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A purely analytical perception...


 

Peru was a land where many culture flourished over a substantial period of time. While when we think of the country’s origins, it usually brings to mind, the highly industrialized and adaptive Incas, there were obviously many interesting people that inhabited this territory. "Since the 1970’s excavations in Peru have uncovered architectural remnants of several other highly organized societies that existed long before the time of Christ. In fact, many ruins of temples and other monumental structures that have emerged recently from the dry Andean earth are among the oldest in the world – some as ancient as the pyramids of Egypt. These discoveries have revolutionized our view of when and how complex societies developed in the Americas. And they have led scientists to rethink the very nature of civilization itself." () Keep in mind, that the concept here is not the origin of man, it is the beginning of civilized communities that we are concerned with. There is little question that man did not appear in South America until rather late in earth’s chronological cycle.

 

While early theory held that the Incas were only a branch of the Mayan civilization that had originated in Central America, that concept has been disproved by recent scientific evidence and the real story may have been that the situation was exactly the reverse of what we have believed. Societies have been discovered in Peru that date back so far that they challenge the historical logic that civilization began in the Middle East and or Asia. However, the current argument, is what is civilization, is it the origin of man or when he began living within a homogeneous community in which responsibilities were logically assigned or is it something else.

 

The answer is obviously highly subjective and extremely complicated. In the meantime, there still does not seem to be a serious argument against the fact that man wandered into this region using a circuitous route through Siberia and over a land bridge which then existed between that continent and Alaska in about 12,000 B.C. However, man did not arrive in South America until a millennia later. Domestication of animals began in Peru in approximately 5,000 B.C., and by that time numerous varieties of plants were being grown, harvested and stored by a stabile communities that included permanent structures in their makeup. Major Peruvian towns existed on the Pacific Ocean where abundant sea life was available without any particular expertise.

 

Various tasty members of the mollusk family could be gathered up at will without even going in the water at low tide, in literally all of the seasons. Peru’s first really substantive buildings were erected about 2,000 years later and can be found along the coast. Many rose three stories in height. It was during this same period that the production of "cotton fabrics with complicated designs depicting cats, condors, and other animals" () began. As time went on, the people were able to live without the natural resources of the sea and moved inland and farm production became the principal method of food production. At the same time, the manufacture of pottery began in earnest. From that point forward, increasing sophisticated societies evolved which included all of the elements required by the current definition of civilization.

 

What are those elements and why are they import? Among the critical requirements seem to be that the community is located at a place certain, it is not nomadic, the domestication and breeding of animals, the propinquity of a food source, the ability to store surplus production to insure against bad times, the erection of building and the hierarchy of power. Apparently, anarchy was never a successful format in civilized societies. In addition, both the ability to communicate through a written language and the use of wheels have also been important requirements in a search for civilization. We will address those issues later. We think that the attempt to define of "civilization" is nonsensical. Learned people from different disciplines would use varying definitions to describe its occurrence. Obviously many elements are critical, but the seeming importance of creating a city in one particular place in order to be civilized is controversial at best.

 

The Arabs in the Sahara are forced to be nomadic in their search for food, as are the Eskimos and the native tribes in Africa. Were the Indians that inhabited North America any less civilized because they lived in highly portable tepees, which were necessary for their search for food? Hardly. What makes the wheel or even language a critical element for being civilized? Would we call Hitler or Stalin civilized because they had all of the critical elements that have been noted at their disposal? In my opinion they should be considered far more barbaric than just about any culture that we can think of. Simply put, we believe that civilization is the coming together of a number of human being for mutually supportive purposes while acting in the best interests of the greatest number of people in the group. However, we are certainly left with the understanding that the Incas were neither the first civilization in South America, nor were they the longest lasting. They were the ultimate copycats taking a little from each people they conquered and the end result became a highly sophisticated society. However, there is little question that were the last great Native American society.

 

The Incas were a benevolently warlike people that dominated substantial territory primarily in the rugged Andes Mountains of South America. However, you could call the Incas an accident waiting to happen. For centuries they were non-aggressive, but had neighbors that envied pieces of their territory and had no compunctions about invading Inca territory. An envious neighboring tribe was on the verge of subjugating the Incas when an Inca Prince rose to the occasion, rallied his troops and won the battle. From that time forward, the Incas grew aggressive and acquired territory at a rapid clip.

 

At their peak, the Incas controlled territory controlled literally the entire western region of South America, a region whose length would have been approximately equal to the distance from New York City to Panama. () The Incas were great public relations people and as their kingdom expanded ever outward, they created massive fortresses that contained boulders so large that none of their neighbors could even understand how they got there. The most logical explanation they could find was that the Sun God had aided the Incas. The equally logical inference was drawn that the Incas were superior warriors and that perhaps benevolent subjugation was better than a sacrificial death.

 

While we think of the Incas as a people that had some longevity, in reality, their era lasted only about 100-years. In spite of that fact, the Incas subjugated between 10 and 12 million people who spoke different languages and lived in varying climates. Inca leaders were strong believers in the carrot and stick approach to diplomacy. They would offer certain rights to prominent members of the targeted region’s population in exchange for total domination, and if that single offer was not accepted within a reasonable time frame, all hell would break loose. The Incas made it abundantly clear that the offer would not be either negotiable nor extendable, and that the alternative was war, destruction and domination. As all of the Inca’s neighbors were weaker than they, most of these offers were quickly accepted. The Incas’ solid reputation for torture and sacrifice sealed the bargain.

