Aleeze Sattar
Department of Anthropology
New School for Social Research

To Kill a Cacique: caciques, communities, state formation

Chimborazo, Ecuador. 1830-1845

Draft of paper prepared for delivery at the 2000 meeting of the Latin American Studies Association, Hyatt Regency Miami, March 16-18, 2000.

I. Introduction:

In July of 1845, less than a month after the civil war deposed the military president Juan José Flores, a group of Indian comuneros from a northern parish of the province of Chimborazo paid soldiers to assassinate their cacique governor, whom they accused of being a Floreano. The soldiers brutally beat the cacique but did not actually kill him. Nonetheless, eight Indians were charged and tried for voluntarily inflicting injuries on their cacique. I came across this case document while conducting my dissertation research in the archive in Riobamba. (1) The case illustrates how certain Indians took advantage of larger political events in dealing with a factional conflict within their community.

Recent scholarship on subaltern politics, critiquing the view of subaltern actors as parochial and unable to imagine political worlds beyond their petty parish conflict, has emphasized the evident skill with which many subaltern peoples participate in larger political projects and use the language and categories of the state. (2) The events encapsulated in the trial document demonstrate how Indians were more than capable of comprehending the larger political landscape--they were able to make shrewd use of national political rhetoric in defense of their actions. They used the language of the state to frame a conflict that was internal to the community. Moreover, they used instruments of the state--namely soldiers--in an attempt to rid themselves of their cacique governor.

The conflict itself can only be partially understood if considered solely with reference to the larger political context. As William Roseberry has suggested, we should be wary of equating all subaltern politics with processes of state formation, a tendency that Roseberry sees as increasingly apparent in recent studies of subalterns and their "agency" within projects of state-formation. (3) What may be lost by overly focusing on the state, or on peasant participation in projects of state formation, are the local (and sometimes intimate) conflicts that can inflect and give meaning to much of subaltern politics. In studying the relationship between state formation and the reconfiguration of Indian communities, it is important to understand how these communities were differentiated, and how they were characterized by a wide range of conflicts.

In this paper, through an analysis of the criminal trial case, I address one particular type of conflict, namely, that involving caciques, and hence, the issue of authority within Indian communities. The paper is divided into two parts. The first considers the criminal case against the Indians. I describe the national political setting within which this event was situated, before considering the actual case document. I examine the case at some length, as the details provide an interesting perspective on the complex social world of 19th century Ecuador. The material will clearly illustrate how Indians used the rhetoric and categories of the state. However, the goal of the analysis is not simply to elucidate the Indians' use of state language, but rather, to highlight the nuances of the local conflict between the Indians and the cacique governor. The second part of the paper is devoted to a more general discussion of Indian tribute, the exclusion of Indians from citizenship, and caciques as intermediaries between the "republic of Indians" and the republican state.

II. The Setting: Fragile Nation, Civil War, The Fall of the Caudillo (4)

The setting for our story is the civil war of 1845, which ended the rule of the military president Juan José Flores (1830-34, 1839-45). Flores, Venezuelan by birth, rose up through Bolívar's legions to become a powerful military commander in charge of the Southern departments of Quito, Azuay and Guayas during the Gran Colombian period (1820-1830), departments that in 1830 became Ecuador. The new republic was fraught with tensions from the start, and an important source of strain was regionalist conflicts that at times threatened to tear the country apart. (5)

President Flores had strong ties with the landowning highland elite (his personal alliances forged through marriage were reinforced by his pro-sierra politics), and although he did not have the support of the coastal merchant oligarchy, he nonetheless managed to effectively hold on to power for 15 years after independence. However, this period was marked by political instability and frequent rebellions. In 1834 the opposition to Flores grew into a regionalist civil war. Vicente Rocafuerte formed a government on the coast while José Félix Valdivieso claimed to rule from Quito. Cuenca and the south wavered between the two. Eventually Rocafuerte was temporarily allied himself with his former enemy Flores, and unified the nation by force. In 1835 Rocafuerte was elected as the president and ruled until 1839, although Flores continued to wield power behind the scenes, and was himself reelected in 1839.

