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3 Colonialism Adrift
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Colonialism Adrift

Azángaro and the whole of the northern altiplano had participated in market exchanges in the framework of Spanish colonial political economy since the second half of the sixteenth century. But by the late colonial period it was not a "market economy," much less a "market society." Indeed, even in the early twentieth century these terms would remain inappropriate; that is, there existed nothing close to a self-regulating market in which the values of all traded or bartered commodities were determined primarily by the equilibrium between supply and demand. Nor were people's social positions determined primarily by the exchange value of their skills or the goods they offered on the market. Rather, custom, privilege, and power all exerted strong influence on market exchanges and social chances of individuals, families, and groups.[1] The changes in Azángaro's agrarian society during the waning decades of the colonial regime took place against the background of this interdependence between commerce and the social, cultural, and political relations of production.

Spanish colonialism affected various regions in America differently and penetrated Indian societies at different times. Azángaro was located in one of the two cores of the Spanish Empire in the Americas—Mesoamerica and the central Andes—that became centers of European colonization between the 1520s and 1550s. Yet, although the northern altiplano's colonial experience differed greatly from that of frontier regions, such as the nearby Amazonian piedmont, the Araucanian-controlled territories of southern Chile, or the tierra adentro (inland) of northern Mexico, it remained something like an internal, dominated space until the very end of the colonial era. Distant from major Spanish urban centers—Cuzco was three days away by horse—the region was unpopular among Spaniards because of its frosty climate and the fierce autonomy of the Indian herders.[2]


Although geographically and socially furthest removed from Spanish colonial centers, rural society in provinces such as Azángaro was characterized most dramatically by colonialism. A handful of direct representatives of the colonial state and a few Spanish or culturally hispanized landholders, miners, and traders here clashed and—at the same time—lived together with an overwhelming majority of indigenous peasants, who adjusted as little as necessary in order to save what they could of their ethnic identity.[3] The dual function of any colonial regime—to control the conquered population politically and socially and to exploit it economically—left an indelible imprint on the structure of Azángaro's rural society. But even for the late colonial period the sources suggest that the extraordinary power of the private, crown, and church representatives of the colonial regime contrasted markedly with the precarious Spanish settlement of Azángaro and neighboring altiplano provinces.

The Formation of Livestock Estates up to 1750

Between the 1540s and 1573 all Indians in the region of Azángaro were distributed to ten encomenderos , who were entrusted with both rights of tribute from the Indians and responsibility for their welfare. Despite the legal separation between encomienda and landholding, these men established some of Azángaro's first estates.[4] In a number of cases encomenderos combined grants of Indians in the temperate valleys near Cuzco with those in the higher and colder livestock zone of Azángaro, suggesting an early integration of both regions dominated by colonists residing in the city of Cuzco.[5]

A detailed account of the early formation of haciendas in the northern altiplano lies outside the scope of this study. Suffice it to say that the mechanisms employed in the transfer of lands from Indians to Spaniards were the same here as in other, well-studied parts of Spanish America: land grants (mercedes ) by the crown to worthy settlers, with a legally prescribed residence in a Spanish city; de facto appropriations of land from Indian peasants using largely illegal and deceptive procedures; and the reaffirmation of de facto possession by itinerant crown judges during recurring evaluations of land titles (composiciones ).[6] For Azángaro, we have evidence of visitas de tierras (judicial evaluations of land titles) in 1595, 1607, 1655, and 1717.[7]

The precarious and slow entrenchment of direct Spanish exploitation in the northern altiplano may be detected in the timing of estate formation. Just as elsewhere in core Spanish America, the process got underway in Azángaro during the late sixteenth and, particularly, the seventeenth


TABLE 3.1. Livestock Estancias in Azángaro
                      Province, 1689 and 1825/30

















Owner unknown








Note: These figures exclude Poto, Pusi, and Taraco.

Sources: Villanueva Urteaga, Cuzco 1689 , 111–26;
Choquehuanca, Ensayo , 15–53.

centuries as the growth of colonial towns and a complex mining economy stimulated the development of Spanish livestock ranches supplementing goods extracted from the Indian peasant economy. But in contrast to other regions of the empire, in the northern altiplano the formative phase of estate building did not conclude or slow down at the end of the seventeenth century. Rather, more estates were incorporated between 1689 and the end of the colonial era than before (table 3.1); probably the greatest part of the post-1689 estates were formed before 1780.

In 1689 most Spanish livestock ranches in Azángaro were located in two widely separated clusters. The fertile valleys around Munañi and Putina, in the eastern part of the province close to the Cordillera de Carabaya, had the greatest concentration of estates. Most of these belonged to Spaniards who were working the gold and silver mines in the adjacent cordillera and piedmont of Carabaya; as one contemporary source noted, "The said estancias serve to dispense the supplies for the sustenance of the miners." As late as 1819 abandoned mines in the mining district of Aporoma were appurtenances of Estancia de Guasacona in Muñani.[8] The other cluster of estates was located on the western fringes of the corregimiento, in the parishes of Asillo and Santiago de Pupuja, close to or directly on the camino real from Cuzco to Upper Peru. These livestock ranches were owned mostly by Spaniards residing in Cuzco or, less often, Arequipa, among them descendants of the original encomenderos who still carried the title. For example, during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries San Francisco de Purina in Asillo belonged to the encomendero Don Gerónimo


de Costilla, Marqués de Buenavista, a citizen of Cuzco.[9] In Santiago the Jesuits' Colegio Grande of Cuzco owned two estancias from the early seventeenth century on. Proximity to the camino real, offering easier communication both with Cuzco and Upper Peru, was essential for making the formation of estates by powerful absentee lords feasible and profitable. These ranches supplied Cuzco with wool, dried meat, and other livestock products and may also have shipped such goods directly to the mining centers in Upper Peru.

Outside of these two clusters of estates Azángaro's parish priests mention only a handful of ranches in their reports to Bishop Mollinedo of Cuzco in 1689: one, owned by the kuraka Don Manuel Chuquiguanca, a few miles outside the pueblo of Azángaro; another four owned both by Spaniards and Indian communities in the vicinity of Lake Arapa; and another two further south on the camino real in the annex Achaya of Caminaca parish, at least one of which was owned by the Indian community. Until the end of the seventeenth century, then, a vast central corridor through Azángaro province, from the slopes of the Cordillera de Carabaya around Potoni in the north, through the modern districts of San Antón and San José, the wide plains around the pueblo of Azángaro, and all the way to the southern extreme of the province close to Lake Titicaca at Saman and Caminaca, was essentially free of Spanish estates. Virtually all this land still belonged to Indian peasants, their communities, and their kurakas. Spanish authority here was represented directly only through one parish priest, the corregidor, and their assistants.

