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    La conspiración contra Túpac Amaru
    Expreso (Lima, Perú). -- Sept. 16, 1970
    Newspaper article – Essays
    Expreso (Lima, Perú). "La conspiración contra Túpac Amaru." September 16, 1970.

This is an anonymous editorial published in the newspaper Expreso that describes the mistrust of the conservative sectors as a “conspiracy” against the revolutionary government (Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas) of Peru. The matter that was causing their mistrust was the official glorification and idolization of José Gabriel Condorcanqui (Túpac Amaru II) as the indigenous forefather of the independence of Peru, a claim established in the speech by General Juan Velasco Alvarado in 1969 announcing the inception of the agrarian reform in a country where the indigenous population was predominant. This gave rise to the iconic reproduction of his streamlined face in countless publications and posters for mass distribution. The editorial highlighted how “the people spontaneously sketched or drew his face with chalk and crayons on avenue walls, factory and school walls, and even on the union building walls.” Also noted is the official summons through national artistic competitions for the selection of the artist who would create the hero’s imaginary portrait and for a monument evoking his feats.


The significance of the editorial was that it explicitly confirmed the political disputes in Peru due to the controversy surrounding the selection of a symbolic image of Tupac Amaru II. The appropriate representation was vigorously debated between August and November of 1970 since there were no surviving portraits of the period. Discussed was whether the hero wore a hat or not; an iconic image that was used for the agrarian reform propaganda and other initiatives by the military government. The military regime responded to the economically powerful sectors and their opposing and hostile views by way of the expropriated press, primarily the newspapers Expreso and Extra.

Túpac Amaru II was a curaca or chief of Incan descent who, in 1780, led the most important Andean uprising against the Spanish Empire. Largely ignored by traditional Spanish American historiography, his figure was the emblem of the so-called Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas initially headed by General Velasco Alvarado, whose nationalism was characterized by social reform and by an interest in symbolic representation.

[For further reading, please refer to the ICAA digital archive for the following texts on Túpac Amaru II: “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” by General EP Felipe de la Barra (doc. no. 865441); “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (without author) (doc. no. 1053438); “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (without author) (doc. no. 865422); “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo (doc. no. 865498); “En busca de la imagen arquetípica de Túpac Amaru” (without author) (doc. no. 865702); “El retrato de Túpac Amaru” by Daniel Valcárcel (doc. no. 1052165); and “Túpac Amaru: ¿verdadero retrato?” by A. O. Z. (doc. no. 865460)].

Daniel Contreras Medina, Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru