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1 Introduction  Why, Where, and How Many?
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Introduction  Why, Where, and How Many?

On the evening of June 23, 1965, in the middle of Lima's damp, gloomy winter season, a group of prominent social scientists and literary critics gathered around a table in the auditorium of a spacious villa owned by the Institute of Peruvian Studies. They had come to meet the writer and anthropologist José María Arguedas for a public discussion of his latest novel, Todas las sangres . One of Peru's foremost indigenista authors, Arguedas had sought to portray, through the prism of provincial society in the southern highlands, the multiple conflicts dividing the country: conflicts between landowners, who wanted to build efficient agricultural enterprises and who despised their Indian work force, and the gamonales (strongmen), who, while brutally exploiting their colonos (labor tenants), shared with them notions about the religious and personalistic nature of their world; conflicts between owners of large estates and adjacent Indian communities whose lands and labor they coveted; conflicts within communities between the old hierarchy of authorities, who still clung to the annual cycle of celebrations and the multifarious rituals enacting solidarity in the fields, around the houses, and in the chapels, and newfangled leaders, educated in schools, in the army, or in stints as wage laborers in the cities, who were pointing toward revolution when they talked about solidarity and diagnosed class exploitation of the peasantry rather than the brutality or beneficence of this or that gamonal.

Arguedas had expressed his hope that, despite the advance of modern, capitalist economic and social structures, the brotherly and magical worldview held by many of the Andean peasants might somehow emerge victorious. Several of the panelists gathered on that June evening took Arguedas to task for the image of Peruvian society portrayed in the novel and the directions of change suggested. A young French anthropologist, Henri


Favre, denied that caste society still existed in the Andes: "I have lived for two years . . . in Huancavelica . . . and did not find Indians, but only exploited peasants." In the intellectual and political debate about the future course of Peruvian society, Favre exclaimed, the antiquated vision espoused in Arguedas's novel could have only "a rather negative impact."[1] The young Peruvian sociologist Anibal Quijano, soon to become a major proponent of dependency theory, faulted Arguedas for not having captured the transition from a caste to a class society. As Quijano saw it, Arguedas had failed to integrate his notions of an Indian solution to the current agrarian problem of Peru with the evident rapid change from "traditional" to "modern" values, norms, and structures.[2]

Arguedas felt crushed by this massive critique from some of Peru's avant-garde intellectuals of the day. That same night he penned a note renouncing his will to live. "I think today my life has entirely lost its reason of existence. . . . Two erudite sociologists and one economist [have] basically proven that my book Todas las sangres is negative for the country; I have nothing left to do in this world. My strength and willpower have declined, I believe for good. . . . I shall go to where I was born and there I will proceed to die immediately."[3] Somehow Arguedas gathered enough strength to go on living and writing for another four years, but in late 1969 he killed himself.

This intensely creative and sensitive man perceived a rift between the Andean world of his birth, with its legacy of communitarian values and naturalistic spirituality, and the rationalistic, urban, and Western world in which he worked and communicated, and try as he might, he could not bridge this rift in his own mind. He had begun his intellectual career late in the first wave of pro-Indian writing during the 1920s and 1930s, when many of Peru's intellectuals had steadfastly offered a vague Indian solution to the problems of Peru's national identity and development; now he could not reconcile himself to the brash, progressive visions of the socialists and developmentalists of the 1960s, who foresaw the rise of integrated mestizo culture and society through revolution or social and economic reform.

Today, after more than a decade of a huge foreign debt burden, capital flight, an uncontrollable cocaine trade, runaway inflation, unemployment or starvation wages for growing numbers of workers, and a brutal civil war, most Peruvians have abandoned the optimism of the 1960s and early 1970s. Having lost any certainty and vision about where Peru might be heading, Peruvian intellectuals are now embracing the sobering realization that racism and violence are deeply ingrained in Peruvian society and that extreme differentials of power continually reproduce high levels of social inequality and a polarized vision of the polity. In this atmosphere Argue-


das's account of the unresolved conflict between the Andean peasant world and that of capitalist urban Peru seems to some observers as much prophetic as anachronistic in its details. Although society has continued to undergo rapid change both in the highlands and on the coast, the legacies of colonialism appear stronger and more enduring than many Peruvians had hoped twenty-five years ago.

This book explores the cycles and long-term transformations of a provincial agrarian economy and society in the Andean highlands of Peru during the century and a half from the crisis of the colonial order to the crisis of the export economy. Although focusing on issues concerning trade, land, labor, and livestock raising and the shifting configuration of the social groups involved, throughout I seek to establish how specific constellations of power have influenced the scope and direction of socioeconomic change. The broadest conclusion is that the persistent legacy of colonialism was the crucial factor in blocking the transition to capitalism in the Peruvian altiplano. By "Legacy of colonialism" I do not mean primarily the impact of Hispanic cultural, juridical, and political norms and structures on postindependence Peru. Although such legacies are undeniable, broad cultural distinctions—such as the one that contrasts thrifty, goal-oriented, Protestant Anglo-Americans with Catholic, rent-seeking Latin Americans—do not have much validity in explaining why one society achieved the transition to a highly productive, capitalist industrial economy while the other did not or achieved only a warped and inefficient version of such an economy.[4]

Nor does "legacy of colonialism" signify the notion that Peru tumbled helplessly from Spain's formal colonialism into an informal necolonialism controlled first by England and later, since about 1900, by the United States. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the rapid "internationalization" of Peru's trade between the 1820s and 1850s did not signify the instant achievement of foreign domination. Indeed, foreign influence was probably weaker during the early independence period than during the late colonial period and the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and anti-free-trade coalitions held considerable sway in debates over economic policy.[5]

Clearly the influence of foreign merchants, financiers, mining and industrial entrepreneurs, and owners of railroads and other infrastructure became very strong during the age of the "mature export economy" between the 1890s and the Great Depression of 1929–32. But it has proved difficult to explain the failure to achieve sustained increases of productivity, deepening of markets, and capital accumulation as a more or less automatic consequence of an economy specializing in raw materials exports and


depending on foreign capital.[6] Moreover, Peru's dependent relationship with European and North American entrepreneurs, corporations, and technical elites was molded according to the interests of various regional and national domestic groups, who used their foreign interlocutors as best they could to foster their own projects. Dependency, in the case of the Peruvian altiplano, served as a catalyst for changes in its economy and society, but the nature of those changes cannot be seen as linear, inevitable, or predetermined by foreign, capitalist penetration.

What, then, is meant by "legacy of colonialism"? It means the tendency of most social groups in the altiplano—Indian community peasants, hispanized large landholders, traders, priests, government officials, police, and military—to use polarized visions of society, such as those of colonizers/colonized, Spaniards/Indians, civilized notables/barbaric peasants, to construct, define, and fortify their own power and social identity. As the pattern of trade, the relations of production, the composition of the social groups, and the nature of the state underwent important changes between the 1780s and 1930, most social actors in the altiplano repeatedly appealed to and relied on such polarized visions, distilled from the memory of the colonial past, to increase or defend their access to economic resources.

