Anarcho-syndicalism in Peru, 1905-1930 - Steven Hirsch

General strike, Peru, 1933.
General strike, Peru, 1933.

Article about the Peruvian anarcho-syndicalist movement with details of its influential involvement in numerous strikes, its far-reaching network of cultural associations and its influences from other syndicalist movements in the region.

Submitted by Ed on March 30, 2011

Peruvian anarcho-syndicalism: adapting transnational influences and forging counterhegemonic practices, 1905-1930

Steven J. Hirsch
University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg

At first glance early 20th century Peru would seem an unlikely setting for anarcho-syndicalism to flourish. A predominantly agrarian society with a large and economically marginal indigenous population, Peru scarcely resembled a nation in the second stage of industrial manufacturing. Despite significant capitalist growth in Peru’s export sectors (chiefly mining, sugar, cotton, wool), vast areas of the nation were largely unaffected by capitalist change. With the exception of Lima-Callao, Peru’s capital and adjacent port city, which served as the nation’s administrative, commercial, and financial centre, sizable urban economies were conspicuously absent. Not surprisingly, given this context, the massive influx of European immigrants that catalyzed the anarcho-syndicalist labour movements in Argentina and Brazil bypassed Peru.

Yet Peru was not entirely isolated from anarchist currents. Anarchist ideas and publications circulated widely in Peru by the first decade of the 20th century. Manuel González Prada, a Peruvian aristocrat and social gadfly, and a handful of radical immigrant intellectuals based in Lima facilitated the dissemination of anarchist thought. Simultaneously, a nucleus of self-taught craftsmen and machine-tenders inspired by the writings of Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Malatesta, spearheaded a movement to organise workers in Lima-Callao based on anarcho-syndicalist doctrine. By dint of their efforts anarcho-syndicalism would become the dominant radical ideology of Peru’s fledgling labour movement. Although the influence of anarcho-syndicalism was strongest in Lima-Callao, it also spread to working-class elements along Peru’s northern coast, and central and southern highland regions1 . The ideals and practice of anarcho-syndicalism appealed to a diverse spectrum of urban craftsmen, factory and transport workers, stevedores, and rural proletarians2 . Adherents of anarcho-syndicalism however would constitute a minority of Peru’s urban and rural working-classes. Nevertheless, because of their tremendous determination and activism, anarcho-syndicalism would profoundly influence working-class struggles, organisation, and culture in Peru during the first three decades of the 20th century.

This chapter examines how anarcho-syndicalist ideas were adapted to Peruvian contexts, primarily in Lima-Callao and the southern region of Arequipa, Cuzco, and Puno during the 1910s and 1920s, the heyday of Peruvian anarcho-syndicalism. It analyzes the ways anarcho-syndicalism challenged the combination of oligarchic rule by Peru’s creole planter class (sugar and cotton) and British and US imperialism in the form of economic control over the lucrative export sectors (copper, silver, oil) and domestic manufacturing (e.g. textiles)3 . This challenge mainly consisted of organising labour unions and cultural associations, fostering a radical proletarian counterculture, and promoting class struggles.

The Origins of Anarcho-Syndicalism in Lima-Callao

The formation of a working-class in Lima-Callao can be traced to the 1890s and the early 1900s when an export boom stimulated unprecedented growth in the urban economy. Native and foreign capitalists involved in the export sectors channelled a portion of their profits into new financial institutions, infrastructure projects, utility companies, and consumer goods industries.

Accompanying this economic expansion was a dramatic increase in the urban labouring population. In Lima the number of manual workers had risen from roughly 9,000 in 1876 to nearly 24,000 in 1908. By the latter date, artisan and factory workers accounted for 17 percent of Lima’s estimated 140,000 inhabitants4 . In Callao the labour force expanded less rapidly. Yet between 1905 and 1920 it would double in size to approximately 8,000 out of a total population of 52,0005 . The composition of this incipient working class was extraordinarily heterogeneous; workers were divided by origins, sex, race, ethnicity, age, and skill6 . Irrespective of these differences however, they tended to work long hours (12–16 hour days) under harsh conditions, and earn miserable wages that scarcely covered their subsistence needs.

