BECK index

Peru 1850-1935

Sanderson Beck

   Peru of Castilla, Prado, Balta & Pardo 1850-78
   Peru’s Chile War & Cáceres 1879-95
   Peru of Positivists, Piérola & Civilistas 1896-1914
   Peru during the Great War 1914-19 
   Peru & Leguía’s Government 1919-30
   Peru of Haya, APRA & Benavides 1930-35

Peru of Castilla, Prado, Balta & Pardo 1850-78

Peru 1831-50

      In 1850 a census found more than two million people in Peru but missed some who did not pay taxes, and the population increased to about 2.5 million in 1862. Ramón Castilla was elected President in 1845 and served for a six-year term that started on April 20. He expanded public education on all levels. Peru’s first railway connected Lima to Callao on 5 April 1851. Roads, aqueducts, and bridges were constructed, and steamboats were employed. Castilla used income from guano fertilizer to pay revolutionary war debts and to provide pensions for veterans.
      President Castilla supported his Vice President José Rufino Echenique who was elected President in 1851. During his term Peru’s first civil laws were codified. He had fought in Peru’s War for Independence, but his Minister of War Juan Crisóstomo Torrico was criticized. Echenique was also advised by the reactionary church leader Bartolomé Herrera who wanted a theocracy. Domingo Elías had been a self-proclaimed president June-August 1844, and in 1852 he criticized the government with his Cartas politicas in the conservative El Comercio newspaper which in 1853 serialized a translation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. After the consolidation of the internal debt of 23,211,400 soles in 1853, Torrico and his friends were accused of gaining 4 million soles. Elías started a rebellion which Torrico suppressed in January 1854.
      Yet the movement for reform spread. Castilla went to Arequipa in February to lead insurgents, and San Román returned from exile to join them. The former President Manuel Ignacio Vivanco offered his forces to the government. Castilla challenged Echenique in the next election. While campaigning on 5 July 1854 Castilla promised that he would abolish the “Indian tribute,” and this would cause a 10% decline in government revenue. Near the end of the year Echenique decreed that black slaves who served two years in the army were free, and Castilla in December promised to free all slaves. In 1854 Peru had 25,505 slaves. On 5 January 1855 near Lima the revolutionaries defeated the army led by Torrico. From 1852 to 1858 Peru’s military spending quadrupled.
      Castilla became the Provisional President in January 1855. In February voters chose delegates to a constituent assembly, though those favoring Echenique were not allowed to vote or faced reprisals. José Galvez, who was influenced by Benjamin Constant, led the young liberals who supported Castilla, and his brother Pedro Galvez was Castilla’s secretary. Castilla compensated owners of 20,000 freed slaves with 300 pesos for each one by using one million pesos from guano fees. Many of those freed refused to continue working in agriculture, and production plunged in the next five years tripling some prices. In 1855 Castilla reformed San Marcos University by coordinating five independent faculties and modernizing the curriculum, and a medical school joined the University in 1856. By then Lima and Callao had water distribution and sewage disposal systems. By 1857 Lima had 2,200 street lights and more than 5,000 lamps using gas.
      In 1856 Peru’s Assembly produced a new constitution with liberal reforms that increased the power of Congress to check the President. The city of Arequipa rebelled on October 31, and the navy mutinied. Castilla’s army besieged Arequipa for eight months until they surrendered on 6 March 1858. Castilla had silenced critical newspapers and exiled political adversaries, and now he dissolved the uncooperative Congress.
      Landowners had begun importing Chinese laborers using bondage that was nearly slavery in 1849. Publicity of the abuses led to a law in 1856 suspending the traffic in Asian workers. Yet 87,952 had come by 1874. Landowners complained, and Castilla got the law repealed in 1862. He had been elected President again in 1858.
      Guano revenues kept increasing with more than 16 million pesos in 1859 and in 1860, but the United States’ Civil War in 1861-65 reduced demand and shipping. After 1859 Peruvian imports became four times its exports. Because of Catholic objections to usury (charging interest on loans), Spain and Peru and did not develop much banking, and they depended on foreign credit. Finally in 1863 three banks were opened by a Belgian, the British, and one by domestic investors.
      Manuel Ignacio Vivanco persuaded President Castilla to improve the navy. After Ecuador granted to creditors land that Peru claimed, Castilla led the Peruvian forces that invaded Guayaquil on 4 October 1859. Castilla negotiated with Ecuador’s General Guillermo Franco, and they came to an agreement on November 8.
      In 1860 the Conservatives got a new constitution that again strengthened the presidency. Liberals were angry, and two attempts were made to kill Castilla. Those he sent into exile included José Galvez. Peru got a favorable treaty with Ecuador, but Castilla declined to enforce it with the military. He supported his Minister of War Miguel de San Román as his successor, and he was elected President in 1862; but San Román appointed several anti-Castilla liberals to advise him. He became ill and died on 3 April 1863.
      Castilla refused to accept Vice President Pedro Diez Canseco and claimed the presidency for six days until the Congress chose Canseco who was replaced by General Juan Antonio Pezet on August 5. That month a labor dispute between Peruvians and Basque immigrants provoked Spain to take over the Chincha Islands in April 1864. Peru and Spain signed the Vivanco-Pareja Treaty on 27 January 1865, but the next week Spain’s Marine Minister Pareja led an invasion at Callao. Many Peruvians believed their national honor was offended, and mobs attacked Spanish residents. President Pezet banished Castilla in February. The Arequipa Department revolted, and the uprising replaced Pezet on April 25 with General Mariano Ignacio Prado who was President for two months. Then he gave the presidency back to Pezet. He handed it over to Vice President Canseco on November 8 and left for Europe. Canseco was President for 20 days. Then the dictatorial Prado was elected, and he was President all together for over two years.
      In January 1866 President Mariano Ignacio Prado declared war against Spain, and he led the army that on May 2 ended the Spanish attack on Callao. Spain withdrew the blockade and in August 1869 signed a treaty of peace and friendship that for the first time recognized the independence of Peru. Former President Castilla announced a revolution to restore his constitution, but he died in his saddle on 30 May 1867. His brother-in-law General Pedro Diez Canseco led the movement, and they succeeded in reviving the 1860 Constitution in early 1868.
      Diez Canseco called for a presidential election, and Col. José Balta was easily elected and became President on August 2. President Balta made Nicolás de Piérola the Minister of Finance and gave him broad powers. He made a financial agreement with the Dreyfus Company of Paris for the guano trade, and they extended to Peru substantial amounts of money as loans. Balta spent much money building railroads and making other improvements. The contractor Henry Meiggs from New York hired 8,000 men that included Chileans, Bolivians, and Chinese as well as Peruvians. Peru had only 90 miles of railways in 1861; but by 1874 they had constructed 947 more miles of tracks, and by 1879 there were 1,963 miles of railroads in Peru. Piérola clashed with President Balta and resigned in July 1871. In the four years under Balta the national debt of Peru was multiplied by ten. In 1870 Peru had 18 millionaires, 11,587 rich people, 22,148 who were well off, no beggars, and 1,236,000 workers.
      In 1872 Piérola advised Balta’s brother, the Prime Minister, not to run, and José Balta endorsed Antonio Arenas. The new Civilista Party nominated the Supreme Prosecutor, 37-year-old Manuel Pardo for President, and in May the Electoral College chose him to be the first civilian President of Peru. On July 22 the Minister of War, Col. Tomás Gutiérrez, imprisoned Balta and proclaimed himself president. Three other Gutiérrez brothers supported his resistance. Silvestre Gutiérrez fired his pistol into a crowd at the Lima railway station, and an armed civilian shot him dead. Guards murdered Balta in his cell. Then a mob killed Tomás Gutiérrez and hung up his mutilated body. Marceliano Gutiérrez died fighting at Callao, and Marcelino Gutiérrez survived.
      Manuel Pardo became President of Peru on 2 August 1872, and in his first message to Congress in September he told them that the economy had been ruined. He reduced the army to a quarter of what it had been, and he formed a defensive alliance with Bolivia by signing the Treaty of Sucre on 6 August 1874. Pardo’s government opened seven normal schools to prepare teachers, and colleges of mining and engineering were established along with vocational schools. He decreed that all Indians should study the Gramática y diccionario español-quechua by José de Anchorena as a way to learn Spanish. Pardo nationalized the nitrate industry in 1875, but he could not get financing for the national debt and suspended payments to foreign countries on 1 January 1876. Piérola was Catholic and opposed the anti-clerical reforms of the government, and this concern led to several military revolts. Pardo was assassinated as he was walking into the Senate chamber on 16 November 1878.
      In 1876 the Civilistas were able to re-elect the former President Mariano Ignacio Prado. The 1876 Census reported that the population of Peru was 2,699,106, and 57% of these were native Americans.

