History of Bolivia: the Spanish conquestHistory of Bolivia: the Spanish conquest

History of Bolivia: the Spanish conquest

In 1534, Fransisco Pizarro arrives in Cusco. Afraid by rumors and predictions that were swirling, Atahualpa murders the legitimate emperor, debilitating psychologically the authority and hierarchy of the Inca Empire.

With its 137 men, Pizarro takes the power of the empire, makes prisoner and executes Atahualpa and seizes Inca lands and richness. A period of massacres and massive slavery of locale population follows.

Eight millions of people have died of cold, have starved to death, of diseases coming from Europe (smallpox, typhus, etc.) and of forced labor, especially in Potosi’s mines.

Indeed, in 1544, Diego Huallpa finds a silver vein in the region; this discovery leads soon to a gold rush (or rather a silver rush), and Potosi becomes the biggest city of the continent.

During almost two centuries, the exploitation of silver mines has been interrupted, the richness extracted travelled to the Old Continent, maintaining the Spain’s war efforts with other European countries as well as the outrageous and luxurious life of the Spanish monarchy.

Meanwhile, thousands of African or Indian slaves were dying in the mines, of accident or tiredness, during the process or silver purification with mercury, etc. Spanish colonists appropriated all the lands, using local population to work in and giving them only the strict minimum to guaranty their survival.

Alternatively to the military and colonial exploitation, the arrival of Christian missionaries ends with the decapitation of the Inca order and culture. Priests’ tyranny tightens the claws on the Indians’ life who must pray the Mass, who cannot celebrate nothing without the priest’s authorization, and who are constantly supervised in order to keep good habits, order and morality. As a result, an intensive brainwashing starts on a population already exhausted and asphyxiated by the colonists’ exploitation.

The social disorganization goes together with a loss of identity, of believes and of coherence on outlook life.

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