Partisan strife in 1841 led to the dissolution of Congress and its legislative power for the next two years. For Flores (who had already demonstrated his capacity for brutal suppression of any opposition) this illustrated that the government of Ecuador was "fragile and defective" and could not fulfill its primary purpose of preserving social order. Towards the end, Flores like Bolívar became disillusioned with the possibilities of republican rule in the Americas, and even toyed with the idea of restoring a monarchy. (6) In an address to the nation in 1843, Flores suggested that only in hereditary monarchies that had the necessary might to preserve public order, could systematic opposition be permitted. (7)

He called a national convention and forced through a new constitution that expanded presidential authority. It gave the chief executive almost unlimited power of appointment and removal, unchallenged supremacy over the entire administrative machinery of the nation, from the highest levels down to the local cantons and parishes. This was strongly opposed by Rocafuerte who withdrew from the convention, tried unsuccessfully to organize a revolution in Guayaquil, and eventually went into voluntary exile in Peru, from where he continuously worked to bring down the Flores government.

In the same year large-scale protests against Flores arose for a different reason. In the highlands, his attempt to replace Indian tribute with a general head tax led to violent rebellions by mostly the poorer white-mestizos. The resistance was so severe that the government was forced to back down after three months of fighting. In the second part of the paper I discuss this failed attempt at the abolition of Indian tribute in greater detail.

The 1843 constitution (known as the Charter of Slavery by his opponents) fueled great resentment against Flores, culminating in the civil war of 1845. Vicente Ramón Roca, a merchant-politician, had organized a large-scale revolt, involving important military units of the Guayas region. Initially, revolutionary fervor was concentrated in the coastal areas, where most of the elite was against the government. By the time Flores rushed to the coast with a small troop of 400, it was too late. The rebels had gained too much strength, and Vicente Rocafuerte, then in Lima, had secured Peruvian recognition of the provisional government, sending 1000 rifles and other war material to Guayaquil. Revolutionary forces under the command of another longtime enemy of Flores enjoyed the advantages of superior naval power, of communication by sea with outside world, and the rainy season that kept the lowlands flooded and hampered the operations of Flores' small army of highlanders. The revolution gradually spread to all parts of the nation and in June (three months after the insurrection began) Flores was forced to yield to his adversaries.

In the aftermath of the civil war soldiers were present in most parts of the country. (8)

The soldiers, who belonged to the revolutionary side that had brought down the government of Juan José Flores, called themselves the Army of libres, while those loyal to Flores were known as the Floreanos. In the summer of 1845 a unit of the libres were stationed in the parish of Chambo, in the central highland province of Chimborazo.

III. The Story: To Kill a Cacique

Less than a month after the civil war ended, a couple of Indians from the community of Quimiag went to the soldiers stationed in Chambo with a proposition. They offered to pay the soldiers to kill their cacique governor, José Antonio Peralta, who they accused of being a Floreano, (i.e., a supporter of Flores). According to the Indians' testimony, they went to the soldiers solely to denounce their cacique of being a Floreano. Witnesses in court later testified that the soldiers went to the cacique governor's home and severely assaulted him. However, they did not kill him as their militia captain, Don Fructoso Moreno, arrived on the scene in time to restrain the soldiers and save the cacique governor's life. (9) Criminal proceedings were started against the Indians who had allegedly hired the soldiers. The title of the document, indicated that it was a criminal case against eight Indians for the crime of cuadrilla (10) and voluntarily inflicting bodily harm upon the body of their cacique governor, Antonio Peralta.

The documentation of this case is incomplete, so the final outcome of the case remains unknown. However, what remains of the document is nonetheless fascinating. The case takes interesting twists and turns and is worth going into in greater detail. As for the soldiers, none were tried in civil court, which is not surprising. Neither the soldiers nor the captain were called as witnesses in the trial against the Indians. They were not even mentioned by the prosecution or the presiding judge.

The document begins with the testimony of the cacique governor Antonio Peralta, who recounts the event. He stated that unknown soldiers entered his home and began to violently beat him. He claimed that he saw the Indian defendants outside his home instigating the soldiers. Finally the ciudadano (11) and captain of militias, Jose Fructoso Moreno, arrived and restrained the soldiers. The news that the soldiers were killing the cacique had apparently spread quickly as the compound of the cacique's house and the street immediately filled with Indians, whites and mestizos of the parish, many of whom would later testify during the trial.

