Pedro Castillo has revived the old hatred of Spain in his inaugural speech as Peru’s new president by blaming “the men of Castile” for all the ills suffered by the Andean country, in contrast to the aboriginal cultures, whom he exalted for having lived in “harmony with the rich nature” until the arrival of the conquistadors.
“In our lands flourished important and extensive states such as the Wari and, later, the Tahuantinsuyo. For four and a half millennia, our ancestors found ways to solve their problems and to live in harmony with the rich nature that providence offered them. It was like this until the men of Castile arrived, 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 dominated a large part of the central Andes“, he said at the start of his message to the nation.
Along these lines, Castillo announced that he will not exercise his function from the Government Palace, the seat of the Executive Branch – which is also known as the House of Pizarro because it is located on the same site once occupied by the conquistador from Trujillo – and where the Palace of the Viceroys was built during the almost three hundred years in which Peru was united to the Crown of Castile.
“I will not govern from the House of Pizarro, because we have to break with the colonial symbols, to put an end to the ties of domination that have been maintained for so many years”, he said.
The new pawn of the Sao Paulo Forum pointed out that the Government Palace will be given to the Ministry of Culture, renamed the “Ministry of Cultures” – supposedly in recognition of Peruvian cultural diversity – to be used as a museum.
“We will cede this palace to the new Ministry of Cultures so that it can be used as a museum to show our history from its origins to the present day” he said.
For Víctor Samuel Rivera, PhD in philosophy from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM) and member of the Peruvian Society of Philosophy, Castillo’s refusal to occupy the historic seat of the Executive, on the grounds that it is a “colonial symbol”, is due to a lack of detailed and technical knowledge of Peruvian history, because before it became Pizarro’s house and the abode of viceroys and presidents, the same place was the residence of the curaca of the Rimac River valley, one of the most prominent indigenous leaders in establishing alliances with the Spanish.
“The new president has said he does not want to live on the site once occupied by the Royal Palace of Lima on the grounds that it has colonial origins, a symbol he wants to get rid of or break away from. The truth is that where the Palace of Government of Peru, the seat of the Executive for two centuries, is located today, was also the residence of the curaca of Lima, Taulichusco, who received the conquistadors with hospitality and formed a tactical alliance with them. With his speech, Mr. Castillo shows that he does not have a thorough and technical knowledge of Peru and its history”, he says.
According to Rivera, Castillo repeats the discourse of the “Andean left wing” – which includes Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador – anchored in a fanciful and idyllic vindication of the pre-Hispanic past, a narrative that does not stand up to any historical analysis.
“The discourse of the Andean left, which is replicated in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, has from its origin been anchored in a vindication of the pre-Hispanic past. It is a discourse that we would now call identitarian, which claims that the typical demands of the left, no matter what they are, whether they are labour, trade union or sexual, are rooted in a past in which they supposedly had plenitude, a plenitude that would have been interrupted by the incorporation of this part of the world into the Crown of Castile and Christianity. This whole narrative is completely fanciful, it has neither head nor tail, but it must be remembered that ideologies, particularly utopian ones, have to make what Benedict Anderson called the collective imaginary. Someone who belongs to this current of imagined futures is former president Sagasti, who had an NGO called Agenda Perú that dealt with imagined futures. For Sagasti, something imagined, taking this term from Anderson, also means something desired, which does not exist now, but with the proviso that what does not exist now could have existed before. Indigenist thought projects itself into the future by wishing for something that is attributed to the past, but that something is fanciful. Everything we know about the pre-Hispanic world we know through what was written by priests contemporary to the conquest and the establishment of the viceroyalty who tried to save this memory that was transmitted orally because these cultures did not have writing. We know more about them from archaeology than from history. This idea that there was an idyllic pre-Hispanic past as presented by Mr Castillo in his speech, who spoke of four and a half millennia of living in harmony with nature before the arrival of ‘the men of Castile’, does not stand up to any historical analysis. Anyone who has a sincere knowledge of Peruvian history, even in school, should know that this is false. In Peru, there was a great diversity of nations, in the traditional sense of the word nation, which developed in different areas of the territory, which were in rivalry with each other when they were contemporaries, as happened with the Chimu in the north and the Quechua in the south until the latter overcame them militarily and defeated them. One thing Castillo omitted, and which anyone should know, is that the Spanish occupation of the territory now belonging to Peru was with the active collaboration of the locals, dissatisfied with the Inca empire. It is impossible for a hundred Spaniards to have defeated numerous armies and dominated millions over an immense territory without the collaboration of the rival cultures that allied with them”, he explains.
For his part, historian and lecturer Francisco Núñez del Arco Proaño warns that Pedro Castillo’s ethnonationalism and pseudo-indigenism is dangerous for the whole region, as he could count on factions of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), who share his ideology, in a possible confrontation that crosses Peru’s borders to the north.
