A Brief History of Bolivia by Waltraud Q. Morales

By Waltraud Q. Morales

Compliment for the former version: ...the author's devotion to Bolivia and quandary for its destiny shines through...Recommended.--Choice

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In the climax of this desperate internecine struggle, Pizarro and his avaricious adventurers arrived. Pizarro’s timing could not have been more favorable for quick conquest. Although the Inca Empire was defended by more than 40,000 soldiers, the bitter internal war allowed the meager contingent of 168 Spanish invaders to infiltrate and enslave one of the last great civilizations of the Americas. Pizarro encountered Atahuallpa’s victorious forces near the city of Cajamarca. The Spanish leader realized the potentially desperate situation he was in, facing a huge army of Indian warriors, so he put in place a plan of savage deceit whose success exceeded what must have been his wildest hopes.

The Incan economic structure was a rigid pyramid based on the same pattern as the empire’s political organization exploiting the agricultural potential of the empire to its fullest. Land was very precious; it was held in common and could not be sold. The rich natural resources of the gold and silver mines, the forests, and the vast flocks and herds of animals were tightly controlled by the Incan ruling class as state monopolies. The land’s produce and resources were always divided into three parts and distributed among the Inca ruling caste, the priests, and the ayllus.

Pizarro first sent out a priest to meet Atahuallpa and to offer the emperor conversion on the spot to Christianity. When the Sapa-Inca quite naturally refused, Pizarro had all the pretext he needed, and the Spaniards unleashed a vicious, unforgiving ambush. The attack by cannon, harquebus, crossbow, lance, and sword caught the Inca entirely unprepared, and a slaughter ensued. Several hundred, perhaps more than 1,000, Inca were killed there and then, and Atahuallpa was taken captive without the loss of a single Spanish life.

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