Eight Indians were imprisoned and held for trial. They included three brothers (Manuel, Jacinto and Vicente Caguana), their mother (Micaela Caguana), as well as the wife of one of the brothers. A compadre of the family (Buenaventura Yupanqui) and his wife (Maria Condo) were also accused, as was another man whose relationship to the group is unclear. Although they all denied the charges, they did not deny their animosity for the cacique governor. During this period, Indians--legally defined as minors--were not allowed to represent themselves in court and had to be represented by the Protector of Indígenas. However, in this case the Indians were defended by ciudadano Dr. Manuel Dominguez, and it was not explained in the case records why the Protector was unavailable. Routinely the Protector's absence (not a rare occurrence) would have been explained, but in the aftermath of the revolution there seemed to be many lapses in the ritual of legal proceedings.

Through the testimony of the witnesses the story is further elaborated. The event took place during the annual fiesta of San Pedro. This is an important religious fiesta of the region, with pre-Colombian precedents in celebrations of the summer solstice. The fundador (12) of the fiesta (who owned the image of San Pedro) selected the priostes or capitanes of the fiesta, and during this particular year, one of the Caguana brothers was chosen as the prioste in charge of the corrida de gallos. To be selected as prioste was extremely prestigious for the young man and his family (an appointment that anyone with political ambition would covet). It was a prestige for which the family would often go into debt, spending months getting ready for the expenses that would have to be spent on food and preparing chicha and entertainment. (13)

During the fiesta it was customary for the prioste and his family to pay their respects to the cacique governor and other caciques of the community, as well as to the fundadores, offering them food and chicha. Apparently, on the day of the corrida de gallos, the cacique Peralta was dissatisfied with the manner in which the prioste paid his respects. Angry and unable to find the prioste, the cacique governor imprisoned the father of the prioste, Mariano Caguana in the stocks in his home.

When the prioste's family learned that their father was being held, they gathered together to try and obtain his release. The compadre of the family, Buenaventura Yupanqui offered to pay bail to the cacique for the release of Mariano Caguana, but the cacique refused. The Indians then went to the parish priest who told them to be patient and that he would send a note to the teniente of the parish to notify him of the incident. (14) From the document, we do not know if the teniente was ever informed.

The wife of Buenaventura Yupanqui, Maria Condo, declared during her testimony that she had advised Micaela Caguana (the mother) to go the Protector of Indígenas in Riobamba, but that the latter had not followed her advice. According to witnesses for the prosecution, Micaela was overheard persuading Buenaventura Yupanqui to go to Chambo along with her son Manuel Caguana to get the soldiers.

The defendants' apoderado (attorney) claimed that it was true that Buenaventura and Manuel Caguana had traveled to Chambo, but their intention had been to ask for his assistance in dealing with an abusive cacique Governor, who happened to be a Floreano. He claimed the soldiers had taken it upon themselves to punish the governor Peralta for being a supporter of Flores.

The witnesses for the prosecution, including the Indian alguacil mayor (Chief Constable) testified otherwise. They claimed that Indians on trial had been heard boasting that they had put together the plata grueza (the big money) to hire soldiers to kill their cacique governor. Many witnesses stated that the defendants had been seen urging on the soldiers, proclaiming statements like, "Now for Peralta there will be no more hens, houses, guinea pigs, aguardiente," and that they had "brought those who could really fix Peralta." One Indian witness, Domingo Guaman, said that he had even heard one of the Indians berate the soldiers for leaving Peralta alive. A white-mestizo witness testified that when he had asked Buenaventura Yupanqui why he wanted his own governor dead, he had replied that Peralta was a mestizo intruder whom they did not recognize as their legitimate leader.

The defendants' apoderado argued that these Indians could not be tried for the crime of cuadrilla since they were all related through blood, marriage or compadrazgo ties. Thus they had only legitimately and lawfully come together to deal with a family crisis. He tried to discredit the witnesses for the other side, saying that they were motivated by personal antagonism against the defendants. (15)

The apoderado brought other witnesses (both Indians and mestizos) who supported the portrayal of the cacique governor as extremely abusive, especially when drunk which was more often than not. One Indian who owned a chicheria in his house said that Peralta spent most of his time drinking with his associates (including some white women who were not from the parish, and who were allegedly his mistresses), and that he would usually force other Indians pay for his drinks. The ciudadano, Jose Herraro testified that when Antonio Peralta was a young man, and not yet the governor, he had assaulted and robbed an Indian concierto of a nearby hacienda (owned by the convent of San Agustin), but that he had escaped trial.