 

Once they joined it, most subjugated peoples never saw much of the rest of the Inca empire. Extensive travel was forbidden and the use of money was not advanced. Inhabitants were obligated to donate a substantial part of their labors to state sponsored enterprises. This could include building roads, making pottery, serving in the army, or growing crops. Like prominent Egyptians, the Inca leaders entombed all of their prized possessions with them when they died, including women, servants, weapons, ornaments and food. These accoutrements of the newly deceased were buried dead or alive, and all ceremonies included placing the deceased in a sitting position. The higher the rank of the deceased, the more possessions kept him company on his trip to the great beyond.

 

Many citizens, generally women, found that they had been branded for a sacrificial death at a young age. When the time came, the sacrificial individual, who had been trained to accept death as a high honor, usually went willingly to the killing altar, where the priests provided wine to deaden their senses, and then strangled them. The Incas believed that young children were the best sacrifice to their Sun God, and only the most physically perfect children from the very best families became Inca chopped liver.

 

After the sacrifice, the families of the now deceased often threw parties that lasted several days to celebrate their sacrifice for the country’s betterment. In addition to the Sun God, there were also Gods who walked the mountains. The Incas believed that they could only expand their territory without reprisals if they maintained harmony with these gods. To placate the mountain gods, the Incas brought young children up into the mountains and left them there to perish.

 

Accomplished builders, the Inca constructed over 16,000 miles roads through treacherous mountain passes and over gorges to move armies from place to place. Logistically speaking, the Incas were substantially ahead of their time. They were among the first peoples to increase farm output by terracing their landscapes in mountainous regions and their rope suspension bridges were among the finest and most technically advanced in the world. Early on, they began to use the decimal system of mathematics and were highly advanced in this pursuit. The Incas were also highly renowned for their exceptional stone works, which were every bit the equal of the Mayan monuments. While the Incas used llamas extensively as beasts of burden, like the Maya they lacked the wheel, which unduly complicated life for this highly advanced race.

 

More troublesome was the lack of an official writing system, which forced the Inca to employ an oral tradition. However, they did use a complicated system of different colored strings with knots that were called quipus, to keep records. We know little about how this system really functioned, and it was only after the Spaniards had conquered almost all of South America that the Inca social system was researched and addressed in writing. On the other hand, the Incas took great pride in their oral history, much of which the Spanish memorialized in their writings. Nevertheless, the stories varied from region to region, calling their accuracy into question.

 

The Incas were talented revisionists who used their history as a highly sophisticated propaganda weapon. We are left with stories that are probably largely a contrivance of Inca public relations. However, historians were able to derive with some degree of accuracy the succession of Inca leaders, approximately when they ruled and who they conquered. On the other hand, there was really not a lot of history to convey, and the Incas were first noted somewhere around 1200 AD. On the other hand, they made no mark on history until the early 15th century, when they started expanding. They were conquered by the Spanish in the early 1530’s. From that point on, those who survived blended into the landscape and soon took on more Western ways. The Incas and their neighbors were stripped of their religion and given the choice of becoming Catholics or being sacrificed. Having had enough of sacrifice for the time being, many new converts were created on the spot. However, old ways die hard, and a number of Inca traditions were permanently grafted onto local Catholicism.

 

In 1532, Cortez had just finished conquering the Aztecs in Mexico. At that time, Francisco Pizarro, an illiterate pig farmer, () arrived in South America with the objective of pilfering Inca gold. He brought with him a solid contingent of 105-foot soldiers, sixty-two horsemen and a variety of weapons unheard of in the New World. It is interesting to note that the Spanish invader had the unmitigated nerve to think that he could defeat a highly trained Inca army of over 200,000 dedicated soldiers. On the other hand, he had a number of things going for him. First and foremost, Western diseases had already been introduced into the Inca territory and they extracted a terrible toll in human life.

 

The massive epidemics confused the Inca, who credited the Spaniards, with all of their modern accoutrements with the ability to spread disease and death at will. Legend has it that for a time the Incas even believed that the Spaniards were representing the Inca Gods and were sending acting as intermediaries in sending them unpleasant messages. Eventually, the Incas started to believe that they had somehow incurred their god’s wrath and had lost their favor. In the Incas haste to make amends, they did the logical thing and dramatically stepped up their sacrifices, in this case because of a lack of available home-grown sacrifices they primarily began using subjugated peoples, something they themselves was a poor substitute for their own purer lineage.

 

Well, this turn of events indeed became a bad hair day for the now panic-stricken Incas. Things just went from bad to worse, in spite of the fact that the Incas had treated the people that they had conquered reasonably, it didn’t sit well with the subjugated that they were constantly being called for additional human offerings. There were negotiations among the opposing groups mediated by senior Inca Officials at which time a bill of particulars was submitted by the enslaved. Its salient points contained demands for a substantial reduction of human sacrifice. The Incas were not well-mannered when being dictated too and not only declined the request but immediately installed a state of martial law and strongly indicated that they would do whatever was necessary to get back into their gods’ good graces even if it took every subjugated person in the kingdom. However, this act of constantly going back to the sacrificial well really made some of the negotiators annoyed and due to this fact, a large number of the Inca’s subjects not only joined but substantially aided Pizaro in his conquest.