Why was the Spanish presence in the core of what was to become one of Peru's premier livestock-raising provinces so precarious before the eighteenth century? It cannot have been due to the natural environment. As developments in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century demonstrate, much of the land in this central corridor of Azángaro constituted good pastures propitious for the formation of livestock haciendas. Location certainly influenced the spatial patterning of Spanish enterprises during the seventeenth century. Proximity to the mining region and to the main commercial artery of the viceroyalty drew two different types of Spanish entrepreneurs and landholders: relatively modest miners, residing on their estates when they were not in the seasonally operated mining camps, and powerful absentee landlords linked to Cuzco's aristocratic families. But the Spaniards' slowness in establishing agrarian enterprises in the central part of the province may also have had something to do with the cohesion of Indian society, the power of the kurakas, and the smaller population loss in that part of Azángaro. Indian societies based on raising large domesticated animals before conquest may have been in a better position to


defend against Spanish encroachments onto their lands than were societies based on intensive crop agriculture. The dispersed settlements of the pastoralists slowed down the spread of deadly epidemics, and the need for extensive grazing lands for the cameloid herds allowed the Indian communities to claim large areas as indispensable for their livelihood. By physical occupation of extensive pastures, the herds of the Indian communities helped protect their land.[10]

With the large increase in the number of estates between the 1690s and the 1770s, their spatial and ownership patterns shifted. Whereas the two clusters (around Putina-Muñani and Asillo-Santiago) accounted for 85 percent of all estates in 1689, by the late colonial period only 53 percent were located there. The church, which owned less than 10 percent of the estates in 1689, controlled close to one-third by the late colonial period. More than half of the new church estates incorporated after 1689 were located in the core area of the province, where previously there had been hardly any estates. The rapid expansion of church lands in areas controlled by Indian communities and their kurakas suggests the parish priests' growing power over, and involvement with, the peasant economy during the early decades of the eighteenth century.[11]

Parishes had come into possession of some land early in the colonial period, perhaps by taking over some community lands assigned to the priests of the Inca religion.[12] But most of the land that appeared as church estates after 1689 had previously belonged to the kurakas or Indian communities. In the late sixteenth century Kuraka Diego Choquehuanca, founder and financial backer of the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Azángaro, had donated extensive landholdings to the parish to help defray construction costs and administrative expenditures.[13] Communities may also have donated land to their parishes; in other cases they probably lost control over it unwittingly through the priests' administration of the lay fraternities' property or through failure to pay certain fees.[14] In contrast to other areas in Spanish America, in the altiplano parish churches held much more land than did orders, convents, or the Cuzco diocese. This was to make church lands more resistant to liberal legislation in the nineteenth century.

Among Azángaro's wealthiest landholders were some of the province's important kuraka families.[15] Between the mid-sixteenth and the mid-eighteenth century many kurakas increasingly "incorporated themselves into the group of provincial merchants, administrators, and landholders."[16] They used their position of authority over the Indian communities not only as brokers of the peninsular and creole elite but also in their own favor as private entrepreneurs or landholders. Such behavior represented


a break with modes of social interaction of the prehispanic Andean society and led to tensions between Indian commoners and kurakas.

The Choquehuancas, the wealthiest and most powerful kuraka family, traced their lineage back to a son of Inca Huayna Capac.[17] The family had held the cacicazgo (office of cacique) of the parcialidad Anansaya of Azángaro nearly uninterruptedly throughout the colonial period, although their control of this lucrative office was challenged several times. In the mid-sixteenth century Diego Choquehuanca was declared an hidalgo and granted the title Marqués de Salinas by the Spanish crown. By 1780 the Choquehuancas possessed eleven estancias in Azángaro, among them such large and valuable estates as Picotani, Checayani, and Nequeneque in Muñani and Puscallani, Ccalla, and Catacora around Azángaro. Joséf Choquehuanca's account of the services that the family rendered the crown during the Túpac Amaru Rebellion underscores the family's self-esteem and sense of social exaltation. He stressed the generosity and goodwill that the family had always shown to Spaniards, to the extent that Josef's sisters "were even married to Europeans out of the love that we profess for the Nation." They owned properties "sufficient to maintain a splendor that corresponds to the honor and birth of our lineage"; in Azángaro "no house was more comfortably situated."[18]

Of the forty-six kurakas appearing in the 1754 tribute lists for the province, none came close to the wealth and power of the Choquehuancas. Although most probably lived as relatively affluent peasants submerged in the indigenous society of their communities, a few other families held wealth comparable to that of Spanish landholders, among them the Mango Turpos, probably kurakas of the parcialidad Urinsaya of Azángaro.[19]

During the first three quarters of the eighteenth century the incorporation of lands into livestock estates occurred at an accelerated rate among all groups of landholders, the church, private Spaniards and mestizos, kurakas, and also the Indian communities, which increasingly used rental fees from communal estancias to help pay tributes and church fees. As the textile production of the southern Peruvian region boomed, interest in livestock production grew.[20] Because this interest came at the nadir of the northern altiplano's population density, the crown made it easy to acquire "excess" Indian lands.[21]

A royal cedula of October 15, 1754, facilitated the process of hacienda expansion by simplifying the bureaucratic process of sale and composition of crown lands.[22] In 1762 the family of Kuraka Diego Choquehuanca occupied large tracts of land in the area of Muñani, leading to a legal battle with three Indian communities, or ayllus . In his deposition before the commissioner of the Audiencia de Charcas, Andrés Hanco, an Indio origi-


nario from ayllu Picotani, testified that Doña María Choquehuanca, daughter of the kuraka, had taken possession of the lands belonging to Indians of the ayllu Nequeneque, constructing a building with three large rooms "at the cost of the Indians, without paying them anything," precisely on the spot where the cottage of one of the expelled community peasants had stood. The "many plots of land" taken by Diego Choquehuanca from the three ayllus in total "might amount to about forty leagues of land." The kuraka was depriving the community peasants "from raising livestock and sowing the fields, saying that these are his lands by purchase of his ancestors."[23] The Choquehuancas may indeed have held legal title to at least some of these lands since the late sixteenth century, but they attempted to incorporate them into effective estate operations only in the second half of the eighteenth century, severely infringing on the legally tenuous but real possession of these lands by the three ayllus. Nevertheless, the Audiencia of Charcas confirmed the kuraka's rights to these lands on November 21, 1762, and the formal procedure of taking possession was carried out on May 6, 1765.

Scarcity of labor was one of the main reasons inducing the altiplano's elites to establish estates rather than to rely exclusively on the extractions of surplus from the peasant economy. But the settling of a permanent labor force on Andean livestock haciendas was a long-term process that had far from concluded by the second half of the eighteenth century. According to Karen Spalding, this process began on a large scale only during the mid-seventeenth century, considerably lagging behind the process of land absorption. Previously the estates had relied primarily on labor in the form of mita and tribute obligations of Indian communities.[24] With increased repartos de bienes (forced distribution of goods) by corregidores, Indians saw themselves less and less capable of paying for the goods heaped on them. Poor peasants began to pay off their debts by working on haciendas, whose owners paid the corregidor for this supply of labor.[25] Moreover, the very process of land acquisition by the estates frequently brought peasants into the ranks of labor tenants, or yanaconas. Indian families stayed on their land being incorporated into an hacienda.[26] Some families preferred to flee from the obligations imposed on the communities—tribute payments, mita labor, and repartos by corregidores—into the relative security of hacienda yanaconaje .[27]

Throughout the colonial period owners attempted to fix increasing numbers of indigenous peasants on their haciendas as a permanently servile labor force. Yanacona labor was cheaper since it could be paid largely in usufruct rights to grazing and agricultural land. Settling a yanacona on the


estate also gave the hacendado access to the labor of his wife and children. Control over permanently settled workers reduced monetary payments for labor by a variety of manipulations, such as overcharging for foodstuffs and buying the yanaconas' own livestock products (hides and wool) at low prices.[28] But even more important may have been the quest for a secure labor supply. As the indigenous population declined until the first quarter of the eighteenth century and labor remained scarce long thereafter, hacendados worried whether sufficient numbers of mitayos and wage laborers could be drafted for their estates after the needs of the priority mining sector had been satisfied. Estates with few or no yanaconas had to rely on wage labor (gente de ruego ) and thus diminished in value.[29]

