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This is the first article by the writer César Miró about efforts to create an official image of Túpac Amaru II, the indigenous hero of Peruvian independence, to be used as an icon during the first phase of the self-styled Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas Peruanas (1968–75). After mentioning other attempts to produce a symbol devoid of human associations (such as the Monumento a la Expedición Libertadora in the Bahía de Paracas), the author discusses the invitations from several national competitions to create an imaginary portrait of the heroic figure and a monument that expresses what he did. Miró does not approve of the iconic drawing done by Jesús Ruiz Durand for the widely distributed posters designed for the agrarian reform. He refers sarcastically to the debates about depicting the hero “with or without” a hat. He restates the superiority of “an aesthetic conception,” as long as it does not clash with the architecture of the plaza in Cuzco.    


Despite his agreement with the cultural left wing on certain matters, the Peruvian writer César Miró (1907–99) came from a long line of intellectuals associated with El Comercio, the most traditional and influential newspaper in the country. His involvement in the discussions about the image of Túpac Amaru II is a clear example of the attention the subject attracted at all social levels. There is a sequel to this document [see in the ICAA digital archive by César Miró “Túpac Amaru: El desconcierto y la regla de oro” (doc. no. 1141981)].


José Gabriel Condorcanqui, Túpac Amaru II (1738–81), was an Inca chieftain who, in 1780, led the rebellion of the Andean people against the Spanish Empire. After languishing in the relative obscurity of traditional Peruvian historiography, his image was appropriated by the self-styled Gobierno Revolucionario de las Fuerzas Armadas during its first phase (1968–75), a time when the government was creating pioneering social reforms and exploring the use of icons as symbolic expressions of the regime and its aims. Peruvian artists and designers, such as Jesús Ruiz Durand (b. 1940), created the image of Túpac Amaru II “wearing a hat” that became an icon and reflected the political application of the visual arts. Invitations were issued for the first official design competition, organized in 1970 by the Comisión Nacional del Sesquicentenario de la Independencia, for a sculpture of the national hero to be installed in the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, where he was executed. It was one of the most controversial and eventful competitions of the 1970s. 


[As complementary reading about Túpac Amaru II, see the following articles in the archive: by General EP Felipe de la Barra “¿Cómo fue Túpac Amaru?” (doc. no. 865441); (unattributed) “Convocan a concurso: monumento a Túpac Amaru se levantará en el Cuzco” (doc. no. 1053438); (unattributed) “Convocan a concurso de pintura para perpetuar la imagen plástica del mártir José Gabriel Condorcanqui” (doc. no. 865422); by Alfredo Arrisueño Cornejo “Declaran desierto el Concurso de Pintura ‘Túpac Amaru II’” (doc. no. 865498); (unattributed) “En busca de la imagen arquetípica de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 865702); by Daniel Valcárcel “El retrato de Túpac Amaru” (doc. no. 1052165); and by A. O. Z. “Túpac Amaru: ¿verdadero retrato?” (doc. no. 865460)].

Daniel Contreras Medina, Gustavo Buntinx
Museo de Arte de Lima, Lima, Peru
Courtesy of Cesar David Miro-Quesada, Estate of Cesar Alfredo Miro-Quesada Bahamonde