|Evidence of settlement
in Peru dates back thousands of years but, except for some scattered ruins,
little is known of these early peoples. In about 1250 BC groups such as
the Chavín, Chimú, Nazca, and Tiahuanaco migrated into the
region from the north. The Chimú built the city of Chan Chan about
AD 1000, ruins of which remain today.
The Inca, sometimes called peoples of the sun, were originally a warlike tribe living in a semiarid region of the southern sierra. From 1100 to 1300 the Inca moved north into the fertile Cuzco Valley. From there they overran the neighboring lands. By 1500 the Inca empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean east to the sources of the Paraguay and Amazon rivers and from the region of modern Quito in Ecuador south to the Maule River in Chile. This vast empire was a theocracy, organized along socialistic lines and ruled by an Inca, or emperor, who was worshiped as a divinity. Because the Inca realm contained extensive deposits of gold and silver, it became in the early 16th century a target of Spanish imperial ambitions in the Americas.
In November 1995 anthropologists announced the discovery of the 500-year-old remains of two Inca women and one Inca man frozen in the snow on a mountain peak in Peru. Scientists concluded that the trio were part of a human sacrifice ritual on Ampato, a sacred peak in the Andes mountain range. Artifacts from the find unveiled new information about the Inca and indicated the use of poles and tents rather than traditional stone structures. The arrangement of doll-size statuettes dressed in feathers and fine woolens provided clues about Inca religious and sacrificial practices.
In 1532 the Spanish soldier and adventurer Francisco Pizarro landed in Peru with a force of about 180 men. By guile and by force of arms Pizarro made the Inca Empire a Spanish possession. In 1535 Pizarro founded on the banks of the Rímac River the Peruvian capital city of Ciudad de los Reyes (Spanish for "City of the Kings"; present-day Lima). Subsequently, disputes over jurisdictional powers broke out among the Spanish conquerors, or conquistadors, and in 1541 a member of one of the conflicting Spanish factions assassinated Pizarro in Lima.
In 1542 a Spanish imperial council promulgated statutes called New Laws for the Indies, which were designed to put a stop to cruelties inflicted on the Native Americans. In the same year Spain created the viceroyalty of Peru, which comprised all Spanish South America and Panama, except what is now Venezuela.
The first Spanish viceroy arrived in Peru in 1544 and attempted to enforce the New Laws, but the conquistadores rebelled and, in 1546, killed the viceroy. Although the rebellion was crushed by Spanish government forces in 1548, the New Laws were never put into effect.
In 1569 the Spanish colonial administrator Francisco de Toledo arrived in Peru. During the ensuing 14 years he established a highly effective, although harshly repressive, system of government. Toledo's method of administration consisted of a major government of Spanish officials ruling through a minor government made up of Native Americans who dealt directly with the native population. This system lasted for almost 200 years.
Revolts for Independence
In 1780 a force of 60,000 Native Americans revolted against Spanish rule under the leadership of the Peruvian patriot José Gabriel Condorcanqui, who adopted the name of an ancestor, the Inca Túpac Amaru. Although initially successful, the uprising was crushed in 1781, and Condorcanqui was tortured and executed, as were thousands of his fellow revolutionaries. Another revolt was similarly put down in 1814. Subsequently, however, opposition to imperial rule grew throughout Spanish South America. The opposition was led largely by people of Spanish descent born in South America, who long resented having a status inferior to that of the ruling minorities.
Freedom from Spanish rule, however, was imported to Peru by outsiders. In September 1820 the Argentine soldier and patriot José de San Martín, who had defeated the Spanish forces in Chile, landed an invasion army at the seaport of Pisco, Peru. On July 12, 1821, San Martín's forces entered Lima, which had been abandoned by Spanish troops. Peruvian independence was proclaimed formally on July 28, 1821. The struggle against the Spanish was continued later by the Venezuelan revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar, who entered Peru with his armies in 1822. In 1824, in the battles of Junín on August 6, and of Ayacucho on December 9, Bolívar's forces routed the Spanish. See Ayacucho, Battle of; Junín, Battle of.
Succession of Rulers
The following years were extremely chaotic. Bolívar, who left for Gran Colombia in 1826, was succeeded by a series of his so-called marshals of Ayacucho. Andrés Santa Cruz served until 1827, when he was replaced by José de La Mar, who was in turn supplanted by Agustín Gamarra in 1829. Gamarra ruled until 1833. In the meantime Santa Cruz had become president of Bolivia, and in 1836 he invaded Peru, establishing a confederation of the two countries that lasted three years. After that, Gamarra took power again. The country, however, enjoyed no peace until 1845, when Ramón Castilla, another veteran of Ayacucho, seized the presidency. Fortunately, he proved to be an able ruler, who during his two terms in office (1845-1851 and 1855-1862) initiated many important reforms, including the abolition of slavery, the construction of railroads and telegraph facilities, and the adoption in 1860 of a liberal constitution. Castilla also began exploitation of the country's rich guano and nitrate deposits. In 1864 these deposits involved Peru in a war with Spain, which had seized the guano-rich Chincha Islands. Ecuador, Bolivia, and Chile aided Peru, defeating the Spanish forces in 1866. The resulting treaty of 1879 constituted the first formal Spanish recognition of Peruvian sovereignty.