Although copious and repeated crown decrees—notably the labor tariff of Viceroy Duque de la Palata of 1687–regulated the colonos' pay on livestock estancias, the stipulated monetary wages were paid mostly in goods.[30] Moreover, administrators frequently managed to minimize payment in any form. The yanaconas' tribute was deducted from their pay, and they were charged for every head of livestock that was lost, a frequent mishap under conditions of open range herding.[31] The prices that they had to pay to the hacienda for foodstuffs, beyond the short rations (avíos ) received as part of their wage, were higher than those found in urban markets, sometimes by as much as 100 percent.[32] As a result of these practices, yanaconas frequently received only a small fraction of their monetary wage in any form. Payment for labor consisted of the limited avíos and the usufruct rights to pastures and agricultural lands of the hacienda.[33] By exempting yanaconas from mita labor and the repartos of corregidores, and by establishing special tribute rates for them (to be paid by the hacendado), the colonial administration legally defined their status as that of a caste.[34] When, in the early eighteenth century, the crown ordered that yanaconas should not be inhibited from leaving a hacienda, opposition to this measure was so strong in the Audiencia of Charcas that the royal decree was not published there.[35]

The economic operation of livestock estates remained haphazard. Three consecutive instructions for the administrators of the Jesuit ranch Ayuni y Camara between the 1690s and 1730s indicate that the order was attempting to institute more efficient exploitation of its stock and greater labor productivity, albeit with little success. Flocks of fertile ewes, rams, yearlings, and old sheep for slaughter were to be separated in order to regulate the reproductive cycle of the animals and diminish exorbitant mortality rates among newborn lambs, routinely reaching 50 percent. But the repeated admonitions in the Jesuit instructions to implement such


improved ranching methods make it clear that on their own estancias they met with little success. They were never even attempted by most ranchers in the altiplano.[36]

On the whole, land remained abundant in the northern altiplano during the last century of the colonial period, even if access to it by specific social groups was increasingly contested. When estates were leased, the annual rental fee reflected only the value of its livestock capital. An estancia with 1,000 sheep usually brought the same 100 pesos rental fee per year as a flock of equal size without pastureland. This conventional rate remained unchanged between 1689 and the end of the colonial period.[37] Land by itself had as yet little value;[38] what counted was the livestock capital and the possibility of exploiting it in a secure fashion with a minimum of monetary operational expenditures. From the perspective of Spanish commercial interests, land in the northern altiplano was still in an incipient phase of being mise en valeur . Control of land in itself could not, in contrast to a mature feudal society, secure power or wealth.

How then are we to explain the accelerated incorporation of livestock ranches during the first three quarters of the eighteenth century? After 1720 human population increased and livestock populations seem to have followed suit, particularly in the face of Cuzco's textile boom and rising demand for meat. The exploitation of livestock herds outside of estates, however, became increasingly difficult. As early as 1689 Azángaro's parish priest complained about the great difficulty that the parish had maintaining its sheep flocks grazing on land informally set aside for this purpose by the Indian communities. The parish had not been granted mita laborers, "who can be reckoned with." Thus, the parish had to solicit Indians "from various parts" as shepherds "by pleading or through the power of money." These free workers, "whenever they want, leave the flock out in the pasture to fend for itself and abscond, and in most cases they do so for having stolen or killed [some of the livestock]."[39] Such insecurities multiplied as the flocks roaming the unincorporated community pastures grew. During favorable periods for livestock products that coincided with human and livestock population growth, the only way to safeguard the flocks and to secure a reliable work force was to incorporate estates. Only then could one petition the crown for mitayos or establish yanaconas on the land. But the estancias that developed in this mid-eighteenth century conjuncture remained rudimentary in their internal organization.

Land Tenure in the Indian Communities

The landholding pattern in the indigenous peasant communities was highly interrelated with the development of the colonial hacienda complex. The


communities suffered directly from any expansion of surrounding estates, and there were labor linkages between both institutions. Toward the end of the colonial era Spanish concepts of property increasingly infiltrated peasant communities.[40]

By the eighteenth century the Indian ayllu or parcialidad differed in many respects from the preconquest Andean institutions. The ayllu of the Inca empire and the pre-Incaic ethnic kingdoms was constituted by extended family groups, which controlled the individual's access to material and spiritual resources and mediated the obligations and privileges of its members in the wider society.[41] Prior to Spanish colonization, ayllus belonged to one of two moieties, the Incaic parcialidades of Anansaya and Urinsaya, in which every level of society from the local kinship groups of agriculturalists to the Inca nobility was organized. During the centuries of colonial rule the ayllus underwent a gradual transformation into settlements defined by geographic location and their claims to land, often sanctioned by the crown. Although kinship ties, real or symbolic, continued to be important, they became less rigid, and the ayllus were increasingly inhabited by Indian peasants from different regions.

Viceroy Toledo's program of reducciones , initiated in the 1570s,[42] and the migration of large parts of the Indian population, particularly in the jurisdiction of the Audiencia de Charcas, contributed to these structural changes within the indigenous communities. In part these migrations were imposed by the colonial administration, the Potosí mita offering the most massive and notorious example.[43] In part they also represented a defensive reaction of Indian peoples against the exactions of Spanish colonial society: flight to areas outside the reach of the crown, church, or private entrepreneurs or to the anonymity of other communities and towns. The demographic development after conquest also proved a formidable obstacle to the maintenance of cultural and institutional continuity. The decline of the indigenous communities' population led to increasing encroachments on their lands from various sectors of Peruvian colonial society throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Legally all community lands were claimed by the crown, which granted their usufruct to the Indian families of the communities in exchange for tribute payments and mita labor services. This legal notion has been viewed as the basis of a long-lasting compact between colonial state and Indian communities.[44] It is certainly true that the crown had a keen interest in preserving the communal peasant economy, as it remained the crucial underpinning of private affluence and fiscal liquidity throughout Peru's colonial period. Since Toledo's time a whole body of protective legislation and institutions had grown to safeguard this interest, among them the


protectores de Indios , attached to the audiencias, and the corregidores de Indios .[45] Nevertheless, Spanish entrepreneurs, clerics, church institutions, and kurakas found ways to appropriate crown land from communities, particularly since the shrinking number of peasants could not effectively work all lands the crown had granted them in usufruct.[46]

During the eighteenth century, with the growing impact of enlightened notions of property and efficient agricultural production, the colonial administration's protective policy toward Indians became conflictive and may very well have contributed to the diminution of communal landholdings. On the one hand, the crown became increasingly concerned that the communities should have sufficient land for their member families to subsist and to fulfill their fiscal and labor obligations. Between 1710 and 1780 composiciones de tierra in favor of communities became more frequent, improving the title by which communities held their land.[47] But at the same time historical claims to land tended to be given less validity. Rather, enlightened bureaucrats and jurists wanted to base the right of community landholders on the principle that "the parcels assigned to the members should be all the same and adjusted to what one family needed and could exploit," as Joaquin Costa paraphrased the Count of Campomanes's ideas.[48] During the middle decades of the eighteenth century such precepts gradually permeated Peruvian colonial juridical practice. Crown officials began to carry out periodic land redistributions in the communities. Each Indian family of fully recognized community members received a uniform amount of land, varying from region to region. "Excess" community lands were to be sold in auctions, creating one more source of revenue for the exchequer of the Spanish king.[49]