Between the late eighteenth century and 1900 the political and administrative structure of the colonial regime, its pattern of taxation, its legal notions of corporate landholding, and its social categorization scheme were gradually dismantled. By 1900, moreover, estate owners, traders and governmental authorities were a rather different group from the dominant elites of the mid-eighteenth century, many having risen from humble backgrounds as muleteers, petty traders, and modest landholders since independence. The Indian communities of 1900 had undergone great changes in the preceding century, and in some ways the very identity of "the Indian" was distinct from the colonial antecedent. Although altiplano society and economy thoroughly changed in response to growing demand for its raw materials on the world market and new currents of political and social ideas, the colonial cleavages and modes of constructing power did not disappear: they took on a new garb.

Up-and-coming owners of estates justified the incorporation of more and more labor tenants on their haciendas by claiming smallholding Indian peasants to be unproductive and culturally degenerate. Indian peasants insisted on reconstituted notions of communal solidarity because they could not fully trust the public order to protect their individual activities as livestock producers, agriculturalists, or traders. Commercial agents, itinerant traders, and shopkeepers sought to strengthen their business and stabilize their profits by creating quasi-monopolistic ties to their suppliers


and customers through credit, symbolic kinship (compadrazgo ), or brute force. The implantation of bourgeois legal norms protecting property largely failed in the countryside, compromised by the contradictory and self-serving use and disregard of its precepts by large landholders and peasants alike. Throughout the altiplano, neocolonial hierarchical power relations were resurrected during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, just as commercial networks became denser and competition for land more keen.

In the last fifteen years many authors have posited the transition to capitalism as the most meaningful paradigm for analyzing the multifaceted changes of Latin American agrarian societies and economies, especially for the century after independence from colonial rule. Some authors, mostly associated with the dependency and world capitalist systems approaches, have located this transition in the century after the Spanish conquest, highlighting the rise of agricultural production for markets.[7] However, most empirically well-supported studies have located the transition between the 1860s and 1930 or even during the mid-twentieth century, depending on the specific circumstances of the region analyzed. These scholars stress rapidly changing class structures and relations of production in Latin America's agrarian complexes as a consequence of a closer integration into the burgeoning international markets dominated by capitalist industrial economies in Western Europe and North America.[8]

As an ideal type, capitalism means the existence or, more accurately, the gradual rise to dominance of three crucial conditions of organizing economic activity and social relations. (1) An internal, tendentially "price-setting" or self-regulating market contributes to a deepening of the division of labor concurrently with the process of capital accumulation.[9] (2) Growing numbers of producers are separated from the means of production, and wage labor becomes dominant in the manufacturing and service sectors. In agriculture, capitalism may take the form of large enterprises relying on rural workers, often former peasant smallholders, or of family farms, not necessarily employing wage labor, which through reinvestment of earnings constitute increasingly capital-intensive entities. Common to both paths is the massive displacement of the least efficient rural producers, especially small peasants or farmers, as capital intensity and productivity of agricultural production increases. (3) Private property is legally recognized, effectively protected, and conventionally accepted. Without a commonly accepted notion of private property, effectively sanctioned by the state, the dynamic of capitalism cannot fully unfold. Complex, disputed, and overlapping understandings of the rights to use and dispose of land, often accompanied on the ground by vague boundaries, discourage land-


holders from seeking to optimize their capital investment by reinvesting profits in improved, more productive operations.

The Peruvian altiplano saw at best a truncated version of these processes in the century and a half between the late colonial period and the onset of the Great Depression. A whole range of processes critical in the development of a capitalist agrarian economy was initiated or intensified. Rural producers were increasingly pushed into monetarized markets; a revolution in transport and communication allowed the establishment of a fairly dense network of traders and commercial agents. In a series of initiatives the late colonial Bourbon regime and several of Peru's nineteenth-century national administrations gradually adjusted the legal framework of property to the liberal ideal. Indeed, corporate landholding by peasant communities and the Catholic church had shrunk to insignificance by the early twentieth century. Something that at first sight looked like an active land market had sprung up in the altiplano. At that time a number of progressive estate owners also sought to undo the system of privileges and obligations of their labor tenants and convert them into more productive and specialized rural wage workers.

However, all of these processes either remained stuck in midstream—often for half a century or longer—or produced outcomes unexpected in the framework of a transition to capitalism. The deepening web of monetarized commerce took the form of intensifying exchange based on social relations of hierarchy, clientalism, and entrapment. Even during sustained periods of price rises for their principal products, most owners of livestock estates saw little reasons to do away with the cumbersome system of labor tenancy, although it limited the productivity of their haciendas. The few hacendados who attempted to switch over to a system of specialized wage laborers encountered enormous resistance, delaying change for thirty to forty years. Also in reaction to incentives from the market and the penetration of liberal property notions, the buying, selling, and mortgaging of land increased considerably. But many of these transfers, instead of solidifying a convention of secure, unambiguous, and complete title rights to property, relied on clientalism, deception, or force and failed to allay the pandemic strife over use rights and disputed borders of property.

In short, the process of change in the Peruvian altiplano was driven by the same forces that propelled the transition to capitalism elsewhere—impulses from the market, the labor process, and the legal norms on property. Yet these forces provoked a reawakening and readjustment of an older set of social forces that constituted serious obstacles to the emergence of capitalism: monopoly, clientalism, and communal solidarity. Pressure from the market and the redefinition of the labor process and of legal norms


were not strong enough to defeat those older social forces—understood as ingrained modes of behavior tending toward institutionalization. They remained catalysts for a direction of change sui generis. The transition to agrarian capitalism thus remained a mirage: something that one hoped or feared as imminent, something whose outline was always visible, but that never materialized.

In recent years historians have become critical of the notion that the rise of industrial capitalism in Western Europe, especially in England and France, provides the classical case of development against which all other cases should be measured. The critique is two-pronged. On the one hand, it does not make sense to set up the experience of any single country as the classical model that all others ought to follow if they wish to achieve proper progress. The timing, direction, and modalities of change in every society depend to a very large extent on a host of variables specific to that society—from landscape and climate to cultural norms, education, infrastructure, class relations, and the distribution of power. On the other hand, it is increasingly evident that even the countries of the classical model underwent a much less neat transition to capitalism than previously thought: aristocracies remained powerful during the century after the presumed bourgeois revolutions, markets were far more constrained by externalities than previously thought, and agriculture in certain regions was very slow to adopt scientific farming.[10]

In this study I seek to portray the complex pattern of continuity and change in the Peruvian altiplano as a unique, open-ended process with phases of rapid change, stalemates between the major social forces, patterns of cyclical change, and, only one among various possible patterns, linear transformations. I wish to go beyond the above-mentioned critique and reject the teleological view that changes in a given Latin American society and economy ineluctably prepare the triumph of capitalism. In the Peruvian altiplano the transition to capitalism began in the decades after the Spanish conquest, with the introduction of money, the payment of wages to mine workers, and limited trade in land. This transition continues today, with a growing number of agrarian enterprises operating on the basis of capitalist relations of production.

