chapter  VII
51 Pages

VII. THE INDIAN TODAY AND TOMORROW

THE importance of the Indian populations in the modern states of Bolivia and Peru is seldom justly apprehended even within these countries themselves. The Wars of American Independence, waged with the Indians

and the cholos, left their circumstances unchanged and the breach with Spain brought them neither alleviation nor a kinder understanding. The revolutionarily humanitarian decrees of Simon Bolivar mirrored a stirring but still-born idealism, ineffectual for practical betterment, and the economic enslavement of the native peoples in the colonial epoch has been perpetuated by the rulers of the young Republics. As in Bolivia y El Mundo (1947) Jorge Pando Gutierrez restrainedly remarks: 'The conditions in which the agrarian indigene lives are frankly disastrous; he is without social security or medical care; he inhabits inhospitable regions; his alimentation is wretched and his hygienic conditions compare with those of the animals, for the latter share his house and his food.' Under the Republics contempt for the racial and genetic inferiority of the Indian was exaggerated to extremes beyond the utmost excesses of colonial days and the chasm of ignorance yawned wider between the red man and the white, who alone was vocal. Nineteenth-century writers such as Santiago Vaca Guzman, Gabriel René Moreno, Nataniel Aguirre, Eufronio Viscarra and Alcides Arguedas in Bolivia, who moulded and reflected opinion in a State built upon the toil and the sweat of the Indian, decried him unmet as one brutish and bestial, sub-human of intellect, impervious to education, resistant to progress, an economic liability, a drag on development and a disgrace to be glozed. 'Who will draw the Indian from his degradation? What is the social force that can lead him to a higher destiny?' asks Viscarra. While in Juan de la Rosa Aguirre speaks of Quechua as ' that most ugly jargon used by the brutalized children of the sun'.