Because this policy came during the decades just following the nadir of Peru's Indian population, it produced severe problems when the population rebounded in the second quarter of the eighteenth century. Soon remaining lands could not supply all Indians living in communities with enough agricultural and pastureland for feeding their families and fulfilling their obligations toward the various civil and religious authorities.[50] As early as the mid-eighteenth century Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa, authors of the Noticias secretas , noted that "at present the lands that remain for [the Indians] are much reduced and many of them have none."[51]

The difference between community peasants with and without land was to a certain extent institutionalized by the colonial administration. In the altiplano the distinction between originarios and forasteros, the former paying a higher rate of tribute, was based not so much on the geographic origin of the Indians as it was on their privileges in the corporate communities.[52] Although the term forastero originally described an Indian


residing in a community that was not his or her place of birth, it continued to be used for forasteros' descendants over several generations, people who were born and continued to live in the same community without achieving full usufruct rights of communal lands. Many forastero families possessed a small parcel of land, but it was always their goal to join the ayllu to obtain a share of communal land and thereby become full members of the community, or originarios.[53] In the meantime they survived by working on nearby estates, becoming clients of wealthier originarios, or renting land from the community or one of its members.[54] In 1761, for example, Juan Calsina, a notable from the ayllu Anansaya of Azángaro, brought suit against two forastero families, Nicolás and Sebastian Catari and the Amarus, before the Audiencia of Charcas. Two years earlier he had given in to their pleas and permitted them "to fallow and sow"—presumably as renters—a plot within his estancia Calaguala Hallapise, which his family had owned since the time of his great-grandfather Francisco Aiaviri Calsina. Now the Cataris and Amarus had extended the sections on which they were sowing until they had reached the house of Calsina. Calsina asked the audiencia to expel the two forastero families from his lands; the court ruled accordingly.[55]

Throughout the eighteenth century the problem of community peasants with no or insufficient land seems to have become more serious. In Azángaro the number of originarios declined by 37 percent between the recounts of 1758–59 and 1786, while the number of forasteros increased by 239 percent (table 3.2). In 1786 nearly two-thirds of the forasteros in 1786 possessed some land. During the last quarter of the eighteenth century originarios often wanted to be registered as forasteros in order to avoid mita service in Potosí and pay lower tribute rates. In brief, the number of community peasants who held enough communal lands to maintain their family subsistence and support the various levies by crown, church, and private entrepreneurs seems to have declined during the decades preceding the Túpac Amaru Rebellion.

But this cannot have been the whole picture with regard to land property of Indian peasants. What about more affluent peasants? Was it impossible for them to increase their landholdings even though they possessed the economic means to do so? Within the framework of the communities such expansion was indeed impossible since the colonial authorities undertook periodic redistributions of land with the particular goal of equalizing the plots of all originarios.[56] But peasants could acquire land outside the communities in fee simple by purchases from private landholders or by composition with the crown. Such must have been the case with the lands of the Turpo family in Asillo, for example. In 1900 Gabino Turpo applied


TABLE 3. 2. Composition of Azángaro's Tributarios,


























With land







Without land

















Note: These figures exclude Taraco, Pusi, and Poto.

Sources: Macera, Tierra y población , 161–62; Choquehuanca, Ensayo, 15–54.

for the registration of various plots of agricultural land in the ayllu Silluta of the parcialidad Urinsaya in Puno's departmental property registry. He explained that his title went back through several generations to Mateo Turpo, who had acquired the land sometime in the colonial period by composition before the Protector de Indios Francisco de Mina in Potosí.[57]

As the crown interfered more and more with communal land tenure, only land held outside the community guaranteed relatively safe possession to the peasant. Private ownership of land among Indian peasants was one of the signs of the penetration of Spanish property norms and concepts of the individual's position within society into the indigenous Andean world. At times peasants acquired land and herds as a basis for challenging a kuraka for office.[58] It appears that the peasants accumulating land in fee simple often came from the ranks of the principales , the highest communal officeholders, or the kurakas.[59] Private landholding by Indian peasants must have reached considerable proportions in late colonial Azángaro.[60] Only thus can we explain the paradoxical combination of low population density, incipient hacienda formation, and the scarcity of communal land. Private landholding introduced a new type of socioeconomic differentiation into the ranks of the Indian peasantry.[61]

The Exploitation of the Indigenous Peasantry

The system of colonial exploitation in rural provinces such as Azángaro continued to be "indirect" until the end of the colonial period. Surplus was


extracted from the indigenous peasantry in the form of payments in kind, of money, and of labor while leaving the majority of the colonial subjects in their own agrarian society. All members of the provincial elite, from the representatives of the crown to priests, kurakas, and private entrepreneurs, used their authority over the Indian population to benefit personally. Civil and ecclesiastical administration was inextricably intertwined with private appropriation. At the same time, only a minority of Indians suffered "direct exploitation" as servile laborers on the rural estates, in the mines, or in manufactories.

The two major ways by which the colonial administration extracted surplus from the Indian community peasants were the head tax and obligatory labor services. During the eighteenth century tribute rates continued to vary from province to province.[62] The tribute rate of the corregimientos of the northern altiplano was relatively low. In 1779 the Protector of Indians of the Audiencia of Lima, Dr. Baquijano, pointed out that the Indian communal lands there were extremely scarce—much below legal allotments—and that "because of [the land's] sterility and frequent floods [irrupciones ]" it was "nearly useless and infertile." As a result, Indians in the province of Paucarcolla were suffering scarcities, and "far from being able to harvest the crops in order to trade with them, in most instances they are lacking them even for their own sustenance, so that they are forced to maintain themselves with wild herbs." Concurring with the Indians' petition, he suggested reducing their tribute rates.[63]

Tribute collection was the responsibility of the kurakas, who were to turn over the moneys semiannually to the corregidores. This system resulted in a great number of abuses against both crown and commoners. In 1762 the Indians from three ayllus in Muñani, province of Azángaro, complained that their Cacique Diego Choquehuanca had hidden various Indians from being entered into the tribute list so that he could collect the tribute for his own account, that he was charging up to two pesos tribute per semester from twelve-year-old boys (legally exempt), and that he took a tribute of three pesos per semester from his yanaconas, whom he temporarily declared to be originarios.[64]

The other major obligation imposed on community Indians by the crown consisted of forced labor services, or mita. The Spanish colonial administration justified the continued and, indeed, much expanded use of this Incaic institution by reference to the supposed tendency of the Indians to idleness and the assumed need of forced labor for the realm's "public good."[65] Sanctioned and administered by the colonial government, mita labor mostly benefited private economic enterprises. It was used in mines, agricultural and livestock estates, and textile sweatshops. Employment in


public activities, such as public construction, the postal service, and tambos (way stations and inns), was of secondary importance.[66] In the mining mita one-seventh of the adult male population of an Indian community served one-year turns as mitayos. Beginning in the sixteenth century, Azángaro belonged to the sixteen corregimientos, which sent mitayos to the silver mines of Potosí.

