing away with the worst abuses, the hope was to have a

more productive agrarian worker (The Andes 37-42). According

to Kristal, Narciso Arestegui's El Padre Horin (1848)

reflects this liberal ideology. In the novel there are

criticisms of the tribute system, abuses committed by a

priest, and barriers to commerce. The depiction of the

Indian is as an unjustly abused inferior being who would be

content with poverty and hard work (44-52). A paternalistic

government would protect the Indians and, in turn, use them

to further commerce (54).

In the 1840s the exporting sector gained economic power

through the export of guano and founded the civilista party

in 1871. They criticized the inefficiency of large farms

and landowners who did not invest their wealth in more

productive endeavors. The civilista strategy was to improve

the infrastructure, develop unexploited regions and

products, increase immigration, and invest the profits in

the industrial development of the country (57-69). Kristal

says that civilista thought related to the Indian includes

opposition to the tribute system, unlawful conscription,

uncompensated labor, abduction, and abuses committed by

priests and other authorities. They favor education as well

as the moral and material development of the Indians (90-


An important journal in the civilista movement was La

Revista de Lima. It published political and sociological

essays, and literature, including the following works (69).

Ladislao Grana's S6 bueno v seras feliz (1861) contrasts a


hardworking Indian with an abusive governor. The Indian is

jailed, conscripted into the army, and loses all of his

possessions. In spite of his problems, he is industrious,

surmounts his problems, and becomes a successful property

owner. The governor has a shady past, tries to rape the

Indian's wife, and gets richer through unproductive

activities. He is ungrateful when the Indian saves his life

and he and his family nurse him back to health (72-85). In

"Si haces mal no esperes bien" (1861), Juana Manuela Gorriti

attacks those who rape Indian women or kidnap their children

to be servants in Lima. She is especially critical of

soldiers, priests, large landowners, and governors. The

romantic theme deals with two young people who fall in love

only to find out that they have the same father, a soldier.

The father had raped an Indian woman, and the child is the

half-sister and wife of the young man. She dies and he

becomes a monk (86-89). "No era ella" (1862), by Juan

Vicente Camacho, describes a man who accuses a woman,

abducted to be a servant in Lima, of a small theft and

tortures her to death, only to find out that one of his

children is responsible (89-90).

The industrial elite, the third group, arose after the

trauma of losing the War of the Pacific (1879-83) to Chile,

and its principal spokesperson was Manuel Gonzalez Prada.

While the export oligarchy (civilistas) wanted to invest

national capital from export profits in industrialization,


the industrial elite wanted to go further and include loans

and international investment to augment national capital.

They proposed the immediate integration of the Indians

through massive education, democracy and private property

(95). According to Kristal,

Gonzalez Prada never argued for the protection of
Indian community property, nor for the
preservation of Indian culture, nor for any kind
of self-determination for the Indians that was not
understood directly within the context of an
emerging capitalist Peru. (120)3

Influenced heavily by Gonzalez Prada, Clorinda Matto de

Turner wrote a trilogy of novels, Aves sin nido (1889),

Indole (1891), and Herencia (1895), and argued that the

condition of the Indians was due to social reasons, not race

(Kristal, The Andes 135). The primary solution in Ayes sin

nido is to educate the Indians and abusive whites. Models

of civilization are Lima and Europe, especially England.

The most positive characters are Europeans, those who live

in cities, and entrepreneurs associated with mining (146-


Both Antonio Cornejo Polar (Literatura v sociedad 40-

41) and Tomas G. Escajadillo ("La narrative indigenista" 77-

78) criticize the novel for not including the problem of

land and exploitative large landowners. Escajadillo

3 However, it should be noted that there are three
periods in Gonzalez Prada's development. Originally a
civilista, he became a spokesperson for the industrial elite,
and then embraced anarchist thought. In the latter period he
argued that the Indians should take up arms to defend
themselves (Kristal, "Del indigenismo" 63).

suggests that this omission is due in part to the

limitations of Manuel Gonzalez Prada's thought. For

example, in the "Discurso en el Politeama" (1888) Gonzalez

Prada says that judges, governors and priests make up the

trinidad embrutecedora, and does not mention landowners ("La

narrative indigenista" 77-78). Cornejo Polar argues that

while there is no explicit criticism of the landowners, it

does denounce the system that sustains them. By utilizing

labor and impeding the creation of a wider market, the

landowners obstruct efforts to modernize the economy. In

this sense, the novel foreshadows the coming rupture between

large landowners and the modernizing bourgeoisie (Literatura

v sociedad 42-43).

Early Twentieth Century Indigenismo

In the first decades of the twentieth century the

growth of the mestizo middle classes dramatically changed

the face of Peru. The number of students in public schools

quadrupled from 1906 to 1928. The number of newspapers and

journals grew from 167 in 1918 to 473 in 1928, and literary

and artistic newspapers and journals grew from 18 in 1918 to

88 in 1928 (Flores Galindo, "Los intelectuales y el problema

national" 142-43). In the 1920s both the APRA (Alianza

Popular Revolucionaria Americana) and Communist parties were

founded. According to Julio Cotler, the latter's rigid

adherence to the Communist International in the 1930s

allowed the APRA to become the principal party of the

popular and middle classes until the 1950s (Clases. estados

v naci6n 232-33). In the 1920s and 1930s the indiaenistas

eclipsed the dominance that criollismo and hisoanismo had

exercised within the cultural field (Cornejo Polar, La

formaci6n 117). Within a larger context, the indiaenista

movement was part of an anti-oligarchy movement (Cornejo

Polar, Literatura v sociedad 12-13).

During this period there were many competing forms of

indiaenismo. Alberto Flores Galindo argues that there were

at least four versions. Some intellectual members of the

oligarchy, such as Victor Andr6s BelaGnde, saw education as

a solution. Two other types are the indioenismo of the

government of Augusto B. Leguia (1919-30) and the

indiaenismo of denunciation with sentimental overtones, as

organized by Pedro Zulen and Dora Mayer in the Asociaci6n

Pro-Indigena. The fourth category includes groups that did

not see Indians as inferior, and looked to specific

solutions to overcoming their exploitation. Flores Galindo

adds that there were different hybrids of these forms and,

at times, different versions coexisted within the same

groups ("Los intelectuales y el problema national" 149-50).

To illustrate the contradictions and complexities one

encounters in analyzing the indiaenismo of that period,

Antonio Cornejo Polar points out that in order to open up an

internal market, some sectors of the bourgeoisie advocated

agrarian reform, one of the principal demands of many

indiaenistas. At the same time, these sectors were among

the worst exploiters of the urban proletariat (Literatura v

sociedad 19-20).

Angel Rama argues that indicenismo after World War I

reflects the demands of the lower sectors of the emerging

white and mestizo middle class. He claims that the

literature reveals a mestizo cosmovision rather than an

indigenous one (147-49). With their ascendancy truncated by

the rigid and archaic structure of Peruvian society at the

time, in attacking the structure they were "amparandose del

indigenismo pero expresando en realidad al mesticismo. Un

mesticismo que sin embargo no se atreve a revelar su nombre

verdadero" (149). Thus, indiqenistas continued to pursue

their own interests under the guise of helping the Indians,

just as previous indigenistas did.

Modernist Indigenista Narrative

The most representative writer of modernist indiqenismo

is Ventura Garcia Calder6n (1886-1959). The son of a former

president, he was born and died in France, and spent close

to fifty years there. One indication of his international

reputation at the time is that prior to World War II he came

close to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. In Peru he

has not had the same level of acclaim. For example, Mario

Vargas Llosa says that he had probably never seen an Indian

in his life ("Jose Maria Arguedas y el indio" 139). While

Tomas G. Escajadillo acknowledges that Garcia Calder6n was

an important innovator of the Peruvian short story ("La

narrative indigenista" 96), he considers his depiction of

the Indian to be "inexacta, pueril, ex6tica y

sensacionalista," reflecting the vision of his social class,

which exploits the Indian (99). Efrain Kristal says that

the civilista ideology, which dominated Peru's political and

cultural life until the 1920s, influenced Garcia Calder6n.

Articles in journals such as La Sierra, La Revista

Universitaria, and Jos6 Carlos Mariategui's Amauta that

dispute Garcia Calder6n's views are proof that he was an

important part of the debate about the Indian (The Andes


In his indiaenista narrative the Indian is primarily an

inferior being with an admirable past. Kristal says that

the perception that the Indians are impenetrable leads to

the idea that they are hiding something and can not be

trusted. In addition, there are conflicting feelings of

attraction and repulsion. Kristal explains this as an

influence from the colonial period. There was an attraction

to Indian women for sexual pleasures and a repulsion because

the Indians were common laborers. In the narrative it is

acceptable to sexually exploit women and to use physical

punishment up to a certain point. The white man can be a

positive influence by civilizing the Indian (The Andes 200-

9). Tomas G. Escajadillo points out that Garcia Calder6n

does coincide to a certain extent with other indiaenistas in

his anticlericalism. Although there is strong criticism of

priests, Escajadillo argues that it does not fall within his

definition of indigenista narrative because the priests act

as individuals, not as part of a system that exploits the

Indian ("La narrative indigenista" 101-2).

Orthodox Indiaenista Narrative

Roughly speaking, indiaenista narrative was the

dominant literary form in Peru from the 1920s through the

1940s. Escajadillo describes it as a period of orthodox, or

traditional, indigenismo ("La narrative indigenista" 272).

