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Rafael Aita: “We Must Rescue the Common History of Spain and Peru”

Rafael Aita is an industrial engineer from the University of Lima, lecturer at the School of Business and the School of Engineering at the University of Lima and researcher at the Institute of Scientific Research, and author of two historical novels, ‘El secreto del último inca’ (2018) and ‘El estratega del imperio’ (2020). He is also the administrator of the historical and cultural dissemination website Capitán Perú. His latest book ‘Los Incas Hispanos’, which he is presenting in various Spanish cities with the Asociación Héroes de Cavite, was born to “confront the Black Legend”.

What is ‘Los Incas Hispanos’?

It is a rescue of 300 years of Andean history. The history of the Incas that has been forgotten and relegated, and that has not been told in order to make room for a myth, a legend, a fallacy, which says that in the conquest the Incas were exterminated or, in the best of cases, were enslaved, oppressed or turned into serfs.

The reality that the historical evidence shows us is that the Incas, the descendants of the Incas, not only survived the conquest, but also that the Spanish Crown gave them noble titles with coats of arms, kept their lands, palaces and privileges, and even had a small court. They lived like any other nobles in Europe. They studied European education in the best schools, but respecting their Andean roots. They were recognized as Incas, they spoke Quechua, but at the same time Spanish and Latin. They rode horses, liked classical music and were Catholics. Hence the title of the book: The Hispanic Incas.

It is the same with the Aztecs, many of the nobles of the Aztec empire became nobles of the Spanish Crown.

Of course, because that was a general policy that was applied in the viceroyalties. And these descendants are elevated to the level of even the highest houses of Spain and united their blood with them. We have the example of the marriage of Beatriz Coya, daughter of Sayri Túpac and therefore a descendant of the Inca Huayna Cápac, with Martín García de Loyola, great-nephew of Saint Ignacio de Loyola. Their daughter, Ana Lorenza de Loyola Inca, married Juan Enriquez de Borja, of the Borja house of Saint Francis Borja and the Borgia Pope, and in turn a descendant of the kings of Castile and Aragon of the house of Trastámara. Their son Juan Enríquez de Borja Loyola Inca was descended from the kings of Castile, the kings of Aragon, two Popes, two Saints and the Incas.

Nothing to do with other conquests.

Certainly not. Imagine the level of integration that existed and that even allowed them to be on the same level as any other nobleman in Spain.

The best known is Garcilaso de la Vega.

Yes, he is the best known because he is also the father of Spanish-American literature. However, he was not the only one, he is not an isolated case and there were many more like him, for example, Dionisio Inca Yupanqui. Another Inca descendant of Huayna Capac, he came to Spain as a child because his father had an outstanding military career. Dionisio entered the naval career and fought in Gibraltar against the English, in North Africa and also in Havana. During the Napoleonic invasions, he became a colonel in a regiment of dragoons and personally took part in the Cortes of Cadiz. To many this seems unthinkable, but it expresses the degree of integration and respect there was for the Incas in Spain itself.

What was life like in the viceroyalty of Peru?

In the 16th century, the Audiencia de Lima, which corresponds to the territory of present-day Peru, represented 33% of the economy of South America. After the Bourbon reforms it dropped to 25% and after the independence period it was reduced to 10%. Peru was the economic, political, cultural and social center of South America, and even a world power because its GDP was at the level of England before the industrial revolution. It was also the crossing point for all the routes between the Philippines and Spain. Thus, you could go to a market in Huancavelica and find silks from China, fabrics from the Philippines, products from Flanders or from Spain itself. As if it were an international market today.

The first globalization.

And another example is the first international vaccination campaign, the Balmis expedition. If we look at the trajectory of the smallpox vaccine, it goes from Spain to New Spain, from there to Peru, and finally to the Philippines. There, Balmis learns that there is an outbreak of smallpox in China and asks the king for permission to extend the vaccination campaign. Permission was granted and he took the vaccine to China itself. Two hundred years later, with the pandemic, the roles have been reversed and it is we who have had to wait for the vaccine to arrive from China.

A widespread idea is that when wars of independence break out, the common people are with the revolutionaries, while only the powerful defend Spain. The exact opposite is true.

In Peru, we are told that the Spanish army was defeated at the battles of Junín and Ayacucho. But when you look at the origin of the troops in Ayacucho you find that out of 6,000 soldiers there were 500 Spaniards. The rest were from Cusco, Arequipa, Ayacucho and Alto Peru. And they were precisely the last to support the king of Spain to the end. And obviously, behind them were descendants of Inca. That is why the last capital of the viceroyalty of Peru was Cuzco, because when San Martín entered Lima in 1821, Viceroy La Serna moved the capital to Cuzco where he was received with honors by the royal lieutenant of the Inca, who was an Inca descendant. Support for the king of Spain was maintained until the end.

What did the end of the viceroyalty mean?

We have already seen the economic consequences, but the most affected were the Inca descendants because they were the most “royalist”. The criollos (white descendants of Spaniards born in Peru) built Peru without them and that partly explains the gap that exists today between the coast and the highlands. The noble titles granted by the Spanish Crown to the Inca descendants were not recognized during the Republic and, specifically, when Simón Bolívar was in Peru, he dissolved the Inca institutions and took away their privileges. According to historian Donato Amado, Bolívar also took away their property. So they were the ones who suffered the most from independence.

Earlier you mentioned what is taught in Peru about the battle of Ayacucho. Is the image of Spain in Peru very bad?

Yes, the bad image is general throughout Latin America and this has given rise to many indigenous or progressive ideological currents that see both the Empire, which is what Spain represented in America, and the Catholic religion as the enemy. Peru, despite the strong presence of the black legend, remains largely Catholic, conservative and traditionalist, and many post-modernist agendas have not managed to make inroads. This leads us to think that, even if it is denied, Hispanic culture is still present.

In Peru, the state sells black legends and says that the Spanish came to plunder and steal. However, more and more people are seeking to know the real history. For example, a character who is becoming increasingly popular is a general from Ayacucho, Antonio Guachaca. After the battle of Ayacucho, he refused to capitulate and formed, with indigenous soldiers, a “realist” stronghold. We must rescue the common history of Spain and Peru.

Álvaro Peñas es redactor de deliberatio.eu, colaborador de Disidentia, The European Conservative, El American y otros medios europeos. Analista internacional, especializado en Europa del Este, para el canal de televisión 7NN. Autor en SND editores // Writer at deliberatio.eu, contributor at Disidentia, The European Conservative, El American and other European media. International analyst, specialized in Eastern Europe, for the television channel 7NN. Author at SND editores.