The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
From Indian Insurgency to Creole Independence
Mounting fiscal exactions by the Bourbon Crown in the 1770s generated escalating unrest in the southern Andes among Indians, mestizos, and creoles. One of the most resented reforms was the introduction of customs houses designed to control trade more strictly and to levy higher commercial taxes. Recurrent conspiracies and revolts broke out in Cochabamba, Arequipa, Cuzco, and La Paz and were often accompanied by public pasquinades that lampooned, often in crude verse, the colonial authorities. In La Paz in March 1780, the unfortunate customs-house offcial was Bernardo Gallo. He came in for fierce invective and ridicule from the anonymous authors of the pasqui-nades, and pleaded unsuccessfully to resign his post. The public warning reproduced here played with the word gallo, which means “rooster” in Spanish. This popular urban unrest against the Bourbon reforms clearly contributed to the outbreak of the general insurrection in 1780–81. In 1781, during the massive Indian siege of La Paz, Gallo became emotionally distraught. He rashly delivered himself to his enemies and was promptly hung in an act of insurgent justice. The pasquinade from a year earlier proved a grave prophecy.
Another pasquinade from the antitax revolt of March 1780 in La Paz is remarkable for its radical content. It hints openly that the king of Spain, and not just his ministers, may be ultimately responsible for the injustices in colonial society and that the kingdom of Peru—meaning colonial rule in Andean territory as a whole—should come to an end.