 

Another advantage that Pizarro had, was one that would be almost inconceivable for a Westerner to fathom. As a historical fact, the ancient Peruvians had started mummifying their ancestors thousands years before the Egyptians and while the Egyptians tried to make their dead as comfortable as possible, the Peruvian dead were to become an inconceivably a critical part of their ongoing society. Pedro Pizaro, Francisco Pizarro’s brother was amazed by the fact that when he interceded for an Inca friend with his girlfriend’s family in asking for her hand, Pedro was taken in front of a long dead ancestor of woman’s and after sitting around for awhile was eventually told by the ancestor’s relatives that the mummy had approved the union. Pizarro was stunned, but new light had been shed upon the religious and social practices of the Spaniard’s enemies. They soon discovered that were no major decisions made in the Inca society without consulting these grisly mummies. If this wasn’t a tough enough concept to come to grips with, the Spaniards soon learned what the Incas enemies had know for some time, the Inca dead were taken to battle with them as well. Can you picture what their adversaries must have though when on the battlefield they not only were they faced with an enormously efficient highly trained living Incan army but also were facing a contingent of long dead people being carried aloft as there charge was commenced. I for one will tell you that this would cause me severe agita to see dead people charging at me. No wonder the Incas were so successful in the battles. The scared the stuffing out of their enemies.

 

The Inca believe that the dead, if properly treated would provide the living with peace and prosperity. Moreover, Peru was absolutely ideally suited for mummified ancestor worship. They had the very cold and dry peaks of the Andes mountains available and this was an ideal place to freeze-drythe dead after their bodies had been drained of fluids and cavities field with unusual herbs, which helped to preserve the bodies. Unusually, this is area of the world has produced a succession of societies that believed in similar bizarre afterlife theories and we cannot pinpoint anywhere else in the world where the dead kept on as an active part of society. The Incas feed, clothed and assigned a large contingent of cadre’ to look after the every need of those that had departed. This included the dressing every morning of the dead with magnificent clothes and bedecked with jewels, then it was time for breakfast, which often contained up to seven courses. This cadre’ of the dead believed firmly that the dead should be highly respected and given every accommodation in death that they would have had in life. Great banquets were held for the dead by the mummy-keepers and when the departed souls determined not to imbibe, their caretakers were more than willing to eat their share. These caretakers lived the good life among their dead eating, drinking and partying with their charges. They ultimately became a force to be reckoned with in Inca society.

 

Once a year a big party was held in the Cuzco’s Town Square in which the dead were brought out in all of their finery to be paraded in front of the people. This literally became a gruesome fashion show, when relatives wanting to one-up their neighbors had their long deceased ancestors regaled in ever finer fashion so that they would look better than the dead belonging to their neighbor’s ancestors. Family mummies were held high in the air so that everyone could witness how magnificent they were in death. A separate district was created to house the dead and they had their own residences in Cuzco; magnificent structures where they’re every need was attended to. Believe it or not, these people saw little difference between life and death from almost any point of view. They strangely believed that their ancestors could have sex, go to the bathroom and make momentous decisions. Not only were these particular traits attributed to the dead but even more importantly, the planting of fields, the sun, the rain and complex battle plans always awaited until consultations with the mummies were completed. As the society of the dead evolved, their keepers became interpreters of the wishes of the dead and because of that could determine many critical events.

 

Because of the fact that most of those in the region held similar religious beliefs as did the Incas, one of the great horror tactics of war that they learned early on was to capture the enemies dead. They would then threaten their enemies with two choices, they would either to give them back the mummies if the enemy capitulated or burn them. Universally, this was more than the enemy could bear and they ultimately got the message and became part of the general community. Worship of the dead became so overwhelming that eventually the Incas came to believe that only the emperor could own land and he would own it whether he was dead or alive. Thus, a new emperor concerned about his status after he died was literally forced to conquer substantial new territory in order to have a large plot after he died. This theory was one of the reasons that the Incas became such fearsome warriors. They weren’t fighting just for their lives, they were fighting for their afterlives. Moreover, when the Inca conquering frenzy had reached its zenith, they controlled more territory than the Roman Empire did at its height.

 

Ultimately, the pendulum had swung to far in favor of those that were administering the dead and the emperors determined that enough was enough. However, by this time the cadre of the dead had amassed substantial power and a civil war erupted when they determined not to give up the good life without a fight. Ultimately the emperors were victorious but not before thoroughly debilitating their forces with this internecine battle. In addition, so many valuable resources had been heaped upon caring for the dead that the Inca Empire had become economically speaking, a basket case. Picture trying to manage a social security system for both the aged and the dead. However, in spite of bizarre state of events, this indeed was the society that Pizarro chanced upon in 1532.

 

Thus, Pizaro, almost before he started had a massive secondary force of formerly subjugated warriors to back up his front line soldiers. He was also attacking a highly confused, disillusioned and substantially weakened enemy who was carrying the most substantial amount of baggage in world history. Pizarro’s first stop was Tumbez, a city that is located on what is now called northern coast of Peru. Soon after Pizarro landed, using advanced military techniques, he was quickly able to capture Atahuallpa Inca, one of the most highly ranked Inca leaders. At this time, Athahuallpa was in a struggle with his brother Huascar to become chief of all the Incas. He became highly distressed at his incarceration, not because the Spanish had captured him, but because he felt his brother was gaining both time and strength while he languished in jail.