Another ciudadano accused Peralta of stealing from the house of a ciudadana during the same fiesta of San Pedro, an accusation that Antonio Peralta responded to by naming an apoderado to defend him. His defense was to discredit the testimony of Jose Herraro, by arguing that he was the mayordomo of the hacienda where two of the accused (including the prioste) were conciertos, and that the latter had bribed Herraro to give false testimony. However, Manuel Dominguez (apoderado of the Caguanas) brought witnesses to show that they were not conciertos, although they occasionally worked on the hacienda as indios sueltos. This particular twist in the case came to a dead end.

The criminal trial against the Indians continued for months, and they remained imprisoned. In November of 1845, Manuel Dominguez argued that the judge in the case, Dr. Manuel Velasco should recluse himself, as he was a personal friend of Antonio Peralta. Dominguez alleged that Velasco--who owned a hacienda near the parish--had recently turned to Antonio Peralta to recruit Indians from the neighboring communities to help with the harvesting of barley on his hacienda. As governor of Indians, Peralta had, according to Dominguez, forcibly sent Indians to work on Velasco's fields without any recompense for their labor. (16) Dr. Manuel Velasco wrote back that the minga was a customary practice and that on harvest days the governor or other caciques, without necessarily being friends of the hacendados, would provide Indians who were voluntarily part of the minga. In exchange they were given food and chicha by the hacendado. (17)

The documentation of the case ends in October of 1846 not with a bang but a whimper. The last folio contained a note from Dr. Velasco instructing the prison warden to release three of the prisoners who were ill with fever and dysentery. In the archive there were no other documents pertaining to the case, and thus this story ends without resolution.

What was this trial really about? Indians from the community tried to kill their own cacique-governor, accusing him of being a Floreano (and a mestizo intruder), but he was saved by the captain of the militias of the army of libres that had just deposed Flores. For me this case demonstrates how Indians even though they were technically defined as "minors" incapable of exercising citizenship, were legally shrewd and could easily use the rhetoric of the state. The parallel between the civil war that deposed Flores (who had ceased to become a "legitimate leader") and the Indians' attempt to overthrow their cacique (who they accused of being a Floreano, mestizo-intruder, and not their legitimate ruler) using the soldiers as pawns, is truly fascinating.

However, this is only one aspect of the case. Another element is the intense dispute between the Indians and their cacique governor. The timing of the dispute--that it took place during a fiesta--is relevant. Fiestas were ritually auspicious and momentous times when community members--and even different communities--came together. Yet, they were also moments of rupture when long standing disputes could violently flare up. (18) The conflict was between the cacique governor and the family of the prioste, and I cannot help must speculate that it was really about issues of power, authority, and legitimacy within the community.

Embedded within the case document are other interesting elements. One is the complex relationship between haciendas and Indian communities. During this period, haciendas were--contrary to current perception--not yet the dominant forces in the region. The details of the case provide evidence that not all Indians working on haciendas were conciertos. They also support the finding that many of the judges, apoderados and other state officials were also hacendados.

Finally, in the case document there was one vague reference to Indian tribute--the Indians had told the soldiers that their cacique governor, Peralta the Floreano, had with him the money for Indian tribute to be given to the Collector. Unfortunately this was one of those totally intriguing but hanging statements without connecting references to allow me to fully understand the implications.

However, since tribute was the quintessential element defining the relationship between Indian communities and state formation during the early part of the 19th century, in the second part of this paper, I turn to a more general discussion of it.

IV. Caciques, Indian tribute, and the State

In 1830 when Ecuador became an independent nation state, Indians made up from 55 to 60% of its approximately 600,000 inhabitants. In the Province of Chimborazo (as well as in other areas of the Sierra) this figure was as high as 70%. In this province, more Indian lived in "autonomous" communities than in haciendas, which did not become the dominant force until later in the century. (19)

Like other indigenous groups across the Andes, the communities in the province, had been legally established under the authority of indigenous caciques early in the colonial period and had been given land grants (or rights to lands that they had traditionally occupied) called resguardos. In exchange for paying tribute to the state their rights to these lands were theoretically guaranteed and protected by the Crown, and they were exempt from other taxes and obligations. During the colonial period, Indians (who did not think of themselves as Indians or even indígenas as they later came to be called, but rather as members of particular communities) were by law part of a separate republic, called the Republica de Indios as opposed to the Republica de Españoles or de Blancos, and administered according to a separate body of rules and laws. The two separate republics--of Indians and whites--were articulated through Indian tribute, and the primary responsibility of the caciques was the collection of this tribute. Republican Ecuador inherited this dual colonial classification of its population and tribute was what set the Indian communities apart from the rest of the nation.