With the demise of the conflict between capitalism and socialism as the central issue of the world political-economic arena, it is necessary for social scientists to develop the capacity to imagine the end of the capitalist era in world history other than through a proletarian revolution, unless they are willing to accept the notion of a final victory of capitalism over socialism and "the end of history." As new paradigms begin to define the central conflicts in an increasingly interconnected world, between nation-states,


ethnic and religious communities, transnational corporations, international agencies, and citizens' movements, not all the regions and societies in the world will be leaving the "age of capitalism" fully transformed according to the internal logic of that historical way of organizing economy and society. The Peruvian altiplano is such a region. It has been powerfully affected by capitalism, but it has not been totally remade in its image, as recurring stalemates between its social forces that were the consequence of colonialism led to the revitalization of older norms and modes of economic behavior, a type of defensive change.

Those who wish to assert that capitalism has increasingly subsumed, directly or indirectly, all areas of economic activity in Latin America emphasize its logic of unequal development.[11] This is undoubtedly one of capitalism's hallmarks, but it does not follow that all unequal developments in the modern world find their explanation in capitalist penetration. The centralization of political power, initated by the Spanish Hapsburgs through bureaucratic patrimonialism and mercantilism and heightened by the Bourbons through more efficient and penetrating administrative and fiscal controls, was never really abandoned by the independent Peruvian state.[12] The establishment of Lima's ever-more-glaring urban primacy, as well as that of most departmental and provincial capitals in their respective territories, has as much to do with the unequal distribution of resources by the administrative fiat of those in positions of power—extraction from the countryside and the interior provinces and accumulation among those associated with the state in the capitals, especially Lima—as it does with different rates of profit and capital accumulation. In short, there are dynamics of inequality, some surviving from the colonial era, others newly arising in the last century, that have roots independent of the capitalist economy. These dynamics ought to be considered before assigning any particular instance of regionally or socially unequal development to the workings of capitalism. This is especially true for regions in which capitalist relations of production have not come to dominate directly even today.

The process of change analyzed in this book is one full of ambiguities, and it may help to briefly mention the three principal ones at the outset. The altiplano's society before 1930 can be cast in two contradictory images. Dimensions such as income distribution and ownership of land lie on a finely gradated scale, with "middle sectors," including middling and affluent peasants and hispanized owners of small haciendas, much more prominent than commonly assumed. At the same time altiplano society was also highly polarized, mainly in the understanding of the people themselves about honor and status and in social interactions based on this


understanding. Both images of altiplano society need to be taken into account to grasp its dynamics of change.

Second, the multifarious process of historical change simultaneously brings losses and gains to specific social groups. The rise of liberalism, for example, not only brought an attempt to liquidate the communitarian traditions of the Indian peasantry but also prepared for new forms of association and political participation. Few broad historical processes (in contrast to discrete events and actions) do not show ambivalent effects on the interests of one and the same social group.[13]

As mentioned before, the economic and social development in the altiplano are here viewed as characterized by both cycles and transformations. "Cycles"—aside from the annual pattern of production and social life in the countryside and the roughly seven-year pattern of rising and falling water levels in Lake Titicaca, correlated with periods of drought and flooding—can be observed in secular movements of global economic activity: periods of about seventy years of growth followed by intervals of roughly the same length of stagnation and crisis. Shorter upward and downward rhythms occur within these secular waves. The relation of forces between the altiplano's hispanized elite and the peasantry was linked to these broad economic cycles, with eras of overall stagnation favoring the autonomy of the Indian communities and eras of growth seeing offensives by hispanized landholders and traders. Of course, each phase of the cycles also saw countervailing outcomes. Individual hispanized landholders expanded estates even during an era of stagnation; and although the autonomy of peasant communities was seriously challenged during phases of large landholder offensives and economic growth, it is far less certain that most peasants simultaneously experienced declining income levels. "Cycles," in the most abstract sense, also refers to the reconstruction of colonial cleavages in the postcolonial altiplano. Eras of hierarchy and monopoly in southern Peru's economy and structures of power have alternated with eras of more open, competitive, horizontal socioeconomic structures.[14]

But this cyclical pattern of development never returns the altiplano's economy and society to the starting point. Cycles are not closed circles. Institutions may regain strength after a period of decay, and old norms and privileges are cited by peasant communities and provincial elites in defense of their rights. At the same time, new patterns of markets and transportation, new currents of ideas, new channels of articulating political power, new arenas of social conflict—all will alter these norms and institutions, although they remain continuous in the minds of the interested groups. This is what is meant here by transformations. In the altiplano, cyclical


patterns of development and transformative patterns are conjoined in such a way that we may speak of conservative modernization.[15]

In this book I tackle several important issues in the transformation of Latin American societies and economies between the late colonial period and the Great Depression:

1. The changing nature of markets: I explore the shifting range of commodities traded, the spatial patterning of commercial circuits, the decay and reconstruction of social hierarchies of traders, and the fate of parallel networks of exchange based on different notions of utility. This exploration leads to a reevaluation of the effects of dependency on regional economic development, which turns out to be less powerful than is often assumed. It is not the strength but the weakness of the foreign merchants, even during the era of export-led growth, that demands explanation.[16] Although they benefited more than anybody else from the altiplano's wool export economy, in the end they failed to achieve the kind of transformation of the production region for which they had been pushing.

2. The distribution of land and the issue of latifundism: I question the notion of a long-standing predominance of haciendas since colonial times; in the context of a major transfer of land from the peasant communities to the estate sector during the era of export expansion, widely recognized in the literature, the growing importance of rather small estates needs to be emphasized. I also question whether the increasingly frequent transfers of land in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries can aptly be described as a land market, an issue closely associated with the conventional meaning of land among the various social groups in the altiplano.

3. Continuity and change in the peasant communities: The continued and, indeed, revitalized solidarity of communities occurred simultaneously with a process of increasing demographic, land-related, and commercial pressures and a changing relationship to the state. The community is seen as a conflictive construct, shaped by and expressing not only shifting external challenges but also the internal constellations of power between different groups and families with changing aspirations.

4. Paternalism, subordination, and autonomy in the haciendas: The dominance of large landholders over their resident labor force was perhaps more fragile than often assumed, even if it was all encompassing. Indeed, my work supports the notion of parallel constructions of power between hacienda and community, recently suggested for the central Peruvian sierra by Gavin Smith, which is helpful in comprehending the dynamic of subordination and autonomy experienced by Andean colonos.[17]

5. The rationality of the hacendado's economic strategies: Although it is possible to speak of the efficiency of seigneurial estates, I dispute the


notion, introduced by the revisionist modelers of the Andean estate during the 1970s, that it is useful to portray the hacendado as a profit optimizer in neoclassical terms. As Alan Knight has recently suggested for Porfirian Mexico, we need to take contemporary critics of the hacienda more seriously, though without returning to their evolutionist schemes.[18]

These issues are explored through the study of one altiplano province, Azángaro, over a period of some one hundred and fifty years, from the 1770s to 1930. Tracing the complex and contradictory process of change of a rural economy and society over a century and a half makes it possible to detect the longer cycles identified above. It offers some protection against exaggerating the staying power of short-range, dramatic changes and opens the view to long-term characteristics of a regional society, the impact of its culture, its environment, and its historically evolved relations of power and status.