 

Disgusted with his situation, he offered Pizarro a room of almost 3,200 cubic feet, totally filled with gold and gold objects in exchange for his freedom. In addition, once Pizarro had removed the gold, Atahuallpa told him that he would fill 6,400 cubic feet with silver and give it to his capturer as well. Pizarro was naturally overjoyed and promptly accepted. While waiting for the bounty to arrive, Atahuallpa ordered his generals to kill his brother; the only other pretender to the Incan crown, and this was neatly accomplished.

 

When Pizarro was satisfied that Atahuallpa had completely delivered on his end of the bargain, the Spaniard naturally had him tortured to for information regarding where more gold could be had. After garnering everything that Atahuallpa knew he had him killed. Thus, Pizarro had, by a stroke of massive good fortune, accumulated gold and silver booty in substantial quantities to ship back to his benefactors in Spain and he had dispensed with the Incan leadership by overseeing the elimination of both potential kings literally simultaneously. Pizaro was now fully in charge, and his total conquest brought to the end the highly productive but surprisingly short Incan era. While the Incas were not truly benevolent rulers in any sense of the word, the Spanish ultimately taught them what a real dictatorship combined with modern torturing techniques could accomplish.

 

However, ruling the Incas did not mean that the battle was totally over. Tradition can become a force of its own and as long as the dead were still lying around small rebellions broke out from time to time. Pizarro determined that the only way to end this ancestor worship for good was to grab all of the mummies, burn them and then bury them in coffins. This caused considerable anguish among the people because they felt that death was a social experience and being in a coffin without any fellow mummies to keep them company was just not right. However, the Catholic Priests were horrified with this ancestor worship and cheered on Pizarro’s efforts even providing wooden coffins to place the remains of the long dead. For the Incas, this act was the last straw and it was only then that they finally capitulated. The festival of Corpus Christie is still celebrated annually in Cuzco and where the people carry massive Catholic effigies around the town square just as that done five millennia earlier with their dead. Many archaeologists believe that this ceremony is the last throwback to the Incas strange religious convictions. The Church was not particularly concerned about what these people did with their spare time, they were only interested in adding to their list of the converted.

 

Today Peru is a typical third world country with a population of almost 25 million people. Its capital is in Lima, the country is said by some to be a republic, and it is bordered by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and the Pacific Ocean. It is located on the Western edge of South America and is a beautiful country with substantial natural resources. In spite of being extremely gifted by nature, basically, this is an agricultural and fishing society that speaks the Spanish language and is largely Roman Catholic. Many of the peasants have gone into the coca growing business to elevate themselves and their products have gravitated to regions around the world bringing in substantial hard currency.

 

"’Over the last three years, Peru has become a major producer of Cocaine," said Ricardo Soberon, a lawyer at the Andean Commission of Jurists and an expert in the illegal drug trade. "And it will mean our society is even more open to the corruption and violence that it brings." For years, Peru has been the world’s largest producer of coca leaf, from which cocaine is made. Coca is grown by 200,000 poor farmers on the sloping jungle valleys of the eastern Andes. Traffickers then smuggled semi-processed coca into neighboring Colombia for refining into cocaine."

Peru historically spends a measly $18 per capita on public health and 90% of rural residences lack potable water and sewerage, resulting in high death rates from infectious diseases. In the last year for which statistics are available, 1,200 children died weekly from malnutrition and extreme poverty, while 38% of the survivors suffered chronic malnutrition. This is almost inconceivable for a country that has received so much of nature’s bounties.

 

In recent years, the country has been troubled by drug smugglers, revolutions, war with Ecuador, bribery of officials and hyperinflation. Its leader until recently, President Alberto Fujimori, previously a college administrator with no political experience, is unique as far as national leaders go in that he had dual citizenship in both Japan and Peru. He was recently able to take advantage of that fact when members of his political party were found committing insensitive acts that lead directly to him. Indicating he needed a vacation, he took the next plane to Japan and has since indicated that he will not be coming back.

 

Women in Peru are treated as second-class citizens and comprise 72% of the country’s illiteracy rate. In the meantime, the birthrate of women in the countryside is almost three times higher than that in the urban areas, indicating that no effort is made to even modestly educate these people about anything. The United Nations Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women came out with a damning report on July 7, 1998, which took Peru to task for lapses in education, birth control, domestic violence, reproductive health and overall discrimination.

 

However, women aren’t the only ones that Peru discriminates against. Native Americans are given the bottom end of the totem pole so to speak. "Peru’s Indian and mixed-race majority suffers from a legacy of racism by the light-skinned elite that dated back to the Spanish conquest. They are barred from top jobs, political posts and even trendy discotheques and cafes. Race roles are clear; the descendants of Peru’s might Inca empire work mainly as maids, laborers or street vendors. Members of the European-descended elite occupy most positions of wealth and power." In spite of the fact that 80% of Peru’s population is made up of Indians or those of mixed race, judges allow clubs and disco’s to bar them. In addition, economists have stated that one-percent of the population controls over sixty-percent of the nation’s wealth.

 

There has been no question that Fujimori has been a strong leader and accomplished many things that were thought almost impossible. On the other hand, corruption at the very top of the Peruvian Government combined with a secret police department that would easily put the KGB to shame in making people disappear did not sit well with anyone. Fujimori was insensitive in getting the message that his people had enough of his dictatorial ways and he barely escaped the country, only one step ahead of the executioner. However, with all of the poverty and illiteracy, only Chile and Argentina, in Latin America have out-performed Peru’s economic statistics, which show the country growing at a rate of 5% per year for the last decade.