The question of Indian tribute was a particularly vexing problem for the republican state, built as it was on the ideals of liberal nationalism--citizenship, representation and private property. Simon Bolívar, the "great libertador," had at various moments attempted to abolish Indian tribute. For instance the General Congress of Gran Colombia in 1821 approved a detailed law that abolished tribute, exempted Indians from all parish fees and other civil contributions for five years, and provided for the distribution of Indian resguardo (communal) lands on a basis of small privately owned lands. Bolívar thus attempted to convert Indians into the category of private citizens, by dissolving Indian communities, abolishing their traditional forms of authorities and cabildos, and transforming them into an undifferentiated mass of small holding peasants, like all other citizens subject to the juridical and political authority of the state.

The attempted "construction of a regime of citizenship" (20) would take decades (more like a century!) to take hold. In the 1820s, the department of Quito (which joined Gran Colombia in 1822) could not withstand the loss of more than one-third of its annual revenues from Indian tribute, especially during wartime. Because of these fiscal realities in Quito, Bolívar reinstated tribute in Ecuador. In the year 1825, there was again an attempt to abolish tribute, and in 1828 Bolívar again reinstated it under the name of "personal contribution of indígenas."

In 1830, even though Indians were included as Ecuadorians, they were not citizens, and continued to pay tribute to the state, at an annual rate of 4%. Under the postcolonial tribute system, Indians were in a threefold status: they were Ecuadorians, they were a tributary population, and they were "miserable peoples." The last category put them in a situation of state tutelage. The state's judicial system recognized the tribute paying subject population as Ecuadorians unfit to exercise the rights of citizenship. The state (first colonial and then republican) thereby assumed the role of representing those people categorized as indígenas. To fulfill this function required a complex apparatus of "protectors" and other mediating agents between the indígenas and the public powers. (21)

The state builders recognized that this situation contradicted the very logic of the republic. Juan José Flores made various (unsuccessful) attempts at the abolition of Indian tribute. In 1843, Flores attempted to replace the Indian tribute with a general head tax, although not necessarily for humanitarian reasons. He delivered a somber statement to Congress on the nation's fiscal situation, pronouncing that the newly founded national state was quite bankrupt. Flores made two proposals aimed at not only the fiscal crisis but also the "painful and flagrant political contradiction, an injustice nested in the very principles of the Republic," hoping to eliminate the longstanding political distinction between two types of populations--Indígenas and citizens. The citizens paid no personal or poll tax, and the President announced that they "contributed almost nothing toward the maintenance of the state." The burden of the national revenue rested on the "indigenous taxpayers," who paid the tribute simply because they were classified--first by the colonial state and then the republican state--as indigenous persons. (22)

The two options offered to the parliament by Flores were 1) the abolition of the indigenous tribute to be replaced by other taxes imposed on every citizen in proportion to his assets, or 2) the extension of the tribute to that part of the people otherwise exempt from its payment. But, as mentioned earlier, the decree of a universal levy led to a violent rebellion that swept the most densely populated areas of the Sierra from north to south, areas inhabited by both white-mestizos and Indians. Except for Quito, the revolutionary fervor spread throughout the villages and towns of the Sierra. The President ordered the army to stamp out the insurrections but the fighting lasted almost 3 months, the rebellion ceasing only after the government backed off. The President revoked the act that had extended the levy imposed on Indians to all adult males. Only the Indian population continued to pay the tribute as they had for three centuries in their capacity as colonial subjects.

Those protesting against the universal tax (contribución general) were mostly poor white-mestizos who despised the idea of being associated with Indian tribute. The use of the word tribute contained meanings that these whites and mestizos (mostly peasants with scarce lands, wage workers, artisans, itinerant merchants) objected to. Guerrero writes that "the payment of a 'universal contribution' necessarily resituated them on the same plane as the indigenous population from which they strove so hard to differentiate themselves, climbing an ethnic ladder which distanced them from their indiscernible station near the ethnic border." (23) These whites and mestizos also feared that if obligated to pay this tax they, like the Indians, would be forced to sell themselves into bondage on the haciendas.