Peru was badly defeated by Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879-1883). The war severely depleted Peruvian financial reserves and placed subsequent relations between the two countries under a continuing strain. For the next 25 years Peru was ruled by a succession of dictators.
Foundation of APRA
In 1908 a program of economic reform was instituted by President Augusto Leguía y Salcedo. After his first term (1908-1912), Leguía traveled in Great Britain and the United States, where he learned methods of banking and finance, which he later applied in Peru, and made many friends in the business community. He regained the presidency in 1919 by means of a military coup and thereafter ruled as virtual dictator. In 1924, during his rule, some exiled Peruvian intellectuals founded the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), which for more than 40 years was led by Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. As a result of its radical ideology, which called for basic reforms-especially in the conditions of the Native Americans-APRA was soon banned by Leguía (as it would be often later), but managed nevertheless to become the most influential of Peru's political parties. Before Leguía was overthrown in 1930, he had settled by a 1929 treaty the long-standing Tacna-Arica dispute with Chile.
On April 9, 1933, a new constitution was adopted. Later that month President Leguía's successor, Luis Sánchez Cerro, was assassinated. The next chief executive, General Óscar Raimundo Benavides, followed the new pattern of harsh political rule combined with marked economic advances. Manuel Prado y Ugarteche, who succeeded Benavides in 1939, was forced, however, to make concessions to the powerful reform sentiment fostered by APRA.
World War II and After
During World War II (1939-1945) Peru gave limited support to the Allied cause. It broke off relations with the Axis powers in January 1942, but declared war against Germany and Japan only in February 1945 in order to be accepted as a charter member of the United Nations.
In 1945 a coalition of liberal and leftist parties, including APRA, elected as president José Luis Bustamante y Rivero. Bustamante instituted numerous liberal reforms; civil rights and freedom of the press were strengthened, and certain dictatorial powers of the president were abolished by constitutional amendment. In October 1948, however, rightist revolutionary leaders unseated Bustamante, seized the government, and outlawed APRA. On July 2, 1950, Manuel A. Odría, the leader of the 1948 coup d'état, was elected president. Odría's chief opponent was not placed on the ballot.
The Odría administration strengthened Peru's defenses, initiated a large public-works program, and concluded a series of economic and cultural pacts with Brazil that provided for closer cooperation between the two countries. Along with Chile and Ecuador, Peru also extended the country's territorial waters to 320 km (200 mi) off the mainland. This action brought sharp protests from the United States, as many U.S. fishing vessels operated in South American waters.
In the elections of 1956, former President Prado was again victorious. He immediately effected sweeping liberal reforms, but was soon hampered by strikes and riots occasioned by economic instability and runaway inflation. In 1959 the government introduced a program to restrict the outflow of dollars and encourage domestic industries by various means, including facilitating the import of capital goods. By May 1960 the economy had improved markedly, and foreign capital flowed into Peru in the form of loans and development contracts. In October of that year the government won approval of its policy of gradual nationalization of most Peruvian oil-production facilities.
In the presidential elections of 1962 no candidate received the necessary one-third of the votes, and a military junta took control. General Ricardo Pío Pérez Godoy was installed as president in July but was deposed by the junta in March 1963. Three months later Fernando Belaúnde Terry was elected president. During the second half of his administration, political opposition grew, and increasing inflation resulted in devaluation of the currency in 1967.
A long dispute over the claims of the International Petroleum Company (IPC), a subsidiary of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, in the operation of the rich La Brea y Pariñas oil fields was finally settled by the Belaúnde government in August 1968. Widespread disapproval of this settlement, however, forced the resignation of the Cabinet on October 1, and two days later Belaúnde was ousted. The constitution was suspended and a military junta established, headed by General Juan Velasco Alvarado, president of the joint chiefs of staff. His government expropriated the IPC's assets, seriously straining relations with the United States. Relations deteriorated still further in February 1969, when a Peruvian gunboat accosted two U.S. fishing vessels off the Peruvian coast, claiming they were poaching in Peruvian waters. In 1970, despite these differences, U.S. relief supplies were quickly sent to Peru following an earthquake that killed about 67,000 people and left some 600,000 homeless.