Three principal indigenista writers during this period are

Enrique L6pez Albujar, Ciro Alegria, and Jose Maria


Escajadillo argues that Enrique L6pez Albujar is the

first indiaenista writer and that the first time flesh and

blood Indians appear in Peruvian narrative is in his Cuentos

andinos (1920). In the short stories many Indians are

rebellious and are frequently very cruel. Another type of

Indian appears more humble and submissive, but deep down

there is an attitude of rebelliousness. L6pez Albujar

condemns the indigenous perspective of the world and argues

for their incorporation into the western and Christian

world. In this, he differs from later indicenistas, such as

Ciro Alegria and Jose Maria Arguedas, who defer more to

indigenous beliefs (119-39). Seventeen years later, L6pez

Albujar published Nuevos cuentos andinos (1937). The short

stories contain a more critical vision of the social

structure in the sierra, as well as being more anticlerical,

and anti-mjsti (160).

Leftist ideologies influenced Ciro Alegria (1909-67)

and Jose Maria Arguedas (1911-69) during their writing

careers. Alegria .was a militant in the APRA, and was jailed

various times in the early 1930s. Exiled in 1934, he did

not return to Peru until 1960. Efrain Kristal argues that

one example of the influence of APRA thought in Alegria's

works is the valuing of the indigenous community, seen in

the contrast between the large landowners in El mundo es

ancho v aieno. The first works with an indigenous community

and the second seeks to destroy it ("Del indigenismo" 67-

68).4 Like Alegria, Arguedas was also imprisoned in the

1930s. In 1965 he remarked that, in addition to his

experience of living with Indians, the influence of the

journal Amauta and the social doctrines of that era were an

essential part in his being able to produce literature

(Primer encuentro de narradores peruanos 235-36). In "No

soy un aculturado..." (1968), Arguedas declared that in

reading Mariategui and Lenin he encountered order in the

4 Alegria wrote his major works before he returned to
Peru from exile and joined Acci6n Popular.

world and "fue la ideologia socialist y el estar cerca de

los movimientos socialists lo que dio direcci6n y

permanencia, un claro destino a la energia que senti

desencadenarse durante la juventud" (El zorro de arriba 14).

Both Tomis G. Escajadillo and Antonio Cornejo Polar

speak of the changes in Arguedas's literary production.

Cornejo Polar argues that there is a progression that begins

with describing conflicts between Indians and whites to

contrasting the Andes with the coastal region to the

relationship of a dominated country with the dominating

country (La novela peruana 144). In terms of literary

categories, Escajadillo says that he progressed from

orthodox indiaenismo to neoindiuenismo and beyond ("La

narrative indigenista" 239).

In the Primer Encuentro de Narradores Peruanos in 1965,

the third debate centered on the Peruvian novel and quickly

became a debate on indiaenista narrative. Antonio Cornejo

Polar argued that El Padre Horin (1848) initiated

indigenista narrative in Peru and that indigenismo should be

considered a constant in Peruvian literature (Primer

encuentro 234-35). Arguedas mentioned his debt to previous

indiaenista writers: "Sin L6pez Alb6jar y aun sin Ventura

Garcia Calder6n, ni Ciro, ni yo, ni todos los que estamos

aqui, seriamos lo que somos" (243). Ciro Alegria contended

that there are many forms of indigenismo. In speculating on

its future, he said that perhaps the ismo of indigenismo was


leading them to speak of it in a temporal sense, because

isms come and go. He went on to divide indiaenismo into two

basic categories. The first is more combative in

vindicating the rights of the Indians, and he postulated

that this version could disappear if the social situation

were to change. The second is the intellectual valorization

or revalorization of the Indian (250). He concluded by

saying "El indigenismo es una afirmaci6n del future y una

fuerza en si, inextinguible, como afirmaci6n de la parte

indigena de la Naci6n" (253).

From the chronicles to the culmination of orthodox

indioenismo, writers have described an indigenous world

assaulted on all sides. These works are informed by various

political ideologies that affect writers' descriptions of

the Indians and possible solutions to the "Indian problem."

The literary currents of the period influence the techniques

used. With the beginning of neoindiaenismo in the 1950s,

writers take advantage of increasingly sophisticated

knowledge of the indigenous world and reinvigorate the genre

with more contemporary literary techniques.

Historical and Literary Developments since the 1950s


Since the 1950s Peru has seen numerous changes. While

the landed oligarchy was in decline, newer sectors of

society began pushing for more inclusive policies for the

popular classes. Despite diverse economic policies

implemented by different governments, the economy has seen a

relative decline in the last few decades.

Two key actors in Peruvian society began to withdraw

their support of the landed oligarchy in the 1950s. The

church had traditionally been an ally of the landed

oligarchy. In the 1950s some elements, concerned with the

problems of poverty, began to oppose the landed oligarchy.

An additional expression of this were the Christian parties

that arose during the 1950s. As was the case with the

church, the institutional preoccupations of the armed forces

roughly coincided with the oligarchy's interests, but in the

1950s and 1960s this began to change. In the name of

national defense, the army would attempt to play a greater

role in expanding the state and developing the country. In

the 1960s the idea of nationalism was added to the goal of

development. In analyzing the campesino movements in the

1950s, it became clear that the archaic system in the sierra

was the root cause and that these movements could develop

into guerrilla movements. During the 1950s and 1960s

segments of the church and the army unified their objectives

and began to see the oligarchy and imperialism as enemies

(Cotler, Clases. estados v naci6n 314-26).

In 1956 new sectors of the popular and middle classes

made their entry into the political scene with reformist

parties such as the Movimiento Social-Progresista, the



Partido Dem6crata-Cristiano, and the Partido Acci6n Popular,

the latter winning 36.7% of the vote (Cotler 301). Acci6n

Popular's Fernando Belainde Terry was president 1963-68 and

1980-85. His party criticizes indioenista positions for

aggravating problems and leading to division. The primary

policy of Acci6n Popular regarding the indigenous peoples is

to move toward mestizaie:

S61o el mestizaje puede superar el desgarramiento,
s6lo la fusion de las razas, de los pensamientos,
de los sentimientos. S61o un mestizaje, plena
expresi6n de aculturaci6n autentica, puede
contribuir a forjar una cultural unitaria y
creadora. (Zegarra Pinedo 26)

The other principal party since 1956 is the APRA.

Having spent most of its existence as an illegal party, in

1956 the APRA began making deals in order to achieve its

goal of gaining control of the government through the

electoral process. Prior to the 1956 presidential

elections, Manuel Prado offered the APRA a deal, called la

convivencia. In exchange for support in the elections, the

party would be legalized and become a political ally of his

government (Cotler 295). In the 1962 elections the APRA won

a plurality, but did not receive the necessary third of the

vote, throwing the election to the congress. Before they

could elect a president, there was a military coup (350-51).

Cotler says that during the Prado and BelaGnde regimes one

of the APRA's roles was to be a mediator and intermediary

between the dominant and popular classes. Through its

control of the Confederaci6n de Trabaladores del Peru (CTP)

it was able to control and, if needed, hold back popular

demands (339). One result was that the APRA lost members,

especially younger ones, to more radical movements.

During the first Bela6nde government (1963-68), the

alliance between the APRA and the Uni6n Nacional Odriista

(UNO) signified the effective parliamentary control over the

executive branch. The result was that the alliance

protected bourgeois and landowner interests, and thwarted

agrarian reform and union activities outside the control of

the APRA-controlled CTP (Cotler 355-59). In addition to

stymieing Belaunde's legislative programs, the APRA-UNO

alliance forced his hand in other ways:

Es asi como frente al bloqueo apro-odriista,
Belaunde se encontr6 reprimiendo al movimiento
campesino y los ejes del movimiento laboral que
perseguian su autonomia del control aprista. Asi,
el gobierno reprimia a sus bases populares de
apoyo, gracias a la acci6n de sus enemigos. (360)

The four governments between 1968 and 1990 also had

difficulties implementing their policies. Manuel Castillo

Ochoa argues in La escena astillada (1992) that the four

governments "no lograron establecer pactos implicitos,

alianzas entire actors que pudieran dar perdubilidad a la

acumulaci6n y al desarrollo que pretendian" (86). He says

that the Velasco Alvarado military government (1968-75)

experienced an economic crisis in part due to the

disintegration of its alliance. In the mid 1970s the

working classes left the pact and increased their demands.

In addition, the entrepreneurial industrial sector had

opposed certain policies since the beginning of the

government (43). After the August 1975 military coup, the

Morales Bermudez government (1975-80) began to neutralize

the Velasco Alvarado strategy and to implement monetarist

policies. The economic policies favored the exporting

sectors as well as the modern financial and industrial

fractions (44-48). The second Belaunde government (1980-85)

undertook a contradictory policy. The economic team

followed neoliberal monetarist policies while the party

championed populist and redistributive policies (61-65).

The Garcia government (1985-90) changed the economic focus

more toward the internal market and hoped, in strengthening

that sector, to expand the exporting sector. As with

previous governments, Garcia was unable to construct an

alliance to enable him to fully implement his economic plan


Since the 1950s various new and traditional actors

begin to represent new sectors of the popular and middle

classes, but an inability to achieve a workable alliance

among actors has hindered the governments. Due to this,

governments have been less effective in implementing their

policies. In addition, successive governments follow

different policies and spend considerable time and effort

dismantling the policies of the previous government. This

has had a direct effect on the camDesino segment of society.

