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Latin America perspectives a series of information and comment about Latin America with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. These programs are recorded by station w s r u FM. Here now is Dr. Gardner. If it happened here as it happened in Peru it would have gone somewhat like this. One of the earliest Englishmen on our shores would have had a son without benefit of matrimony by an Indian woman. The Englishman's love for that boy would result in the young man's being sent to England for his education. They're battling prejudice that set him apart as a bit of to world and not wholly of either. That half breed English Indian would become a scholar writing in due time. The best known chronicles of early Anglo America. This sequence of events did not take place in Anglo America and England but it did occur in Peru
and Spain. The result was the career of a person who was first known as Gomez Suarez. They figured it all out and later throughout the world as Inca Garcia laso Dela Vega his writings have appeared in numerous editions and languages and his life has been detailed by scholars in Peru Spain England America and Italy. The latest study entitled El Inca The Life and Times of Gazza laso Dela Vega from the pen of John Greer Varner has been published by the University of Texas press. Born in Cusco in the spring of fifteen thirty nine The mestizo boy whose father was one of the first Spanish conquerors of Peru knew for his first twenty years the love and affection of both his Indian mother and his Spanish father. Then in 15 59 the will of his dead father included a provision which read
to Goma Suarez. I bequeath four thousand pesos of gold and silver that with it he may proceed to cast steel for the purpose of study. And so to Spain. The young Indian Spaniard the mestizo. Went and furthered his education. Indeed in time he associated himself with the church and with a career of scholarship the scholarship led to the production of one book after another. Centering on his native Peru in several of the early chapters of one of his volumes chapters which internal evidence indicates he was rounding out in the early part of the 17th century Garson laso set a tone by describing the comparative penury of the Spanish crown before the Conquest and then attempting to evaluate the wealth that had been drawn from Peru since the
steps taken by the first conquerors in 15 25 in exposing this picture of Spain's indebtedness to the Indies Garson laso was hurling an indictment of indifference and ingratitude. And he was prepared to carry his charge even further. It was not merely an injustice to Peruvians that he saw but the degradation which ill gotten wealth had imposed on the whole of the Spanish world. In the opinion of men of keen perception he declared these riches had proven more harmful than beneficial since they had given rise to vice rather than virtue inclining men to pride and Bishan gluttony and luxury for while enjoying an affluence of fortune. They had wax so lazy and a feminist as to be unfit for governing in time of peace or for enduring the existences and toils of war all of their time and thoughts now were employed in contriving new dishes to
appease their appetites are new in fantastic fashions to flatter their vanities and in this last passion they had attained such a climax of extravagance that they scarcely knew what to wear and had reached such a state of indecency in dress that their apparel was more like that of women than men. And sadder still was the fact that to support such a loss and concedes the revenues of the exalted had been increased while the poor were being reduced to rags and starvation. Indeed with the accumulation of wealth among the powerful the needy had become even more destitute than previously because of the resultant rise in the cost of commodities and provisions. Thus the poor were being starved by the very abundance of the rich for even though the latter were able to increase their arms their gifts still were insufficient to meet the high expenses. The cost of living that this wealth had raised in the world. It was apparent therefore to a
man capable of understanding that since the wealth derived from the New World had failed to provide materials necessary for support of human life but instead made them more dear. And since this wealth had rendered men more feminine by enfeeble ing them in both body and understanding and by devotion them in their habits and manner of living. Mankind as a whole had become more degenerate and less content. And in consequence whereas in ancient times Spaniards had been so formidable as to be feared by the whole world. They now thanks to the corruption of excess fortune had become so weak as to be regarded with contempt this lucid comment on power and poverty and on the mutability and decadence of a once powerful empire Garcelle Asadullah Vega was cautious enough to record as the opinion of some of his contemporaries.
