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The first coup in the Americas

30 June 2009

Geeze, I missed it (and so did Otto, at Inca Kola, who usually is up on these things).  From Daniel Schmidt’s “To The Roots” is a short piece on the first American coup, like those that have followed, having more to do with maintaining the economic status quo, and only incidentally (and after the fact) justified as a need to prevent a dictatorship.

[26 June] in 1541 (478 years ago) Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of the Inkas, founder of Lima, first governor of Peru, was hacked to death in his palace in the capital city. Of course, the killing was factional – the elimination of the pizzaroPizarro brothers for the ascension of Diego Almagro II. The killing was also politically motivated. Almargo II was the son of Diego de Almargo, founder of Chile and companion and later rival of Pizarro, who would be sentenced to death in 1538 by decapitation, carried out under orders of the Pizarro brothers. Almargo II sought revenge (he would be captured within a year and assassinated as well after the Battle of Chupas) and threw Peru into a lengthy civil war. The Spanish fought back the threats against its interests in Peru, which made it the richest nation on earth at the time, and interred the country for another three centuries.

The Mexican connection:  Pizzarro and Hernán Cortés (full surname: Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro) were first cousins. Cortés was better educated (he’d studied law at the University of Salamanca) and — when he faced a coup in 1523 (while in HONDURAS!) — knew enough law to justify retribution against the assumed plotters, though it forced the Crown to reorganize the government in New Spain. In turn, this set the stage for Mexico’s broader class of elites than that in Peru, where a small class of European-descended elites still have a stranglehold on the economic and political power.

By the way, “To The Roots” is a very good U.S. based (Old Dominion University) general Pan-American blog covering both recent news and history throughout the hemisphere (written from the left hemisphere, I s’ponse).  Recent posts, besides news events on historic events from  Canada (there was a recent piece on John Cabot) to the Southern Cone (another on the suspension of democracy in Uruguay in 1973) .

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