Agrarian Reform

Many argue that the agrarian reforms since the 1960s

have been too limited. Wilfredo Kapsoli argues that the

agrarian reforms in 1962 and 1964 accomplished little: "Las

mencionadas leyes lejos de solucionar el problema de la

tierra y del campesino, lo agravaron. Destinadas a

beneficiary y proteger a las classes dominantes del pais, en

la practice no pudieron ser implementadas" (Los movimientos

campesinos 105).

The Velasco Alvarado military government (1968-75) also

initiated agrarian reforms. When Velasco Alvarado announced

the agrarian reform law in 1969, he said that one goal was

to do away with the latifundio and minifundio systems and to

replace them with small and medium properties. He wanted to

develop a modern agrarian sector and, from this base, to

create a greater internal market that would help the process

of industrialization (Velasco Alvarado 11-14). In the

announcement he suggested substituting the word campesino

for Indian:

la Ley de Reforma Agraria ha dado su respaldo a
esa gran masa de campesinos que forman las
comunidades indigenas que, a partir de hoy--
abandonando un calificativo de resabios racistas y
de prejuicio inaceptable-- se llamarin Comunidades
Campesinas. (16)

According to Marie-Chantal Barre, the military government's

policies achieved little. If his indiaenista policy was

progressive for the indigenous populations in the Amazon,

"no dio importancia a los problems de la sierra,

limitindose a negar la presencia india en los Andes, por el

hecho mismo de asimilarla a la clase campesina" (57).

Wilfredo Kapsoli argued in 1985 that when there has

been agrarian reform the result is counter to the interests

of the campesino community. Some 3,000,000 people, 50% of

the rural population, live in some 3000 officially

recognized communities. Of this population, only 122,000

families have received land. Although the struggle for land

still continues, it is now primarily in coastal and urban

areas. In the mountains the presence of Sendero Luminoso,

the armed forces, and rondas campesinas preclude similar

measures (Los movimientos campesinos 130-31).

In one of the few publications by Sendero Luminoso,

they argue that Andean agriculture continues in a semifeudal

state. They contend that the agrarian reforms between 1963

and 1979 failed. Their reasoning is that the agrarian

reforms affected less than one third of the campesino

population ("Desarrollar la guerra popular sirviendo a la

revoluci6n mundial" 70-71).

The Revolutionary Left

In the early 1960s the first groups of the

revolutionary left were founded. Some were defectors from

the APRA. According to Julio Cotler, others, influenced by

the Cuban Revolution, broke with the Communist Party and

rapidly supplanted the APRA's influence in the universities

(336). In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Trotskyist

Hugo Blanco had some success in organizing campesinos in the

La Convenci6n region of Cuzco until his arrest on May 29,

1963 (Gott 314-29). In 1965 there were brief guerrilla

movements by the Movimiento de Izcuierda Revolucionaria

(MIR) and the Ei6rcito de Liberaci6n Nacional (ELN), neither

lasting more than six months. One result was that the

military realized that something had to be done to solve the

problems confronting the Indian. If nothing were done, the

probabilities of a successful guerrilla movement would

increase (Cotler 362-64). After the 1968 military coup,

some elements of the revolutionary left joined the Velasco

Alvarado government. The Movimiento Revolucionario TGDac

Amaru (MRTA), the major guerrilla competitor to Sendero

Luminoso, announced its existence on July 28, 1984. In June

1992 the government arrested, Victor Polay, the leader of

the MRTA, in Lima and the MRTA appears to be in disarray and

on the verge of complete collapse.

Claiming to be the legitimate heirs of the Communist

party founded by Jose Carlos Mariategui, Sendero Luminoso is

one of the groups spawned from the fragmentation of the

Peruvian Communist Party split in 1964. The pro-Soviet wing

called itself the PCP Unidad, and the pro-Chinese group

called itself the PCP Bandera Roqa (Degregori 166).

Degregori points out the uniqueness of this split: "En este


ultimo grupo [pro-Chinese] se queda poco mis de la mitad de

la militancia y practicamente todo el trabajo campesino.

Peru es uno de los pocos pauses de America Latina donde

sucede algo semejante" (166).

Sendero Luminoso began its armed struggle in 1980. On

May 17, 1980 they burned the ballot boxes in Chuschi,

Ayacucho. The first declared state of emergency occurred in

Ayacucho in October 1981, when the government deployed 1400

sinchis, a special unit of the Civil Guard (McCormick 16).

By 1982 Sendero Luminoso was experiencing problems due to

the arrest of several of its top leaders. On March 2, 1982

they attacked the Ayacucho prison where they were held and

freed 78 prisoners convicted of terrorism and 169 others

held for common crimes (Gorriti 254-60). In the first years

of the insurgency, there were many misconceptions about

Sendero Luminoso: "Before Sendero stepped up its urban

operations, the movement was viewed widely as an Indian

problem, which is to say it was not viewed widely as a

problem at all" (McCormick 25). Estimates vary, but by 1994

the conflict has caused around 26,000 deaths and 25 billion

dollars in losses. On September 12, 1992 the government

captured Abimael Guzman, the leader of Sendero Luminoso, in

Lima. By September 1993 Guzmin had written two letters to

President Alberto Fujimori asking to negotiate peace. How

his capture and his peace overtures will affect the movement

is uncertain at this time. While some members have turned


themselves into the government, other groups vow to continue

the armed struggle.

To a certain extent Sendero Luminoso falls within the

indigenista tradition. Nelson Manrique points out that

while it is silent about the ethnic factor, it is a

significant element in its growth. It started in Ayacucho,

Apurimac, and Huancavelica, a region where the majority of

the population only speaks Quechua ("La decada de la

violencia" 163). Regarding the composition, "los cuadros

senderistas son mayoritariamente j6venes provincianos,

mestizos, dominantemente ligados a process de

descampesinizaci6n reciente" (163-64). He argues that if

the ethnic question does not arise in the theoretical

discourse of Sendero Luminoso, in practice it is crucial

(164). Due to this, it can be argued that Sendero Luminoso

falls within the indiqenista tradition. As is the case with

other indigenista movements, mestizos and whites try to use

the Indian for their own agenda. Whether or not one

considers Sendero Luminoso to be an indiaenista movement, it

has had an enormous impact on the indigenous populations of

the Peruvian sierra since 1980.


In the 1950s indiqenista narrative began to lose its

dominant position in the cultural field. Efrain Kristal

argues that one of the principal historical reasons for this

is the massive migration from the Andes to the cities. The

migration was the result of the bankruptcy of the

traditional agricultural economy based in the latifundios,

which had been one of the major subjects treated in

indiaenista narrative ("Del indigenismo" 57). With the

eclipse of the landed oligarchy, a new dominant group gained

power. Kristal says that it is made up of three groups: 1)

the oligarchy in decadence that fell with the rise of

industrialists and exporters, 2) a new middle class that

benefits from the cheap labor of the recently arrived

campesinos, and 3) a new dominant sector allied with

international commerce that benefits from exports, imports,

and, at times, industrialization (69). Kristal argues that

portions of the works of three of Peru's more well-known

writers are associated with these three groups. Julio Ram6n

Ribeyro describes the vision of the oligarchy in decline,

Mario Vargas Llosa (in his first novels) the new middle

classes, and Alfredo Bryce Echenique the third sector.

Kristal concludes that as a presence in urban narrative and

in indiuenismo the Indian continues to have a major impact

on Peruvian narrative and is the key to understanding the

recent transformations of Peru (69-74).

The subordinate position of indioenista narrative and

writers in the cultural field also reflects differences in

the socioeconomic classes of writers and their ability to

publish. According to Carlos Calder6n Fajardo, class

divisions divide young writers in Peru. He argues that one

group, inspired by the models of Mario Vargas Llosa, Julio

Ram6n Ribeyro, and Alfredo Bryce Echenique, tends to avoid

writing about the realities of contemporary Peru. The other

group, many of popular extraction, writes about themes such

as subversion, violence, the shanty towns, Andean influences

in the city, and other social themes (105-6).

Se trata de universos socialmente constituidos,
con sus propios mundos sociales, mitos y
ambientes, models y paradigmas, publicaciones y
hasta con el propio aparato critic de respaldo.
El diilogo interclasista entire narradores parece
haber terminado. (105)

Another factor confronting writers is the abysmal gap

between those who write and those who can publish. Antonio

Cornejo Polar and Luis Fernando Vidal cite the example of

almost two thousand people entering the short story

competition sponsored by the magazine Caretas in 1982. In

the same year only three collections of short stories were

published. They add that in various literary competitions

indiaenista and neoindigenista narrative is being written,

but not published (Nuevo cuento peruano 12-13).

An integral part of the debate about the Indian,

indiaenista narrative is much more than a literary movement

or school. With roots in the chronicles of the conquest,

since the mid 1800s it has constantly defined and redefined

conceptions of the Indian. These definitions both reflect

and influence the political and anthropological debate about

the Indian. In addition, they reflect different visions of

the sierra and the nation.

Various factors affect the selection of the works

analyzed in the following chapters. The novel or short

story must take place in the sierra and works dealing

primarily with the revalorization of the indigenous cultures

are not be included. With the exception of the third

chapter, the work must deal with relations of power or

violence since 1980.


