“I Will Return and Become Millions” The Greatest Legacy of Tupak Amaru

Editors Note: This essay was originally published by Salvador Quishpe Lozano on October 12, 2019, as a call and response to the great repression suffered to the indigenous-led protests against IMF-sponsored neoliberal policies. It places the protests in a historical context of indigeous resistance. References have been added by Awasqa for English speakers.

Today, October 12, after 527 years of humiliation and subjugations, after so many and so many executions, torture, dismemberment, rape, slavery, that killed thousands and thousands of our mothers and fathers like Atawalpa, Bartolina Sisa, Tupak Amaru [1], and so many others that we still look at their muted bodies thanks to the murderous bullets of democracy, capitalism, greed, the arrogance of the government in power. Bodies such as those of Inocencio Vega, Marco Otto, Raúl Chilpe, José Daniel Chiluiza [2], shot, run over, killed for the same reasons of the death of Fernando Daquilema, Manuela León, Lázaro Condo [3], that is, for the inhumane labor exploitation, for the foolish tax charges, for gold and greed, for the usurpation of their territories and the denial of their rights.

Today, after 527 years of humiliation, deaths and battles, we look up to the horizon to see and testify to the fulfillment of the voice of Mama Dolores Cacuango [4], who as a prophet of life said,

We are like the straw of the highlands, which is uprooted and grows again and the straw of the highlands will cover the world.

Today, after 527 years of attempted extermination, we tell Spain, Europe, the IMF, capitalism, national and multinational business chambers and the current government, thanks to our mountains, our highlands, our rivers , to our hills, our land, to our grains, to our jungle, to our seas and oceans. Thanks to our plants, their roots and their fruits. Thanks to the communes, federations, organizations, such as FEI, CONAIE [5], and many others. Thanks to our community life, our joys and sorrows. Thanks to all of them we tell you here we are. Above all humiliation and extermination, thanks to our Pachamama,  we are here.

Today, October 12, 2019, as it has been for 527 years, we demand with a loud voice the respect for our individual and collective rights, our knowledge and traditions. Respect for our indigenous justice, our bilingual intercultural education. We demand respect for our Amazon rainforest, our territories, our mountains, our lakies, rivers and waterfalls. That is, today when scientists are saying that we are close to a global climate catastrophe, we demand an understanding of our ways of life in harmony with our mother earth.

Today, when we turn 527 years of sharing our territories with our brothers from other parts of the world, we invite the international community, but above all to Ecuador, to continue building a state capable of recognizing, respecting and valuing their cultural, social, and political diversity. We invite Ecuador, its government and, above all, its wider and more diverse society, to follow the path laid out by Leonidas Proaño, by Benjamín Carrión, by Guayasamín, by Adalberto Ortiz Quiñones [6] and by so many others who in their wake recommended building a society solidarity, sitting on the basis of their authentic ancestral cultural roots.

We invite Ecuador and the world to rebuild sumak kawsay, that is, life in harmony with our mother earth, limiting economic ambitions and placing before us better love for the land that will give a decent life for the grandchildren of the grandchildren of all Ecuadorians.

Tukuylla Ecuador mamallaktata tukuykunapak rurashun. Together let’s make an Ecuador for everyone of us.

1.  Atawalpa, Bartolina Sisa, Tupak Amaru were three historical figures of indigenous resistance to the Spanish invasion, who were killed in 1525, 1782, and 1781, respectively. For more information see: Hidden Figures: Bartolina Sisa.

2. Just a few names of the people killed after 10 days of protest in October 2019 in Ecuador against neoliberal policies promoted by the IMF and Lenin Moreno’s government.

3. Indigenous historical figures who led mobilizations of resistance in the late 1880s (Fernando Daquilema and Manuela León), and 1970s (Lázaro Condo) that were key in promoting civil and human rights and agrarian reform.

4. Dolores Cacuango (1881-1972) is a dearly loved maternal figure who fought in the 20th century against racism and exploitation, for women’s rights and indigenous and campesino people. She was very poor but very outspoken and the founder of the first national indigenous organization in Ecuador. She also started the first Kichwa/Spanish bilingual public schools. For more information see: A short documentary about Dolores Cacuango.

5. Federation of Ecuadorian Indians (FEI) and Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE).

6. Mestizo intellectuals and artists who supported and defended the indigenous movement, reclaiming the richness of a diverse, multicultural society.

Salvador Quishpe Lozano

Salvador Quishpe Lozano

Indigenous leader of Ecuador, former prefect of the province of Zamora Chinchipe, former deputy of Ecuador, farmer.

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