The altiplano offers a fascinating setting to explore the issues mentioned above. Its peoples look back on a long, proud history. One of the focal points of Andean civilization, the region first entered the limelight with the rise of Tiwanaku, a state centered just south of Lake Titicaca and holding a kind of cultural hegemony over great parts of the southern Andes for much of the first millennium of our era. The ethnic kingdoms of the Lupakas and Kollas, which dominated the northern altiplano between the decline of Tiwanaku and the region's forced incorporation into the Inca empire in the mid-fifteenth century, have become models for modern ethnographers' understanding of prehispanic Andean polities, with their emphasis on "nested kinship units" tied by reciprocal exchanges of material and ritual resources and sustained through the maximum use of different ecological levels, from the oasis settlements on the Pacific coast to colonies just above the tropical rain forests east of the Andes.

During the centuries of Spanish colonial rule the altiplano was in the center of the trading circuits linking the rich silver-mining districts of Upper Peru (modern-day Bolivia) with the viceroyalty's administrative and mercantile hub, Lima. In the nineteenth century the northern altiplano was one of the first interior regions of Peru to be integrated into world markets, while its population continued to be overwhelmingly monolingual, Quechua- or Aymara-speaking Indian community peasants. With the decline of the export economy and the consolidation of the Lima-centered Peruvian national state during the mid-twentieth century, the altiplano has become increasingly marginalized, a poor, "backward" region in the country's mancha India , or Indian belt. In the long run of two thousand years the region's history may be read as one of decline, from the power and splendor of Tiwanaku, through the subordination, on relatively favorable terms, to


Incaic imperialism, Spanish colonialism, and European capitalist expansion, to a poor backwater in the Peruvian nation.

But its history may also be read as contradictory and ambiguous. For centuries the altiplano has been an open transit space for conquering armies, trade, and ideas. The region's inhabitants have actively adapted to changing institutions, relations of production, and state structures introduced by powerful outside forces, perhaps responding more willingly than peoples in other parts of the Andes have done. Yet the altiplano was also a redoubt of Andean resistance to European colonization: the Spanish population remained scarce, and before the twentieth century no major urban center developed for a stretch of some five hundred kilometers between Cuzco and La Paz. Even today, educated and well-to-do citizens of Lima think that only the half-mad would choose to live in the altiplano, which they consider a cold, desolate place lacking minimal urban amenities. During the century and a half with which this book is concerned, the altiplano was at the forefront of most rebellions and civil wars convulsing Peru. Again we have an image of a regional society that embraces change but has a strong sense of distinct identity, through which it seeks to mold and temper externally introduced changes.

In this study I concentrate on one province, Azángaro, located just north of Lake Titicaca in the department of Puno. The province, in its borders between 1854 and 1989, was more than twice as large as the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and a bit larger than the state of Delaware. A province such as Azángaro, which has been in existence in some form at least since the mid-sixteenth century, constitutes a legitimate unit of study, as authority structures, social networks, and channels of commercialization have given meaning to this administrative unit. Since the nineteenth century its inhabitants have identified themselves as Azangarinos, although that identity has frayed in outlying districts. In 1989 the town of Putina succeeded in a decades-old campaign to become capital of a new province, taking with it territories of old Azángaro province that figure prominently in this study.

The study is divided into two parts and nine chapters. The remainder of this introduction outlines basic characteristics of the altiplano environment and of Azángaro's demographic history, fundamental for understanding the region's development. The following three chapters form part 1, which deals with the age of crisis between about 1780 and the mid-1850s. Chapter 2 concerns the crisis of the colonial commercial circuits into which the altiplano was bound and the gradual reconstruction of new circuits since the 1820s. In chapter 3 I examine how the region's agrarian structure and the colonial mechanisms of surplus extraction from the Indian peasantry


were affected by the onset of the crisis between the 1780s and 1820. In chapter 4 I explore how owners of estates and community peasants dealt with the challenges and opportunities of Peru's political independence under the conditions of a continued commercial slump.

The four chapters in part 2 cover the age of expansion between the late 1850s and 1920. Chapter 5 begins with a reappraisal of the marketing system and circuits. This is followed, in chapter 6, by an analysis of land transactions, hacienda expansion, and the various modes of acquiring and retaining land. In chapter 7 I take a closer look at peasant communities in the context of commercial pressures, changing constellations of local power, and the state. In chapter 8 I turn to the labor regime and the economy of altiplano livestock estates and valiant attempts at changing them. Chapter 9 demonstrates how the northern altiplano again entered a period of crisis and stalemate by the early 1920s and draws together the major points of the book.

Geography and Ecology of Azángaro

The traveler arriving in the altiplano either from the narrow inter-Andean valley system of Cuzco to the northwest, with its verdant valley bottom agriculture and the steeply sloping, reddish gray rock formations, or from the desolate wastelands of the western cordillera, which one must traverse coming from Arequipa, cannot help but marvel at the sight offered as one descends into the huge inter-Andean basin of which Peru's department of Puno forms only the northernmost part. The view here is opened to a plain stretching to the horizon and glowing in the golden colors that the intense sun of the altiplano grants to the endless grasslands during the long dry season from April to November.

The Titicaca basin forms the northern third of the altiplano, which extends for some twelve hundred kilometers from the dividing line of the modern departments of Puno and Cuzco southward to the border between Argentina and Bolivia. It is surrounded by the eastern and western cordillera of the Andes, which bifurcate at the northeastern extreme of the basin, the Nudo de Vilcanota, at fourteen and one-half degrees south latitude. On the Bolivian side, some four hundred kilometers to the southeast, the Titicaca basin is divided from further hydrographic basins only by some hills in the vicinity of La Paz.[19]

At an altitude of 3,812 meters above sea level, Lake Titicaca, nearly two hundred kilometers long and up to seventy kilometers wide, provides the special environment that has allowed the altiplano to become one of the most densely settled areas anywhere on our planet at comparable altitudes.


It has moderated the harsh climate and favored agricultural production in a narrow belt around its shore. Lacustrine plants and fishery resources provide construction materials and a natural food reserve for the dense lakeside population in times of scarcity. Ever since pre-Columbian times, but especially since the introduction of steam navigation, the lake has facilitated communication and transport.

The province of Azángaro, covering an area of 6,643 square kilometers in its boundaries of 1854–1989, is located at the northern rim of the altiplano (map 1.1). Extending at its widest and longest points for about one hundred and forty kilometers from north to south and one hundred kilometers from east to west, the province nearly touches Lake Titicaca at the mouth of Río Ramis on its southern border. Toward the north and northeast it slopes upward to the crest of the Cordillera de Carabaya at altitudes above five thousand meters. To the west the border with the province of Lampa follows fairly closely the course of Río Pucará. From Tirapata in the northwest Azángaro's border with Melgar province follows an ill-defined line in a northerly direction until reaching the crest of the eastern cordillera beyond Potoni. The southeastern border facing Huancané province runs from a point between the mouth of Río Ramis and Huancané town in a northeasterly direction up to the crest of the cordillera in the vicinity of Ananea.

