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Waiting for Inkarri

In 1781, the last Incan rebel was captured by the Spaniards and beheaded in the central plaza of Cusco, Peru, in front of his family, followers and enemies.

More than 200 years later, the deeds of that rebel have once again become a rallying cry for people in Peru.

USF History professor Ward Stavig spoke Thursday about rebel Tupac Amaru’s rebellion and the religious impact he has had on the Andeans in Peru.

Spaniards forced hard labor on the Incas and made them pay high taxes. Stavig said Amaru led the rebellion to gain “justice and a better way of life” for the Incas.

“The carnage from the rebellion was tremendous,” Stavig said. “At least 100,000 people died.”

When Amaru was captured, the Spaniards brought his youngest son to watch his execution. Amaru’s arms and legs were tied individually to four horses and his body was supposed to be torn to pieces when the horses ran. However, Stavig said the horses were not strong enough, so he was beheaded.

And after he was killed, the Spaniards brutally murdered his wife.

Still today, some Peruvians resort to violence in response to government treatment. Instead of a rebellion like in the 18th century, it is now terrorism, Stavin said.

In 1983, student radicals with a Marxist ideology created the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in an attempt to overthrow the Peruvian government. According to a Web site that researches terrorism, the MRTA’s goal is to eliminate the government through “armed propaganda” such as bombing raids. The group is infamous in the United States for having the most anti-American attacks of any group operating in Latin America.

The combination of the Christian and Andean beliefs created a myth of the rebirth of an Incan society, referred to as the Inkarri.

“Some Andeans believe that the buried head (of Amaru) can grow a new body,” Stavig said. “When this happens, the Inca will return and he will turn the world right-side up.”

The Andeans think that when the Inkarri does happen, the reborn Inca will bring harmony and social justice with it. Stavig said that the current economic status in Peru is “bad and continues to get worse.” Having the belief in the Inkarri, brings hope to some of the Andeans.