In the early 1970s the Velasco government began its radical reform of the social and economic system. Among the major actions were seizure of foreign-owned ranchlands, the imposition of price controls on basic goods and services, and a sweeping land-reform law. The anchovy fishing industry, seriously hurt in 1972 by alteration of ocean currents, was nationalized in 1973. The 1973-1974 budget provided a 35 percent increase in spending to build up and diversify private industry. In June 1973 the World Bank extended credits of $470 million to Peru, and the Inter-American Development Bank lent Peru $30 million.
Return to Democracy
Another military coup toppled the Peruvian government on August 29, 1975, after a series of strikes and demonstrations expressed popular discontent with the ailing President Velasco. The following day, General Francisco Morales Bermúdez, who had been prime minister and minister of war under Velasco, was sworn in as president. His government announced that the country would be returned to democratic rule in 1980. That year, as promised, presidential elections were held. The winner, former President Belaúnde Terry, took office in July, when a new constitution came into effect. During the next five years, per capita income declined, the foreign debt rose, and violence by leftist guerrillas and government counterinsurgency forces mounted. In the 1985 presidential elections, voters chose the APRA candidate, Alan García Pérez, who failed to stem the country's rapid economic decline.
In an upset in the 1990 presidential election, Alberto Fujimori, an agricultural economist of Japanese descent, defeated novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. Fujimori, who ran in the runoff with left-wing support, imposed an austerity program to deal with hyperinflation and to restore Peru's ability to borrow money internationally. Economic hardship led to an escalation of violence by the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), a leftist guerrilla group. In April 1992 Fujimori, alleging that Congress and the judiciary had blocked his efforts to suppress the drug trade and the guerrillas, suspended parts of the constitution and took full control of the government. In September several key Shining Path leaders were captured, and in November Fujimori's supporters won a solid majority in a legislative election. In 1993 the United States and other creditor nations resumed loans to Peru. On October 31, 1993, Peruvians voted to accept a new constitution, signed by Fujimori on December 29, that increased presidential power, changed the legislature from a bicameral body to a unicameral one, and allowed Fujimori to run for a second term.
By 1994 Peru's economy had revived dramatically, reaching a growth rate of more than 12 percent that year. Fujimori's effort to privatize the economy moved forward with the sale of Interbanc, the largest national bank, and the national telephone service to private interests. The country also rejoined the Andean Group just as that group began negotiations to reduce tariffs among member nations. At the same time, the Fujimori government upheld its promise to crush the Shining Path movement, capturing several high-ranking members of the organization's central committee. In June former UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar announced that he would run for the presidency. As presidential elections neared, Fujimori lost momentum after feuding publicly with his wife, Susana Higuchi, a critic of his policies, and relieving her of her duties as first lady. In response she formed an opposition party and announced her intention to run for office in 1995. She was denied candidacy when her party failed to assemble the necessary number of signatures.
In January 1995 a series of skirmishes erupted along a contested section of the Ecuadorian border. President Fujimori capitalized politically on the situation, gaining wide approval for his refusal to compromise with Ecuador. A cease-fire accord was signed in Montevideo, Uruguay, in March 1995. Prior to the April elections Fujimori's opponents attempted to undercut his popularity by challenging his human rights record. Despite those challenges, Fujimori's accomplishments overwhelmed his critics at the polls where he won the presidential elections outright, gaining more than 60 percent of the vote.
Fujimori declared a blanket amnesty in June 1995 for all human rights abuses that may have been committed by members of the Peruvian military or police forces between 1980 and 1995. He pushed the measure through the Peruvian Congress without a debate, outraging human rights activists and many Peruvian citizens, and provoking condemnation from governments around the world. The law absolved military personnel or civilians who had already been convicted, who were under investigation, or who were in the process of being tried for alleged crimes.
In November 1995 Peruvian authorities arrested 23 people, including a U.S. citizen, and alleged that they were members of the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and that they had been planning a terrorist attack on the Peruvian Congress. Túpac Amaru was never as powerful as the Shining Path, but had been responsible for numerous guerrilla attacks in Peru in the 1980s and 1990s. The trials were conducted in secret, and the accused were unable to cross-examine witnesses, challenge government evidence, or call witnesses on their behalf. All 23 defendants were convicted and many of them were given life sentences. International human rights groups and the U.S. government condemned the trials, saying that they illustrated a lack of justice and due process in Peru's legal system.
In December 1996 Túpac Amaru rebels seized the residence of the Japanese ambassador in Lima, taking hundreds of hostages, including foreign diplomats and Peruvian government officials. The rebels demanded the release of imprisoned comrades, and freed all but 72 of their hostages while negotiating with the government. After a four-month-long standoff, Fujimori ordered a military raid on the mansion to free the hostages. Commandos killed all of the rebels, and one hostage and two soldiers died in the attack.