Azángaro covers a good part of the drainage basin for the three major tributaries of Río Ramis, the largest of the feeder rivers of Lake Titicaca. Two of these tributaries, Río Crucero (called Río Azángaro south of Asillo) and Río Putina, trisect the province in a north-south direction. The westernmost districts of Azángaro descend to plains facing the third river, Río Pucará. In the central part of the province, the rivers meander through wide pampas separated by chains of hills.

In the northern and northeastern parts of the province river valleys become narrow. Here the cordillera slopes climb to heights above five thousand meters, as at Cerro Surupana in San José district, which retains its snowcap year round. Toward the south and southwest of the province the pampas widen. In the districts of Saman, Achaya, Caminaca, and the southern part of Arapa the landscape becomes flat. No more hills divide the runs of Ríos Pucará and Azángaro during the last ten or fifteen kilometers before they join to form Río Ramis. In the area of Saman and Taraco, the latter district part of Huancané province since 1854, the river reaches a width of one hundred meters and a depth of eight to ten meters. By the end of the rainy season, it frequently floods surrounding fields and pastures, causing considerable damage.[20]


Map 1.1.
Azángaro Province, circa 1920


In addition to numerous rivers and creeks, smaller lakes and ponds aid Azángaro's inhabitants in dealing with periodic scarcity of water. The southern end of the largest of the lakes, Lago de Arapa, with a circumference of about fifty kilometers, is only two kilometers from Lake Titicaca. The much smaller Laguna de San Juan de Salinas, some ten kilometers north of Arapa, holds considerable importance for the province as a steady source of high-quality salt. A mineral spring on an island constantly replenishes its brackish waters. As the shoreline recedes during the dry season, Indian peasants harvest the crystallized salt from the dry lake floor. Marketed until the nineteenth century throughout the northern altiplano and adjacent areas in the Cuzco valley system, the salt from San Juan de Salinas has been an important resource at least since Incaic times.[21]

The soils of the province, in many places exhausted for centuries,[22] generally differ from each other according to the relief of the land. In the immediate shore belt of Lake Titicaca, including some plains in Azángaro's southernmost districts, the soil is formed by alluvial and lacustrine deposits.[23] Ranging from moderately acidic to neutral, deficient both in nitrogen and phosphates, these soils contain a relatively high percentage of organic contents and do not need to rest for more than a year in order to replenish themselves naturally.[24] The pampas and softly sloping hills further away from the lake have superficial, stony soils less than thirty centimeters deep, as well as well-drained dark brown to brown-gray clay soils of greater depth. In depressions badly drained soils form little swamps. All of these soils are also deficient in nitrates and phosphates. Where there is no adequate drainage, salt and minerals accumulate, leaving the soil completely infertile;[25] such infertile, saline spots, called collpares in Azángaro, are prized features of a landholding, as they serve to combat livestock diseases. The soils on the steep slopes of the cordillera above four thousand meters are shallow and rocky.

Two factors influence Azángaro's climate more than any others: potential frosts for about seven months during the year and sharply marked seasonal rainfall for three to four months with great year-to-year fluctuations. Mean temperatures fluctuate greatly within each twenty-four hour-period. During the day the tropical sun lets the thermometer rise to the mid-twenties (Celsius); immediately after sunset a chill sets in, with temperatures often sinking below zero. Month-to-month fluctuations of temperatures are slight, ranging from an average of 10.2 degrees Celsius in January to 6.5 degrees Celsius in July on Puno's lakeshore. But they do make the difference between above-zero temperatures and night frosts.[26] Between April and October farmers have to contend with night frosts, leaving only a short growing season. In the cordillera, at altitudes above four thousand meters, frosts occur throughout the year.


Precipitation in the northern altiplano strongly fluctuates both from year to year and within each year. Annual rainfall may dip below 500 millimeters and climb as high as 1,000 millimeters, with a thirty-year mean of 580-600 millimeters.[27] Rainfall patterns divide the year into a rainy and warm summer season and a dry, cold winter season. The period from May to August is virtually free of rain, and 90 percent of the precipitation falls between mid-November and early April, with the peak in January and early February. Precipitation between September and mid-November, small in absolute terms, is of strategic importance for agriculture. Because soils dry out and harden during the winter months, the September rains are crucial for sowing the crops, providing an adequate growing period for plants to reach maturity before the April frosts. Delayed early rains can have consequences as devastating as those of veritable droughts.[28] In either form, droughts are frequent and cause severe subsistence crises and starvation among the altiplano's peasantry.[29] The other extreme, superabundant rainfall, also occurs, periodically flooding the areas of most intensive agriculture around the lakeshore and river valleys and destroying crops.

Frost and hail occur frequently. In years when severe frosts come, say, by early April, the greater part of the harvest may be destroyed. With such severe weather, optimal conditions for agriculture and livestock raising are rare. In 1831 José Domingo Choquehuanca, keenly interested in progress for his native province, observed that Azángaro had not been blessed with "good pastures" in four of the past five years because of excessive rains, drought, or severe frosts.[30] Microclimates play an important role in efforts to thwart the effects of harsh weather on crops. Plants might be killed by frost in one spot, while only thirty yards away they remain unaffected. For planting, farmers carefully choose spots sheltered from the wind, on hillsides or in small depressions or canyons, avoiding the windswept and frost-prone pampas. Fear of frost and hail has given rise to numerous invocations and rites among the Indian peasantry.[31]

At altitudes of above thirty-eight-hundred meters only the altiplano's proximity to the equator and the intense sun have made possible a vegetation sufficient to sustain large animal and human populations. This vegetation gets sparser the further south, reaching desert conditions in the salt flats at the southwestern edge of the altiplano in Bolivia. Even Puno's vegetation is relatively poor. Few trees thrive in this environment. The indigenous kkolli (Polylepis racemosa) and kuenua (Budleya coriacea) survive mostly in bushy patches on hill slopes, with tree-sized specimens only rarely gracing an altiplano town's plaza de armas or the roadway leading to a hacienda's building complex. For centuries these trees have been overexploited as construction material and firewood.[32] The eucalyptus


tree, introduced from Australia, has adapted well in the lakeshore zone, but few grow in the altiplano proper.