 

When Fujimori arrived on the scene, there were guerrilla groups operating in various parts of the country that made a livelihood out of kidnapping and holding their hostages ransom. The President was able to remove these groups as a threat in rather short order but made the horrendous political mistake of throwing an American , whom he indicated was consorting with the guerillas, in a Peruvian Jail, in spite of demands for release by the U.S. Department of State. This action did not bode well for him recently when he direly needed allies.

 

Peru got one more break when on September 12, 1992, "…a special Peruvian police undercover unit captured Abimael Guzman, leader of the fanatical Maoist guerrilla group known as Shining Path (a fanatical group that is said to have made the Khmer Rouge look like angels) in his hideout on a quiet, middle-class street in Lima. The fall of one of the 20th century’s most elusive terrorists made headlines around the world and proved decisive in a war that had cost 25,000 lives since the Shining Path had launched it in 1980. Many more would have died if Shining Path ever had taken power with their Khmer Rouge like philosophy." After this literally heroic effort, Fujimori dissolved the undercover group that had been successful in eliminating them and scattered the group to winds. The Peruvian Government just felt that these people were under the wing of the United States CIA and were just too independent to be trusted. Moreover, they were most probably right.

 

Boding well for the future, Peru’s inflation has now come down to workable levels, and in spite of his other shortcoming, Fujimori was able to defuse a tense situation with neighboring Ecuador that could have turned into an all out war. He was far less successful in dealing with Illicit drug crops and their distribution but he did make nominal inroads. However, all of his accomplishments were consummated at a heavy price. Fujimori closed down Peru’s Congress and its courts in 1992 – less than two years after he assumed power. While both the Congress and the courts eventually reopened, the message he sent had been heard, loud and clear: do my bidding or else. He had set the pattern for his next eight years in office and it was not a pretty picture. .

 

However, Fujimori was not even close to being done with his tampering, and he continued to tinker at great risk because this was a new and very frail democracy. The country’s constitution clearly indicated that the President could serve no more than two terms, but wanting one more bite at the apple, he had this provision reverse on a technicality. In 1993, the Peruvian judicial tribunal, which has the final say in these matters, determined that Congress had overstepped themselves in allowing Fujimori to run for a third-term, that court was shuttered and has strangely never reopened.

 

"A report issued in February of 2000 by two U.S. observer groups, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Carter Center, concluded that "political conditions for free and fair elections have not yet been established." They noted the enormous difference in media access between Fujimori and his opposition; the biased media coverage, including insulting and defamatory attacks against opposition candidates and parties; the open harassment of opposition groups and election monitors; and the misuse of public resources in the campaign. Three Peruvians out of four now believe the elections are not being conducted fairly. "

Fujimori ran against Alejandro Toledo among others in an election that turned out to a farce. Charges of every voting irregularity known to man were brought against the President and his party. In spite of the rigged election, there was still no clear-cut winner because neither candidate had received a majority. Toledo, the Stanford educated economist was convinced that he could not win a rigged election against Fujimori and refused to participate in a run-off election, because among other things his statisticians found that there were a million more ballots voted than there were registered voters in the country. Having grown up in Chicago I can understand Mr. Toledo’s problem with the numbers but no one ever demanded a recount in Cook County and lived to tell about it so there were never any problems. Peru seemed to operate in much the same way.

 

Fujimori’s security adviser and head of dirty tricks, Vladimiro Montesinos was caught with his hand where it shouldn’t have been and fled to Panama once political asylum had been arranged. Stories abound in Peru that Montesinos was really the power behind the power and kept his position by having a copy of a birth certificate from Japan that shows that Fujimori was born there and not in Peru. Should this have been the case, Fujimori would not have been eligible to run for President. This was about all Fujimori could handle, considering his advanced years, and on September 16, 2000, he fled to Japan. Now, new elections are being readied, and Peru may just have a chance to get its act straightened out.

 

"The maneuver that brought an end to Fujimori’s 10-year reign was the airing of a videotape on Peruvian television that showed his top adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos, pulling wads of dollar bills from his pockets and handing them to an opposition party congressman. Shortly after that transaction, the legislator defected to the government’s side. The incriminating video appears to have prompted a showdown between Fujimori and a segment of the Peruvian armed forces loyal to Montesinos. "He probably figured his best move would be to rid himself of Montesinos, but Montesinos and the regional army commanders probably said "no," says Mirko Lauer, a columnist for La Republica, a Lima daily. The resulting compromise: the shady former intelligence chief would go – but so too would his boss. "

 

Toledo is by no means a sure thing in any new elections, as he had gotten involved in a degenerating political mud slinging campaign with Fujimori’s political party and participated in anti-Fujimori rallies that concluded in violence. On the other hand, Fujimori’s party, although he had not cultivated a successor, does control the media in the country and that is an important factor in manner in which people cast their ballots. In the meantime, the Swiss Government has found $50 million in an account attributed to Montesinos.

 

As Peru’s political morass becomes ever more stultifying, there has been a particular leak in the dike from a familiar source. "Coca is coming back because our corn and rice don’t have a stable price and coffee and cacao prices have also dropped," said Julio Fernandez Davila, 47, a former coca farmer who was mayor of Tres Unidos from 1990 to 1998. "The farmers don’t want anyone to know it, but they are beginning to grow coca again between their rows of coffee and corn planting so they will not be detected." Interestingly enough, as recently as 1995, Peru led the world in the production of that product and we just may be revisiting that time once again.