“Pedro Castillo is an ethnonationalist and ultra-indigenist, although it would be better to call him a pseudo-indigenist, with millenarian and Mariateguist touches, like all his close circle. His ideology proposes the restoration of an idyllic, so-called socialist Tahuantinsuyo, which does not exist in history. Like [Rafael] Correa, he is using the progressive left to consolidate his power. That is to say, his plans and interests, because they are ethnonationalist, Mariateguist and socialist, do not only include Peru but the whole ‘Andean world’, and fit perfectly with the doctrine of broad sectors of the Peruvian army reservists, sympathetic to Antauro Humala. In his inaugural speech, he announced compulsory military service. It is not unreasonable to suppose that when times become difficult because of the socialist measures he is announcing, any pretext will be good to announce a casus belli or take advantage of a diplomatic crisis with Ecuador, as Peruvian rulers in trouble have always done, in need of an escape from internal pressure, redirecting discontent abroad. But this time it will be different because it has Ecuadorian ideological allies, among others in important factions of CONAIE [Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador], today with a president of the same ideological line”, he explains.
According to Núñez del Arco, Mariateguismo – a term used to define the thinking of the Peruvian Marxist philosopher José Carlos Mariátegui, who proposed a communism based on Andean ancestral thought – is the ideology shared by Castillo, Evo Morales and the Ecuadorian indigenists who seek to dynamite the decadent liberal republics of the Andean region to transform them into plurinational states, using an anti-Spanish narrative, which is also shared by the local right-wingers since the wars of independence, and which has allowed this hatred of the Spanish to be exacerbated more easily, as it is even found in history books.
“Castillo’s ethnocentric discourse could have serious consequences for the entire region, as his intention is to further break up the continent. In Ecuador, the 2008 Constitution recognises more than fifty indigenous nationalities, which has led to radical indigenism, because they are untouchable. The laws favour them in such a way that the radicalised groups that ended up setting fire to Quito in 2019 were not prosecuted and none went to jail for the sabotage, criminal defence and terrorist acts they committed. Almost all South American countries are under siege by these radicalised left-wing groups, but their actions in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia are even more dangerous, as they could lead to ethnic conflict“, he warns.
According to the historian from Quito, one of the main purposes of these groups is to hide or ignore the collaboration and recognition that existed between Spaniards and indigenous peoples since the conquest and the establishment of the Hispanic Monarchy in America, a symbol of unity between the two worlds, encouraging hatred of the West.
“It is very easy for these groups to attribute the mistakes and misfortunes of our countries to Spain. Moreover, it is beneficial for them. We have over two centuries of republic, and when we should take responsibility for our state in the present, this facile narrative continues to look for culprits for the failure of our political, social and economic projects three or four centuries ago. This narrative was initiated by the separatist Creoles during the wars of independence, and the left took up the baton in the last century. Historically, the Spanish American kingdoms were an integral part of the political unity of the Hispanic monarchy, and the Laws of the Indies recognised the parity of the European and Indian kingdoms. The Indians were recognised in a body of law which was followed. Spain recognised the political representation of the aborigines through their own cabildos and respected the indigenous curacazgos, full feudal lordships in America, in the kingdoms of Peru, Quito and Charcas [current republics of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia]. In Peru, this is evidenced by the presence of a very strong and important indigenous nobility that ended up allying with and recognising the dignity of the Spanish monarchy, mixing with the Spanish nobility by blood. Castillo and his allies omit that the Inca nobility of Cuzco were royalists, and armed themselves to defend the cause of the king against the Creole subversion, defending their privileges and the position they held thanks to Spain. Peru was the core of the Spanish empire in South America, and it was not only the noble Indians who fought for the king; Brigadier Antonio Huachaca, a peasant, led the fight for the royalist cause even after independence”, he adds.
For the author of the book “Quito fue España: historia del realismo criollo”, it is necessary to coordinate an effort throughout the Iberosphere to counter the advance of radical and atomising indigenism, especially from Spain, since the Spanish left has served as political advisor to the Bolivarian communists. “It is necessary to coordinate an international front throughout the Iberosphere to stop Bolivarian communism and the separatists. There is an important battle in the political arena, but also in the cultural arena, to firmly counter the subversion. José Ortega y Gasset said that separatism began in America and would end in Spain, referring to the Basque Country and Catalonia. The advice that Vox could give to groups resisting leftist and indigenist subversion in Latin America is a decision that should be urgently evaluated. In the drafting of the constitutions promoted by the Latin American left, there has always been the help of the Spanish left. The constitutions of Venezuela and Ecuador are made with the political advice of the Spanish extreme left. The meeting of Monedero (Podemos) with the vice-president of Castillo, is evidence of his interest in the new leftist government that has taken over Peru. The humiliation suffered by King Felipe VI during Pedro Castillo’s speech could be explained by this approach. A complete nonsense of the socialist government of Pedro Sánchez, knowing what kind of character Castillo is, to send the king to the inauguration. It was a serious mistake for King Juan Carlos I to give up one of the last pre-eminences that the Crown had to organise its own agenda, handing it over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a humiliation for Spain that the socialist government of Pedro Sánchez has allowed King Felipe VI to attend a ceremony, running the risk of being insulted by a radical indigenist like Pedro Castillo, damaging not only the prestige of Spain’s history, but the present“, he concludes.