Peru’s Chile War & Cáceres 1879-95

      Discovery of guano, silver, and nitrates made the desert territory of Tarapacá valuable. Bolivia refused to support Chile’s ambitions by abandoning its alliance with Peru in the Sucre Treaty of 1874. Peru’s minister at La Paz persuaded Bolivia’s President Hilarión Daza not to declare war against Chile so that they could negotiate a diplomatic solution. Peru strengthened its garrisons in Tarapacá and fortifications at Callao. After Chile’s forces invaded Bolivia 14 February 1879, President Prado decided that Peru should support Bolivia. Peru’s agents had gained nitrate concessions from Bolivia so that they would not go to Chile.
      On April 5 Chile declared war on Peru. This emergency aggravated the political conflicts going on in Peru and Bolivia. Peru had built the ironclad warship Huáscar in 1865, and they had two wooden warships. On 21 May 1879 the Huáscar and the ironclad Independencia attacked Chile’s two wooden warships blockading the port of Iquique. The Huáscar sank Chile’s Esmeralda, but the Independencia pursuing the Covadonga was wrecked on the rocks. The Huáscar bombarded Chile’s ports, attacked their supply lines, and captured a ship transporting Chilean troops. On October 8 Chilean men-of-war damaged the Huáscar which had to be scuttled after Admiral Miguel Grau was killed.
      With control of the sea Chile’s navy attacked the allies at Tarapacá, Arica, and Tacna, and they blockaded Peru’s coast. The Peruvian economy suffered, and President Prado had paper money printed and sold bonds domestically. Peruvians defeated Chileans at Tarapacá on November 27 and chased them as they fled. On December 18 President Prado left for Europe hoping to get loans and support for the war. Three days later at Lima the government of Peru appointed Nicolás de Piérola the President, and on December 28 Bolivia’s President Daza was replaced for not aiding Peruvians besieged at Pisagua.
      Chileans controlled Peru’s three southern coastal departments and all of Bolivia’s shoreline by 1880, and Chile’s army gained control of the nitrate in the Atacama desert. Peruvians were defeated suffering about 4,000 casualties in the battle at Tacna on May 26. At Arica on June 7 the Peruvians lost twice as many men as the much larger Chilean force. In September the Chilean navy led by Rear-Admiral Patricio Lynch helped 3,000 troops plunder northern coastal valleys, taking over the sugar cane plantations. They stole machines, rails, and equipment, and they burned crops and buildings, chopped down fruit trees, and shot livestock.
      In October 1880 the United States Government sponsored a meeting on the USS Lackawanna at Arica Bay, and Peru and Bolivia would not give up the extensive coastal territories that Chile was demanding. Two days after Peruvians suffered major defeats, they surrendered on 17 January 1881. Piérola retreated to the central highlands as Chileans occupied the capital at Lima. They ransacked the National Library taking most of the 58,000 books and the treasured art. After rich people in Lima were forced to give money to Chileans, a “junta of notables” on February 22 declared the Civilista lawyer Francisco García Calderón the President of Peru. He accepted the loss of Tarapacá, but he hoped to keep Tacna and Arica. Chileans were concerned that the United States might help him to do that, and in November they removed Calderón and imprisoned him at Santiago.
      The recently named Vice President Admiral Lizardo Montero claimed the presidency with the same policy. General Andrés Cáceres, a mestizo warrior who led an army of Indian guerrillas at Ayacucho, challenged Montero’s position. General Miguel de Iglesias commanded a force in the northern highlands, and in 1882 delegates gathered at Cajamarca from northern departments and elected Iglesias the President of Peru. Chileans paid the troops supporting his government, and after long negotiations they signed a treaty on 20 October 1883 at Ancón that ended the War of the Pacific. Chile gained Tarapacá forever and the administration of Tacna and Arica for ten years. Then a plebiscite was to determine their sovereignty. The Chilean army left Peru in August 1884.
      In the War of the Pacific against Chile the nation of Peru had lost thousands of young men and had damaged the economy, agriculture, industry, and transportation. After the Chileans left, Peru’s President Iglesias became more dictatorial. General André Cáceres and others demanded that Iglesias resign so that they could restore constitutional government. Cáceres led guerrillas in an assault on Lima on 27 August 1884, and the Iglesias government managed to fight them off. Civilistas and followers of Nicolás de Piérola organized the Democratic Party, and he became the editor of the newspaper El País.
      In 1885 the Atusparia revolt broke out along the Callejón de Huaylas in the Ancash Department. As Cáceres marched an army toward Lima again in late November 1885, Iglesias resigned on 3 December and left the country. In March 1886 Cáceres was unopposed in the election, and he became President on June 3. His military dictatorship would last nine years. He imposed austere policies that were unpopular because they seemed to benefit his friends in the military. New taxes and a new currency were intended to stabilize prices, but they caused inflation. His administration made an agreement with the British magnate Michael P. Grace who formed the Peruvian Corporation to pay off Peru’s debt, and it was given the railroads for 66 years, the right to mine up to 3 million tons of guano, and 33 annual payments of £80,000. Silver production reached $33 million by 1895. Businessmen started the Lima Chamber of Commerce in 1887. Cáceres had to use extralegal pressure to get the Congress to pass the Grace Contract in 1889, and within two years the railroads were running.
      In 1889 Clorinda Matto de Turner published her novel Aves sin nido (Birds Without a Nest) about a romance between a Euro-Peruvian and an indigenous woman that also exposed the immorality of priests. She studied Inca culture and became known as the “Lily of the Andes.” She had founded the literary magazine El Recreo de Casco in 1878. Her two other novels Indole (Character) in 1891 and Herencia (Heredity) in 1893 were also about the conditions of the indigenous people.
      Gradually Peru’s economy improved to pre-war levels. An 1890 law exempted the mining industry from taxes, and in 1902 they established a liberal mineral code and the National Corps of Mining Engineers. By 1890 Peru was producing 2,000 metric tons of petroleum, and that would increase to over 270,000 metric tons in 1913.
      In 1890 Cáceres got his friend Remigio Morales Bermúdez elected President. Much violence plagued this election. Piérola paid gangsters to break up the meetings supporting Francisco Rosas, and Piérola was put in jail on April 5. The plebiscites that were supposed to be held in Tacna and Arica in 1893 were not held because Peru demanded only natives of Tacna and Arica could vote while the Chile insisted in letting all the inhabitants vote.
      In 1894 Peru did not have any millionaires and had 1,725 rich people, 2,000 well off, 345,000 workers, and about 500,000 beggars. Morales Bermúdez died on 1 April 1894, and the remaining four months were filled by an Interim Caretaker of the Constitution Party. Then a fraudulent election gave Cáceres another term as President. People rebelled and united behind the former President Nicolás de Piérola. They attacked Lima on 17 March 1895. About 2,500 people were killed in the streets before diplomats arranged an armistice two days later. About 4,000 people died in the civil war that lasted about five months. After another caretaker, Piérola was elected unopposed in July, and he became President on September 8 and served four more years, beginning what has been called the “Aristocratic Republic” that lasted until 1919.