 

 Machu Picchu

The Andes, located in South America are among the world’s highest mountain ranges climbing over 20,000 feet in various spots. Cuzco, the region in which Machu Picchu is located, lies on the eastern slopes of the Andes facing the Amazon Basin and was the capital of the Incan Empire. The general area is fertile and has substantial water resources although it is extremely rocky. However the amazing architectural ability of the Incas allowed them to create terraced fields on the slopes of almost vertical mountains permitting them to produce a substantial quantity and variety of agricultural products; indeed, more than enough to take care of all the inhabitants in the region. Moreover, it is these terraces, which, seem to literally blend into the landscape that creates this region’s awesome beauty. As with everything Inca, the entire city of Machu Picchu combines the unsurpassed qualities that man and nature have to offer and the spectacle is stunning. There are 40 rows of terraces each 10 feet high along with 3000 stone steps to transverse the terrain, combined with one of the most sophisticated irrigation systems invented in that hemisphere.

 

The gullies, produced by years of erosion caused by the fast flowing mountain tributaries, the dense foliage and breathtaking landscapes work together to make Machu Picchu are delight to the senses as the city sits on a ledge approximately 8,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by towering snow capped peaks. The summit on which Machu Picchu sits, is literally vertical and its solid granite wall made it a Herculean Task to have ascended to its peak. It still remains a world class mystery as to how the Incas discovered this place, once having discovered it, got to its summit up the sheer granite wall, were then able to logistically deliver building materials without roads or pulleys or how on earth they even re-supplied it. Machu Picchu, located a mere 50 miles away from the then Inca Capital was only accessible by traversing a literally impassable jungle. Moreover, it stood at the very outskirts of the Inca civilization at that time. Why it was built, how it was found and how it were traversed are mysteries that have still never been solved.

 

Interspersed among these breath-taking views are valleys that, while once arid, were irrigated by the Incas through the use of an extremely complex system of canals and dikes. These valleys are still producing prodigious quantities of agricultural products. Because of the peaks and valleys (the variations in height), diverse flora and fauna are present in substantial quantities, adding to the overall attractiveness of the region. Orchids cover the trail leading to Machu Picchu surrounded by millions of butterflies, bringing an almost artistic blend of color to the area. Condors with wingspans of up to twelve feet were early denizens here, along with the ever-present wildcats, spectacled bear, and cock-of-the-rocks. It was also here, at almost 8,000 feet on a precarious mountaintop that Machu Picchu was constructed by the Incas towards the end of the fourteenth century. Although breathtakingly magnificent, Machu Picchu was to the Incas just another stop on the series of roads that had been constructed to connect their vast empire, which at one time covered parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Columbia. Everything in Machu Picchu was designed to blend the earth with the sun or even as some archaeologists have pointed out, meld the two together with the through the use of natural beauty. The place was called the Hitching Post of the Sun and it was here that early stories say that the Incas attempted to tie up the sun to prevent it from leaving. In many respects, it appears that they succeeded.

 

It is extremely unusual that Machu Picchu was not found for so long a period. As was have discussed earlier, Cuzco, a major city in early times and a major center of commerce today was in relatively close proximity of the lost city of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu lay hidden, as the Incas may have intended, for over four-hundred years when Hiram Bingham III, the Director of the Peruvian Expedition of the University of Yale with the help of a local farmer by the name of Melchoir Arteaga re-discovered it in 1911. The remarkable part about this discovery is the fact that, in reality Bingham was looking for Vilcabamba, another lost city of the Incas when he stumbled by accident across Machu Picchu. The city had been untouched, and was probably the most well preserved discovery of its kind in archaeological history.

 

Even more extraordinary was how brilliantly the city accentuated its magnificent surroundings, making the vista appear as though, it was literally created by Mother Nature herself. Machu Picchu fit its surroundings like a glove, and it looked as though it fit in exquisitely where it was. It was probably the spontaneous harmony with nature that the city’s builder’s had fashioned that made this area such an instant mecca for tourists in spite of the intricacy in getting there. Machu Picchu today is approximately five-square miles in area and the climate is semi-tropical, warm and humid. Bingham, who apparently thought that he had discovered Nirvana was naturally overjoyed at his thrilling achievement and headed back to the United States to tell one and all about his discovery. Moreover, at the same time, Bingham embarked on a campaign to garner funds to cut away the jungle and restore this glorious site. He was an excellent salesman and was back the following year with his pockets overflowing and a team of men who eventually beat back the grudging jungle. As the jungle was gradually uncovered, large rocks were found everywhere and they in turn were evacuated. When all was said and done, a city of over five-square miles was brought back from a long rest.

 

The landscape and the city blend in uniformly with the miraculous terraces that remain in pristine condition along with the ramps that take you effortlessly from level to level. The vistas are breathtaking as the city lies 2,000 feet above the Urubamba River in a narrow saddle between much higher surrounding mountain peaks. It appears almost mystically that the stones that make up the terrace’s retaining walls were sculptured by an unearthly being that knew exactly how to place and trim them to correspond harmoniously with their environment. In a piece done by Unesco titled the World Heritage Review, some additional elements of the Machu Picchu puzzle are described in some detail.

