Bolivia’s Five-Hundred-Year Rebellion
In 1781, the Bolivian indigenous leader Tupac Katari led a rebellion in which La Paz, the Spanish colonial capital of “Upper Peru,” was besieged for 109 days. The siege ended with the arrival of a Spanish army. Katari was captured, he and his wife, Bartolina Sisa, were gruesomely executed, and thousands of indigenous people were massacred. For many years this was treated as a minor event in history books, but in the latter half of the twentieth century Katari and Sisa have been celebrated as symbols of the resistance to oppression by the indigenous majority, and as martyrs in a national revolution whose time has finally come.