| Point of VIEW. |
A purely analytical perception...
Peru was a land where many culture flourished
over a substantial period of time. While when we think of the countrys origins,
it usually brings to mind, the highly industrialized and adaptive Incas, there
were obviously many interesting people that inhabited this territory. "Since
the 1970s 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 earths chronological
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.
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
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. Perus 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 regions
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 Incas
neighbors were weaker than they, most of these offers were quickly accepted. The
Incas solid reputation for torture and sacrifice sealed the bargain.
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.
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.
the sacrifice, the families of the now deceased often threw parties that lasted
several days to celebrate their sacrifice for the countrys 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.
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.
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.
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 1530s.
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
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
gods 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.
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 didnt 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 Incas subjects not only joined
but substantially aided Pizaro in his conquest.
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
Pizarros brother was amazed by the fact that when he interceded for an Inca
friend with his girlfriends family in asking for her hand, Pedro was taken
in front of a long dead ancestor of womans and after sitting around for
awhile was eventually told by the ancestors 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 Spaniards enemies. They soon discovered
that were no major decisions made in the Inca society without consulting these
grisly mummies. If this wasnt 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.
a year a big party was held in the Cuzcos 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 neighbors
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
theyre 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.
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 werent 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.
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.
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. Pizarros 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
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
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.
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 Pizarros
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.
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.
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
worlds 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
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 natures bounties.
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.
in Peru are treated as second-class citizens and comprise 72% of the countrys
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.
women arent the only ones that Peru discriminates against. Native Americans
are given the bottom end of the totem pole so to speak. "Perus 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 Perus 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 Perus population is made up of Indians
or those of mixed race, judges allow clubs and discos to bar them. In addition,
economists have stated that one-percent of the population controls over sixty-percent
of the nations wealth.
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 Perus economic
statistics, which show the country growing at a rate of 5% per year for the last
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.
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 centurys 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
Boding well for the future, Perus 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 Perus 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. .
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 countrys
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
"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. Toledos 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.
Fujimoris security adviser and head
of dirty tricks, Vladimiro Montesinos was caught with his hand where it shouldnt
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.
maneuver that brought an end to Fujimoris 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 governments 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
Fujimoris political party and participated in anti-Fujimori rallies that
concluded in violence. On the other hand, Fujimoris 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.
Perus 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 dont 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 dont 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.
The Andes, located in South America are among
the worlds 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 regions 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 citys builders 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.
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 terraces 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.
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.
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,
Qonchamarka, 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 regions
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 Incas 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 citys 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:
from the nearby hilltop observatory of Intipunku can you realize the full extent
of Machu Fichus 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
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
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 mans 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.
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 Picchus
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 worlds first
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
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."
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."
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 wasnt too happy with this idea and even talked about pulling
the plug on their World Heritage designation. "The cable car system
very seriously affect the World Heritage values, authenticity and integrity of
the Ciudadela and its surrounding landscape."