By and large the altiplano is a treeless grassland, reminiscent of the steppes of inner Asia. The most common flora are grasses—chillihua (Festuca dissitiflora), chillihua crespillo (Festuca rigescens), grama (Poa meyeni), chije (Sporobulus), and cebadilla (Bromus unioloides) —which cover plains and hillsides in varying density according to altitude, microclimates, degree of moisture, and soils.[33] Differences of quantity and quality of pastures have played an important role in the locations of the area's livestock operations and have influenced land values. Some altiplano grasses can make livestock sick, especially the ichu or paja brava (Stipa pungens) , a tough grass with thorny tips that grows in tufts up to two feet tall on the slopes of both cordilleras.[34] In badly drained parts of the pampas and in shallow water close to the shorelines of lakes there thrives a variety of semiaquatic plants, including the prized llacho (Miriophilium titicacensis) , which provide fodder during the dry season.[35]

Only an estimated 22,400 hectares were dedicated to crops in the province in 1959, about 3.5 percent of the total provincial surface, while over 90 percent of land consisted of natural pastures—a distribution not likely to have changed greatly over the past two hundred years. Yet agriculture was and continues to be of strategic importance for the livelihood of the rural population. The degree to which the region's crops provide the necessary food for peasant families determines their freedom of disposition over their livestock herds. With insufficient crops greater numbers of animals have to be sold or bartered to acquire necessary foodstuffs. Thus, the harvests directly influence the size of stock populations, the key aspect of the region's economic well-being.[36]

Many temperate-climate food plants do not mature in the altiplano, and harvests are highly insecure because of the frequent climatic calamities. Since prehispanic times potatoes, native to the Andes, have constituted by far the most important food crop in the northern altiplano.[37] With an upper limit of cultivation around thirty-nine-hundred meters, the potato is grown in all districts of Azángaro province.[38] Although part of the crop is eaten fresh during the months after harvest, a greater part has historically been consumed in freeze-dried form, known as chuño .[39] Other native tubers, such as the oca (Oxalis tuberosa) and the papa lisa or olluco (Ullucus tuberosus) , are produced in smaller quantities.[40]

Compared with the persistent and overwhelming importance of tubers, the fortunes of other crops have undergone considerable changes. Such changes have marked in particular the Andean grains quinua (Chenopo-


dium quinoa) and canihua (Chenopodium canihua) , whose production was concentrated in the lakeshore areas. Until the early colonial period these grains were cultivated considerably more widely than they were during the nineteenth century. Partly because production per hectare is lower than with potatoes and partly because urban consumers have not favored them, the production of Andean grains continued to decline until the 1970s, when the military government promoted them because of their high nutritional value.[41] Barley has taken acreage away from quinua and canihua since the seventeenth century.[42] Because barley reaches its upper limit of cultivation at about four thousand meters, it usually does not reach maturity in the altiplano, and stalks and foliage are used as forage.[43] During the late 1950s production still lay slightly below that of the indigenous Andean grains.[44] Planted throughout Azángaro, barley is found principally in the districts of Arapa and Saman, where the crop has been used as forage by cattle-fattening enterprises at least since the late nineteenth century.

Since the colonial period peasants and estate owners have attempted to plant a variety of vegetables, among them onions, carrots, cabbages, and—most important—lima beans. Although some of these plants reach maturity in well-protected hillside niches in Arapa and Chupa districts, only small quantities can be grown. This also holds true for maize and wheat, which rarely reach maturity in the altiplano. The supply of these cereals, important food items since prehispanic and colonial times respectively, had to be obtained through a lively trade with the valleys around Cuzco and with areas on the Andes' eastern and western slopes.[45]

The largest animals existing in the altiplano in historic times are the cameloids. The two domesticated species of this family, the llama and the alpaca, are the most common of the region's big mammals. Until the first quarter of this century the two nondomesticated species of cameloids, the huanaco and the vicuña, still roamed the isolated hillsides and cordillera slopes of Azángaro province in appreciable numbers. Vicuñas, living in highly stratified herds of about fifty animals, have been hunted for their extraordinarily fine fur since colonial times. An Andean variety of deer (Cervus anticiencis) , pumas (Felix concolor) , and foxes have also been hunted regularly. Pumas and foxes prey on flocks of smaller domesticated animals, causing frequent losses.[46] Several smaller animals are hunted as well, including the viscacha (Lapidum peruvianum) , a rodent, and wild ducks, which are abundant in sheltered bays of the lakes.[47] Although hunting may have commercial motives—as in the case of vicuñas—or serve to eliminate livestock predators—as with the hunt for pumas and foxes—it


has also served a more elemental function: in years of meager harvests and insufficient food supplies, the region's rural population will turn to hunting, along with the gathering of wild roots and berries, for survival.[48]

Although the fauna of the lakes and rivers consists of only a limited number of species, some types of fish have become an important additional source of food and income, particularly for the population living on the shores of Lakes Titicaca and Arapa. The preferred edible lake fish are bogas (Orestia pentlandi) and humantus , esteemed also by urban dwellers. Carachis (Orestia albus) , rather small and skinny fish, are a cheap source of protein and have been traded throughout the region in dried form. Azángaro's rivers contain the largest edible indigenous fish of the altiplano, the suche (Trychomicterus dispar) , which grows up to thirty-five centimeters. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries some varieties of altiplano fish found markets as far away as Cuzco and Arequipa.[49]

Two conclusions may be drawn from this overview of the northern altiplano's environment: (1) Because the environment approaches the limit for sustaining large human populations, it has been less malleable by humans than that of other, more favored climatic zones. The people of the altiplano cannot easily shift from a predominantly pastoral orientation to become surplus producers of food crops. Under technological conditions prevailing during both the colonial and republican periods, a drastic extension of acreage planted to crops would bring diminishing returns because of the harsh climate. Evidence suggests that the prehispanic societies put a considerably larger acreage into crop production through the use of hillside terraces and ridged fields in the pampas, solving the problems of drainage, irrigation, and protection against frosty winds.[50] Still, even before the coming of the Spaniards the region's principal wealth consisted in its abundant stock herds.[51] (2) Nevertheless, it should be emphasized that the environment allows a number of other primary economic activities. In spite of its limited scale, agriculture, with its notable local differentiation, has been of strategic importance. Hunting and fishing help to sustain populations in years of crop failure and high livestock mortality, besides offering a small number of people a regular income. It would be wrong to consider the altiplano, at any point in its history, as a monocultural livestock economy.

The Long-term Development of Azángaro's Population

Peruvian demographic history has only recently begun to provide fairly reliable population estimates for the prestatistical era. Most figures up to the 1940 census still have to be considered with caution because of a


plethora of errors in data gathering as well as imprecisions and shifts in the administrative units covered. What is offered here on Azángaro's population should be viewed as rough approximations of major trends and turning points.

