Castillo Terrones’ black-legendary rhapsody

Iván Vélez

All of Peru’s ills are due, according to Don Pedro’s inward-looking vision, to the three centuries of domination by the Spanish crown.

Under the brim of his hat – Chotano, to be precise – so often concealed, a tear, indigenist, – Pedro Castillo Terrones – could not contain”… during his inaugural speech as President of Peru, which was witnessed by the nation’s congressmen, as well as the presidents of the republics of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and, we quote: His Highness the king of Spain.

On the occasion of two centuries since the crystallisation of the Peruvian political nation, Castillo took the opportunity to salute the descendants, all of them, it seems, brothers and sisters, of the original peoples of pre-Hispanic Peru, but also Afro-Peruvians and the “different communities of migrant descendants, as well as all the dispossessed minorities of the countryside and the city”. Assuming the voice of all of them, the new president launched, in a balanced Quechua-Spanish bilingualism: “We continue to exist!”

The affirmation gave way to a vindication of the “five thousand years of transcendental civilisations and cultures” settled in the republic he has just begun to preside, heir, according to Castillo, to the Wari state and, later, to the mythical Tawantinsuyo, a transition carried out peacefully, in dialogue, in harmony with Nature and with providence always in favour of the work. Thus, according to the particular vision of the victorious candidate of Perú Libre, life in those lands was so Arcadian until the arrival of “the men of Castile, who with the help of multiple felipillos and taking advantage of a moment of chaos and disunity, managed to conquer the state that until then had dominated a large part of the central Andes”. Without adhering to the principle of non-contradiction, Castillo affirmed one thing and the opposite, because if such transcendental and original cultures had managed to establish such a perfect state: how can we explain the existence of multiple “felipillos”, that is, of interpreters who collaborated with the men of Castile, and of a state of chaos that facilitated the success of the bearded men?

The black-legendary rhapsody, however, continued before the beards of the king of Spain. After sketching such a bucolic picture, to which, however, some worrying cracks were already visible half a millennium ago, Castillo attributed to the viceregal period, which he mixed with the colonial period, the establishment of castes and differences that persist to the present day, since the two hundred years of Peruvian political independence have not been able, an achievement he now seeks to achieve, to provide a solution. In short, all of Peru’s ills are due, according to Don Pedro’s entrenched vision, to the three centuries of domination by the Spanish crown, a time dedicated to the pure extraction of minerals, at the cost of the exploitation of the ancestors of today’s Peruvians, a formula that Errejón’s mentor, José Luis Villacañas, condensed years ago into the simplistic slogan, “gold and slaves”, which obviates the reality that the mita, that is, the compulsory work to extract ore, was an institution established in those mining lands long before the arrival of the Spaniards, and that slavery was nothing new introduced by Pizarro, the man whose house Castillo Terrones refuses to visit.

In a speech as predictable as Castillo’s, there was bound to be an allusion to the revolt led by Tupac Amaru, whom the president, in keeping with the times, had his wife, Micaela Bastidas, accompany him. As the president himself pointed out, the repression of that episode of rebellion put an end to the Andean elites, thus recognising inequalities that do not sit well with his egalitarian yearning. In fact, the mythologised Tupac Amaru, far from being a popular representative, was actually called José Gabriel Condorcanqui and was educated at the Colegio San Francisco de Borja or Colegio de Caciques del Cuzco, run by the Society of Jesus. These contradictions, which Pedro Castillo Terrones will undoubtedly know how to deal with without losing his distinctive hat.


This post was translated from:

Vélez, I. (2021) ‘La rapsodia negrolegendaria de Castillo Terrones’, Libertad Digital, Madrid, 29 July. Available at: (Accessed: 29 July 2021).

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1511 Royal decree of Fernando, the Catholic King, creating the Audiencia (Court) of Santo Domingo, the first in the New World.
1550 Pedro de Valdivia founds the town of Concepción del Nuevo Extremo (Chile) in the viceroyalty of Peru.
1581 Spaniard Gonzalo Ronquillo founds the town of Iloilo (Philippines).
1582 The Gregorian calendar was introduced in Spain, replacing the Julian calendar. As a result, the days between 5 and 14 October 1582 never existed!
1713 Denis Diderot, French encyclopaedist, is born.
1762 The British take Manila in the Pacific War against Spain.
1827 Capitulation of the Malcontents thanks to the action of the Count of Spain. On 7 November, the ringleaders Rafi Vidal and Olivas are shot.
1864 Louis Lumiére, one of the fathers of the cinematograph, is born.
1889 The town of Iloilo (Philippines) obtains the title of city, granted by Queen Mª Cristina de Habsburg.

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