Peru of Positivists, Piérola & Civilistas 1896-1914

      The French thinker Auguste Comte influenced some Peruvian intellectuals who wanted to use science and empirical investigation to make material progress. They were also interested in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and Herbert Spencer’s interpretation that was called “Social Darwinism.” They usually broke away from Catholic tradition and dogma. Social Darwinists who wanted to use government to improve economic equality and social improvement were called neo-positivists. Those who used the verification principle to use empirical experience to verify logical analysis were called “logical positivists.”
      In May 1884 when the Iglesias government had recommended a New Regulation of Instruction to give preference to scholastic (Catholic) philosophy, the positivists criticized that for ignoring the history of Peruvian civilization and modern science. At the National University of San Marcos in Lima the philosopher Sebastián Lorente, who was born in Spain, was the chairman of Transcendental Philosophy and then the dean. He especially complained about scholasticism, and he died in November 1884. He was succeeded as dean by Carlos Lissón (1823-91) who supported the economic policies of Manuel Pardo which neo-positivists emphasized. He promoted the Protestant ethic that valued hard work. Lissón opposed the exploitation of foreign loans and investments. In his Breves apuntes sobre la sociologia del Peru en 1886 on page 45 he wrote,

The country requires practical men
who realize that miracles cannot be wrought overnight,
who are patient, and who appreciate that
the prerequisite for progress is hard work
and that only gradually will improvement be wrought.1

He advocated expanding education and government regulation to improve the economy for more people.
      Javier Prado (1871-1921) was the son of President Mariano Prado, and he studied at San Marcos. In 1891 he completed his doctoral dissertation on the evolution of philosophy in history, and he was made the chairman of modern philosophy at the university. He promoted the education of all Peruvians, social solidarity, civic virtues, and the advancement of scientific and technological knowledge. Javier Prado wrote in Estado Social on page 206,

There is nothing which will better elevate
the character of man today, nothing which will make him
interest himself more effectively in the future of his country,
than to educate him to be practical and prudent
and to desire to acquire wealth
by means of his personal efforts.2

      In 1896 Mariano H. Cornejo (1873-1942) became the chairman of sociology at San Marcos University. He believed that progress is inevitable and that it depended on direction by perceptive leaders who discovered the sociological laws that govern improvement. Cornejo also emphasized the importance of widespread public education. He warned that excessive inbreeding was weakening the aristocracy, and he recommended that society admit new blood and work for social equality. Cornejo was influenced by the American sociologist, Lester Frank Ward who noted that education made people different. Cornejo advised that education should be directed and subsidized by the state and be made accessible to all men and women. He was concerned about the Indians and wanted to lift them up as part of society. He wrote,

Colour is one of the most superficial characteristics,
so that even if it is conserved it is possible
and even probable that there will be
cerebral modifications completely independent of colour….
Time will gradually substitute for the biological concept
of rival races, of antagonistic social classes and professions
the reality of the utilitarian concept
of the cooperation of people.3

      Joaquín Capelo (1852-1928) was a math professor at San Marcos as well as a respected sociologist and engineer. He believed vast road-building, rather than railroads, could help unite Peru. He was also concerned about assimilating native Peruvians, and he also worked to protect miners who were being exploited by foreign capitalists.
      In 1896 Manuel Vicente Villarán (1873-1958) began teaching law and its philosophy at San Marcos University, and his lectures were very popular. His social consciousness also insisted on universal and government-supported primary education. He wrote,

Unless the lower classes are educated,
any increase in wealth that is achieved in the country
will go to the exclusive benefit
of the already rich and directing classes,
and thereby serve only to create greater social tension.4

Villarán noted that everything degenerated in Peru except the Indian because they were healthy and strong. He wrote,

The acts of genius and labour which raised the monuments
of the Inca civilization can be repeated today and made
greater still by the modern arts, sciences, and education.5