The Potosí mita had a tremendous social and economic impact on the Indian peoples of the altiplano. After the mournful kacharparis (dances of parting) had been performed, the several hundred mitayos assembled in the provincial capital set out on their two-month, 600-kilometer trek to the mines. Accompanied by their wives and children, they took along llamas to transport household utensils, corn, and potatoes and some alpacas for meat. George Kubler has estimated that the Potosí mita from Chucuito province alone involved the movement of thirty thousand to fifty thousand animals each year. At the end of their turn many mitayos did not return to their communities, some having died while others stayed in Potosí.[67] During the seventeenth century the number of mitayos arriving in Potosí declined sharply, recovering somewhat following the 1730s. Many peasants now paid a fee to the mine owners in lieu of their labor obligations.[68]

By the eighteenth century parish priests had become powerful figures in the altiplano, benefiting greatly from their authority over Indian parishioners. They charged for every service performed—baptisms, marriages, and funerals—and forced individual members of the Indian communities to take charge of fitting out the yearly celebrations in honor of the patron saints. The Indian who received this responsibility had to pay for some new ornament for the patron saint, to provide food and drink for all celebrants, to hire musicians, and, last but not least, to pay a fee to the priest.[69] Such exactions often indebted the peasants, a situation from which they could extract themselves only by selling some of their lands or animals or by obliging themselves to work for the priest. Priests also operated as merchants, using their Indian parishioners as a captive market, although these practices were outlawed by the church. Priests often came from poor families, and their legal sources of income did not suffice to afford them a comfortable living, particularly if they had to support an illegitimate family.[70]

The unique position of kurakas in Peruvian colonial society—privileged leaders of indigenous society and representatives of Spanish colonial authority—offered them many opportunities to enrich themselves legally and illegally through various extractions from the Indian communities. Nicolás Sánchez Albornóz has noted that as early as the end of the seventeenth century the indigenous population of the altiplano showed par-


ticular frustration and anger about the exploitation it suffered at the hands of its own ethnic lords.[71] During the eighteenth century community Indians from Azángaro frequently brought suit against their kurakas before the Audiencia of Charcas.[72] Their accusations show the breadth of economic roles of a powerful kuraka in the altiplano, ranging from owner of estates, to local official imbued with authority by the viceroy to collect tribute and to dispatch mitayos, to merchant trading in locally produced and imported goods. Diego Choquehuanca's extraordinary ability to accumulate private wealth depended on his access to and control of the indigenous peasantry, both in the communities whose spokesperson he was supposed to be and on his own estates. By the mid-eighteenth century Choquehuanca's authority was not based solely on ties of kinship and reciprocal trust any more. Community Indians brought litigation against what they felt to be excessive exactions by their kuraka and routinely sought to escape compliance with these exactions, resistance for which they often received brutal punishment. Many kurakas behaved toward the indigenous peasantry in some ways as entrepreneurs, employing their crown-sanctioned authority for private ends, just as other members of the colonial provincial elite did.[73]

The infamous repartos de bienes by corregidores, which became such a heavy burden on Peru's indigenous peasantry during the eighteenth century, were by no means an unparalleled abuse. Still, corregidores practiced the reparto and other mercantile transactions forced on the indigenous peasantry on a larger scale than kurakas or priests did. As early as 1649 the revenues of the corregidor of Azángaro accruing from his commercial activities—sale of wine in the province and of locally produced sheep and saddle bags in High Peru—amounted to thirty thousand pesos for a two-year period.[74]

The eighteenth century saw a tremendous increase in the amount of goods distributed among the Indian peasantry. Recognizing that the salaries that the viceregal administration could afford to pay the corregidores were insufficient, the reform of the repartimiento system in 1751–56 for the first time legalized the practice, limited and defined by specific schedules.[75] The schedule for Azángaro permitted sales amounting to 114,500 pesos during a five-year term of office.[76] This meant an expenditure of about ten pesos for every Indian man, woman, and child every five years, or about 45 pesos per family. In comparison, such a family might have been paying anywhere from thirty-six to eighty pesos in tribute payments during a similar five-year period.[77] Corregidores, however, were not content to sell goods limited to the amount and price established by the schedule.[78] In 1771, before the completion of his term, the corregidor of


Azángaro, Fernando Inclán y Valdez, had already distributed "Castilian clothes, locally produced clothes, and mules" for 43,293 pesos in the parish of Asillo alone. When on top of these sales he carried out another distribution of forty-five mules for a further 1,440 pesos, the cacica y gobernadora of Asillo, Polonia Fernández Hidalgo, petitioned the Audiencia of Charcas to order the corregidor to take back this last reparto because the Indians still owed 23,000 pesos on the previously distributed goods. The excessive forced purchases had made it impossible for the Indians to pay their tribute on time. The cacica also reminded the authorities that Asillo's population was much smaller than that of the parish of Azángaro. The Audiencia of Charcas admonished the corregidor to limit his repartos to the amount permitted by the schedule and not to sell the Indians anything against their will.[79] But it is doubtful that this order changed his practices. Even the previous distributions of goods in Asillo, a parish accounting for about one-sixth of the province's Indian population, meant that Inclán had probably sold goods for about 260,000 pesos in the whole province of Azángaro, more than twice the amount permitted by the tariff.

The repartos de bienes were particularly odious to the Indians because of some of the ways that they were carried out: the very high prices of the goods sold by the corregidor against the low prices of the goods that the corregidor bought from the peasants; the uselessness of some articles that the Indians were forced to buy (even the mules, the most important article in the Azángaro distribution, were of rather dubious utility to them, well equipped as they were with the cheaper llamas as transport animals); and the use of distributed mules for transporting the merchandise of the corregidor without compensation.[80] In the course of the eighteenth century Azángaro's peasants repeatedly fought against the obligations imposed on them by the corregidores' forced sales. In 1741 this struggle led to a rebellion against corregidor Alfonso Santa.[81] In 1780, when Gregorio de Cangas classified all corregimientos in Peru according to their profitability, he commented that, although Azángaro was a first-class corregimiento, it was among the worst of the viceroyalty because of the cold climate and the "bellicosity of its inhabitants."[82]

Kurakas, priests, corregidores, and owners of estates all based the economic foundation of their elite status on the extraction of surplus from the community Indians. Because all of these provincial elites were relying on the same Indian peasants as "economic resource" and frequently proceeded illegally in their dealings, it was essential for the functioning of the whole system that they cooperate among each other. There is much evidence for such collusion between corregidores, kurakas, and priests.[83] It could take many different forms—for example, "profit sharing" between kuraka and


corregidor from the tributes they retained by falsifying tribute lists.[84] If for any reason cooperation between the various elite sectors broke down, their control and exploitation of the indigenous peasantry was endangered.

The Late Colonial Crisis

After the second quarter of the eighteenth century, with the renewed growth of the altiplano's Indian population, many forastero families faced a mounting land shortage. Originarios became more reluctant to share their communal land base with growing numbers of newcomers or second and third sons of originario and forastero families already settled in the communities. Colonial administrators in charge of the periodic redistributions of community lands agreed with the originarios that the lands were too scarce to include all landless Indians in the redistribution. During the 1770s and 1780s concern over scarcity of land as a cause for the Indian peasants' impoverishment became widespread.[85]

Even though conflicts over land had been on the rise during the preceding decades both among the various groups within the communities and between Indian peasants and the expanding hacienda sector, claims of land scarcity in the altiplano of the late eighteenth century remain puzzling from today's perspective. After all, Azángaro's population density was still quite low, and land in and of itself continued to be of little value. Furthermore, despite the establishment of new estates during the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, their numbers and total acreage remained modest compared to the situation in the early twentieth century. Indeed, conservative estimates would suggest that the peasantry controlled at least 50 percent of the agriculturally useful land in Azángaro until the end of the colonial period.