 

"Access to the urban part, which is clearly differentiated from the agricultural sector by a large perimeter wall, is via a beautiful lithic porch with double jambs. This architectural feature of the Inca building style marks the location where the road from the city of Cuzco came to an end. This sector consisted of 172 enclosures of different shapes and sizes connected by 109 stairways that make it possible to move over such steep slopes. The enclosures are divided into "neighborhoods," each with specific functions according to their formal characteristics and the cultural evidence found in the excavations. One sector, for example, was destined for storage, doubtless of the harvests of maize grown on the terraces; another is distinguished by the large number of mortars found there, probably for making chich (corn beer), which is still very widely used in religious festivals in the Andean world. Other sectors consisted of houses for the people who carried out the different specialized manufacturing activities or religious ceremonies, or administered agricultural output. Some enclosures, such as the Coricancha (Temple of the Sun in the Quechua language) or the Aqllawasi (House of the Virgins), stand out for the fine finish of their walls, comparable to the exquisite buildings in the imperial capital, Cuzco, and were no doubt the most important buildings on the site.

"The enclosures are complemented by a great public square in the center of the urban sector, as well as two minor squares. Special building with an obvious ceremonial function complete the urban sector, including the noteworthy Temple of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana, a specially sculpted stone for astronomic observations, as well as a complex ritual system of interconnecting baths and springs. This magnificently conserved city, which must have housed between 1,000 and 2,000 people, has justifiably become the representative image of the most highly elaborated Inca notions of architecture, natural objects, and sacred landscapes. On the one hand, the irregular lie of the land was converted into terraces which, while echoing the surroundings, were used for construction and farming. On the other, they respected more than a score of important rocks that were integrated into the layout of the city, like scale models of the surrounding topography. Machu Picchu was obviously a highly planned city, meticulously designed to fit an extraordinary natural setting."

"Machu Picchu is only one of a series of Inca Settlements in the historic sanctuary, although it is without a doubt the most important. There are in all thirty-two architectural complexes of differing sizes and characteristics indicating the various functions they fulfilled. Patallaqta, Runkurakay, Sayaqmarka, Q’onchamarka, Phuyupatamarca, Winaywayna, Intipata, and Intipunku are other settlements located nearby. All of them are closely interrelated as regards building style, types of buildings and basic arrangements, including the remarkable agricultural terraces, quarries for supplying raw materials and springs of abundant, clean water. What is more, all of them have in common the characteristic harmony between natural and human-made features. All these settlements are connected to each other and to the city of Cuzco by the Inca road, one of the admirable feats of engineering in the Andean world. Nowadays, a thirty-eight kilometer section has been converted into one of the most popular routes for adventure tourism. To cover it in three or four days means not only traveling back in time, but also traversing the region’s complex ecology, including the low valley in the middle course of the River Urubamba, inter-Andean ravines with evidence of glacial moraines, grasslands above 4,000 meters and tropical spots in the lowest and warmest strip of jungle. It also means encountering a complex range of engineering works, such as paved roads, never-ending stairways, anti-erosion drainage works, bridges and tunnels excavated in the rock, lookout points sited in strategic places to enjoy the scenery, tambos or resting places and minor cities that once lived off the abundant output of this part of the Andes."

 

The Inca’s had no written language so with nothing to advise us on the true intentions of the inhabitants, we can only postulate as to the specific use the city planers had for Machu Picchu. One theory has it that it was more likely than not a home for the members of the Inca royal family and their guests. An alternative chronicle that has been put forward is that it was the mountain retreat of the Inca leader Pachacuti Yupanqui and still another holds that it was a solar observatory. Moreover, there is even an additional theory that holds that it was built as a convent for so-called Virgins of the Sun and that these women worked to provide all of the necessities of life to the Inca Priests. From the portion of the city’s archaeological remains that have been restored, there is no question that, of the people found buried in Machu Picchu, the great majority were women but the men may have been away fighting the Spanish. In reality the best scientific evidence available today seems to point to the fact that this city was plain and simply a luxury country home to be used by Inca rulers when life in their capital became to hum drum or as some have said, that it was a "playground for the emperor and his court.". There seems to be little question that Machu Picchu was a seasonal resort and in spite of its size, probably a full time home to no more than 100 or so even at its peak.

 

The city was self-sustaining, with the inhabitants being able to provide the necessary agriculture for nourishment. The buildings were extraordinary for the period and were constructed of granite with very steep thatched roofs to protect against extended periods of rain, which was common. The publication, Crystalinks, goes on to describe some of the scenic parts of the city:

 

"Only from the nearby hilltop observatory of Intipunku can you realize the full extent of Machu Fichu’s colossal conception. The citadel is a stupendous achievement - urban planning, civil engineering, architecture, and stone masonry. Who built this symphony in stone, this vast complex of buildings so well constructed that even five centuries in the inexorable grip of the Peruvian jungle has deprived them only of their thatch and reed roofs? The architectural forms are unmistakably characteristic of the Incas, but beyond that, its origins are veiled in a mystery as thick as the early morning mist swirling around its craggy fastness. At any moment, it seems, a gold-encrusted and befeathered Inca warrior will materialize between the curiously sloping doorjambs. The enigmatic Incas knew neither the wheel nor any written language, but forged an empire stretching 2,300 miles along the mighty Andean heights."