      Villarán was a close friend of the Civilista politician José Matías Manzanilla (1870-1947) who worked on social legislation for worker rights and social security. Manzanilla criticized unsanitary working conditions, excessive hours, unfair contracts, deplorable housing, and industrial malaise.
      Many Civilistas supported President Piérola’s Democrats in implementing constitutional government and civilian control over the military. These two parties also formed a coalition with the Constitutionalist Party and later with the Liberals after Augusto Durand founded that party in 1901. Piérola led an honest and efficient administration with practical policies. The elected municipal governments that the previous dictatorship had suppressed were revived in 1896, and a constitutional amendment replaced the Electoral College with elections. Piérola returned his policy to the gold standard, and his government cooperated with private enterprise. The Ministry of Development was formed to supervise public works programs. A French military mission arrived in 1896, and they advised how the Chorillos military academy could improve its instruction. In 1897 private investment in Peru from the United States was about $7 million, and it rose to $23 million in 1908.
      Peru adopted its first Military Code of Justice in 1898. To reduce the use of Indians and cholos in the military, a law was enacted that required young men to spend a short time in the military. The Piérola administration established the Society of National Industries. He ended the auctioning of tax-collecting to private firms, and he imposed new excise taxes and tariff duties on exports and imports. The government’s revenues were £7 million in 1895, and they increased to £12 million in 1899, and during his term Peru’s exports and imports nearly doubled.
      Manuel González Prada (1844-1918) became a severe critic of society and an anarchistic philosopher. He helped found the radical National Union Party and was a third-party candidate for President in 1899. He adopted a modern style of writing with the books Minúsculas (1901) and Exóticas (1911), and his posthumous Baladas peruanas in 1935 described the good qualities of indigenous Peruvians. His book Anarquía was published in 1936.
      In 1899 the Democrats and Civilistas nominated the Minister of Development Eduardo López de Romaña for President. Vice President Guillermo Billinghurst was a Democrat, and he still opposed the Civilistas. He and the revolutionary Augusto Durand appealed to Cáceres; but he was in exile at Buenos Aires, and he advised them to support López de Romaña who was elected. In 1900 the Civilistas defeated the optimistic Democrats whom Piérola supported in the election of Lima’s City Council. López de Romaña was an engineer, and he implemented Civilist policies and carried out many public works projects. He frugally supervised the budget and transformed deficits into a surplus by the end of his term. He returned Peru to the gold standard, and 2 soles almost equaled one US dollar.
      Because about 90% of Peruvians were illiterate, there were only about 110,000 voters in 1900; but this would increase as the population was growing from 2.7 million in 1876 to 7 million in 1940.
      Alejandro O. Deustua (1849-1945) taught philosophy at the San Marcos University, and he published 20 books between 1900 and 1939. His philosophy transcended the materialism of positivism, and he emphasized developing intuition and free will. He emphasized moral ideals leading to the ideal image of God. He especially valued aesthetics and the free activity that creates the fine arts. He was concerned that widespread schooling teaching utilitarian values would increase materialistic appetites. He believed that only the university could reach the highest goals of education and prepare the nation’s leaders.
      In the 1903 election some of the Democrats joined the new Liberal Party while others went over to the Civilistas. Although Manuel Pardo’s party had been antimilitarist before, he joined the Constitutionalists who included many soldier-politicians. This new coalition nominated the Civilista Manuel González Candamo who was president of the Lima Chamber of Commerce. Lima’s daily La Prensa was founded in 1903, and they supported Piérola; but five days before the elections began, he endorsed Candamo who had been the Interim President from March 1895 to September 1895 and the President of the Senate in 1897 and in 1901. He was elected unopposed and revived the alliance of the Democrats and Civilistas. Candamo died on 7 May 1904, and Serapio Calderón was Interim President until September 24.
      The Civilistas nominated José Pardo, son of Mariano Prado who had been President 1872-76. José had taught diplomatic law and international treaties at San Marcos University. He was elected in 1904 and appointed a capable cabinet that helped to increase government revenues by 50%, enabling them to triple the budget of the Development Ministry. They extended railroads and undertook new projects. In 1905 they reformed public schools, and their funds increased by 250%. Separate normal schools were founded for training male and female teachers. The Federation of Bread Workers was founded. Pardo wanted comprehensive reform of labor laws, and he appointed José Matias Manzanilla who prepared ten ways of improving working conditions; but their party failed to pass them.
      Pardo’s Finance Minister Augusto B. Leguía improved the collection of revenues and their disbursement, and in 1906 he founded the Peruvian Steamship Company. He also had a dike built at Callao and expanded the railroads. American mining experts financed by J. P. Morgan and others organized the Cerro de Pasco Copper Corporation and purchased 6,000 acres of land. Pardo also allowed Julio C. Arana, the rubber baron, to acquire about 25 million acres, and he employed about 10,000 men to tap rubber trees. Peru had a rubber boom until 1912 when British plantations in the East Indies took over the rubber market. Pardo tried to use his diplomatic skill to negotiate border disputes with Brazil, Ecuador, and Bolivia. When that failed, he approved more military preparation. Augusto Durand led a revolution on 1 May 1907 that was defeated, and many Democrats and Liberals were imprisoned.
      In 1908 President José Pardo endorsed his Finance Minister Augusto B. Leguía for President. Leguía had gained much business experience by founding an insurance company, as manager of the British Sugar Company, and as president of the National Bank of Peru. He was elected on May 25. After he became President on September 24, he freed those arrested for the revolt on May 1. Leguía founded the Guano Administrative Company, and he expanded the use of the fertilizer in coastal Peru increasing the wealth of the landowners. Sugar and cotton became Peru’s most important products.
      Early on 29 May 1909 Piérola’s two sons Isaias and Amadeo and his brother Carlos led men who attacked the Presidential Palace. They killed one guard and captured President Augusto Leguía who refused to resign. The rebels paraded him through the streets to try to get support, but soldiers rescued him and ended the coup attempt. Several people were killed and wounded, and the conspirators were arrested. Leguía also had some of his critics arrested even though they were not involved in the coup. When José de la Riva Agüero y Osma led students from San Marcos University to protest for the release of the political prisoners, the soldiers and police attacked them and killed one student while injuring others. After another demonstration was suppressed by police brutality, Leguía approved an amnesty. In 1909 Peru in border treaties gave up 175,000 square miles of territory to Brazil and Bolivia. As Leguía became more dictatorial, his administration broke up. He purged members of the National Election Board, tampered with the Congressional elections in 1911, and then threatened to dissolve the legislature.
      In 1912 the Civilistas nominated the wealthy, conservative Antero Aspíllaga as a compromise candidate for president. He had remained loyal to Leguía who endorsed him. The millionaire Guillermo Billinghurst in early May became the candidate for the Democrats, and he promised the poor a larger loaf of bread for only five centavos. At a rally of 20,000 the Democrats’ leader warned that Leguía would not allow a fair election, and the Democrats planned to begin a general strike on May 25, the day the election was to begin. Billinghurst had supporters from various parties, and they attacked polling places, destroyed ballots, and intimidated voters. If less than one third of those registered voted, then law required Congress to elect the President. Polls were to be open for one week, but President Leguía ordered them closed after only two days. Aspíllaga claimed that he was elected, but the Congress nullified the election because of extensive fraud. In the Congress the Democrats and the Leguíistas agreed on a compromise. They elected Billinghurst the President and President Leguía’s brother Roberto the Vice President.
      Billinghurst became President on 24 September 1912. He reduced the military budget and put the money into the public health service which was reorganized. On 10 January 1913 he ended a strike of Callao dock workers after four days, and he ordered an 8-hour day for them. On January 24 his executive order created Peru’s first law regulating labor relations by mandating democratic unions, peaceful strikes, and requiring collective bargaining. This enabled Peru’s workers to go on strikes that resulted in significant gains. Primary schools were encouraged to include courses on manual arts and home economics in the curriculum. Billinghurst was concerned about workers and the Indians, and he appointed the Constitutionalist Teodomiro Gutiérrez Cuevas a commissioner to study the social conditions in the southern mountains. Indians and other peasants were exploited, and more than 300 short and bloody revolts occurred between 1901 and 1930.
      Piérola once told Billinghurst, “My dear Guillermo, how is it that you hope to govern Peru if you cannot govern your emotions.”6 The house of the Senate’s president was bombed, and a gang attacked the home of the ex-President Leguía who escaped. He and his brother were accused of conspiring to kill Billinghurst. These atrocities were directed by a “Committee of Public Health.” When the Congress refused to pass the 1914 budget, Billinghurst decreed the government’s expenditures. Mariano Cornejo urged Billinghurst to dissolve the Congress and have a new election in 1914 because only a third of them were elected every two years. Billinghurst used mass demonstrations to pressure Congress to pass his programs, and a mob destroyed the presses of an opposition newspaper. The Civilista Javier Prado and his brothers advised the army to preserve the Constitution by removing Billinghurst. Impeachment hearings against him began in the Congress, and he called for replacing the Congress. When the military learned that the President was going to dissolve Congress and arm the workers, on 4 February 1914 troops led by Col. Oscar R. Benevides stormed the Palace of Pizarro and removed Billinghurst. On that day Congress met and authorized a civilian-military junta with Óscar R. Benevides as the presiding officer, and on May 15 they declared him the Provisional President.

