Reporting on the conflict between the mega mining project Conga and the people of Cajamarca, Peru
Today, 16th November, 483 years ago up to 10,000 Cajamarcans were murdered by up to 200 Spanish invaders. The greatly outnumbered Spanish ‘conquistadores’ are often called ‘the brave’ and their victory is counted as one of the greatest, most ingenious of the colonisation of the ‘New World’. However what the history books, written by the victors, do not tell of is how Francisco Pizzaro, who lead the attack, shamelessly lied and cheated his way to his bloody victory. He assured Atahualpa, the then head of the Incan Empire, that he wanted to meet as brothers and talk peacefully. Atahualpa trusted the sincerity of this plea and left his large army at camp while he advanced to the centre of Cajamarca with an unarmed contingent. Accounts tell that Atahualpa offered the Spanish chica, a local ceremonia drink, which was thrown to the ground. When Atahualpa was offered a bible and told that he should surrender to the church and the spanish crown, he similarly threw the book to the ground. This was the signal for the onslaught of spanish cavalry, guns, cannons, horses and other war mechinery. The massacre began and Atahualpa was taken as hostage, to be later executed after his ransom was collected.
Cajamarcans commemorate this day when their people were slaughtered because they had faith in the word of foreign men. Alfredo Mires Ortiz from the Red de Bibliotecas Rurales de Cajamarca explains the impact of this day, especially in relation to the written word, drawing from his experience of the rural library network (Spanish audio, English subtitles):