Essay on Serulnikov-Revolution in the Andes

Published: 2021/12/03
Number of words: 1289


In the book Rebellion in the Andes. The Age of Túpac Amaru Pac Amaru, Sergio Serulnikov examines the Amaru and Katarista uprisings that were experienced in Peru and Modern day Bolivia during the 1780’s. The rebellion drew individuals from the native people of Aymara and Quechua. The rebel groups sieged big cities like Cusco and La Paz. Some of the rebel groups were small and crumbled under the slightest pressure of the royalist troops from Lima and Buenos Aries. In most of the rebel groups, the protests were not against the sovereignty of the kingdom, but the exploitative behavior of the servants of the King. However, due to military inferiority and internal divisions, the rebels groups would be eventually crushed. In this paper, we examine the underlying reasons that led to the failure of these rebel groups. Specifically, we give brief accounts of the rebel groups before showing the reasons behind the collapse of the movements.

The Tupac Amaru II Led Rebellion Group

Reasons For failure

The Tupamarist rebel group led by Tupac Amaru II had relative success as shown by the victories in the battle of Sangarara, the conquest of Collao, and execution of Antonio de Arriaga.However success was short-lived as on January 8, 1780, the royalist troops attacked and defeated them in the area of Pichu. The Tupamarists defeat was imminent as evidenced by the delay of Tupac to attack Cusco region earlier as advised by Micaela Bastidas before the regular soldiers arrived from Lima. The strife between the natives and non-natives contributed majorly to the failure of the movement. In Cusco, the upper-class Creoles joined the royalist militia in resisting the invasion of the Tupamarist army. In fact, the lack of cooperation between the urban class creoles and the Indians is the main reason that led to the fall of the Tupamarist rebel group.

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The urban class Creoles felt that their collective dislike and hatred of the Bourbon imperial policies with the Indians led by Tupac Amaru II was not enough reason to confront the colonialists. Thus, when Junta de Guerra commanded the mobilization of militant groups to combat the Tupamarist army before the arrival of the regular troop from Lima, 3000 members of the urban class Creoles agreed to join the royalist militia.On January 1, 1780, when the first batch of 200 soldiers arrived from Lima, the Creoles joined them. The Tupamarist group was defeated January 8. Although it can be argued that the lack of food and heavy rainfall is one of the underlying factors that contributed to the inability of Tupamarists to conquer Custo; it is apparent that Tupac Amaru II inability to endear himself to the Creoles proved decisive. Consequently, the Creoles were ready to give all in defense of the King. Besides the Tupamarists were militarily disadvantaged. They did not have the prerequisite expertise of the Creoles who could use modern firearms. A section of Creole army that was part of the Tupamarist group was in fact reported to flee way during the battle. This lack of unity ultimately proved decisive in the contest. Some of the captured prisoners by Tupac launched a counter-rebellion against him.

The lack of full support from some of the indigenous groups led to a situation where the Tupamarists rebel group was short of the workforce. For instance, even in his home province the Coporaque and Sicuari never joined the rebel force. Besides, also the noble Inca never joined the rebel groups. For example, Mateo Pumacahau and Pedro Apu Sahuaraura led some of the Indian groups in fighting the Tupac Amaru rebel group. There was also the arrival of the Indian groups from the provinces of Paruro who were against the rebel group. It is clear that the lack of full support by all social groups to the rebels proved vital in the fall of the rebel groups. It is also worth noting the swift response and the military superiority of the royalist army ensured that nothing significant could emanate from the rebellions.

Creole Tupamaristas

Reason for Failure

The execution of Corregidor Bodega sent a wave of social upheaval in the Charcas territories. Both the Creoles and the Mestizos knew that they were the next in line to be attacked by the Indian rebels. Some of them resorted to settling old scores with their bosses while other migrated to the region of Oruro. In 1781 a Basque, Urrutia was named as the official leader of the region in place Rodriguez. This caused a rift between the Peninsular and the Creoles. The Peninsular and the Creoles had periods where they differed in their ideas. The peninsular believed that Creoles were closer to the Indian ilk than they were to them. Consequently a rebellion movement different in stature to that of the Tupamarists began, with the Creoles attacking the Peninsulars. While at it, the Oruru people feared of an attack by the insurgent forces. However contrary to expectations the Oruru people began attacking the Peninsular. The rebellion was in no way related to Rodriguez, however, due to the anonymous nature of the Oruru people it is difficult determining whether the Rodriguez played a role in the movement. The Indians who believed there was more to revolution later joined them; a revolution had to entail the reclamation of land. Although the vision of the Tupamarists seemed to have materialized, disunity caused the failure of the movement. Barely a week after the victory over the Peninsular, one Sebastian Padagor killed one of the native Indians. Rodriguez was unable to control the native Indians, as they went on to kill Padagor. The Creoles had enough of the natives and urged them to go back to their regions, who were reluctant to go to their areas of residence. However, the natives were reluctant to go back as they felt the land was under the ownership of the Tupamarists and thus no need to go back. Rodriguez and fellow creoles had to rely on the help of loyal natives Indians to chase away the new natives. The Oruru rebellion failed in its cause because of lack of loyalty and unity between Creoles and the natives. Besides the lack of integration between natives and fellow natives also contributed to the fall of the movement. The Creoles later resorted to the Royalist army to restore social order in the region, which was the final blow to the rebel groups.

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Siege of the Chuquisaca

Reason for Failure

After the death of the Tomas Atari, the natives seemed to be agitated more in their fight against the colonial rules; however, just like in the previous cases, their efforts were only short lived. Led by Damaso and Nicolas Atari the rebel group was revitalized into a political movement. They were able to siege Chiquisaca; however, their efforts were to be short-lived as the Spanish authorities later crushed them. Again similar to both cases their indecisiveness, internal division and military inferiority meant they were unable to defeat the colonialists.


In conclusion, we see from the Tupamarists rebel groups, the battle of La Paz, Oruru rebellion and Katari’s led rebellion groups although these groups were military inferior to the Spanish army, what ultimately contributed to their failure was the lack of unity between the two groups. Whenever they joined hand like in the case of Oruru rebellion, they emerged victoriously. However, when they were divided the Colonialists defeated them. In all the rebel groups, the idea was there, however getting collective responsibility towards the course was what was difficult.


Serulnikov, Sergio. Revolution in the Andes: The Age of Túpac Amaru. Duke University Press, 2013.

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