In order to better understand the context of Peru after

1980, this chapter will analyze two narrative works that

take place in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period there

was much social ferment. The country witnessed massive

campesino uprisings, the fragmentation of the Peruvian

Communist party, abortive guerrilla movements, a military

coup that led the country to the left, and another military

coup that moved the country back toward the right.

In the 1970s Manuel Scorza wrote five novels about

massive campesino uprisings in the central Andes. In the

last novel of the series, La tumba del relampqao (1979),

Scorza is highly critical of the socioeconomic structure,

leftist political parties and organizations, and the

guerrilla movements of 1965-66. He argues that because of

the proletarianization of the campesinos it would be

possible to have a successful socialist revolution with the

campesinos at the vanguard. La tumba del relampaqo will be

analyzed as to Scorza's description of the previous subjects

as well as reading the novel as the search for a new

revolutionary praxis.

Hildebrando Perez Huarancca, one of five principal

ideologues of Sendero Luminoso, published Los ileaitimos in

1980. The short stories deal with the Ayacucho region in

the 1960s and 1970s. Three principal aspects will be

examined: the description of the campesino poor in Ayacucho,

their thwarted attempts to challenge the system that

oppresses them, and Perez Huarancca's narrative vision of

the future of the campesino poor.

Manuel Scorza

Life and Critical Reception

Manual Scorza played many roles in his life, including

being a political exile, renowned poet, publisher, political

activist, and novelist. He was born in Lima in 1928, but

lived in the mountainous department of Huancavelica from

ages six to eleven. From 1949-55 he was exiled, spending

most of his time in Mexico ("Yo viajo del mito" 48). In

1954 he left the APRA, publishing an open letter with the

title of "Good-bye, Mister Haya" (Aldaz 19).

In the 1950s and early 1960s he was active as a poet, a

promoter of the publishing industry, and as a political

activist. In Mexico and Peru he won prizes for his poetry

("Yo viajo del mito" 48). As a poet, he was within the area

of "social poetry," and was a major participant in polemics

with "pure poets." Beginning in 1958 he attempted to

promote the publishing industry and to expand the literary


audience in Peru and other Spanish-speaking countries with

Festivales del Libro and Populibros. Although the boom in

sales was extraordinary, it was a fleeting success.

According to Antonio Cornejo Polar, the international

response to Mario Vargas Llosa's La ciudad v los Derros

(1964) had two results. The first was to largely end the

efforts to develop a national literature through a national

editorial system. The second was to show the effectiveness

of the international route that Vargas Llosa had followed

("Sobre el 'neoindigenismo'" 551-52).1 With the campesino

agitation in the central sierra, Scorza joined the

Movimiento Comunal del Peru in 1960 and became its Political

Secretary in 1961. Among other activities, he published

manifestos denouncing abuses of the campesinos in the

department of Pasco, and traveled to Cuzco to meet with the

Trotskyist Hugo Blanco to inquire about possible alliances.

After the repression of the campesino movement in Pasco,

Scorza traveled throughout the central sierra, and gathered

information about the movement.

In 1967 he went into voluntary exile, settled in Paris

in 1968 and began working on the five novels of the "Silent

War." In 1970 he published the first novel, Redoble por

Rancas, to international acclaim. In 1971 the military

government of Velasco Alvarado freed Hector Chac6n, the

1 Scorza also followed the international route,
publishing his novels outside of Peru.

actual person upon whom Scorza based the protagonist in

Redoble, from prison ("Yo viajo del mito" 48-49). The other

novels in the series are: Garabombo. el invisible (1972), E1

iinete insomne (1977), Cantar de AaaDito Robles (1977), and

La tumba del relamoaao (1979). In 1983 he published La

danza inm6vil.2 On November 27, 1983 he died in a plane


Although Scorza is related to a certain extent to the

boom of Spanish American narrative, he also remains distant

from it. While there is undoubtedly influence of the

Spanish American "new narrative" in his work, he chooses the

indicenista tradition, which is previous to the boom and is

a target of many writers affiliated with the boom (Cornejo

Polar, "Sobre el 'neoindigenismo'" 552-53). Escajadillo

points out that Scorza never was a part of the mutual self-

promotion of many boom writers. He also says that Scorza's

interpretation of important historic events differs greatly

from that of the boom, which he characterizes as fleeing

from historical interpretation "para dedicarse o al juego

fantasioso mas puro, o la presentaci6n de hechos cotidianos

banales y no-significativos, o una mezcla de estos y otros

components analogos" ("Scorza antes de la Gltima batalla"


2 For more information on Scorza's published works and
translations of his novels, see Schmidt and Escorza.


Due to various factors, Scorza's works have not

received a rigorous critical treatment. In 1991 and 1993

Friedhelm Schmidt published two bibliographies of works by

Scorza and articles about him and his work. In the 1991

article he comments that even though there are over 300

articles, most are interviews, reviews, or small references

(273). In a 1984 posthumous homage to Scorza in the Revista

de critical literaria latinoamericana, Antonio Cornejo Polar

and Nelson Osorio comment that while Scorza has had great

international success in terms of translations and

criticism, in Peru he has been virtually ignored. They

state that, while the journal had published one article, a

note, and two reviews, Scorza's work needs more rigorous

critical study ("Homenaje a Manuel Scorza"). In a 1978

article, Tomas G. Escajadillo criticizes the Peruvian

intellectual community's attitude toward Manuel Scorza's


el juicio critic en torno a la novelistica de
Scorza ha estado oscurecido o deformado por las
"simpatias" y (sobre todo) las "antipatias" que
suscita la persona del narrador. Me parece que es
necesario decir las cosas muy claramente: en el
Peru, en muchos sectors culturales y
especificamente literarios, existe un prejuicio en
contra de Manuel Scorza. Y esta antipatia ha
estado present en la critical literaria, sea en
forma de evaluaciones negatives de la narrative de
este autor, sea en la forma mas habitual de un
silencio en torno a su obra. ("Scorza antes de la
Gltima batalla" 184)

Escajadillo contends that Scorza dominated Peruvian

narrative in the 1970s and is one of the most important


Peruvian writers of the twentieth century ("Scorza y el

neoindigenismo" 9).

Historical Backoround

Scorza's novels deal with the campesino uprisings in

the central sierra in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

During this period hundreds of thousands of campesinos

seized land and challenged the authority of the Peruvian

government. Howard Handelman estimates that 40 of the 53

indigenous communities in the Pasco department participated

in the land seizures, with a similar number in Junin, and

over 140 in Cuzco. He believes that the total number of

invasions was between 350 and 400, with over 300,000 people

participating in one of the largest campesino movements in

Latin American history (121).

Two underlying reasons for the land invasions were a

lack of land and a recession that ravaged the mining

industry. While the indigenous communities made up 75% of

the rural population in the sierra, they owned only 10-15%

of the land (Handelman 26-30). In 1960 seventeen families

and corporations owned 93% of all agricultural and pasture

land in the department of Pasco (65-66). Coupled with less

land was the vast influence that the Cerro de Pasco

Corporation, a multinational corporation based in the United

States and primarily concerned with mining, had in the

departments of Pasco and Junin. The corporation controlled

all the phases of mining from extraction to sales, most of

production of electricity in central Peru, and its other

economic interests in the area had a pervasive influence on

the populace and the local economy (Kruijt 55-58). An

additional pressure that Scorza cites in an interview with

Hector Tiz6n was an economic crisis in the mining sector

that began in 1959. It left thousands of campesinos without

work and forced them to return to their communities (60).

Caught between insufficient land and high unemployment, land

seizures increased dramatically.

The initial response of the Manuel Prado government was

to use local police to evict comuneros from invaded lands.

Due to the scope of the invasions and a lack of manpower, by

the end of 1960 many communities still maintained control of

seized lands. The failure of this policy led to a military

intervention, called "Operation Eviction" (oDeraci6n

desaloiado). Throughout 1961 there were evictions,

sometimes violent, followed by land being seized again. In

March of 1962 some 3500 camDesinos, armed only with sticks,

stones, and farm tools, fought with the police. As a result

of this massacre, miners and railroad workers in Cerro de

Pasco called a solidarity strike, constructed barricades,

and nearly controlled the city. The military retook the

city, declared martial law, and banned meetings of over four

people. These actions temporarily ended land invasions in

Pasco and Junin (Handelman 77-78).

La tumba del relampago

In the five novels, collectively called the "Silent

War," Manuel Scorza describes various aspects of these

campesino uprisings. In an interview with Modesta Suirez,

Scorza states that the novels describe the progression from

an indigenous mythical mentality to a revolutionary

mentality found in La tumba del relampDao (92). In an

interview with Ernesto Gonzalez Bermejo, Scorza says that,

in part, he decided to write the novels because the Andean

campesino movements fascinated him. Furthermore, he did not

agree with the guerrilla schema of the 1960s (qtd. in Morana

75). As is the case of the other novels in the series, La

tumba del relamDaao describes abuses committed against

camDesinos, their organization and resistance against these

abuses, and their subsequent violent repression. However,

the emphasis is more on mestizo and white leaders' efforts

to help create a successful movement.