The Indians themselves were against the abolition of tribute. Although it was a considerable financial burden, forcing them to enter into a monetary economy or (for some) actual bondage on the haciendas, tribute nonetheless allowed Indian communities to appeal to legislative recognition of their difference. Indians viewed themselves as a different, tributary society within the Ecuadorian state. While they paid tribute they had certain guarantees to their communal lands, which the state was compelled to recognize. The Indian communities could continue to appeal to colonial land titles and to their status as a corporate group with their own indigenous government and authorities. In a way, they offered a sharp contrast to the dominant liberal discourse of nationhood. (24)

While Indian tribute was sustained, the state was forced to recognize the authority of the traditional Indian leaders--the caciques. To a large extent the state actually relied on the caciques for the collection of the tribute. They were part of the body of intermediaries that mediated between the republic of Indians and the republican state.

Within the communities, the legitimacy of caciques and cacique governors (25) rested on their effective claim to noble lineage, their skill in arbitrating conflicts within the communities, their capacity for protecting the community from outside threats and ability to represent the interests of the communities to the state. But in the eyes of the state, their primary responsibility was the collection of Indian tribute.

In a case from 1836, in which a group of caciques mutinied against the cacique named as the Indian governor by the Corregidor (the Municipal authority), the Corregidor stated that "the appointed governor should continue in his position, and obey the orders directed by the government, namely the collection of the personal contribution of Indians." (26) In the early decades when Indian tribute still accounted for a large portion of the national revenue, the Ecuadorian state repeatedly stated that caciques and governors must be obeyed by their community members and respected even by outsiders.

But, as mentioned above, the very fact of tribute and Indian communities as separate corporate entity posed a serious problem for the republican state. In 1847, in response to a petition by an indígena soliciting the government for his title of cacique (27), the Alcalde Municipal in Riobamba claimed that the solicitation was "opposed and contrary to our system of government." (28) This Alcalde, Dr. Larrea, who later became the Provincial Governor, argued that political emancipation from Spain meant a complete break with colonial institutions, including cacicazgos. Furthermore, he wrote, "the collection of tribute is today practiced by individuals deemed trustworthy by the Collector, a practice that was not the case during the Spanish government. During the colonial period, it was the caciques who were called to collect the tribute, in exchange for certain exclusive privileges granted to them." But the apoderado for the indígena appealed to the Supreme Court in Quito, arguing that the Alcalde's decision suffered form errors in reasoning. He showed that the Ley de procemiendo civil stipulated that the laws of the recopilacion del indias should continue to be observed. And according to these laws the rights of cacicazgo were to be strictly adhered to. His appeal declared that the cacicazgo was a very important institution and to deny it would be to afflict the "miserable clase indíjena" who so adhere to their customs that in the presence of the caciques they found a sort of consolation and moral guidance. According to this eloquent apoderado, far from being a destructive or negative force, the caciques exercised a moral influence on their communities. He added that caciques were also able to obtain, easily and surely, resources (read tribute) when necessary and could provide the parish priests with whatever they need, (read Indian labor). (29)

We do not know how the Governor of the Province ruled, but Dr. Larrea's opinion of the rupture with colonial institutions was clearly more an ideal than reality.

However, even the apoderado's view of caciques (that they always exert a moral influence on the communities and provide guidance) was an ideal that not all caciques could live up to. According to traditional Andean cosmology, the social unit of the ayllu or the parcialidad (the community) was a replica of the biological body, in which the caciques (the communal authority) represented the central nervous system, regulating and governing the entire life of the community. There were many caciques who fulfilled this function admirably, but the cacique governor of Quimiag, Antonio Peralta was clearly not such a man. By no means could he be called a good moral influence on his community. He inherited his title of cacicazgo from his father, and perhaps was elected as governor due to personal friendships with influential members of the local elite, the state officials and hacendados (although we do not know for sure). Most of the witnesses called in the trial attested to the fact that he was far from likeable, virtuous or capable of governing. Those on trial said that they did not accept him as their legitimate leader. These Indians called him a mestizo-intruder, calling into question his legitimacy to the title of cacique (although he was probably as much indígena as they were).