In contrast to New Spain, population decline in Andean Peru, and in Azángaro province in particular, continued for at least one hundred and fifty years after the Spanish conquest. Here the nadir was reached with the epidemics that swept much of Lower and Upper Peru in 1687 and again from 1718 to 1720. During the seventeenth century the onerous mita de Potosí , a mining labor draft imposed on Azángaro's indigenous population along with that of sixteen other provinces, also contributed to population losses and fueled massive migration aimed at escaping this and other Spanish impositions. By 1700 a large share of inhabitants in Azángaro's communities were forasteros , people whose ancestors were not born in the community where they now resided. The priest of the parish of Chupa reported to the Bishop of Cuzco in 1690 that all of his Indian parishioners were forasteros.[52] This growing segment of the population was apparently not regularly included in tribute recounts of the communities where they resided until the mid-1720s. Indian population growth between 1690 and 1725—unlikely in the face of reported losses during the 1718–20 epidemic of more than 50 percent—thus merely reflects new methods of counting.[53]

Available figures (tables 1.1 and 1.2) suggest a rapid increase of population during the following sixty-five years until the mid-1780s, in spite of the heavy loss of life suffered during the Túpac Amaru Rebellion at the beginning of that decade. The tribute recounts carried out during the 1750s were too low, and administrative reforms undertaken during visitas (inspections) of Areche and Escobedo allowed officials to capture a greater part of actual Indian population in the recount of 1786 and the episcopal census of 1798.[54] Whatever the precise rate, there can be little doubt that Azángaro's Indian population grew rapidly during the second and third quarters of the eighteenth century.[55] It was also during this period of economic growth that the non-Indian segment of the population, beyond the few dozen families of Spanish miners, landholders, and officials evident since the sixteenth century, became more visible.

For the remainder of the colonial period, until the mid-1820s, Azángaro's Indian population increased at a modest rate of about 1.0 percent annually. During the first two decades of the nineteenth century the altiplano suffered severe epidemics and droughts as well as the dislocating effects of the Wars of Independence, with repeated recruitments of the peasantry.[56] But such calamities had not been absent during the fifty years preceding the 1786 recount. Beyond the general congruence with


   TABLE 1.1. Population of Azángaro Province, 1573–1972, According to Censuses 
                        Tribute Counts























































Note: The figures here exclude Taraco, Pusi, and Poto.

a I subtracted 11.39 percent from the provincial totals, the average for the doctrinas of Pusi and Taraco, and the anexo or vice-parroquia of Poto in the counts for 1786, 1826, and 1825/29.

Sources: Cook, "Population Data for Indian Peru," 113; Vollmer, Bevölkerungspolitik , 281–84; Villanueva Urteaga, Cuzco 1689 , 111–26; Wightman, Indigenous Migration and Social Change , 66; Macera, Tierra y población , 161–62 (multiplication of the number of tributarios for 1758/59 and 1786 by 4.5 as an estimate of total Indian population; subtraction of 1.6 percent for the population of Poto, not listed separately); Mörner, Perfíl , between pp. 132 and 133; Kubler, Indian Caste , 11, 28, 34; Choquehuanca, Ensayo , 15–53 (for 1825/29 I multiplied the number of tributarios by 4.5 as an estimate of total Indian population); Correo Peruano , July 30, 1845, as quoted by Castelnau, Expedition 4:129; 1862 census, BMP; national censuses of 1876, 1940, 1961, and 1972.


TABLE 1.2.  Demographic Growth Rates for Azángaro Province,
                      Derived from Population Counts


Absolute Growth (percent)


Annual Rate




ca. 150
















ca. 102




ca.   41




ca.   29


Total Population



ca. 49




ca. 23




ca. 35


















Sources: See table 1.1.

semisecular economic rhythms in the region, it is still difficult to account for this demographic slowdown.

Uncertainties do not diminish for the century after independence. The counts of the late 1820s, 1850, and 1862 were not based on modern statistical methods and have generally been considered unreliable.[57] Even the 1876 census, carried out after painstaking preparations, contained numerous errors and confused categories.[58] And for the altiplano there is a most unfortunate gap without any useful population counts for the long interval between the 1876 and 1940 censuses.

If we are to believe the census data, Azángaro's global population grew at an annual rate of 0.49 percent between the immediate postindependence years, 1825–29, and 1850, only to decline during the following twenty-six years, until 1876, to a level just 4.5 percent above that of fifty years earlier. Only during the subsequent sixty-four years until 1940 did the long-term population growth that had begun during the second quar-


ter of the eighteenth century set in again with an increase of 114 percent. With its population fluctuating between about 43,000 and 54,000 from the 1820s to 1870s, Azángaro's average population density was about seven or eight inhabitants per square kilometer. Some areas, particularly in the districts close to Lake Titicaca and certain sectors of Asillo and Azángaro districts, had a much higher population density, while the hilly ranges interlacing the broad valley plains and the slopes of the Cordillera de Carabaya were sparsely settled by a few livestock herding families. With the increase to over 97,000 inhabitants by 1940, Azángaro's average population density reached a level of about fifteen persons per square kilometer.

The 1850 census may have deliberately overstated Azángaro's population since it was prepared by the Ministry of War to "buttress a presidential decree ordering the recruitment of fresh troops" for impending hostilities with Bolivia.[59] Regardless of its veracity, we need to explain either the decline of population between 1850 and 1876 or its near stagnation between 1825–29 and 1876. Unfortunately, we cannot measure the impact of migration and military recruitment, although both factors clearly played some role.[60] Various sources refer to at least seasonal migration by male peasants to the eastern piedmont of the Andes (the ceja de la selva ) in Apolobamba and Pelechuco (Bolivia) and, less frequently, to Carabaya, Sandia, and the Cuzco valley system.[61] During the civil wars following independence, young men were at times rounded up in altiplano peasant communities to build the regiments of warring caudillos. Some of these peasant recruits never returned home.[62]

We can say a bit more about epidemics. A severe disease, probably typhus or typhoid fever, struck the Peruvian and Bolivian highlands from Jauja in the north to Potosí in the south between 1856 and 1858, coinciding with the interval when Azángaro's population growth of the previous thirty years was reversed. According to the Swiss traveler Johann Jakob von Tschudi, the epidemic killed about three hundred thousand Indians, totally depopulating some villages.[63] Although losses were greatest in the department of Cuzco, the British Consul in Islay expressly reported its horrible sweep through the department of Puno.[64]

We can thus explain the decline of Azángaro's population between the censuses of 1850 and 1862 as largely caused by the 1856–58 epidemic. But there is no evidence to account for the continued—although minimal—decline until 1876. To be sure, in this period Azángaro and Huancané provinces were shaken by the "Bustamante Rebellion" of 1866–68. In the subsequent repression authorities planned to resettle complete Indian communities implicated in the uprisings in the ceja de la selva of Carabaya.[65] But after strong public protest the reprisals were never carried out to the


extent planned, and population decline between the census figures of 1862 and 1876 is lower for some of the centers of the rebellion (Saman, Putina, and Muñani) than for districts not implicated. Although other short-term developments during this interval cannot be excluded with certainty, mere census errors, too high a figure for 1862 or too low a figure for 1876 or both, appear just as likely. A notable undercount in the 1876 census appears most plausible.

The province's strong demographic growth over the following sixty-four years, averaging 1.8 percent annually according to the census data, would have been produced although on the surface none of the major factors influencing population had much changed. Recruitment drives by the army and Guardia Nacional continued even after the termination of the War of the Pacific and the ensuing civil war in 1895.[66] In addition, migration to the ceja de la selva may have intensified. Between 1900 and 1930 peasants from the altiplano districts closest to the eastern cordillera such as Muñani, Putina, Rosaspata, and Conima were drawn through enganche contracts (credit advances) to work as rubber collectors in the Tambopata valley of Sandia province. Coffee and coca production in this southernmost piedmont province of Peru also attracted growing numbers of peasants from the altiplano, while others continued to migrate to the Bolivian ceja de la selva around Apolobamba and Pelechuco.[67] Only the depression of the early 1930s and the outbreak of the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay in 1932, which created fears among Peruvian workers in the Bolivian piedmont that they might be recruited into that republic's army, brought a brief respite to the gradual increase of outward migration from the altiplano.