Many characters are based on actual participants in the

movement. The protagonist, Genaro Ledesma, is based on the

real-life Ledesma, who has been deeply involved in fighting

for campesinos and miners from the central sierra. He was

briefly mayor of Cerro de Pasco, and has been both a

congressman and a senator. In the novel Ledesma is the link

between campesino and leftist leaders. He attempts to forge

a union between the two groups, but the end result is

marginal participation by the left and violent suppression

of the camResinos. Other real-life people who appear as

characters include Jorge del Prado, Saturnino Paredes, Elias

Tacunan, and Manuel Scorza. Jorge del Prado has been the

leader of the Communist party for decades. Saturnino

Paredes led the Maoist faction of the Communist party after

the 1964 Sino-Soviet split. Elias Tacunan was a principal

figure in organizing campesinos and in creating the

Movimiento Comunal del Per6. In an interview, the real-life

Genaro Ledesma says that around 90% of the novel is based on

the actual facts and some 10% is fiction (qtd. in Suarez in

Forgues, La estrateaia mitica 167).

Although much of the novel is based on actual events,

it is still a work of fiction. Roland Forgues notes that

Scorza saw his works within the genre of realism. Forgues

points out that many critics have examined the relationship

of historical reality and fiction in Scorza's works, but

have often come to contradictory and opposite conclusions.

He argues that a literary work, being a work of art, changes

the reality that is its referent (12). However, "no

significa, ni much menos, que por eso deje de ser un

testimonio fidedigno y valido sobre esa misma realidad" (La

estrateaia mitica 12). The purpose of this discussion of La

tumba del relimpao is not to separate fact from fiction,

but rather to analyze Scorza's overall narrative vision in

the novel regarding the possibilities of future

revolutionary movements with the campesino as an integral


part.3 Unless otherwise mentioned, it should be understood

that when the analysis refers to characters based on actual

people, they are considered fictional characters.

In an interview in 1980, Scorza contended that the

campesino uprisings in the late 1950s and early 1960s were

vastly different from the numerous indigenous rebellions

that have taken place since the conquest. The key was the

proletarianization of the campesino class due to their

experiences in the mines. These experiences gave them an

idea of class consciousness and led them to fight for their

rights. In addition, he argued that leaders from the cities

had lost their influence: "Ahora la gran lucha campesina en

el Peru no se da como consecuencia de la pr6dica de la

ciudad; despierta como consecuencia de una toma de

conciencia de la clase campesina, en la cual la ideologia de

la ciudad no tiene ninguna influencia" (Tiz6n 60).

Scorza believed in revolution: "Creo en la revoluci6n

latinoamericana. He estado con la revoluci6n cubana. Creo

que la lucha armada es una de las pocas vias que quedan en

territories como los nuestros" (Suirez 94). In fact,

Antonio Cornejo Polar argues that the novel is the search

for a new revolutionary praxis:

3 For additional perspectives on Scorza's novels and the
historical background, see: Modesta Suarez, "Cerro de Pasco:
Historia de una massacre: Testimonio de Genaro Ledesma," in
Roland Forgues, La estrateaia mitica de Manuel Scorza, and
Wilfredo Kapsoli, "Manuel Scorza: Redoble Dor Rancas: Historia
y ficci6n," in his Literatura e historic del Peru.

En La tumba del relimpaoo, en efecto, se
insisted una y otra vez en la necesidad de
elaborar una tactica y una estrategia
revolucionarias que acaben con las
limitaciones que, en estos 6rdenes, tiene el
pensamiento mitico; pero, con igual
insistencia, se senala la urgencia de
recompensar los recursos ideol6gicos de raiz
occidental para adecuarlos a requerimientos
especificos de las luchas andinas.
Naturalmente, la distancia entire aquella
ideologia y estos requerimientos es enorme
(un personaje advierte que "la desgracia de
nuestras luchas es que no coinciden con
nuestras ideologias; la rabia, el coraje, son
de aqui, y las ideas son de alla", La
tumba..., p. 235), pero el proyecto de
superar este abismo mediante la reelaboraci6n
national (o mejor, campesina e indigena) del
pensamiento revolucionario aparece como la
unica soluci6n. ("Sobre el 'neoindigenismo'"

The following analysis will focus on three principal

aspects of Scorza's La tumba del relimpaao: the triangle of

exploiters of the campesino (economic, religious, and

government authorities); the increasing class consciousness

of the campesinos; and leftist groups and ideologies that

hindered or helped the movement. The analysis will center

on the description of the various groups and perceived

changes in political awareness that would enhance the

possibility of revolutionary success.


As is the case with other narrative in the indiaenista

tradition, the system of land tenure in La tumba is of

critical importance for the livelihood of campesinos and a

key element in their exploitation. Several characters


represent large landowners, and almost all are criticized.

One example is a landowner who empties a community school

and converts it into a stable for his livestock (La tumba

204). However, a few landowners have the respect of their

serfs and peacefully resolve disputes with neighboring

communities (44).

The novel cites many causes that lead the campesinos to

seize lands of the Cerro de Pasco Corporation. Its eleven

haciendas cover 500,000 hectares, including 77.8% of the

pasture land in Junin. Its holdings are a little less than

the land that 90% of the comuneros in Peru hold (174). The

campesinos lose more land due to various expansions of its

Bomb6n dam and electrical plant, which eventually covers

40,000 hectares with water (50). Pollution from its mines

kills most of the fish in Junin lake and forces communities

like Pari to give up their livelihood as fishermen (168).

With the expansion of the lands of the Cerro de Pasco

Corporation, pollution from its mines ruining fishing, and

the world-wide mineral recession leading to firings, many

camDesinos are forced to take the drastic measure of land


On a smaller scale, the Indian Tomas Chamorro and his

family, owners of the Jarria hacienda, are characters who

brutally exploit the campesinos. Chamorro's social and

economic ascendancy is a clear example of Manuel Gonzalez

Prada's assertion that the worst enemies of a class are


often those who originate from it: "cuando un individuo se

eleva sobre el nivel de su clase social, suele convertirse

en el peor enemigo de ella" (320). Tomas Chamorro's initial

wealth comes from his discovery of a silver deposit. He

sells his interests to the Cerro de Pasco Corporation, buys

the Jarria hacienda in 1905, and begins encroaching on the

lands of the Tusi community (La tumba 180). In addition,

"sus siervos supieron que un patron indio puede ser peor que

un amo blanco" (180). Chamorro bribes judges and has his

opponents jailed at will. He only hires young boys to work

in his coal mine. By the time one character is ten years

old, three of his cousins have died in the mine (99-100).

In a taunting statement a generation earlier, Chamorro tells

the omuneros of Tusi that they will regain their land when

toads grow teeth (118). There is less bravado, however,

when the comuneros begin taking over the lands of the Jarria

hacienda. For days the Chamorro men have been in a drunken

stupor (209). Thus, Chamorro is depicted as a ruthless

exploiter of campesinos when he has the power of the

government behind him, but a cowardly drunk when faced with

the revenge and the power of the camDesinos.

The description of the system of land tenure in the

novel is extremely critical, with most landowners, corporate

and individual, ruthlessly exploiting their workers and

neighboring comuneros. Tomis Chamorro rises above his own

class and becomes one of its worst exploiters. The Cerro de


Pasco Corporation goes beyond simple land tenure to

negatively affect the campesinos of Pasco and Junin in many

aspects of their economic lives. However, the landowners

should not be understood as the sole abusers of the

campesinos. The novel cites Jose Carlos Mariategui's

argument that gamonalismo encompasses much more. Included

in the system are those who, in one way or another, help to

support the system, including Indians who exploit other

Indians (129).


As was discussed in Chapter 2, the Catholic Church has

a history of close ties to gamonalismo. Two characters that

represent this history are the Sacristan Saturnino and

Father Morales. At the community level, the former is one

of the more traditional conservative members of his

community: "Era uno de los mas reacios a la idea de la

recuperaci6n y en general a las iniciativas de los j6venes.

Avaro y fanatico, desde la muerte de su mujer practicaba una

santurroneria enfermiza" (90). Father Morales is the brutal

administrator of a Cuzco seminary's hacienda and cruelly

exploits the workers: "El padre Morales los explotaba sin

misericordia: actuaba como hacendado, vestia como hacendado,

ordenaba como hacendado, implacable como hacendado" (150).

The greatest emphasis is on the compatibility between

Christianity and socialism. The character Crisanto

Gutierrez learns to read after he is forty years old. In

speaking of his reading and intellectual development, he

cites book after book that influence him to believe in

socialism (110-11).4 For him, Christianity and socialism

are completely compatible: "las bienaventuranzas de Jesus

que no son otra cosa que manifiestos del socialismo" (111).

Through the character of the Seminarista, Christianity fuses

with revolutionary socialism. He leaves the seminary after

witnessing and denouncing abuses against its hacienda

workers (150-51). On two different occasions he says that

he not only reads the Bible, but also reads Marx (164) and

Mao (166). There is no incompatibility between Christian

faith and socialism: "El Seminarista habia oido,

verdaderamente, la voz de Jesucristo: 'Amaos los unos a los

otros'" (150). On another occasion it is even more

explicit. He decides to live with the poor and share their

oppression, as did Christ and Lenin (152). The Seminarista

describes himself as having evolved to being "un hombre con

'una convicci6n y una fe'" (164). While La tumba del

relimpDao denounces the traditional church's complicity with

helping to preserve gamonalismo, it highlights the fusion of

4 He cites the following writers and books: Ciro
Alegria's Los perros hambrientos, C6sar Vallejo's Los heraldos
nearos and Poemas humans, works by Dostoiewski and Balzac,
Charles Dickens's Los ninos abandonados, Jos6 Maria Arguedas's
Los rios Drofundos, the Quixote, and Manuel Scorza's El cantar
de Aaapito Robles. Other writers cited are Kropotkin, Rosa
Luxemburgo, Luis E. Valcarcel and Jose Carlos Mari&tegui (110-

_ -

Christianity with socialism, especially revolutionary

socialism of the type practiced actively by the Seminarista.