In truth it was his own opinion but he of course couched it in nice safe terms so that he could bring his manuscript to publication. Various explanations have been offered for the mestizos desire to change his name. Plausible is the theory that he wished to avoid confusion with those of his lineage who were reluctant to acknowledge him and indeed reluctant they were when he arrived in Spain. A confusion which surely had resulted in his being identified locally by the clarifying and also humiliating title of the Indian. Thus he dropped the name figural and then the name. So what is equally plausible is the suggestion that awakening aspirations were creating within him a desire to bear a name famous in past and current history for deeds of both sword and pan. He long had gloried in the accomplishment of that Garcia lost soul who on the plains of Salado had won an Ave Maria for
the family escutcheon and certainly by now he had developed an exalted respect for his father's second cousin. The Renaissance poet Garcia last Odell of a guy whose deeds in battle and whose lyric penned already had won him a permanent place in the marshal as well as the literary annals of Spain. But Goma says eventual decision to adopt the name Garcia lasso Dela Vega. Surely was inspired by an intense devotion to his father and was made a passion of defense and pride under that name. He would attempt to forego a new route to fame and fortune and he would wear it proudly when he renewed his pretensions at Madrid. He had up to this time repeatedly and unavailingly tried to state his case for more property for a better share of the settlement of his father's estate that had been possible. Be that as it may from this time forward Gomez
referred to himself always as Garcia laso Della Vega though when clarification demanded he frequently added quote who was known in the Indies as Goma's Swat as they figured it all out and then as the years passed and he began to awaken to the former glories and the current miseries of his mother's people the Incas of Peru the mestizo again in a passion which mingled both pride and defense embellished his adopted name with El Indio R. L. in CA. Fused in his veins was the blood of both the Spaniard and the Indian and woven into the fibers of his intellectual being as well where the cultural threads of Catholic Spain and pagan Peru. Here was a man who spoke well the language of Peru who spoke well the Spanish of the Iberian Peninsula and indeed was competent in
Italian and other European tongues. Thus to Indian Americans especially he has come to symbolize the merging not only of two races but of two civilizations. For this reason his story should begin where he himself would have begun it in remote times when according to tradition forces of amalgamation were in the process of germination he could never detach either his own fate or the fate of his people from the causative past. And in both Pagan and Christian traditions some of which went beyond the limits of recorded history and even of credulity. He found the seeds of his being and an explanation for the eccentricities of the world which molded him the facts and legends of his Christian ancestors were easily accessible through written records and through the often repeated stories of both the crazy Aztecs and laymen. And those of his pagan forefathers have been preserved by those especially appointed sages who through oral transmission
and by means of the keep an intricate mnemonic system of knotted cords had in each generation recorded the history of the incus much of the story of both his remote and his immediate ancestors Garcelle ASO wove into the prefaces and context of his published works. And in telling that story he revealed sometimes in tones of defense a persistent conviction that the eventual merging of the Inca and the Iberian races and civilizations was foredoomed by an ancient pagan superstition and by the traditional messianic zeal of early Catholic Spain. There have been differences of opinion as to the significance of the position which the Inca gusta Lhasa Dela Vega holds in the scale of values as a chronicler of the Indies. But it is not to be denied that his position as one of the great chroniclers of the 16th century is secure.
He did have the advantage though not unique of being on the scene during the Peruvian civil wars. And if knowing personally sometimes intimately the great conquerors and their rabble following. And more important still he knew intimately and was favored with the confidence and affection of many of the remnant thinkers who had witnessed the devastation of their classic civilization an ancient realm. But Carson laso elevator is unique among early chroniclers in that he was born on American soil and in that being born into the kitsch one tongue he was able to obtain from native sources his information concerning the Inca past as well as the present tribulations of his Indian relatives in the life then of this man. And it is noteworthy that the title is life and times with a great deal of emphasis on the times in Spain. The Times in Peru we have a persistent voice
proclaiming the innate and cultural right of American Indians to demand the position of human dignity respect and sympathy. This well-written study the L income the life and times of Adela Vega from the pen of John Greer Vyner is a publication of the University of Texas press. This was another programme in the series Latin America perspectives with Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Join us for our next program on Dr. Gardner will comment on another interesting aspect of Latin American affairs. These programs are recorded by station WFIU FM and are made available to this station by the national educational radio network.
Latin American perspectives II
Episode Number
Episode 35 of 38
Producing Organization
WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3544. This prog.: The Life and Times of Garcilase De La Vega
Global Affairs
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Producing Organization: WSIU 8 (Television station : Carbondale, Ill.)
Producing Organization: Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-31-35 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:13:41
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Chicago: “Latin American perspectives II; Episode 35 of 38,” 1969-05-12, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
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APA: Latin American perspectives II; Episode 35 of 38. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from