Peru during the Great War 1914-19

      During the Great War from August 1914 to November 1918 the demand for raw materials and the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 increased Peru’s exports over threefold by 1918. President Benevides declared that Peru was neutral in the Great War. From 1913 to 1919 the cost of living in Peru increased by nearly 90%. With banks in danger of failing, President Benevides suspended payments on the national debt and began issuing paper money. Andrés Cáceres was the envoy in Germany, and he returned to Peru and in March 1915 presided over a convention of delegates from the Civilista, Constitutional, and Liberal parties. A majority nominated José Pardo for President. Most of the National Democratic Party, which had been founded by José de la Riva Agüero in February 1915, boycotted the elections. José Pardo was elected again unopposed with 131,289 votes.
      Riva Agüero admired Spanish and Indian traditions, and he promoted mestizaje culture advocating a humane policy and eventually assimilation of the Incas’ descendants. Victor Andrés Belaúnde (1883-1966) was from a wealthy Arequipa family, and he believed the middle class needed to be better educated so that they could reform the policies of the oligarchy. The brothers Francisco and Ventura Garcia Calderón were sons of the President in 1881, and they also believed in mestizaje. Later in Nosotros Ventura Calderón wrote,

   We are a mestizo people in whom the white,
the Indian, and the Negro have
entered historically in unequal but constant proportions.
My friends, to have Indian or Negro blood in our veins
should not be the source of snobbish pride
that certain men begin to affect today;
nor should it be the object of shame.
Let us destroy forever the racial complexes
which still exist among us, fomenting hatreds
which are the cause of our political quarrels…
Let us accept, my friends, the evidence of a country
of three races which will be fused some day into only one.7

      President José Pardo persuaded Catholics to accept religious toleration that would allow other sects freedom, and this was promulgated on 11 November 1915.
      The first student strike at San Marcos University was in 1916, and the Peruvian Student Federation was organized in 1917. Professors were being corrupted as deans, wanting to secure their re-election, appointed only partisans who were often less competent or motivated. Low pay caused some to neglect their teaching while they had other jobs. Students also demanded to have representatives on a council for reform. They also asked for more students to be able to attend a university.
      On 5 February 1917 a German submarine sank the Peruvian steamer Lorton off the coast of Spain. Germany refused to pay reparation, and President José Pardo broke off diplomatic relations with the Central Powers. Increasing exports of cotton and sugar caused a reduction in food grown in Peru, and the poor suffered from higher prices. To help workers Pardo approved some of the labor reforms planned by Manzanilla in 1904.
      On 1 January 1919 workers in Lima began a 3-day general strike, and they endorsed the demands of the Student Federation to modernize the curricula, remove incompetent professors, and end political interference in university affairs. After the success of the Communist revolution in Russia in 1917, Peruvians organized a Socialist Party and a Workers Party by 1919. Alfred L. Palacios was a prominent leader in the university reform movement in Argentina, and he came to Lima to advise the San Marcos leaders. There was little violence in Peru, but news about mobs in Buenos Aires terrorizing the city for several days persuaded President Pardo to decree the 8-hour day for all public employees. He also promised to support a law to extend it to private enterprise.
      President José Pardo and Civilistas decided to nominate the conservative Antero Aspíllaga for President. Former President Augusto Leguía returned to Peru in February 1919, and he was nominated by the Constitutionalists and the Liberals. He also got support from many Civilistas and the new Socialist Party. Peruvians voted on May 18, and they elected Leguía who would be President from October 1919 to August 1930. Workers and students started another general strike on May 27 asking for price controls as well as educational reforms. This time troops used force that injured many people as they arrested about 3,000 workers. President Pardo by decree closed San Marco University. Aspíllaga once again challenged the validity of the election. Provincial election officials examined the ballots for Leguía, and in Lima 15,000 of them were invalidated. Former President Cáceres prepared the armed forces favoring Leguía for a coup, and on July 4 they and the police took over the presidential palace, arrested Pardo, and proclaimed Leguía the Provisional President.

Peru & Leguía’s Government 1919-30

      Augusto Bernardo Leguía y Salcedo was born on 19 February 1863. After attending local schools he went to Chile to improve his bronchial infection, and he became fluent in English at a British commercial school in Valparaiso. He returned to Peru in 1879, and during the Pacific War he volunteered and helped defend Lima in 1881. After the war he moved to the United States and worked for the New York Life Insurance Company. He was employed by a Lima commercial house and started his own import-export company. The New York Life Insurance Company put him in charge of their Ecuador-Peru-Bolivia agency, and eventually he was earning $250,000 a year. A law banned foreign underwriters in Peru. In 1895 Leguía founded the South American Insurance Company, and he wrote policies for the continent. The British Sugar Company let him manage estates for some years. He purchased plantations and leased rubber concessions in the Montaña. He was a co-founder of the International Bank of Peru, and he was elected president of the National Agrarian Society.
      In 1903 President Candamo appointed Leguía the Minister of Finance and Commerce. Leguía helped José Pardo get elected, and he also became Prime Minister in September 1904. Leguía was elected President of Peru in 1908, and he served for four years. In 1913 President Billinghurst sent him into exile, and Leguía spent most of his time in London as president of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce for about six years.
      After Leguía’s disputed election was settled by a coup in 1919, he took the oath of office on October 12 and immediately dissolved the Congress which had a Civilista majority. He said,

