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Burying the Past: Locality, Lived History, and Death in an Aymara Ritual of Remembrance

Excerpt From Essay

"On March 12, 1921, Aymara from the ayllus (indigenous communities) surrounding the town of Jesus de Machaqa attacked the town's residents and government officials. The attacking Indians burned and looted houses and killed some 16 vecinos—ethnically non-Indian (mestizo) residents of the town. A number of the victims were burned to death, "roasted" alive in their blazing houses. In urban circles the event was imagined as a cannibal feast; remembrances recorded from indigenous Machaquenos in the 1990s depict the uprising in similar ways.

The Aymara were responding to increasing pressures on their lands by surrounding haciendas as well as to abuses committed by the corregidor, Lucio Estrada—the principal victim of the attack according to Machaqueno oral histories. Estrada had a reputation for corruption and mistreatment of Indians. The news of his appointment as corregidor in 1919 prompted a letter of protest 2 from Machaqueno leaders to the prefect of the Department of La Paz. The proximate cause of the attack was likely the death of a local Aymara man in a jail cell in Jesus de Machaqa."

"Burying the Past: Locality, Lived History, and Death in an Aymara Ritual of Remembrance," Andrew Orta (471).

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