1. The actual name of this archive is "Archivo del Historia, Benjamin Carrion, Casa de la Cultura, Nucleu de Chimborazo." However, historians who have used material from the archive refer to it as the Archivo Nacional de Historia/Riobamba (ANH/R). I have followed the latter.

2. Among others are Florencia Mallon, 1995, Peasant and Nation: The Making of Postcolonial Mexico and Peru. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Mark Thurner, 1997, From Two Republics to one Divided: Contradictions of Postcolonial Nationmaking in Andean Peru. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.

3. William Roseberry, "Para calmar los animos entre los vecinos de este lugar: Community and Conflict in Porfirian Patzcuaro," Paper presented at LASA 1999.

4. I use the term caudillo loosely here. The authority and following that so called caudillos possessed was not merely a result of their personal magnetism. Instead, such men came to, and retained power because they understood, represented or exploited regional interests. Of course military support did not hurt either.

5. In 1830 the framers of Ecuador's first constitution attempted to avoid regional conflicts by designing a government structure that divided congressional representation equally among the departments of Quito, Azuay and Guayas regardless of their population. They also concentrated power in the three departmental capitals: Quito, Cuenca, and Guayaquil. However, since each department included more than one historic province (Quito the capital of Pichincha province also governed Imbabura and Chimborazo provinces), this arrangement led to intradepartmental feuding. Provincial representation became a major issue and in the constitution of 1835 the departmental governments were abolished in favor of provincial governments, permitting greater local control. However this constitution retained the department structure for electoral purposes.

6. Just before his death Bolívar had written a letter to Flores passing down the "lessons" he had learnt: "First, for us America is ungovernable; second, he who serves a revolution plows the sea; third, the only thing one can do in America is emigrate; fourth, this land will inevitably fall into the hands of the unbridled masses, to pass later to petty, almost indiscernible tyrants of all colors and races; fifth, devoured by all kinds of crimes and consumed by the ferocity as we are, Europeans will not deign to conquer us; sixth, if it were possible for a part of the world to return to primeval chaos, America would do it." Cited in Mark J. Van Aken, King of the Night: Juan José Flores and Ecuador 1824-1864.


8. The total number of troops involved was between 3000-4000, of which about 800 died in combat. Many more died from disease, especially yellow fever that killed large numbers of highland troops. Since Independence, Ecuador had a large military caste that considered itself above the law. There were many foreign military men, only some of whom managed to ally themselves with the Ecuadorian elite, through marriage or through the institution of the army. Most had no economic or social ties to the region and were always willing to support a revolution or to back politicians who promised them rewards. Two types of armed forces dominated national politics although it was often difficult to differentiate between the two--the national military and the armed guerrillas or montoneras, with the former usually loyal to the government. When the insurgents succeeded in overthrowing the government and bringing their leaders to power they were usually rewarded with employment in the national armed forces, while those who had previously served in the national force were thrown out or exiled by the victors. For example, the Flores defeat in 1845 led to the dismissal of loyal officers. The ousted military men seized every opportunity to overthrow the government, and as a result President Vicente Ramón Roca (1845-1849) faced more than twenty armed insurrections. See, Linda Rodriguez, 1985. The Search for Public Policy: Regional Politics and Government Finances in Ecuador, 1830-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press.

9. ANH/R: Cr, 1845, "Juicio contra Vicente i Manuel Caguana, Manuel Buenaventura Yupanqui, Jacinto Caguana, i Miguel Sepeda, Maria Cando, Micaela Caguana, Melchora Suica por el delito de cuadrilla, i heridas voluntarias en la persona de Antonio Peralta."

10. Cuadrilla literally refers to an "armed band." But it was an accusation of criminal activity used more loosely and quite frequently by the state to intimate a variety of gatherings considered illicit, which could range from a spontaneous gathering in the village to a large-scale mutiny.

11. In the local court documents, everyone was referred to either as ciudadano or as indígena, clearly indicating everybody as either a citizen (white-mestizo) or an Indian..

12. The position of fundador or regidor was an important religious position, titles of which were originally granted by early colonial magistrates, and passed down through inheritance.