I have come not only to liquidate the old state of affairs,
but also to detain the advance of communism
which, because it is premature among us,
would produce dreadful consequences.8

After a strike in December the President offered the employees increased wages, a shorter workday, a longer lunch break, and no work on Sunday. He soon called for a Congressional election for a constituent assembly. They chose Mariano H. Cornejo to preside and elected Javier Prado to head the committee that would draft a new Constitution which was adopted in January 1920. President Leguía often worked 15 hours a day in his office. His wife had given him six children, but she died two months after his inauguration. Then he had two mistresses at the same time, and each one bore him two children.
      Peru’s new Constitution was influenced by Mexico’s in 1917 that guaranteed social benefits and increased the power of the executive. The government was authorized to protect Indians and provide them with public education. The Catholic Church once again became the protected religion of Peru, though the Constitution also prohibited religious persecution. Individual civil liberties were protected. The president’s term was extended to five years while the ban on succeeding oneself still existed. This Constitution created three regional legislatures in the north, central, and the south. Yet Peru’s president could veto their legislation, and the regional governments became another level of bureaucracy. Municipal governments were given more autonomy, though President Leguía could appoint their officers.
      Article 58 authorized the government to rehabilitate the native Peruvians with education and assimilation and to protect their communal lands, and the 79 men in the Assembly approved this article unanimously. The Society of the Golden Arrow was founded in Lima to study the Incas’ social system. Leguía and the Congress appointed a commission to investigate land ownership to be led by Erasmo Roca and José Antonio Encinas who were committed to protecting and uplifting the native people. Leguía also formed a section of Indian issues (seccion de asuntos Indígenes) in the Ministry of Development with Hildebrando Castro Pozo, a leader for Indian rights, as its chief. Because of his work by 1923 Castro was considered such a dangerous troublemaker that he was sent into exile.
      President Leguía founded the Reformist Democratic Party in 1920. Fraudulent elections provided majorities in Congress for the administration. After regional legislatures passed over 400 laws, they were guided by Leguía’s cronies. He also controlled municipal governments by appointing temporary executives and by limiting their revenues.
      Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre enrolled in the National University of Trujillo in 1913, and in 1917 he moved to Lima where he became secretary to the Prefect of the Cuzco Department. In 1918 he became a legal clerk at San Marco University, and he began reading Karl Marx. He joined the Peruvian Student Federation, and he organized their support for the workers in the general strike in January 1919. Students gained several reforms, and Haya de la Torre was elected president of the Federation of Students in October. He organized the First National Congress of Students at Cuzco in March 1920. They discussed reforms and student strikes. He persuaded them to accept his plan for proposed Popular Universities for workers named after González Prada. They initiated revolutionary activities, and President Leguía had them suppressed in 1924.
      On 30 June 1920 Leguía approved a university reform law so that incompetent professors could be dismissed, and San Marcos students could elect a member of the University Council. This enabled Leguía to remove professors who opposed his policies. Luis Fernán Cisneros was the most courageous editorial writer for the daily La Prensa, and in early 1921 he was put in jail. Students and professors protested, and Leguía had him released. Cisneros wrote in an open letter that forty political prisoners were still imprisoned on the island of San Lorenzo. Professor Victor Andrés Belaúnde led the protests in a parade, and Leguía reacted by ejecting him and Cisneros. San Marcos professors went on strike, and the University was shut down. Leguía’s cousin Martínez was Minister of the Interior and was called “the Tiger” for banishing Oscar Benevides, Isaias de Piérola, and Jorge Prado. The Leguías also sent El Comercio’s director Antonio Miro Quesada into exile. Then their government took over La Prensa.
      Augusto Durand, who led the Democratic Party, died on 31 March 1923, and Andrés Cáceres, the leader (caudillo) of the Constitutionalists, died on October 10. A constitutional amendment was approved to allow the president a successive term, and in 1924 Leguía was elected again without any formal opposition. In 1927 the Chamber of Deputies approved re-election of the president, and in 1929 his third term was also not contested. Leguía put political dissidents in jail and rarely gave them a trial. More serious opponents were deported, though exiled officials often received their salaries or pensions. During his presidency the three political parties operating were his Democratic Reform Party, the Constitutionalist Party that supported the military, and the weak Democratic Party.
      Leguía pleased Catholics by blocking the civil marriages and divorce laws, and he encouraged the Church to participate in the government’s social programs. During his eleven years foreign countries invested $400 million in Peru, and in the 1920s Peru’s annual revenues doubled. Yet the external debt increased to $110 million. Money was lost by fraud and mismanagement. Leguía’s son Juan negotiated foreign loans and public works contracts for which he received generous commissions.
      The Highway Conscription Act in 1920 forced men aged from 18 to 60 to work without compensation for up to 12 days a year on road construction and maintenance. Some groups were exempted, and substitutes could be hired. An American pilot helped Peru establish its first commercial airline in 1928. During the Leguía regime over 10,000 miles of roads and 300 bridges were added, and others were improved. The government surveyed water resources, and five projects helped increase irrigation by 132,000 acres by 1929 at a cost of $16 million. The Lima-Calloa district was the economic center, and in the 1920s their population rose from 225,000 to 375,000. Capitalists consolidated estates reducing the number of sugar plantations from 117 to 78. Peru had adopted the Tangüis cotton which transformed Peru’s diseased cotton, and in this decade Peru’s cotton and rice production increased by nearly two-thirds. Standard Oil used the International Petroleum Company as a subsidiary to take over the oil fields of La Brea-Pariñas, and its production went up more than 400%. Mining of gold and silver doubled. Copper extraction rose 40%, and Peru began mining lead, zinc, and vanadium.
      Leguía’s government established the Bureau of Public Health to control small pox, yellow fever, and other diseases. Leguía had promised he would help the native Peruvians, but then he ignored the reforms recommended by a commission. An increased minimum wage for Indian farm workers was rarely enforced. A Bureau of Indian Education was created to develop a curriculum for Quechua speakers, and they started a few vocational schools.
      The Organic Law of Instruction had been passed in June 1920 to reorganize education from kindergarten to the university. During the Leguía years they built over 500 primary schools and enrollment increased from less than 180,000 pupils to over 300,000. After a protest in May 1921 Leguía removed the rector of San Marcos and shut down the University for the rest of the year. In 1922 Manuel Vicente Villarán became rector. Leguía as a high-order Mason conducted a religious convocation that dedicated Peru to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Haya de la Torre gave an anti-clerical speech to students at a counter-demonstration that police broke up. Haya de la Torre and about thirty student leaders were arrested and deported, and 26 professors at the University of Trujillo, who were suspected of opposing Leguía, lost their jobs. On 23 May 1923 police tried to disperse a crowd, and that caused a riot. Leguía suspended classes. In early 1924 Rector Villarán resigned. Classes were suspended again in 1924 and 1925. A “reorganization” in 1928 ended the autonomy that Leguía had granted the universities, and he formed the National Council of University Education to control them.
      In 1929 the United States surpassed Britain as Peru’s major source of foreign capital. Peru’s foreign debt multiplied by ten to $100 million. Dora Mayer was born in Germany, and she grew up in Peru and became a journalist and writer who worked for the rights of the indigenous Peruvians. She criticized Leguía for borrowing money from the imperialistic United States because it was not self-sustaining.
      In 1922 Peru and Chile agreed to arbitration by the US President, and on 5 March 1925 President Coolidge announced a decision that allowed those who had become residents of Tacna and Arica to vote in the plebiscite. This is what Chile wanted, and Peruvians denounced the decision and went on strike as students protested. The US generals John Pershing and William Lassiter were sent to supervise the plebiscite, and they declared that they would not let the Chileans dominate the voting. In June 1926 the commission announced that Chilean harassing of Peruvian voters made a fair election impossible. Finally the US President Hoover provided a compromise, and the Treaty of Lima was signed on 3 June 1929.
      The philosopher Antenor Orrego (1892-1960) was influenced by the view of Oswald Spengler that western civilization was declining. Luis E. Valcárcel was born in 1891, and in the 1920s he studied the Incas and their indigenous culture, and he contended that it was better than the declining European culture. He hoped for an Indian uprising to restore Inca values. In 1929 the Indigenistas met at Cuzco and started the periodical La Sierra, and they argued that the mountain culture was better than the coastal. The poet César Atahualpa Rodríguez argued that Quechua should be the language of Peru because Spanish will always be foreign. Luis Valcárcel agreed with “communistic” land ownership and labor that prevailed in the Andes for longer than a millennium.