To ameliorate their dismal working and living conditions workers began to embrace anarchism. The turn toward anarchism was in part a response to the failure of mutualism and workers’ inability to obtain satisfaction from Peru’s elite-controlled political party system. It was also strongly encouraged by dissident elites.

Foremost among them was Manuel González Prada, an upper-class intellectual, who became an anarchist as a result of his contacts with French and Spanish anarchists during a self-imposed European exile (1891–1898). González Prada lent his considerable talents to persuading workers to reject mutualism in favour of anarchist practices. He also founded Los Parias (“The Pariahs”), the first anarchist publication in 1904. Other anarchist papers soon appeared: La Simiente Roja (“The Red Seed”, 1905–1907), El Hambriento (“The Hungry”, 1905–1910), Humanidad (“Humanity”, 1906–1907), and El Oprimido (“The Oppressed”, 1907–1909).

Staffed mainly by radical intellectuals like Gliserio Tassara, Angel Origgi Galli, Carlos del Barzo, and Inocencio Lombarozzi (Chilean), these papers exposed workers to the writings by European anarchists and anarchist perspectives on the state, the bourgeoisie, the Church, property, and class relations. Anarchists slogans like Kropotkin’s “Liberties are not bestowed, they’re seized” were also prominently displayed on the papers’ mastheads7 .

The indoctrination of workers in anarchist thought was further assisted by anarchist study circles. Jointly operated by workers and radical intellectuals, The Centre of Socialist Studies First of May (1906–1908) in Lima and the group Love and Light (1911–1919) in Callao provided a forum for workers to discuss anarchist precepts. Like the anarchist press, the study circles emphasized the ideal of workers’ self-emancipation and workers’ cultural advancement. In addition, they inculcated workers in an internationalist outlook. On October 17, 1909, the Centre of Socialist Studies First of May organised a public protest in response to the Spanish government’s execution of the anarchist and educational innovator, Francesco Ferrer i Guàrdia8 .

The year before an anarchist musical group associated with the centre held a performance to commemorate a massacre of Chilean mine workers in 19079 . Annual May Day commemorations in honour of the Chicago martyrs were also supported by the study circles and the anarchist press. The first May Day celebration, organised mainly by the Federation of Bakery Workers—Star of Peru (Federación de Obreros Panaderos “Estrella del Perú”) in Lima took place in 1905. The celebration not only underscored international working-class solidarity in the struggle for the 8 hour day but it honoured Peru’s first worker martyr in the cause10 .

Anarcho-syndicalism firmly began to take hold in Lima-Callao in 1911. In the course of that year the urban working class mounted its first general strike and succeeded in organising the first class-based resistance societies. The general strike originated with a strike led by anarcho-syndicalists and backed by five hundred workers at the U.S.-owned Vitarte Cotton Mill in March 1911. The strikers demanded a wage increase, a reduction of the work day from 13 to 10 hours, and the abolition of the night shift. The strike would endure for 29 days and eventually erupted into a general strike on April 10, bringing Lima’s business and transport to a standstill. The following day President Leguía intervened in the conflict and forced management to accept the workers’ demands11 . The general strike underscored the effectiveness of direct action tactics and working-class solidarity. It also revealed the limits of workers’ power inasmuch as the outcome was ultimately decided by state intervention. In order to preserve their hard won gains and to offset the growing power of capital, textile workers in Vitarte founded the Textile Workers’ Unification of Vitarte, a resistance society in May 1911. The Unification dedicated itself “to serve and defend the rights of the proletariat in general and the textile workers in particular”12 . Following Vitarte’s example, textile workers at Lima’s major mills organised resistance societies.

