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Jose Antonio de Areche

Jose Antonio de Areche (died 1788) was a Spanish colonial official in Peru (1777-87). He was responsible for the brutal execution of Inca rebel Tupac Amaru II, his family and coconspirators.


Before his arrival in Peru, Jose Antonio de Areche was fiscal (prosecutor) before the Audiencia of Mexico. He was a follower of Jose de Galvez, and adopted Galvez's policy of reformismo duro . In New Spain he worked for the suppression of the guilds. Viceroy Antonio Maria de Bucareli y Ursua signed some measures against them.

Jose de Galvez became Spanish minister of the Indies in 1776, and the following year he ordered Areche to Peru as royal visitador (inspector). This was the same sort of post that Galvez himself had exercised a decade earlier in New Spain.

As visitador in Peru

In June 1777, Areche arrived in Lima. As a direct representative of the king, he believed he outranked the highest colonial officials of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the newly created Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. His mission was to increase the revenues of the colony, investigate the honesty and competence of colonial officials and the general state of the colony, and institute legal proceedings and administrative reforms as he deemed necessary.

He increased the alcabala (sales tax) from 4 to 6%. The economy of the colony was bad, in part because of the separation of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata from Peru in 1776 and the imposition of free trade in 1778. The tax increase were intended to increase government revenues during an economic downturn, but they were viewed as oppressive by the poor, by the merchants, and particularly by the Indigenous. For the first year after their implementation, government revenues rose. (They had been falling for a long time.) Then the reaction began.

Areche's authoritarian personality and contempt for Criollos in public service made him unpopular. Viceroy Manuel de Guirior refused to give up total authority. Areche brought charges against him, leading to his dismissal in July 1780. Guirior was replaced as viceroy by Agustin de Jauregui. He was eventually acquitted of the charges, but only after his death in 1788.

The revolt of Tupac Amaru II

In 1780 the new viceroy and the visitador were confronted with a series of rebellions involving not only the Indigenous, but also Mestizos and Criollos. The most serious of these was lead by Tupac Amaru II (Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui). He was a direct descendant of the earlier Tupac Amaru, the last Inca (Emperor) of Vilcabamba, who had been beheaded on the orders of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572. Tupac Amaru II was cacique of Tungasuca, Surimana and Pampamarca, and enjoyed properties, businesses and prestige in the region of Cusco. He was 40 years old when he led the rebellion, tired of the abuses of the corregidores and merchants and of the reforms of Areche .

Tupac Amaru had been organizing a conspiracy since 1778. The revolt began on November 4, 1780 near Cusco. On that date, he captured and condemned to the gallows the corregidor of Tinta, Antonio de Arriaga. The same day he spoke to thousands of followers at Tungasuca, announcing the abolition of mita (forced labor), obraje (another form of forced labor) [*], black slavery, the sales tax and the corregidors.

Tupac Amaru tried to enter into negotiations with the Spanish, asking for moderate reforms, but Areche refused. General Jose del Valle left Cusco with an army of 17,116 men. Tupac Amaru was betrayed and captured. He had raised 60,000 men in revolt.

The sentencing and execution of Tupac Amaru II

Tupac Amaru and he was arrested and tried in 1781. Areche was in charge of the trial and sentencing, and he ordered a particularly brutal execution. Tupac Amaru was sentenced to witness the execution of his wife, Micaela Bastidas Puyucahua, his eldest son Hipolito, his uncle Francisco, his brother-in-law Antonio Bastidas, and some of his captains before his own death, and then to be torn apart by four horses. The sentence was carried out on May 18, 1781, in the main plaza in Cusco, the same place his great-grandfather had been beheaded.

When the revolt continued, the Spaniards executed the remainder of his family, except his 11-year-old son Fernando, who had been condemned to die with him, but was instead imprisoned in Spain for the rest of his life. It is not known if any members of the Inca royal family survived this final purge. Other rebels were brutally tortured and killed between 1781 and 1783.

In delivering his judgment, Areche also ordered the following:

The Indigenous were prohibited from wearing traditional clothes, and such clothes were ordered confiscated

All paintings of the Incas (emperors) in public or private places, including homes, were ordered to be destroyed

Plays or other public functions commemorating the Incas were prohibited, and the Spanish officials were required to make official reports on the progress of this suppression

Traditional trumpets or bugles (made from seashells) were banned, on the grounds that their mournful music was a form of mourning for deceased ancestors and former times

No one was allowed to call himself Inca (meaning the emperor or royal family rather than the nationality)

Schools were ordered established to teach Castilian to the Indians, and the Indians were ordered to attend

The manufacture of cannons was prohibited, with a penalty of 10 years imprisonment in Africa, and (for commoners) 200 lashes

In April of 1782, Spanish King Charles III, at the urging of the Visitador Areche, ordered viceregal officials in Peru and Argentina to seize as many copies of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's Comentarios Reales de los Incas as they could find. First published in 1609, the Comentarios was thought to contain a prophecy in support of the uprising of Tupac Amaru II.

Areche continued as visitador until 1787.

External links

In New Spain

The revolt of Tupac Amaru

The revolt of Tupac Amaru

Economic causes of the revolt

Areche's decision and sentencing of Tupac Amaru

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Jose Antonio de Areche

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