IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > H. Latin America, 1500–1800 > 8. The Spanish Colonial System, 1550–1800 > f. Insurrections
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
f. Insurrections
During the 18th century, social groups and regions affected by the redefinition of colonial exactions on their labor force and resources, and by centralization under the Bourbon reforms, organized insurrectionary movements to resist or modify the terms of colonial control. In most cases these movements legitimized themselves as defending the traditional colonial system against the reforms; elsewhere, as in Paraguay, the renewal of old grievances fueled rebellion against Spanish authorities. Total confrontation with the colonial system, as in the cases of Chiapas and central Peru, was a rare occurrence. Class alliances were fragile, and this contributed to the failure of these movements to break the hold of the colonial state.  1
1712, June–Nov. Maya Rebellion in Chiapas
Maya villagers faced increased fiscal and labor demands and forced sales, and their authorities lost ground to Spanish officials and curates in the struggle over control of villages and religious brotherhoods. In the village of Cancuc, María de la Candelaria, a young Maya woman, claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary, prompting a circle of notable Maya to organize a shrine to worship the Virgin. Maya pilgrims converged on the new sacred place, but curates disputed the authenticity of the miracle and labeled it idolatrous. Confrontation escalated and Maya from 21 towns gathered at Cancuc to pay allegiance to the Virgin Mary, openly renounced God and the king, and took up arms. They captured the village church, killed friars, plundered mestizo and Spanish estates, and massacred white and mestizo children in Ocosingo. Rebel leader Sebastián Gómez de la Gloria ordained priests and organized an independent religion of the Virgin Mary. Ethnic solidarity crumbled when Maya allies disputed concentration of power in the Cancuc leadership. Spanish authorities sent an army from Guatemala City and subdued the rebels. Almost 100 rebels were sentenced to death and many suffered physical punishment, forced labor, and exile. In the aftermath of the rebellion, measures limiting the labor draft and Indian services were adopted.  2
The Comuneros of Paraguay. Colonists in Paraguay resented the Jesuit missions where Indians could avoid the colonists' labor demands. Dissatisfied with Governor Diego de los Reyes y Balmaceda's pro-Jesuit policy, the local elite sought his dismissal. The Audiencia of Charcas sent José de Antequera y Castro to make inquiries in Asunción. Antequera made himself governor of Paraguay and, with the support of the colonists, expelled Governor Reyes and later the Jesuits. The viceroy of Peru, Marqués de Castellfuerte, ordered military action against the colonists, forcing them to readmit the Jesuits. Antequera left for Lima, where he tried to defend himself against charges of treason. In Asunción, Fernando Mompó de Zayas proclaimed the right of the people to elect their own representatives. His propaganda attracted poor colonists, traditionally excluded from political life in the city, who called themselves comuneros and elected a Junta Gubernativa to run the province. Antequera was executed in Lima. A new governor, Manuel Agustín Ruyloba, arrived and tried to eject comuneros from the city and its institutions, but he was assassinated when comuneros marched on Asunción to expel the Jesuits once again. Comuneros dominated the countryside, occupying estates and confiscating wealthy landowners' properties. As a result, the upper classes felt increasingly alienated from the movement. The viceroy of Peru ordered the governor of Buenos Aires to invade Paraguay and squelch the insurrection. Asunción landowners joined the occupying forces and defeated the rebels. Three comunero leaders were executed, while others suffered exile, physical punishment, and prison.  3
Juan Santos Atahualpa, who proclaimed himself descendant of the Incas, led tropical lowland communities opposed to the presence of Franciscan missions as well as some Indian and mestizo peasants from the highlands in a campaign to oust colonists and friars from the eastern lowlands of central Peru. Several viceroys sent military expeditions in 1742, 1743, 1746, and 1759, and all failed against the guerrilla force organized by the rebels. The Spaniards established a system of forts to prevent an expansion of the movement into the highlands, which could have jeopardized mining production. In the neighboring districts, Indians were exempted from the mita (forced labor) in order to remove a grievance that could generate support for the jungle rebels. The rebels attempted to set up a permanent base in the highlands in 1752 but failed on account of weak local backing. Juan Santos Atahualpa kept control of the lowland area, however, and was never captured.  4
The Great Rebellion of Túpac Amaru and the Kataris. New fiscal and commercial policies created broad sources of tension in the viceroyalty of Peru. Peasants felt particularly aggrieved by forced sales of goods (repartimiento de mercancías). José Gabriel Condorcanqui, kuraka of Tinta, Surinama, and Tungasuca, took the name Túpac Amaru II and led a rebellion against the abusive administration of certain local authorities. He ordered the execution of Corregidor Antonio de Arriaga in Nov. 1780. The revolt initially earned some support from the creole upper class in Cusco, who resented the recent policies, but the rank and file of the rebel army were Indian peasants who attacked landed property without regard to the owners' birthplaces. Creole sympathy, already limited, quickly evaporated. Túpac Amaru attempted to march against Cusco, whose defense was organized by local militias and Indian regiments led by kurakas loyal to the crown. A civil war broke out in the Indian ranks between loyalists and rebels. Túpac Amaru, his wife, Micaela Bastidas, and his family were imprisoned after his defeat at the hands of loyalist kuraka Mateo Pumacahua. Diego Cristóbal and Mariano Túpac Amaru took over as leaders of the rebellion, while Túpac Amaru and his family were executed in Cusco. In Chayanta, kuraka Tomás Katari denounced those who usurped his position and led a movement to reduce tributes. Local Spanish authorities imprisoned him, and when an Indian multitude attempted his rescue, his captors killed him, unleashing a full-scale rebellion. During the same period, a nonnoble Aymara Indian, Julián Apaza, taking the name Túpac Katari, gathered an Indian army to lay siege to La Paz, which was temporarily broken by royal troops. Andrés Túpac Amaru joined Túpac Katari in a renewed siege of La Paz, but promises of amnesty and internal dissension gradually dispersed their followers. Local elites, wary of the rebels' anti-creole sentiment, supported the repressive forces. The joint efforts of the colonial army, loyal kurakas, and creoles managed to crush the uprising. Rebel leaders were imprisoned and executed, and the properties of rebel kurakas were confiscated. These measures ruined the Indian nobility and severely reduced their hold on the Indian population, favoring Indian authorities directly named by the colonial state.  5
Comuneros of Nueva Granada. The reorganization of state monopolies for rum, anisette, and tobacco to increase royal revenues adversely affected farmers in Socorro, a town of predominantly white and mestizo cultivators. Under the leadership of two creoles, Juan Francisco de Berbeo and José Antonio Galán, they refused to pay taxes and expelled the Spanish authorities. The rebels marched to Bogotá and negotiated a treaty that rescinded the new fiscal program and gave creoles greater access to office. However, former rebel allies split after the agreement, which redressed the grievances of only one faction. Indians and landless workers wanted either to protect their holdings or to secure access to land, and slaves expected to gain their freedom. José Antonio Galán emerged as a leader of this more radical group, while the creole comunero leadership collaborated with the colonial authorities to capture him and defeat his followers. Galán was executed and many of his followers imprisoned. (See Latin America, 1806–1914)  6
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.