Anarcho-syndicalist organisation and practice in Lima-Callao gained momentum in 1912 and 1913. In October 1912 workers affiliated with the anarcho-syndicalist oriented La Protesta group (1911-1926) succeeded in organising the first Workers’ Regional Federation of Peru (FORP). It colligated the textile, bakery, and electrical workers’ resistance societies, among others, in Lima-Callao. FORP modeled itself after Argentina’s Workers’ Regional Federation (Federación obrera regional argentina, FORA). And like FORA, it espoused the principles and goals of anarchism and syndicalism and was committed to both short term improvements and social revolution. In 1913 FORA sent two delegates to Lima-Callao to promote solidarity between the two organisations and to encourage Peruvian workers to begin laying the foundations for a national labour confederation. Conditions however were not conducive to achieving this lofty goal. In fact, FORP disbanded in 1916 owing to the fragility of Lima-Callao’s working-class organisations in the context of economic instability related to World War I and state anti-labour hostility13 .

FORP’s dissolution proved to be a temporary setback. Between 1916 and 1919 anarcho-syndicalist workers redoubled their efforts to organise Lima’s workers including rural wage earners on nearby sugar and cotton estates14 . To aid in their organising activities, they encouraged existing labour organisations to establish their own presses and to disseminate anarcho-syndicalist ideas. By 1919, shortly after the death of Manuel González Prada, worker-run union presses had replaced the anarchist papers once directed by non-worker intellectuals like González Prada15 . Among the new union presses were El Sindicalista (“The Syndicalist”, shoemakers’ union), El Obrero Textil (“The Textile Worker”, textile workers’ federation), La voz del panadero (“The Voice of the Baker”, bakers’ union), and El Electricista (“The Electrician”, electrical workers’ union). As a result of the stepped up labour organising and propaganda activity, the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement in Lima-Callao significantly improved its organisational strength and disruptive capabilities. Between 1918 and 1919 several new labour federations were established (e.g. Textile Workers’ Federation of Peru, or FTTP; the Print Workers Federation; the Federation of Masons) and FORP was resuscitated.

In the immediate post-war period a fertile climate existed for the resurgence of Lima-Callao’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement. Workers’ living and working conditions had deteriorated during the war years. Real wages had steadily eroded as the cost of living had risen by 100 percent since 1913. This intolerable situation prompted a spate of strikes in 1918 by organised textile, railway, bakery, dock, and leather workers. Although in some cases these strikes were settled with wage concessions, labour militancy continued unabated.

The most significant strike occurred in December 1918 when approximately 2900 textile workers employed in Lima’s 9 largest textile factories walked off the job demanding the 8 hour workday. One month earlier President Pardo had issued a decree granting women and minors an 8 hour workday in an attempt to placate workers. This proved to be a miscalculation. Unwilling to accept the state’s restricted application of the 8 hour workday, anarcho-syndicalist workers prepared to organize a general strike. In January 1919 the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement backed by broad sectors of Lima-Callao’s working class, and university students engaged in a mass general strike. Although key anarcho-syndicalist strike leaders were arrested and tortured, the general strike persisted16 . After three days of street clashes and business inactivity, President Pardo, on January 15 acceded to what Delfín Lévano, the anarcho-syndicalist union leader, called “the inalienable right” of workers to the 8 hour workday.”17 The conquest of the eight hour day constituted a milestone in the development of the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement and it validated the prodigious efforts to promote working-class consciousness, solidarity, and union organisation18 .

A few months after the January general strike, anarcho-syndicalist workers organised another mass protest to address the cost of living crisis. In April, Adalberto Fonkén, a descendant of Asian coolie labourers and a former leader of the Vitarte textile union, Carlos Barba, a founder and general secretary of the Union of Shoemakers and Associates (1914), and Nicolás Gutarra, a cabinetmaker and former secretary general of FORP (1915), among other prominent anarcho-syndicalist leaders established a Committee for the Cheapening of Prime Necessities (Comité Pro-Abaratamiento de las Subsistencias). The committee soon established chapters throughout Lima-Callao with ties to 30,000 workers. To press its demands for price reductions of basic food-stuffs, the committee staged a series of street demonstrations and marches involving thousands of workers and their families.