13. The fiesta of San Juan begins in late June, and lasts from one Thursday to the next, with particular events planned for each of the days. On the first day the prioste and his families would be given the costumes, musical instruments, etc, and the fundador would give the image of the santo to the prioste. In the afternoon, the prioste would receive people at his house, organize the other participants of the fiesta (the cooks, the dancers, etc.), giving them food and chicha. On Friday the entire community would descend to the plaza with the banda that had previously been prepared by the family of the prioste. On Saturday, the prioste and his family would invite the whole community to eat and drink. The following day a procession would go out to the plaza, where they would drink and dance all night long. In the morning, the wife of the prioste would throw oranges. On Monday, they would pay their respects to the caciques, tenientes, the comisarios, giving them oranges, sweets, and later food. The Wednesday would be the juego de gallos. This was a game in which the priostes, mounted on horses and with roosters in their arms would chase each other, trying to hit each other with the roosters. Drinking was also an important ritual element of the fiesta. To fall to the ground drunk symbolized a return to the pachamama, mother-earth.

14. Neither priest nor teniente appeared as witnesses. Like the Protector, the teniente was also absent from the scene.

15. I came across other cases in the archive that illustrated the longstanding animosity between Domingo Guaman and the Caguanas.

16. Dominguez wrote, "Es publico y notorio en la parroquia de Quimiag, que los pobres indígenas fueron llevados a la fuerza por Antonio Peralta en calidad de servicio obsequiso, por amistad con dicho Dr. Velasco."

17. Haciendas relied on obtaining additional labor from the neighboring Indian communities during times of harvest and planting. In exchange for access to key resources, like grazing lands of the paramos, wood, water, etc., the communities had to provide a certain number of working hands a couple of days every year. To signal when the labor was needed, hacienda workers--usually the mayordomo accompanied by his mayoral and a couple of conciertos would descend to the community and take prendas from the homes of the Indians--ponchos, axes, even animals. These were taken as guarantees and would be returned once the Indians had worked the required number of days. This practice, ironically called ayuda or assistance by the hacendados, was said by the representative of the hacendados to be a customary and voluntary practice, but--as demonstrated by innumerable cases that came before the courts--it was a practice that was often violently resisted by the communities themselves.

18. In the archive there were many other cases of violent conflicts that took place during religious fiestas.

19. Gerardo Fuentealba, 1990 "La sociedad indígena en las primeras décadas de la república: continuidades coloniales y cambios republicanos," in, Enrique Ayala Mora, Ed. Nueva Historia del Ecuador, Volumen 8, Epoca Republicana II. Quito: Corporación Editora Nacional.

20. This is a term that is used by Andrés Guerrero, "The administration of dominated populations under a regime of citizenship: the case of postcolonial Ecuador." Paper presented to LASA in October 1999.

21. Guerrero, Op. Cited. Also, Guerrero, "El Discurso Liberal de la "desgraciada raza indígena" a Fines del Siglo XIX," in Imágenes e Imagineros. Representaciones de los indígenas ecuatorianos, Siglos XIX y XX. Ed. Blanca Muratorio. Quito: FLACSO-SEDE, 1994: 197-252.

22. Mark Van Aken, 1981, "The lingering death of Indian tribute." Hispanic American Historical Review.61 (3): 429-459.

23. Guerrero, 1999.

24. Tristan Platt has suggested that during early modern periods of state building, coexisting with Enlightenment ideas of individual citizenship and indivisible sovereignty was the notion of a "pact of submission," (or a colonial pact) which was a very different type of contract theory. 1982. Estado boliviano y ayllu andino: tierra y tributo en el norte de Potosí. Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos. And also, 1999, "The Janus State: Indian Sovereignty and Patrician Democracy in Republican Bolivia." Paper presented at LASA 1999.

25. From each community or parcialidad, local state officials would elect one of the caciques to become the Governor of Indians.

26. "…buena conducta, para que haga obedecer y obedesca puntualmente las ordenas que le sean dirijidas por el Gobierno, principalment en la realisacion de la cobranza de contribución de indíjenas." ANH/R: Cr, 1836, "Seguido por Bernardo Quito contra Esteban Saulag y demas por injurias"

27. It is interesting how in this case, as well as in other cases of conflicts between different caciques, the caciques turned to the state to arbitrate, using 17th and 18th century colonial documents to legitimize their competing claims.

28. ANH/R: Cv, 1847, "Seguidos por el Indijena Mariano Pacheco solicitando su titulo del cacique."

29. The district attorney ruled that the case was not a matter for the courts but the Provincial governor. Unfortunately the governor's ruling was not available in this archive.