Yet, the city was found intact with no sign of hostilities that could have caused the mammoth exodus that occurred in the 15th century. Many theories have been expounded to explain this most bizarre event, from the hypothesis that an epidemic wiped out the population (syphilis, smallpox and malaria are three very likely subjects under this theory) to the possibility the Spaniards discovered the town and killed everyone in it, taking all of the valuables. However, this would have been out of character for the barbaric Spaniards, while it was true that they had no scruples when it came to killing, torture and slavery, if anything the Spanish kept copious notes on what they pillaged. . Orders from Spanish headquarters in Madrid mandated that they very specifically inventory their finds and their exact locations. Officers in the field were rotated on a regular basis; thus the Spanish Royalty were able to cross check the count by comparing inventory, location and projections with the previous estimates. Had the Spanish found Machu Picchu, historically, there should have been volumes on this subject, and yet nothing has been found, nor written about it in Spanish texts.

 

Another theory holds that since wars between competing Inca sects were not at all uncommon, it was the rule rather than the exception that everyone on the losing side would be put to death. This theory does not seem to fly either because the city was found intact. It would have been highly unlikely for the populace to have gone to their deaths without putting up some kind of fight or the winning side not pillaging everything in sight The last theory, probably the most speculative of all, has as its hypothesis that a young priest defoliated one of the sacred Virgins of the Sun, something that was really considered a bad thing to do. Discovery of this fact would have caused the entire location to be damned and everyone abiding there would have been either killer or excommunicated, so the city would have literally disappeared from the face of the earth. We believe that none of the theories is even close to correct and there is substantially more to the Inca social system than meets the eye. It may be that this question is one that neither history nor archeology will ever answer but the answer could be a simple as the fact that the Incas wanted to shorten their supply lines and Machu Picchu in spite of its magnificence had become expendable.

 

The Incas were road builders easily on a par with the Romans, and they were centuries ahead of the pack in the building of canals. Agricultural developments and tunnel building were their forte’ and they far surpassed the norm in their respect for nature and their ability to blend the environment together with man’s works. In spite of these achievements, they were able to accomplish these feats without a written language, without the wheel, without the pulley and without the normal metal instruments normally required to cut stone into its finest constituencies. They were bridge builders par excellence and they had an excellent grasp of astronomy.

 

In spite of not having the normal accoutrement of construction materials, the Incas were able to construct the city of Machu Picchu at a height of over 7,000 feet above sea level. They were obliged to transport building blocks great distances and up tortuous cliffs because of a lack of quarrying rock in Machu Picchu’s vicinity. In order to preserve a civilization in this area, they had to create irrigation, landscape the mountains and cut rocks to exact measurements to accurately construct their temples, their commercial buildings and their homes. When all was completed, they had created seamlessness with nature that has probably never been duplicated by any society on earth. These were truly the world’s first environmentalists.

 

While the Incas seemed to know just how to meld nature and with people, current day Machu Picchu is not faring nearly as well. The following will give you an idea about the commercialism that is running rampant: "Standing in the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, guide Adriel Quispe faces a stone that resembles a scaled-down cruise ship. The sacred Intiwatana, or "hitching post for the sun," is carved out of a single block of granite with a funnel shape one top. The shadows it casts probably marked the seasons for the Incas. Quispe tells the rapt crowd of tourists: "This stone is beyond price." Well, sort of. In September, for a $200 fee, a camera crew filmed an ad there, propping a beer bottle and glass on the stone. Their six-meter-long crane gave way, and a cameraman fell on the Intiwatana. A corner of the monument snapped off, marring its perfect lines. "It is as though they stole a part of the Incas’ knowledge." Says Quispe." Once the stone had been destroyed, the film crew picked them up and handed them to the flabbergasted curators who came running to the scene. In reality the "contoured granite block, once used by Inca astronomers to predict solstices, is essential to Inca mythology and forms the centerpiece of the protected archaeological ruins at Machu Picchu…"

 

The film crew was from J. Walter Thompson Group and they were, in effect there without permission. "Gustavo Manrique, the director of National Culture Institute in Cuzco, said he felt "moral anguish" after the film crew allegedly sneaked their heavy equipment into the sanctuary at dawn, in violation of their permit. Staff at the production company now face criminal charges and up to four years in prison. The head of Cervesur, the local brewer that hired the film crew, offered to help repair the damage. If ancient Inca practices were to be invoked in this case, the interlopers might find priests drilling holes in their skulls to purge them of evil."

 

Currently there are an average of almost 3,000 tourists a day bringing human pollution to the area, and yet the Peruvian Government is pushing the envelope by using every available resource to bring in even more. They are striving to increase this number by 2.5 times within the next four years. In the mean time, approval has been granted by the Government to build a major road through the area, which will demolish the magnificent agricultural terraces that are still traditionally irrigated and farmed. In the meantime, hiking has not been any great help to the area with liter strewn all over the terrain. A Peruvian National Institute for Natural Resources (Inrena) spokesman estimated over 120,000 people and their accompanying donkeys and horses loaded with gear make their way along the trail every year, leaving behind trash and slowly wearing away the road and the small ruins which line it. "They look like an Arab caravan," the spokesman said."

 

In addition, the Peruvian Government is trying to make life a lot easier for occasion tourist as well. Not only will the new roads cut travel time, but also a cable car that is awaiting Peruvian Government approval is expected to take visitors to the Machu Picchu summit in absolute luxury. The cable car is scheduled to leave from village of Aguas Calientes and take riders to the ruins, 8,000 feet above sea level. Unesco wasn’t too happy with this idea and even talked about pulling the plug on their World Heritage designation. "The cable car system…would very seriously affect the World Heritage values, authenticity and integrity of the Ciudadela and its surrounding landscape."

 

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