President Pardo and the business community refused to bow to the committee’s demands. Troops and mounted police were deployed to break up the demonstrations. On May 27 the committee declared a general strike that paralyzed economic activity in Lima-Callao. The general strike lasted for five days. “The net result of the five days of disorder”, according to a U.S. observer, “was a death list that may be conservatively placed at one hundred, several hundred wounded, from 300 to 500 prisoners in the Lima jails, property loss and damage that will reach at least two million soles, all business demoralized for a week and a severe lesson imposed upon the anarchistic Maximalist elements of Lima and Callao and their misguided followers”19 .

This assessment is accurate to a point. The general strike failed to win concessions but it did not weaken the organisers’ resolve. Indeed, on the day Gutarra and Barba were released from jail where they were held until July 7, they confronted President Leguía who appeared on the balcony of the national palace. Before a multitude of supporters, Gutarra defiantly informed Leguía that “the populace of today was not the tame one of yesterday which had silently borne all tyrannies”. After condemning the police actions and reciting a list of demands, he declared, “the social problem is not solved by a full stomach—the mind also needs feeding so that education may reach all—we want justice, liberty, and equality”. He concluded his peroration with the threat that the proletariat was tired of promises and would take to the barricades to defend their liberties and rights20 . Two days later anarcho-syndicalist workers re-activated FORP and proclaimed its mission was to “do away with capitalism” and to create a new society in which “everyone works and produces according to their abilities and receives according to their needs”21 .

Gutarra was right. The anarcho-syndicalist labour movement through its propaganda and praxis had dissolved any lingering passivity, deference, and fatalism on the part of organised workers in Lima-Callao22 . Indeed, this would be further reflected in its aggressive response to new threats from the state and employers. Leguía’s promulgation of a new constitution in 1920 with strict provisions to regulate strikes and to subject labour conflicts to compulsory arbitration elicited condemnation and street protests from workers. The Local Workers’ Federation (FOL) which replaced FORP in 1921 lashed out at the government’s “legal ruse” and vowed to ignore it23 .

A few months later, in September 1921 textile workers seized El Inca mill in response to management’s plans to close the factory due to the adverse business environment. Ultimately, workers were dislodged from the factory by troops acting on orders of the local prefect. The following day Lima’s business paper, El Comercio ran an editorial admonishing workers against imitating factory takeovers in Italy and pointing out workers inability to effectively manage complex enterprises24 .

The war of position

Did the emphasis on union organisation, working-class solidarity, and the pursuit of short-term material interests cause FOL and its affiliates to neglect workers’ cultural emancipation? To what extent did their anarcho-syndicalist project entail the development of an autonomous and oppositional working-class culture? What follows is an examination of the discourse and practice of Lima-Callao’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement in the 1920s as it relates to these questions. The evidence strongly indicates that anarcho-syndicalists prioritized forging a counter-hegemonic working-class culture capable of contesting and supplanting the dominant culture of Peru’s ruling elites. In short, they opted for a “war of position” attacking the legitimacy and moral authority of bourgeois rule. This strategy involved undermining dominant social conventions and ‘naturalized’ values by inculcating workers in an oppositional ethos through an alternative network of autonomous social and cultural structures25 .

At FOL’s first congress in 1921 worker representatives from 23 labour organisations reaffirmed the necessity of elevating working-class morality and culture. In recognition of the inseparability of cultural emancipation and social revolution, they approved FOL’s “exclusive dedication to the economic, moral and intellectual improvement of the working-class”26 . By simultaneously asserting its commitment to both an economic and a cultural agenda, FOL unambiguously signalled the importance it assigned to workers’ socio-cultural development. To underscore this point, it authorized the establishment of an official “workers’ daily” and a “popular worker library”27 . Two months later, under the direction of Adalberto Fonkén, the popular worker library opened on Trujillo Street in central Lima to male and female workers of all races. Here workers were informed they would have access to rational books capable of “breaking the darkness of popular consciousness”, which in turn would empower them to act against “despotic bourgeois social edifice” {sic} 28 .