The puzzle can be disentangled only if we consider the effects of the growing level of exploitation to which most groups of peasants were subjected in the course of the eighteenth century. Payments and services owed to the representatives of crown and church as well as to other members of the provincial elite forced Indians to sell or slaughter increasing numbers of their animals.[86] By the 1770s the reliance on livestock for paying tribute, debts from corregidores' repartos, and other exactions, inevitable for peasants whose primary income came from animal hubandry, impeded the natural growth of the herds and may have depleted them. Royal officials, in any case not too intent on seeing those causes of the Indians' poverty linked to the socioeconomic system that they represented, attributed the stagnation of livestock herds to the "infertility" of the altiplano's soil and assumed that the pastures simply could not support


more animals. From there it was only a further step to conclude that the peasants' access to land had become dangerously insufficient.

In the decades prior to the Túpac Amaru Rebellion of the early 1780s, Azángaro's provincial elite—corregidores, priests, kurakas, and hispanized large landholders—had increased the extraction of surplus from the indigenous peasant economy just when the viceregal administration levied new taxes on Indians and extended their incidence. This apparent tightening of the squeeze led to what might be termed "overexploitation," with serious consequences for the whole fabric of society. The collusion between the various sectors of the elite was breaking down in the scramble for the limited income that could be derived from indigenous labor, land, and production. In the report to his successor, written in 1776, Viceroy Amat y Junient expressed his concern over the damages caused by the actions of corregidores:

Not only the Indians but also the respectable citizens who . . . possess haciendas in the provinces suffer much damage [from the repartos of corregidores], because the greed of the corregidores reaches their mayordomos and workers; the corregidores oblige them to make considerable payments for their servants and yanaconas and if they don't follow suit, they bother them, apprehend them and separate them from their work . . . and if they complain bitterly, the corregidores treat them as rioters.[87]

In Azángaro a severe conflict between the family of kuraka Diego Choquehuanca and the corregidor, Lorenzo Sata y Zubiría, surfaced immediately after the repression of the Túpac Amaru Rebellion. In December 1782 the corregidor was using the provincial militia to stop the Choquehuancas from requisitioning from several Indian communities thousands of heads of livestock that the kuraka family claimed to have been stolen from its estates during the rebellion. The kuraka's son, Joséf Choquehuanca, called the corregidor "our capital enemy" and refused to carry out further repartos; he was imprisoned but was later cleared of all charges by the Audiencia of Charcas.[88]

This type of struggle between various sectors of southern Peru's colonial provincial elite tended to destabilize control over and exploitation of the indigenous peasantry. The Indians could appeal—with some hope of being heard—for help against abuses by one authority to another authority. Fights between corregidores, kurakas, priests, and other members of the provincial elite allowed the audiencia to uncover illegal practices, hitherto hushed up by the collusion between all those profiting from them. This weakening of elite cohesion facilitated the Túpac Amaru Rebellion of


1780–1782. In the altiplano, peasant participation in the rebellion was directed as much against abuses by corregidores, kurakas, and hispanized large landholders as it was against the heavier burden of taxation that the viceregal administration attempted to impose on most sectors of Peru's society.[89]

One of the first steps that authorities in Lima took to contain the rebellion in 1780 was to outlaw repartos de bienes by corregidores.[90] After initially allowing the corregidores to stay in office until the end of their five-year terms, a decree of August 5, 1783, ordered their immediate removal.[91] Nevertheless, in Azángaro repartos continued until the end of the colonial era, albeit on a diminished scale, under the officials replacing the corregidores, the subdelegados . In 1789 the subdelegados of Azángaro, Lampa, and Carabaya misused funds from the royal treasury to distribute mules and cloth for 60,000 pesos among the Indians of their provinces.[92]

In spite of its military defeat, the Túpac Amaru Rebellion ushered in a number of lasting changes in the altiplano. The position of the kurakas was weakened, a measure taken by the viceregal administration not so much to control abuses by the indigenous Andean nobility of their subjects as to prevent these privileged members of colonial society from ever leading an uprising again. The office of cacicazgo was no longer to be hereditary; instead, crown officials were ordered to appoint "men of good character" known to be loyal to the Spanish king; they might even be Spaniards.[93] In many communities kurakas were also to cede their official powers, including the collection of tributes, to alcaldes y recaudadores de tributo .[94]

In Azángaro the clan of the Choquehuancas now saw the beginning of the decline of its power and wealth. This decline was probably caused as much by the destruction the rebellion wrought on their properties as it was by the new legal restrictions placed on their office. Most of the family's livestock haciendas had been burned and looted by the rebels, and several family members were killed. Beginning in the 1790s, even before the death of Diego Choquehuanca in 1796, the family had dissipated its energy in lawsuits between the numerous descendants of the old kuraka.[95] The Mango Turpo family also suffered losses during the rebellion. After a long bureaucratic process the Viceroy of Buenos Aires named Tomas Mango kuraka of the parcialidad Anansaya of Asillo some time between 1786 and 1790. But already in July of that year another principal Indian from Asillo contested his appointment on the ground that the Mango Turpos were practicing "extortions, abuses, and outrages" against the community Indians.[96]

The rebellion had an impact on land tenure in the altiplano that has not been fully recognized by scholars.[97] Túpac Amaru's troops and independent peasant bands occupied many haciendas during the fifteen months of


uninterrupted control of Azángaro and neighboring provinces.[98] In some instances—for example, during the uprising in Oruro in February–March 1781—the Indian peasants forced the owners of haciendas to sign notarial contracts making the peasants the legal owners of such hacienda lands.[99] In Azángaro the titles of private and church estancias were burned.[100] Of course, much land spontaneously occupied by Indian peasants during the rebellion was taken back afterward by the previous holders. But many Spanish residents of the region had been killed or had permanently left the altiplano. The gaps in the ranks of Azángaro's landholding elite began to be filled by new landholders, of creole and mestizo origin, as early as the last four decades of the colonial era; in contrast, in those regions of the viceroyalty not affected by the rebellion this process took place only in the decades following the Wars of Independence.

At the same time, some of the land occupied by rebelling peasants was never reclaimed. A report on the Intendency of Puno from 1803 still described the whole Collao as "very depopulated of Spanish people and of other castas [mixed races] since the time of the rebellion by Túpac Amaru and the Cataris."[101] Only eight peninsular or creole families resided in Azángaro town in 1813.[102] Both private and ecclesiastical estates were affected by the rebellion. In 1799, nearly two decades after the defeat of Túpac Amaru, Indian peasants still occupied land in the northern altiplano that had been claimed by parish churches and convents before the rebellion. Many church estates were reduced to half their previous size. The livestock capital of the estates was now suffering "great losses each year" because of scarce pastures. One contemporary source noted that even though royal judges repeatedly had ordered peasants to return these lands to the church, "it has not been possible to confine them to their just borders. This toleration of the abuse is gradually spreading so much that in a short while those estancias will cease to exist and with them the Divine Worship and the spiritual guidance offered for the benefit of the same Indians."[103] Peasants used the chaos of the long months of rebellion and the disarray into which Azángaro's church fell during the following years (with at least one parish priest tried as an accomplice of the rebels) to undo what had happened throughout much of the eighteenth century: the incorporation of communal lands informally granted to parishes and lay brotherhoods into livestock estates.