      On 7 May 1924 Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre and other Peruvians in exile at Mexico City founded the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). Apristas hoped they could spread their program throughout Latin America which they called “Indo-America.” At the end of 1924 they issued the following five-point Maximum Program:

1. Action of the countries of Latin America
   against Yankee Imperialism.
2. The political unity of Latin America.
3. The nationalization of land and industry.
4. The internationalization of the Panama Canal.
5. The solidarity of all the oppressed people
   and classes of the world.9

In July 1925 Haya attended the Fifth World Congress of the Communist International at Moscow. After four months in the Soviet Union he traveled to Switzerland, Italy, France, and Britain. He enrolled at Oxford in the London School of Economics and spent most of his time organizing for APRA.
      José Carlos Mariátegui (1895-1930) in 1923 connected indigenous culture with socialism, and in 1926 he founded the Amauta review. In 1928 he wrote Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality, and in September he began the Peruvian Socialist Party (PSP). In the November Amauta he wrote,

Historical materialism in no manner interferes
with the development of the absolute free spirit.
Material considerations, on the contrary, are
the preliminary condition for the emergence of such a spirit.
And it is precisely our thought that a society
resting upon an ample economic base …,
where the free workers will be animated
by a vivid enthusiasm for production,
will give prodigious impulse to art, religion and philosophy,
and transport the workers towards new heights….
There is a mysticism, and those who adhere to it come very
close to the spirit of the Christianity of the catacombs.10

A few months later the PSP organized its followers in the labor movement into the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP), and by the end of 1930 they claimed their membership included 56,000 industrial workers. Mariátegui died of an illness on 16 April 1930. Luciano Castilla (1899-1981) cofounded the Socialist Party of Peru in October 1930 and was its leader for 51 years.
      A dispute over Leticia between Brazil, Colombia, and Peru was handled by a demarcation team starting in November 1929, and on 17 August 1930 Peru transferred the Leticia land to Colombia, giving them a corridor to the Amazon. Five days later Lt. Col. Luis Sánchez Cerro initiated a revolution at Arequipa, and on August 24 the revolution overthrew Leguía. The next day he fled on a warship. The revolutionary government had the ship’s commander return him to Callao where he was imprisoned on Lorenzo Island. A Tribunal of National Accounting found Leguía and three of his sons guilty of corruption and fined them $7 million. Leguía suffered from a prostate ailment, and he got no medical care until November 1931 at a naval hospital. Before dying he told a priest that he pardoned those who fought him. He said he loved Peru and wanted it to be happy and prosperous. Leguía weighed only 67 pounds when he died on 6 February 1932.

Peru of Haya, APRA & Benavides 1930-35

      The pilot Elmer Faucett flew Lt. Col. Luis Sánchez Cerro to Lima where he became the presiding officer in the military junta that took over the government of Peru on 27 August 1930. People in the capital welcomed Cerro as a hero. The Leguiísta bureaucrats were replaced, and a decree legalizing divorce was criticized by the Catholic Church. Ricardo Martínez de la Torre and Eudocia Ravines after the death of Mariátegui became the leaders of the Communist Party, and Martínez in September published an article in La República that called for agitation and a proletarian revolution. He advocated warfare against property owners whom he called “insatiable monsters, who suck the blood of the working classes.” Sánchez Cerro feared Communism, and he suppressed several strikes. He believed that the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) was a Communist front, and he refused to let Haya de la Torre return to Peru. San Marcos students organized the Federation of Peruvian Students, and they advocated a proletarian revolution and a socialist republic.
      Cerro’s announcement that he would seek a constitutional term as President was not welcomed by many politicians. After several revolts a naval mutiny persuaded Cerro to resign on 1 March 1931. Two brief Interim Presidents were replaced after only ten days by David Samanez Ocampo who was made the President of the Southern Junta as an interim president until December 8.
      Early in 1931 Alberto Hidalgo published an article supporting fascism and praising the super-heroes Mussolini and Hitler, and he urged Haya de la Torre to move “all Latin America.” Haya in March wrote to Hidalgo that he would deliver himself to destiny. On July 12 APRA’s chief Haya de la Torre was welcomed back to Peru, and he made speeches as he traveled to Lima. One month later he opened the First National Convention of the Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP) and gave a 3-hour speech to about 30,000 people in Lima’s Plaza de Acho bullring. APRA summoned an assembly for an economic congress with various experts, and they developed their Minimum Program for gradually nationalizing transportation and insurance companies. They proposed agrarian improvements and election reforms that would lower the voting age to 18, let women vote, and end the literacy requirement that had excluded most Peruvians. Cerro’s Revolutionary Union also made proposals to improve labor relations, education, and Indians.
      The election on 11 October 1931 was peaceful, and for the first time Peruvians voted by secret ballots. Sánchez Cerro was popular with the masses and won with 152,062 votes to 106,007 for the Aprista Haya de la Torre. Two moderate coalitions got a total of about 41,000 votes. The new Constituent Assembly was installed in December with 64 supporting Cerro and 23 Apristas. Other parties held the remaining 58 seats.
      Castro Pozo noted that the exploitative capitalism of the coast was harsh and unjust. Peru’s Aprista party held their first national congress in 1931. Their first economic goal was to seize the mining companies that were controlled by the United States, and they planned to gain power by peaceful and constitutional methods. Haya de la Torre wrote,