By 1940 as many as 35,688 persons, 6.2 percent of those born in the department, had migrated from Puno department to other parts of Peru, nearly half of those to the department of Arequipa. Only a third as many persons migrated into the department, the largest contingent (36.7 percent) coming from Bolivia. By 1940 Puno's net migration loss amounted to more than 23,000 persons, 4.2 percent of the department's population. Though small compared to the massive migration losses common since the 1950s, this loss further diminished population growth rates. Many migrants from Azángaro went to Arequipa or Cuzco. In 1907, for example, we find Gertrudis Quispe Amanqui, a peasant woman from parcialidad (community) Ccacsani in Arapa district, living permanently in Arequipa and selling cheeses in the market.[68]

Epidemics continued to exact a toll on Azángaro's population during the intercensus period between 1876 and 1940. The only medical doctor in the province, Manuel E. Paredes, a descendant of an important hacendado family, reported that in 1919 "influenza appeared and wreaked havoc upon


the Indians with a most terrifying percentage of fatal cases." Typhus and smallpox also became epidemic during certain seasons, and measles had caused "considerable mortality" among children in years past. However, gastrointestinal infections and tuberculosis were rare because of healthy drinking water and low population density.[69]

During the early decades of the twentieth century the death toll from infectious diseases remained high in Azángaro. There are references to an epidemic (possibly bubonic plague) in 1903 and the outbreak of exantemic typhus in 1908, both causing many deaths. The 1903 epidemic killed forty-five shepherds in Haciendas Checayani and Caravilque alone.[70] With evidence for continued army recruiting, gradually increasing emigration, and a number of serious epidemics, it is difficult to account for the mean 1.8 percent annual population increase between 1876 and 1940 suggested by the censuses of those years.

A look at birth and death rates for the years 1924–25 makes lower growth rates for the period 1876 to 1940 highly plausible.[71] Records on births are likely to be fairly accurate, since nearly everybody considered baptism of newborn children essential; deaths, by contrast, often went unreported since peasants sought to avoid the expense of a church funeral.[72] The rate of birth of 2.6 percent in 1924–25 for six districts in Azángaro province is nearly identical with the rate of between 2.1 and 2.6 percent for the years 1941 to 1945 reported by Peru's statistical office for the whole of Puno. However, the reported mortality rate of 0.35 percent for the six districts in 1924–25 compares with mortality rates of between 1.1 and 1.4 percent for the whole of Puno department from 1941 to 1945. This difference strongly suggests that most deaths went unreported in 1924–25. Whereas relying on this unbelievably low mortality rate would render a rate of natural population increase of 2.2 percent for 1924–25, an application of the more dependable mortality figures from 1941–45 (a mean rate of 1.26 percent) would result in a rate of natural population increase of 1.34 percent for the mid-1920s. This is nearly one-third lower than the mean rate required to achieve the population increase suggested by the censuses for the period from 1876 to 1940.

If we assume both the 1940 figure for Azángaro's total population and the 1924–25 figures of births to be fairly reliable, the 1876 census must have undercounted the provincial population by about 15 percent. Choquehuanca's data for 1825–29 underestimated Azángaro's population as well. Although a mortality rate of 2.8 percent seems plausible for those years, a birth rate of 4.6 percent is highly improbable. On the assumption of fairly accurate birth statistics, this error could have been the result only of low overall population figures and mortality rates.


In conclusion, I would like to present a model of Azángaro's probable long-term demographic development. The province's population declined between the conquest period and the late seventeenth century, but not to such low levels as suggested by the 1690 count. Only the devastating epidemic of 1718–20 marked the nadir of Azángaro's Indian population. The seven decades after the epidemic saw rapid population recovery, perhaps on the order of 2 percent annually, a rebound of fertility well known from aftermaths of major European epidemics. This recovery was spread more evenly throughout the period than suggested by the tribute recounts of the 1750s. It coincided with an era of economic growth and saw the entrenchment of a significant sector of non-Indian population in Azángaro, although the province would remain about 90 percent Indian well into the twentieth century. Azángaro's population growth slowed down between the 1790s and mid-1820s; this slowdown coincided with the onset of a long period of economic crisis, discussed in the next chapter.

Among the early censuses of the republican era those of the late 1820s and of 1876 are likely to have undercounted Azángaro's population, whereas those of 1850 and 1862 were closer to the mark or too high. During the first quarter century after independence the province's population continued to grow at the modest rate of the late colonial era. The epidemic of 1856–58 caused major population losses still not overcome five years later, at the time of the 1862 census. Contrary to the indications from the 1876 census, we may safely assume a growing population during the following decade, but the 1850s epidemic had a major impact on Azángaro's demographic development for the whole intercensus period from the late 1820s to 1876. In contrast to recent regional and national studies, I estimate that the population of altiplano provinces such as Azángaro underwent only minimal growth during this half century.[73] This near stasis occurred largely during the remainder of the long-term economic crisis that began during the 1780s and came to a close during the mid-1850s. During the following long intercensus period, 1876–1940, regional population growth became sufficiently robust to overcome the effects of epidemics, emigration, and military recruitment. Yet because of the undercount of 1876 it was considerably lower than suggested by the raw census data, perhaps around 1.3 percent annually, commensurate with preindustrial population growth in eighteenth-century Europe.

Between the conquest and 1720 and again from the 1930s onward, Azángaro's population development cannot easily be correlated to long-term economic cycles. In the earlier phase the Indians' lack of immunity to European diseases and, since about the 1930s, the dramatic impact of antibiotics and public health campaigns have been the predominant factors


influencing population trends, regardless of economic cycles. But during the roughly two hundred intervening years, from 1720 to the 1930s, we may note a certain correlation between population and economy: an era of growth during the middle decades of the eighteenth century followed by a period of crisis between the 1780s and mid-1850s and another period of growth since the 1860s. This is not a neat and tidy correlation, to be sure, and it is especially messy at the first seam, the transition from growth to stagnation during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, where the economic downturn appears faster and more drastic than the demographic crisis. Nor is there sufficient information to say with certainty whether population drove the economic cycles (as suggested by Esther Boserup and so convincingly applied to the region of Guadalajara, Mexico, during the eighteenth century by Eric Van Young)[74] or whether, as in the Malthusian model, the economy determined demographic patterns. Over the long run of the two hundred years an interdependent relation between the altiplano's economic and demographic trends offers the most realistic model, although during shorter periods one or the other factor may have been overwhelmingly influential. As we try to understand the socioeconomic evolution of the Peruvian altiplano in the ensuing chapters, it is of critical importance to keep in mind both the region's long-term population development and its harsh yet surprisingly varied ecology.

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