The rate of legally sanctioned sales and compositions of crown lands, including the lands in usufruct of the Indian communities, slowed down after the Túpac Amaru rebellion. Applying enlightened notions of landed property and productive, independent farmers, the Ordenanza de Intendentes of 1782 gave the intendants the power to investigate land titles and


correct abusive appropriations of communal lands. The intendants were to name judges and land measurers in each partido, and their decisions could be appealed to the Junta Superior de Real Hacienda in Lima. But given the great amount of de facto land appropriations during the eighteenth century, these regulations caused so many complaints and protests that Viceroy de la Croix suspended them.[104] Consequently, between the late 1780s and at least 1816 the viceregal administration expedited legal titles of sale or composition of crown lands only in "very rare cases."[105]

Nevertheless, during the administration of José González y Montoya as intendant of Puno between 1801 and 1806, new sales of community lands were carried out, some of them in Azángaro. In November 1802 Nicolás Montesinos, Alcalde Recaudador de Tributos of Asillo, petitioned the intendant for the composition and sale of Estancia Caiconi in his favor. Montesinos claimed that this estancia, located some forty kilometers northeast of Asillo in the foothills of the Cordillera de Carabaya, constituted unoccupied crown land (baldíos ). Witnesses supported his claim. They explained that "by custom" the land had been held by the "caciques y recaudadores de tributos" of Asillo as long as they could remember. Whenever a new man occupied that position, he assumed possession of Caiconi as appurtenance of the office, without any claims of hereditary rights by the heirs of his predecessors. The witnesses, all Spanish residents of Asillo, were a bit vague about the rights of the Indian community to the estancia lands. One flatly declared that "the común of the Indians of ayllu Hila where said estancia is located never possessed it." But according to another witness, "The community Indians never benefited from [the lands of Caiconi], although it is said that it belongs to the community." All witnesses agreed, however, that a change in the "property regime" of Caiconi would not hurt the community Indians, since they never benefited from it in the first place; moreover, they owned enough crop and pasture lands. On the contrary, they emphasized, the composition and sale of Caiconi would remove the detriment that the Royal Treasury had suffered because taxes had never been paid on the land.

The royal authorities in Azángaro and Puno accordingly went through all the customary steps of conferring title over Caiconi to Montesinos, including a public offering of the land by a town crier in loud voice on the plaza of Asillo on nine different occasions. After Montesinos had paid the determined value of the estancia into the royal treasury at Chucuito some time in 1803, the matter was sent on to Lima for the expedition of the title by the Junta Superior de Hacienda. There, however, it was held up, and although Montesinos was in possession of Caiconi, by 1807 he still had not been granted title.[106] A decree of the Junta Superior of August 19, 1809,


declared the sales and compositions expedited under Intendant González in Puno null and void. Nevertheless, by April 1813 the cabildo of Azángaro, "composed mostly of loyal Indians that have grown old in the service to the Sovereign," complained that many of the communal lands sold illegally under the auspices of González had still not been returned to the community Indians.[107]

These struggles over land during the decades after the Túpac Amaru Rebellion present evidence for the changes occurring in the notion of property and the rise of a new quality of conflicts between Indian and Spanish sectors of altiplano colonial society. Parishes, kurakas, and even private creole or mestizo residents had initially received usufruct rights to pasturelands from Indian communities for circumscribed and well-defined purposes: parishes were allowed to use the products from the sheep, cattle, or cameloids that would be pastured there in support of a hospital, a special parish fund, or the outfitting of a patron saint; a kuraka would be granted lands as appurtenance of his office in recognition of the reciprocal services that he was assumed to render for the community; creoles and mestizos might build rural chapels whose upkeep would naturally be supported by the surrounding lands.[108]

For the Indian communities land-use rights had not been based on universalistic notions of property but rather on highly specific arrangements that tied material control over land to the maintenance of mutual obligations between the community and the person or institution benefiting from the usufruct.[109] In the course of the eighteenth century this notion of land use was challenged by the colonial authorities and the provincial elites, a development that originated both in the attempt to achieve more effective control over livestock operations and in enlightened property concepts. If the beneficiary of traditional use rights began to construct a building complex on the land and treated the shepherds, whom the community had customarily dispatched as part of what it perceived as mutual obligations, as yanaconas, the community would consider this a breach of the customary use rights and initiate measures to restore the old status. Peasants would drive livestock onto the now disputed pastures, and the community would file petitions and suits with the authorities.

Before the 1780s communities in the altiplano seem to have had little success with such measures. The provincial elites were relatively united, and the authorities were as yet not overly concerned about presumed scarcities of land for the peasants and instead saw every composition in favor of an individual property holder as a step toward a more rational economic order. By the 1780s this situation had changed. Infighting between corregidores or subdelegados, priests, kurakas, and estate owners


created opportunities for the communities to recover land against an enfeebled opposition. They could hope to find a receptive ear at court and among higher-level officialdom. Fear about the explosive consequences of a presumed peasant land shortage led to the curtailment of alienations of community lands.

Of equal importance for turning the tide may have been the fact that the interest in expanding livestock estates or incorporating new ones dropped off considerably after the 1780s as demand for livestock products stagnated or even declined. Around 1810, for example, the hacendado Gregorio Choquehuanca, son of the deceased kuraka Diego and canon at the cathedral chapter in Chuquisaca, allowed several indigenous families to enjoy the usufruct of estancias that he considered "integral parts" of his hacienda Ccalla in Azángaro parish without forcing these families to lend their services as yanaconas.[110]

Nevertheless, for the poorest Indian peasants, forasteros, and younger children of originarios, access to land remained precarious during the remainder of the colonial period. A growing number of them abandoned their communities in which they had lived for generations. In part this was the consequence of a series of social and natural calamities. Following on the heels of the rebellion, the northern altiplano was struck by a drought between 1782 and 1784 that led to crop failures, further reduction of livestock herds, and death by starvation of many people.[111] In 1784, more than a year after the effective pacification of the region, the prices of several staple foods—including corn, flour, and legumes—reached all-time high levels in the Collao.[112]

As food became scarce, Indians sought opportunities to earn a few reales through engaging in petty trade, working as servants, or attending to travelers on the roads.[113] The new century brought no relief. An angina epidemic in 1802–3 killed one-tenth of the province's population, and the Wars of Independence saw massive recruitments of Azángaro's Indians, mostly by the royalists, as early as 1810–11. In conjunction with harsh frosts throughout southern Peru, in 1814 and 1816 the disruptions of the military campaigns brought about food shortages so severe that, according to José Domingo Choquehuanca, Azángaro's streets and countryside were filled with corpses of starved people.[114]

Vagrancy, as contemporary authorities called the increasing mobility among the indigenous population of the altiplano, had other causes as well.[115] According to one source, during the negotiations of Diego Cristóbal Túpac Amaru with Mariscal del Valle about a general pardon in late 1781, "the people of Azángaro were filled with so much despair when they heard that the corregidores were returning" that many families left for the


eastern escarpment of the Andes in Carabaya and Apolo (modern Bolivia) with their livestock and belongings.[116] Fleeing to the rims of the Spanish colonized realm had always been a method of evading excessive burdens heaped on the Indians by colonial authorities. Some crown officials had long expressed their fear that abusive repartos, increased crown taxation, and church fees might induce Indians to withdraw to the "barbarous and disloyal nations."[117]