Judicial System

The novel criticizes the judicial system as another

element that usually exploits the Indian. "Entre los

grandes hacendados y el Poder Judicial existe un

intermediario temible: el abogado" (La tumba 63). Lawsuits

last for generations. For example, the paperwork is one and

a half meters high in the lawsuit between the Tusi community

and Tomas Chamorro. By the time of its resolution, the

community owes so much in legal fees that the lawyer ends up

with the disputed land (63). Another lawyer makes a small

fortune swindling people, principally through being the sole

beneficiary of wills (24-26). In order to get out of jail,

a campesino leader has to bribe the judge (101). The major

exception to this description of the judicial system is the

character Genaro Ledesma, who is a devoted advocate for the

campesinos, and inverts the judicial process in their favor.

The Civil Code states that while land ownership is in

dispute, it considers the party possessing it to be the

owner. In seizing their lost lands, the comuneros are

considered the legal owners until the large landowners prove

the contrary (83-84). Just as the Seminarista inverts the

traditional role associated with the church, Ledesma inverts

the law to serve the camDesinos.


Military and Police

Scorza presents a diverse group of police and military

officers. Some take great zeal in the violent repression of

the campesinos, while others are reluctant or even refuse to

participate. Racism, corruption and machismo all play a

part in abuses and massacres of campesinos. Others

reluctantly follow orders or actively disobey them.

Two principal criticisms of the police and military are

of racism and corruption. The most striking example of

racism occurs when prisoners notify the Republican Guard

that another prisoner is suffering an asthma attack. A

guard responds, "&Te atreves a molestarme por un indio?

iOjala se muera! iOjali murieran todos los indios del

Perul" (154). The case of Colonel Zapata, a police officer

in Huanuco, highlights the racial differences of officers

and campesinos. He is "Rechoncho, menguado, blanc6n, ojos

azules" (20). He orders a subordinate to deal harshly with

the campesinos of Huayllay, which results in a massacre

(252-53). Colonel Zapata receives bribes from the Cerro de

Pasco Corporation. Although he believes Genaro Ledesma is

innocent, he jails him to please the Corporation (22).

Appearing as a character, Scorza sharply criticizes army

Colonel Marroquin Cueto for staying at the Cerro de Pasco

Corporation's private hotel. Scorza argues that since there

is a state of siege in Pasco, and he and the army are in

charge, he should not acquire his lodging from one of the


principal participants of the dispute that he is supposed to

resolve (240-41).

Two Civil Guard officers in the novel are merciless in

massacring campesinos. Captain Reategui commands a

detachment that massacres Yanahuanca villagers (253).5 He

also massacres the Huayllay comuneros (256). Another police

officer, Commander Bodenaco, supervises most of the

evictions of lands in the central sierra. Wherever he

appears, there are always deaths (230). He is "el

masacrador official de la GC [Guardia Civil]. El famoso

'Comandante Desalojo' es pequeno, pelirrojo, cara pecosa,

ojos alcoholizados" (240). In a meeting he pleads to use

his own methods to end the conflict: "iAutoriceme a usar mis

medios y me comprometo a entregarle la ciudad limpia a las

seis de esta tarde!" (241).

Other police officers and soldiers are reluctant

participants in the prevailing system and, in some cases,

are sympathetic to the campesino movements. A sergeant

apologizes to Ledesma for his role in the arrest and says

that he has to follow orders (20). After the character

Scorza meets with military and police officials, an officer

approaches him and explains that they do not enjoy quelling

5 Historical accounts vary on the actual number of dead
and wounded in the massacre at Yanahuanca. Howard Handelman
believes that there were from ten to fifteen comuneros killed
and nearly fifty wounded (69). Scorza's version in Garabombo,
el invisible includes thirty dead and one hundred wounded

land seizures. He believes that people like Scorza

represent the real Peru. He explains that they have to

follow orders against their convictions. If there is

violence, he wants Scorza to know that he is with the people

(242). Genaro Ledesma is able to elude capture three times

due to warnings of a police officer (263).

Other Civil Guard characters refuse to attack comuneros

who invade hacienda lands. While Commander Laf6n, the

Seminarista's father, removes his troops, another commander

destroys the community the next day (254-55). At the height

of the land seizures, the police appear at the Pacoyin

hacienda with eviction orders, but the comunero leaders

convince the commander to not attack. The commander says

that he is tired of battling against Peruvians and is there

only because he has to obey orders. He places the blame for

the orders to shoot against innocent people on higher

ranking officers allied with the oligarchy. After the

police and comuneros share a drink, the troops leave. The

campesino leader distrusts his motives, and sentinels guard

against their return (220).

While the novel describes some ruthless members of the

repressive forces, primarily the police, others reluctantly

follow orders from above. The exploitation and killing of

campesinos are due in great part to racism, corruption, and

orders. The last two reasons highlight the military and

police role as intermediaries for the socioeconomic elite.

For example, both Colonel Zapata and Colonel Marroquin Cueto

are beholden to the Cerro de Pasco Corporation. The former

acknowledges that Ledesma is innocent, but incarcerates him

to please his benefactor. The latter's staying at its hotel

can compromise his actions in resolving the dispute. This

is not to say that some members of the repressive forces do

not enthusiastically support the elite. The brutal

massacres of campesinos are ample evidence of the support of

some sectors. No matter how autonomous they are in the

battlefield, the orders to evict the campesinos protect the

elite's interests, principally the rural oligarchy.

However, some police officers and soldiers reluctantly

follow orders, openly disobey them, or support the

campesinos. While the police and military violently

suppress the campesino uprising, the novel also points out

that there is dissent within the ranks. As will be

discussed later, the role of military or police service is

invaluable in convincing many campesino leaders of the

possibilities of radical changes in their lives.

In the description of the traditional exploiters of the

Indian, Scorza emphasizes changes in certain sectors of the

traditionally exploitative system. This lends credence to

his thesis that conditions are appropriate for a successful

revolutionary movement. While the prevailing system

continues to ruthlessly exploit the Indians, some religious,

legal, military, and police authorities oppose the system


they are serving. These changes in the exploitative system

could increase the probability for a successful revolution.

However, a weakness in this argument is that most of these

dissident sectors opted for reformist parties instead of

revolution after the campesino uprisings. More important to

Scorza's argument are the increased political awareness of

the campesino class and sectors of the left.


One of the principal theses of La tumba del relampaao

is the increasing ability of campesinos to, at least

partially, overcome previous limitations of past uprisings.

In the novel Genaro Ledesma is apprehensive about the

possibilities of success due to strengths that are also


En todas parties era igual: los campesinos
defendian sus intereses o los de su comunidad
pero, raras veces, los de su clase. La tragedia
de las luchas campesinas es la lucha aislada. La
comunidad, creaci6n genial de la sociedad india,
le permiti6 atravesar cuatrocientos afos de
genocidio. Pero la comunidad protege a sus
miembros: no defiende a los otros campesinos, a su
clase. (74)

In addition to an embryonic class consciousness, the novel

maintains that another problem is the reliance on a mythical

understanding of the world. In spite of serious problems in

the uprisings, Scorza describes major strides in unifying

the campesinos and their gaining more of a revolutionary and

class consciousness.


One obstacle is the conflicting needs and desires of

camDesinos, which is most noticeable in contrasting colonos

and comuneros. Colonos were tied to the hacienda system and

isolated from the outside world. Within the hacienda they

would exchange free labor for small plots of land, ceding

much of the control over their lives to the landowner. By

the middle part of this century, the number of colonos is

estimated to have been less than 20% of sierra campesinos.

Comuneros were much more independent. They lived in self-

governing communities where all properties were communally

owned, while individuals were able to use their plots of

land as they saw fit. They were more integrated into modern

society and elected a personero to represent the community

in the outside world (Handelman 26-29). While colonos

wanted to establish unions to fight for increased salaries

and reductions in, or the elimination of, free labor owed to

the landowner, the comuneros wanted to reclaim lands

appropriated by haciendas (Cotler and Portocarrero,

Organizaciones campesinas 20). At times these aspirations

would clash. Handelman cites a conflict over a Junin

hacienda. Tenants bought land from their former landowner,

but two neighboring communities argued that the sale was

invalid because they had the legal title. Upon entering the

hacienda with a court order supporting their claim, two

comuneros were killed. Basic conflicts like this hindered

the unification of colonos and comuneros (96-99).


When the comuneros in the novel begin the land

seizures, they encounter both opposition and support from

the colonos. Fearing betrayal, the comuneros remove the

colonos from their villages and take their place. They

justify this because of the relative backwardness of the

colonos: "Los siervos son gente podrida en la esclavitud y

se colocan, a veces, del lado de sus patrons. No podemos

confiar en ellos. El unico modo de estar seguros es

reemplazarlos por tusinos" (179). However, the eviction

will be temporary and the colonos will be provided with

housing and land (179). Many colonos do not appear to

understand or be enthusiastic when they are told that they

are free and will own their own land (185). This lack of

comprehension is underscored when the colonos are unable to

join the comuneros in singing the national anthem because

they do not know it (196). In spite of their relative lack

of development, several colonos do join with the comuneros.