There is a middle class, made up of artisans and peasants
who own the means of production,
of mining and industrial workers,
small capitalists, landowners and merchants.
To this class belong also the intellectual workers,
the professionals, the technicians,
as well as private and state employees.
It is this middle group that is being pushed
towards ruination by the process of imperialism….
The great foreign firms extract our wealth
and then sell it outside the country.
Consequently, there is no opportunity for our middle class.
This, then, is the abused class
that will lead the revolution.11

      Sánchez Cerro was inaugurated on 8 December 1931. That month El Comercio published documents offering proof that Apristas were planning a revolution. They showed by their obstructionist tactics that they would not be a loyal opposition. President Cerro supported by fascists in January ordered the police to arrest all of Aprista’s 23 delegates. In February 1932 the Cerro administration announced that they learned about a plot by Apristas to overthrow the government, and they ordered Haya de la Torre arrested on March 5. The next day an 18-year-old Aprista shot and severely wounded President Sánchez Cerro at a church. Two men were sentenced to death, but Cerro canceled that. On May 6 police captured Haya de la Torre. The next day sailors supporting Apristas mutinied at Callao and took over two warships. The government randomly executed eight of the 300 mutineers.
      APRA began planning a revolution in 1932. A court martial found Haya guilty of treason and sentenced him to death. On July 7 about 1,000 armed Apristas attacked the O’Donavan army barracks near Trujillo, and they arrested some prominent supporters of the Cerro regime. Military planes bombed and strafed the city. In retaliation for that the Apristas murdered 60 prisoners in the city jail on July 10. Troops attacked Trujillo and shot captured rebels in revenge. Then the army began arresting hundreds of suspects, and at least a thousand people were killed in Trujillo. On September 1 Lima learned that the night before about 300 armed citizens of Peru had taken over the town of Leticia in the disputed Amazonian territory. In February 1933 Peruvian and Colombian forces fought there.
      On 18 April 1933 the National Assembly of Peru promulgated a new Constitution that made the Senate functional representing different economic sectors. Roman Catholicism was proclaimed the national religion, and basic freedoms were recognized. On April 30 Sánchez Cerro reviewed about 20,000 troops for the war against Colombia. He was leaving in an open car when he was shot by a young Aprista. President Sánchez died on that day.
      General Oscar R. Benavides had returned from his service as the ambassador to Britain in order to take command of Peru’s army during the dispute with Colombia. The new Constitution had not provided a Vice President, and the Constituent Assembly voted to make the 1914-15 interim President Benavides the constitutional President even though the Constitution prohibited active military from being elected president. In his short inaugural address he promised a nonpartisan and peaceful government.
      Alfonso López had just been elected president of Colombia, and he sent a letter congratulating his friend Benavides who invited him to visit. By the end of May they had agreed to a cease-fire in the Leticia War that would be supervised by the League of Nations. Although many Peruvians did not like the treaty that gave the disputed territory to Colombia, Benavides agreed to withdraw Peru’s troops. In May 1934 Peru and Colombia signed a Protocol of Peace, Friendship, and Cooperation, and eventually both nations ratified the agreement.
      President Benavides retained the existing cabinet until the end of June 1933 when he replaced them with ministers under the Premier Jorge Prado y Ugarteche who in early July announced elections to fill the seats of the removed Apristas. On August 10 Benavides announced a political amnesty, and Premier Prado released Haya de la Torre and other imprisoned Apristas. Sánchez’s Revolutionary Union Party become more fascist and was being led by Luis A. Flores who wore a black shirt because he admired Mussolini.
      Benavides met three times with Haya de la Torre who made demands of him and in the press. APRA wanted the Emergency Law revoked, civil liberties restored, San Marcos University reopened, and pardons for all Apristas convicted by military courts. Benavides refused to reinstate the 23 Apristas who had been removed from the Assembly. In 1934 Haya claimed that the Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP) had doubled its membership to about 600,000 people. Their newspapers resumed publication; they opened headquarters throughout Peru, and committees sent skilled speakers to rallies in important towns. The schoolteacher Ramiro Prialé suggested a vertical organization that increased the power of Haya and his associates who became the National Executive Committee (CEN). Secretary-General Haya also had a shadow cabinet of 19 national secretaries. APRA organized young people in the Federación Aprista Juvenil (FAJ), and the “Fajistas” followed a strict code for healthy living. About 40,000 APRA followers gathered in Lima’s bullfight arena to hear Haya and other leaders on November 12.
      That month Benavides replaced Jorge Prado’s cabinet with ministers under José de la Riva Agüero who had moved far to the right. The Ministry of Government was to be under Commandant Alberto Henroid who was anti-Aprista. On the same day four democratic and centrist parties formed the National Alliance with Amadeo de Piércola, son of Nicolas de Piércola, as their leader, and their coalition promised to work to restore the 23 APRA congressmen. Over the next three months the Agüero ministry closed down APRA headquarters, newspapers, and their popular universities. Police harassed Aprista leaders. APRA criticized the regime and tried to organize a general strike in January 1934. They defied bans on demonstrations; celebrations of Haya’s birthday in February turned into clashes with police; and about 400 Apristas were arrested.
      Riva Agüero denounced the Protocol in May. President Benavides got Agüero to resign and replaced him with a moderate cabinet led by Premier Alberto Rey de Castro. To get APRA support for the Colombia agreement Benavides let APRA reopen headquarters and newspapers. On May 24 APRA marched in the President’s peace parade and unfurled their banners. In July they refused to cancel their commemoration of the Trujillo rebellion, and on July 7 police disrupted APRA rallies. In August their headquarters and newspapers were shut down again. Because the Protocol had not been ratified, Benavides postponed the scheduled elections six times by November. The retired Col. César E. Prado was APRA’s secretary of defense, and on November 26 he led a revolt, but their efforts in Lima and the mountains failed as did others later in Cuzco and Cajamarca. General strikes in southern cities were defeated. Almost 1,000 Apristas were arrested including many leaders. Their chief Haya de la Torre went into hiding and sent out manifestos. On 15 May 1935 the 20-year-old Fajista Carlos Steer killed El Comercio‘s publisher Antonio Miro Quesada, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. San Marcos University had been suspended for three years before it resumed in 1935.


1. The Modern History of Peru by Fredrick B. Pike, p. 161.
2. Ibid., p. 162.
3. Ibid., p. 164.
4. Ibid., p. 166.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid., p. 188.
7. Ibid., p. 207.
8. Ibid., p. 217.
9. Peru: A Short History by David P. Werlich, p. 181.
10. The Modern History of Peru by Fredrick B. Pike, p. 238.
11. Ibid., p. 240-241.

Copyright © 2023 by Sanderson Beck

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Latin America & Canada to 1850

Brazil 1850-1935
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