But there existed another and probably more frequent expression of "vagrancy" among the poorest peasants in the altiplano: precarious squatting on underutilized lands. In his description in 1790 of the bishopric of Cuzco, of which the partido of Azángaro formed the southernmost part, Pablo José Oricaín described this phenomenon with dramatic detail:

No less painful is the fact that many Indians move about, astray in the steepest and most arid mountain regions, together with their families and livestock, under the pretext of bringing the animals from one pasture to the other. They wander around carrying some short sticks; wherever they find a source of water and sufficient pasture, they build a temporary shelter until the residents of that place oblige them to render services or rents; when they perceive any formal obligations, they take apart their hut and move on to another jurisdiction, and in this manner they migrate from one place to the next.[118]

A growing number of forasteros and children of originarios with no or insufficient land took precarious possession of any pastures not fully or permanently used by those individuals or institutions deemed to have rights to them. These could be lands which communities considered to belong to them but which the crown considered baldíos , or outlying stretches of estates recently formed by private landholders, kurakas, or the parishes, which were underutilized and had uncertain titles. Squatting allowed the poorest peasants to escape, albeit in a fragile and precarious fashion, the two conditions that threatened their livelihood most seriously: lack of land and the heavy burden of taxes and fees.

The weakening of various sectors of the southern sierra's colonial elite beginning in the early 1780s may have decreased the control over the Indian peasantry as a labor force, in spite of stringent antivagrancy decrees.[119] With the abolition of the repartos de bienes, continued on a smaller scale and with less regularity by the subdelegados, one of the most powerful mechanisms of obliging peasants to work outside of their communities or sell commodities to hispanized traders had ceased to be effective. That the abolition of repartos would lead to less production and


labor by the Indians for the benefit of hacendados, merchants, caciques, and priests was precisely the concern that prompted Visitor General Escobedo to advocate a renewal of official trade with the Indians under the euphemistic label of socorros , a plan soon abandoned for fear of leading to new revolts.[120] Crown policy toward the Indians had to steer a course between the Scylla of overly heavy surplus extraction, leading to the partial or total withdrawal of Indians from the colonial order, and the Charybdis of limiting such extractions too severely, allowing the peasantry too much autonomy to the inevitable detriment of the interests of the primary constituents of the colonial regime in the rural Andes, the provincial elites. But under the critical conditions that had arisen by the early 1780s the crown felt forced to adopt a path out of this dilemma that aimed at establishing a stronger direct cash nexus between the Indian peasantry and the crown and limiting surplus extractions by the provincial elites.

While the burden of repartos and extractions by kurakas was reduced, tribute payments in the northern altiplano rose dramatically, especially in the second half of the 1780s (fig. 3.1).[121] These increases can be attributed only in part to Indian population growth. Tribute revenue in the region's treasury districts grew fifteenfold between the 1750s and the mid-1820s, several times the rate of Indian population growth. The difference finds its explanation in improved and more systematic means of collection, an effort that began in the 1750s but culminated in the 1780s, when alcaldes y recaudadores de tributo in many cases took over from the kurakas.[122] Legally barred from carrying out repartos, the subdelegados, who had replaced the corregidores as the highest authorities in the provinces, had a keen personal interest in maximizing tribute collections, as they retained 3 percent of the taxes paid. It seems no mere coincidence that tribute payments should dramatically increase precisely during the decade after the forced trade with Indians had been outlawed and legal trade in the altiplano—in contrast to other areas of Peru—stagnated, as evidenced by the leveling off of alcabala receipts.

In sum, the decades between the outbreak of the Túpac Amaru Rebellion and the demise of the Spanish colonial regime represented the first phase of a long era of transformation for the agrarian economy and society of the altiplano. It had its origins in a multifaceted crisis that undermined the viability of the colonial order firmly established since the Toledan reforms of the 1570s. This order had largely been based on the "indirect" exploitation of the community peasantry, the extraction of surplus in the form of commodities, labor, and money from their formally autonomous economy through the mediation of the colonial authorities. The disruption of the regional trade circuits; the weakening cohesion of the provincial elite;


Figure 3.1
Mean Annual Tribute and Alcabala Collection in the Northern Altiplano, 1751–1822
Note: Up to 1800: cajas reales of Carabaya and Chucuito; from 1803; caja real of Puno.
Source: TePaske and Klein, Royal Treasuries 1:88–101, 446–52; 2:86–99.


the population increase in the Indian communities and the concomitant internal conflicts over land; the shift from informal exploitation of peasant lands through kurakas, priests, and private mestizos and creoles to their growing incorporation into formalized estate operations; and the impact of the Bourbons' "enlightened despotic" fiscal and agrarian policies—all contributed to undermine the established colonial order.

Beginning in the 1780s, members of all social groups in the altiplano were groping to redefine their economic operation and the relations among each other, while the outlines of the new order remained blurred. Estate owners, kurakas, priests, and hispanized traders entered a phase of difficulty and instability as their trade with High Peru shrank, their control over the peasant economy weakened, and the Bourbons increasingly blocked the consolidation of their landholdings.

For the peasants of the altiplano the decades between the 1780s and the early 1820s must have appeared as perplexingly "chiaroscuro," as Eric Van Young has noted for New Spain. For them this era brought increasing bureaucratic interference in such communal affairs as the appointment of kurakas and the disposal of communal pastures and crop lands. With the connivance of colonial administrators, properties belonging to the old community chests were often appropriated by mestizos and creoles who had rented them,[123] and the collection of tribute among those peasants who had not left their communities continued at a very high level until the beginning of the Wars of Independence.

Yet in many ways the onset of the crisis also strengthened the autonomy of the altiplano peasantry. The forced repartos de bienes, a crucial aspect of the colonial order at least since the late seventeenth century, had been greatly reduced, and private entrepreneurs found it more difficult to harness the peasant economy for their own advantage. The ambiguous agrarian policy of the Bourbons finally stopped the consolidation of newly formed private estates and the incorporation of further communal lands into entrenched ones; and although the crown policy of limiting communal landholdings to a specified amount per household had contributed to serious land shortages within the communities, the blockage of further hacienda expansion into what authorities declared to be baldíos indirectly favored the temporary appropriation of such lands by peasant squatters. There were also serious limits to the effectiveness of the attempted greater control of the peasantry through colonial authorities. Their removal from lands that the crown deemed to belong to the royal domain or private and church owners largely failed, and during the critical years of the "Napoleonic captivity" of Spain's monarchy, Azángaro's Indians successfully exploited new legislation to stymie tax collection for over a year.[124]


In rural areas such as the northern altiplano, then, the order that Bourbon reformers in Lima and Madrid hoped to create began to be choked by the contradictions of their own policies. These were epitomized by a legal scarcity of land for peasants in a region of low population density, a region where land was so plentiful that it had no exchange value distinct from the livestock flocks that it could nourish. Before the contours of the new, "liberal" order could emerge under commercial and political conditions more favorable to hispanized estate owners, traders, and the new provincial authorities of the republic, it was the peasants who benefited most from the uncertainty. Achieving, for the time being, an equilibrium with the colonial elites that had pressed on communal resources, their broadened autonomy gave them a brief breathing space that was to prove vital to their capacity to cope with the intense pressures of the rejuvenated provincial elites after 1850.


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