One of the principal arguments in La tumba del

relimpaoo is that the heightened political awareness of the

comuneros, achieved primarily through contacts outside of

the community structure, made the possibility of a

successful revolutionary movement more likely. According to

Howard Handelman, Pasco's population was among the most

socioeconomically advanced in the sierra in the early 1960s.

While 60% of the population primarily spoke Quechua, 90%

could also speak Spanish. This is in stark contrast to the

departments of Apurimac and Ayacucho, where only 30-35%

spoke Spanish. The literacy rate in Pasco was 52%, compared

to 23% in Apurimac and 27% in Ayacucho. Most of Pasco's

residents also had greater contact with the urban sector

than southern campesinos (64-65). The Junin population was

similar to that of Pasco. Quechua was the primary language

of about half of the adults, but over 90% spoke Spanish. At

61%, the adult literacy rate was the highest of any sierra

department (87-88). In an interview published in 1980,

Scorza argues that by 1960 the campesino class had become

proletarianized. He also notes that the campesinos formed

the nucleus of the FOCEP, (Frente de Campesinos v Obreros

del Peru). Founded by the real-life Genaro Ledesma, it

received 15% of the vote in the 1978 Constituent Assembly

elections (Tiz6n 60-61). He adds that the FOCEP "es el

primer movimiento del Peru que viene del fondo andino, de la

marginalizaci6n, e influye nacionalmente" (61). Although

these statements are true, he neglects to mention the

influence of votes for the Trotskyist Hugo Blanco. Without

an alliance with Blanco, the FOCEP received fewer votes in

1980.6 However, Ledesma was and is an important figure on

6 The FOCEP joined with the Trotskyists for the
Constituent Assembly elections (Rojas Samanez 152). The FOCEP
received the third-highest vote total for a party, behind the
APRA and the Popular Christian Party (PPC). However, the
Trotskyist Hugo Blanco received some 66% of the votes cast for
the FOCEP, while Ledesma received 76,377 votes, or around 18%
of the total FOCEP vote. In the 1980 presidential elections
Hugo Blanco ran with the Partido Revolucionario de los
Trabaiadores (PRT). Three parties from the left placed in

the Peruvian political stage. Even though the FOCEP has not

been a major force in elections, this does not necessarily

take away from Scorza's assertion that there has been a

process of proletarianization, however limited, of the


The paths toward a heightened political consciousness

of camDesinos in the novel are varied, but most involve some

sort of learning experience outside the community. Crisanto

Gutierrez learns to read after he is forty years old, and he

argues that the poor will find clarity in books (111). Jail

is a type of university for rebels: "Pero en Pasco, como en

todo el Peru, la circel es la universidad donde los rebeldes

conocen otros rebeldes. Alli aprenden, dolorosamente, la

lucidez" (136). Through his service in the Civil Guard,

Saturnino Inocente says he has learned more about Peru and

how the system works (65). Herm6genes Farruso's experiences

in the military barracks in Lima teach him about his rights:

"Farruso habia regresado con palabras nuevas: 'la tierra

debe ser de quienes la trabajan'" (118-19). While living in

the town of Mosca, Visitaci6n Maximiliano witnesses its

successful land seizure. That experience and his military

experience thrust him into a prominent role in organizing

the invasion of the Paria hacienda (167-69).

fourth through sixth place. Blanco was in fourth, the United
Left (IU) in fifth, and Ledesma in sixth, with 60,853 votes
(Rojas Samanez 210-27).


Conclusions drawn from these learning experiences lead

many campesino leaders to decide that their only recourse is

to resort to violence. After being a servant in Lima for a

congressman during the Odria era, Vidal Salas, Yarusyacan's

Dersonero, is very critical of the corrupt Peruvian system


Asi me di cuenta que el Peru es propiedad de un
punado de hijos de puta que nos mantienen a todos
con la cabeza en la mierda, mientras ellos se
banquetean a todos y se cagan de risa de los que
trabajamos. iYo no creo en politicos ni en
discursos ni en reclamos! jEsas cosas son para
los cojudos! (58)

He tells Genaro Ledesma that the comuneros no longer need a

lawyer. Rather, they need a leader who will use legal

maneuvers to buy them time to prepare to fight and will help

lead them in the battle for their land. Above all, they

need arms (57). Drawing on his military experience,

Policarpo Cabello founds the Communal Army and becomes its

leader. He views power as a series of chains to be broken:

El poder es una cadena, doctor. La policia esta
encadenada con el Subprefecto; el Subprefecto esta
encadenado con el Prefecto; el Prefecto esta
encadenado con el Presidente de la Republica.
Esta cadena s6lo se quebrari cuando un campesino
instale su trono en el Palacio de Gobierno. (131)

Months before the invasions, Exaltaci6n Travesano, the new

personero of Yanahuanca, tells Genaro Ledesma that he and

the other personeros of Pasco have decided to rise up again

and are ready to shed blood. (77). He also wants to raise

the consciousness of others: "El gobierno cree que

masacrandonos nos asusta. Ignora que nosotros quisieramos

otra matanza para acabar definitivamente con la ceguera de

los que creen que en el Peru se puede alcanzar justicia por

las buenas" (77). Owing in part to the influence of

experiences outside the community, the campesino leaders

conclude that they have to resort to violence to regain

their land.

In planning and implementing the land invasions,

camDesino leaders must overcome limitations of previous

uprisings such as long-standing conflicts between

communities and a mythical conception of the world. It is

young comuneros, who have lived in cities or worked in the

mines, who convince two communities to put aside past

differences and conflicts and to unite in the land seizures

(89). Dissuading their compatriots from believing in myths

is also extremely important. Shortly before attacking the

main house of the Jarria hacienda, one of the comuneros

remembers Tomis Chamorro's taunting prediction that toads

will grow teeth before they get their land back. Before

continuing, he wants to examine them. Hermogenes Farruso

tells him that it is not important. What does matter is

that they are attacking. Colonos are shaking off their

bonds of slavery to join the struggle. They need anger, not

superstitions (208). The most important moment in the novel

regarding myths is when Remigio Villena finds Dona Anada's

tower and burns it to the ground. Dona Anada weaves ponchos

that describe the future. After having spent many hours

studying the ponchos and attempting to decipher the future,

Villena destroys the tower and the ponchos. He believes

that it is more important for the campesinos to create their

own future rather than to rely on the weavings of a blind


INuestra empresa s6lo depend de nuestro coraje!
iNadie decidiri mas por nosotros! tExistimosl
iSomos hombres, no sombras tejidas por una sombra!
iMi cuerpo y mi sombra me seguiran adonde los
lleve mi valor o mi cobardia! iNos calienta un
verdadero sol! ;Nos enfria una nieve verdadera!
IEstamos vivos! (202)

Scorza describes many campesinos as having overcome

many of the limitations of previous uprisings. While the

repressive forces quell the uprising, there are many

examples of campesinos achieving a heightened political

consciousness. Colonos and comuneros find common ground and

work together. Longstanding enmities between communities

are ameliorated for the goal of regaining lost land. The

leadership and most decisions occur within campesino

governmental structures. This indicates a high level of

autonomy and also the ability to organize a movement.

Leaders are usually those who have had some contact outside

the community. As is the case of some sectors of the

traditional exploiters of the campesino coming to oppose the

system, many campesinos and their leaders conclude that

violence is the only way to change their fate.


Criticism of Leftist Parties and Organizations

In La tumba del relimpaao there is severe criticism of

political parties, especially those traditionally associated

with the left. In one section Ledesma succinctly comments

on their lack of support: "Desgraciadamente los politicos

brillan por su ausencia" (164). The APRA offers no support

and Marxist groups and parties are locked into a strict

interpretation of orthodox Marxism, and do not consider, as

did Mariategui, the role of the campesinos.

The APRA was a very strong party in Pasco. Prior to

1980, the two times that the party participated in

presidential elections not nullified by a military coup, the

percentage of the APRA vote in Pasco was 76.63% in 1931 and

52.66% in 1963. In 1931 the vote was the largest percentage

for the APRA in any department, while in 1963 it was the

fourth largest total (North 175). When the government

appointed Genaro Ledesma mayor of Cerro de Pasco, he was

officially an aprista (Handelman 137). He later left the

party, founded the FOCEP in 1963 and was elected to

represent Pasco in Congress while in jail. In 1954 Scorza

left the APRA, publishing an open letter with the title of

"Good-bye, Mister Haya" (Aldaz 19).

While the APRA has political hegemony in Pasco, the

novel attacks it for not helping the campesinos. Some party

members support the seizures and state that they are more

loyal to their region than to their party (57 and 237). The

narrator comments that the party never supports land

seizures: "el Partido Aprista nunca habia aprobado las

recuperaciones de tierras de los campesinos. En una

oportunidad La Tribuna, diario official del APRA, se

pronunci6 a favor de los grandes propietarios: los comuneros

nunca lo olvidaron" (57).

The Communist party offers only minimal support to the

campesino uprisings, and argues that the working class must

be in the vanguard and that campesino movements lack a

revolutionary consciousness. The real-life Jorge del Prado

has been the Secretary General of the Peruvian Communist

party for decades. The novel severely criticizes the

character based on him for adhering to a strict

interpretation of orthodox Marxist theories. The following

fictional version of a possible conversation between Genaro

Ledesma and Jorge del Prado illustrates Scorza's depiction

of their ideological stances regarding the revolutionary


--Toda possible acci6n tendria que supeditarse
a la conducci6n de la clase obrera.
--En Cerro de Pasco la clase obrera no esta a
la cabeza de la lucha, sino el campesinado.
--Para que nosotros consideremos cualquier
posibilidad de apoyo, se necesitaria que el sector
campesino se subordinara a la clase obrera. La
directive de cada comunidad debe aceptar el
control de una comisi6n obrera.
--Eso es extremadamente dificil, camarada.
Los campesinos de Pasco obedecen Gnicamente a los
campesinos de Pasco. Nosotros respetamos su
jerarquia traditional. Por eso nos escuchan. En
este caso, creo, la teoria debe nacer de la
practice. Hay que modificar la teoria. En la
Sierra Central el campesinado no solicita la

primacia en la lucha: la tiene. ;Y la paga, cada
ano, con centenares de muertos!
--Es verdad. Pero no negari usted que la
clase campesina, que ha dado tantos ejemplos de
heroismo, carece de una verdadera conciencia
revolucionaria para llegar hasta el final. La
vanguardia de la revoluci6n es el proletariado.
"&Que hago aqui", se pregunt6 Ledesma. El
camarada Del Prado repetia, casi parecia que leia,
un manual de marxismo, la teoria y tactica de los
bolcheviques preparindose a asaltar el Palacio de
Invierno. (234)

Saturnino Paredes is another high-ranking member of the

Communist party who appears as a character in the novel. In

real life he was the secretary of the Confederaci6n

Campesina and later led the Maoist faction of the Communist

party after the Sino-Soviet split. In the novel Paredes's

interpretation is the same as that of the fictional version

of Jorge del Prado:

la revoluci6n es la consecuencia del encuentro
entire las condiciones objetivas y las condiciones
subjetivas. El motor de la historic es la lucha
de classes. La vanguardia de la revoluci6n es la
clase obrera. La clase campesina nunca sobrepasa
el reformismo. El resto es aventurerismo. (150)

The Seminarista criticizes Saturnino Paredes for not dealing

with the realities of Peru and the revolutionary potential

of the campesinos, and merely parroting Lenin's speeches

from February of 1917 (150). In addition, he condemns

Paredes for sectarian activities. He orders the Seminarista

to distribute leaflets accusing Hugo Blanco, a Trotskyist,

of being a provocateur (153). The Seminarista's reaction is

one of incredulity: "El organizador del mas poderoso

movimiento campesino del Cusco, Cprovocador?" (153).

The criticism of the Trotskyists also lies in their

failure to adapt their ideology to meet the realities of

Peru. When Ledesma reads an article in a Trotskyist

newspaper about Pasco campesinos, he concurs with their view

on the importance of campesino agitation. However, he

realizes that the article is essentially a proclamation by

Trotsky in St. Petersburg in 1917: "El unico aporte era que

en lugar de mujikss' escribian 'comuneros'" (127).

The novel depicts the MIR (Movimiento de Izauierda

Revolucionaria) as opportunistic, sectarian, and desiring to

control any movement it aids. The MIR's abortive attempt at

guerrilla warfare lasted for about six months in 1965 and

1966. In one episode Ricardo goes to a prison to speak with

Luis, one of the principal leaders of the MIR in the novel.

Ricardo tells him that there are 100,000 campesinos ready to

fight, but they lack cadres and arms (250). Luis's answer

is telling in uttering the word "control" three times: "No

controlamos ni podemos controlar el movimiento campesino de

Pasco. El control lo tiene Genaro Ledesma, que se apoya en

cualquiera que lo auxilie" (250). Like the character

Saturnino Paredes, Luis argues that the objective conditions

do not coincide with the subjective conditions. He says

that it must run its course, because they can not control

it. It is better to wait a year, when the government will

offer an amnesty for the elections (251). His obvious


desire to be the leader is striking: "Yo saldre para ponerme

al frente. Entonces sera el moment" (251).

In conclusion, the novel is a scathing indictment of

the political parties of the left for their misconceptions

of the Peruvian historical realities, their adherence to

orthodox forms of Marxism, and their lack of support of the

uprisings. Their ideological justifications come from 1917

Russia, speeches by Lenin and Trotsky, and Marxist manuals.

Both Saturnino Paredes and Luis argue that the objective

conditions do not coincide with the subjective conditions.

The latter cynically adds that the conditions will be right

when he can lead the movement. Even promises of

propagandistic support fall short. The lack of support of

the leftist parties and organizations helps doom the


The Nucleus of a New Revolutionary Left

In the novel non camDesino leaders associated with the

uprising represent a hodgepodge of groups and ideologies.

In an unfortunate choice of words, Ledesma compares himself

to Columbus and his willingness to accept help from anyone:

"Yo, como Col6n, me embarco con los que me siguen" (243).

7 Roland Forgues argues that this statement, among
others, is indicative of Scorza's and, by extension, Ledesma's
distance from an indigenous ideological framework. He also
adds that the choice of Columbus is ironic in that he was the
one who initiated the process of the subjugation of the
campesino (140).


In the department of Huanuco, Maoists and Trotskyists aid

the uprisings (243). The Bible, Marx, and Mao (164-66) are

ideological influences for the Seminarista, while Elias

Tacunan, one of leaders of the Movimiento Comunal del Peru,

speaks of the Cuban Revolution and Havana Radio (166). Also

playing a significant role in the novel are the Movimiento

Comunal del Peru, Ledesma, and Scorza.

Elias Tacunin, a group of university professors and

former aDristas found the Movimiento Comunal del Peri, which

considers itself at the vanguard (La tumba 153). They blame

the deceit of the political parties for the state of moral

and material misery in Peru (192). They argue that instead

of comuneros invading lands, they are the victims of

invasions by the large landowners (174). They advocate

nationalizing lands owned by foreign companies and returning

them to the communities (191-92). The Movement also urges

workers and students to join the comuneros and campesinos in

the vanguard (176).

As Jose Carlos Mariategui adapted European Marxist

theories to correspond to the particularities of Peru, in

the novel Genaro Ledesma attempts to go beyond parroting

orthodox Marxism, and bases many of his ideas on

Mariategui's thought. Ledesma argues that the campesinos,

not the proletariat, are the revolutionary vanguard in Peru:

El proletariado es la vanguardia de la revoluci6n.
Olvida tus manuales, Seminarista. Aqui todo es
diferente. Aqui la vanguardia es el campesinado.
Nuestras teorias revolucionarias fueron pensadas

siempre en otros continents. Vivimos a cr6dito,
explotando el trabajo de los intelectuales
europeos. LY que pasa? Lo que en Europa es
blanco, aqui es negro. (226)

He argues that the revolutionary theories come from the

process of the struggle: "La lucha modifica las ideas, los

esquemas, las teorias aprendidas en la ciudad" (243). In

his fictional interview with Jorge del Prado, the Secretary

General of the Communist party, Ledesma insists that the

conditions are favorable for the beginning of the armed

struggle: "No creo que en el Per6 se hayan presentado, nunca

antes, condiciones tan favorables para una lucha armada"

(234). He believes that with the example of the Cuban

Revolution and wars of liberation in the Third World, there

are new options available. The key is to unify the

indigenous communities (78).

Although there are some minor differences between

Ledesma and Scorza, on the whole, they concur. Roland

Forgues argues that they are representatives of theory and

praxis in conflict: "me parece que Scorza y Ledesma

representan en el relato dos figures que encarnan la reunion

de las dos caras constitutivas de todo process

revolucionario: la teoria y la praxis" (La estrateaia mitica

126). While Ledesma, Scorza and the Seminarista discuss

their plans, either the Seminarista or Scorza argues that

the campesinos need political direction to go beyond a few

initial victories (238). Ledesma rejects this suggestion

and places more faith in the abilities of the campesinos:

LHasta cuando tendremos la pretension de ensenarle
lo que no sabemos a los sobrevivientes de una
cultural que ha atravesado cuatrocientos anos de
genocidio? Para sobrevivir en esas condiciones se
requeria genio.... Este pueblo sabe. iNo
necesita consejos! Nuestro unico papel es
canalizar su violencia. (238)

On another occasion Ledesma and Scorza debate whether they

should recommend that the campesinos dynamite abandoned

mines beneath the camp of some troops. Scorza advocates

doing it. He argues that he is not only thinking of a

revolution, but also of the rebirth of a people paralyzed

for more than 400 years. In spite of the odds, he urges

Ledesma to believe in the masses (256-57). Ledesma replies

that he believes in the masses, but they lack the components

for a successful revolution. The main result would be

bloodshed: "En este moment, s6lo conseguiriamos acrecentar

la mortandad. Los partidos que debian apoyarnos, nos han

abandonado. iNo tenemos cuadros, no tenemos armas, no

tenemos medios, no tenemos nada!" (257). Ledesma's

overriding goal is to survive to take power later: "No se

trata de matar ni de morir. Se trata de vivir para tomar el

poder" (257).

The overriding theme of the new revolutionary left is

their belief in the campesino, not the proletariate, as the

revolutionary vanguard. Supporters of the uprising come

from diverse ideological backgrounds and represent fragments

of the major movements of the Peruvian left. However, they

are severely hindered by the lack of support of the