Even if FOL had not endorsed the need to promote workers’ moral and cultural edification doubtless its affiliates would have done so anyway. An influential minority of highly motivated anarcho-syndicalist worker-intellectuals within FOL’s labour organisations were determined to free workers from the social constraints and cultural marginalization imposed by Peru’s aristocratic order. For example, as early as 1919, union workers at Santa Catalina woollen mill established their own press, El Nudito (“The Little Link”), which published local labour news and social commentary. The paper proudly boasted “it is not edited by intellectuals but is written by workers and for workers”29 . Ultimately, El Nudito would be superseded in 1920 by the FTTP’s official organ, El Obrero Textil. Arguably the most important union paper in Lima during the 1920s, El Obrero Textil, readily embraced FOL’s cultural mission insisting that “the more culturized [sic.] the people are, the sooner they conquer their liberty”30 . This view resonated with print, carpenter, and construction workers’ federations, who in turn published presses and extolled the virtue of workers’ self-expression. Under the editorial direction of anarcho-syndicalist worker-intellectuals, these and other union presses provided a forum for workers to publish poetry, discuss moral issues, address female workers’ emancipation and the ‘Indian question”, debate ideological points, and analyze capital-labour relations31 . To further advance the socio-cultural and political education of workers the union presses also utilized drawings and graphic images. El Constructor (The Builder), the official organ of the Construction Workers’ Union, for example, published an instructive cartoon depicting a workman breaking the chains of militarism, politics, the clergy, and the State, with the caption that “an offence against one worker, is an offence against all”32 .

In addition to the proliferation of union presses, concern for workers’ ‘moral and intellectual improvement’ prompted FOL and its affiliates to sponsor a panoply of cultural and recreational associations. This included workers’ libraries, theatre and art associations, musical groups, and sports clubs. Taken together these autonomous worker associations constituted a concerted effort to remake working class social practices and culture in Lima-Callao. The involvement of workers, their families and communities, in these associations allowed for the assimilation of an anarcho-syndicalist discourse about self-improvement, moral codes of behaviour (e.g. abstention from gambling and alcohol), working-class dignity and solidarity, and social justice.

Illustrative of this point is the Workers’ Musical Centre (Centro Musical Obrero de Lima, or CMO). Founded in 1922 under the direction of Delfín Lévano and with the strong backing of FOL, the CMO provided a musical and a political education for its working class audience. Performing in Lima’s working class zones of El Cercado, La Victoria, Barrios Altos, and Rimac, the CMO exposed workers to a variety of musical forms and to songs centred on workers’ emancipation, rights, liberty, triumphs, and passions33 . Among the repertoire of songs performed by the CMO were “La Internacional” (The International),

“Anarco”, “El Paria” (“The Pariah”), “Canto del Pueblo” (“Song of the People”), “Lira rebelde proletaria” (“Rebellious Proletariat Lyre”), and “Canto del Trabajo” (“Song of Work”)34 . This last song typifies the social criticism and spirit of rebellion propagated by the CMO35 :

Come all comrades
To the struggle that today prevails
The free red flag
Shines toward the sun of the future
In the country and workshops
They exploit us by piecework
Like beasts of burden
Capital mistreats us
Our masters and bosses
They promise to relieve us
But instead of making us better
They deprive us of even bread
The rescue of work, etc.
Disunited, plebeians we are
But strong when we are united;
Only the well-organized will triumph,
The ones that have heart.

To ensure that workers assimilated the lyrics of these protest songs, individual unions printed and distributed revolutionary songbooks. The Santa Catalina textile union, for example, in honour of May Day in 1927, published a collection of “Universal Proletarian Hymns and Proletarian Songs of Today”. The union claimed it published the song-book to engender a “new social ethic” and to contribute to “the beautiful labour of removing popular prejudices”36 .

Anarcho-syndicalists also utilized an array of new social practices, rituals, and celebrations to inculcate workers in oppositional values and to transform their worldviews. In the textile mill town of Vitarte on the outskirts of Lima, a group of anarcho-syndicalist textile workers organised an annual tree planting festival that became a celebration of working class culture and solidarity.

The first fiesta de la planta (festival of the plant) occurred on December 25, 192137 . Organisers intentionally chose this date for their secular festival to compete with the Christian religious holiday. The day-long celebration involved workers and union organisations from the surrounding region, and consisted of class-inflected speeches, tributes to “fallen comrades in the social struggle”, tree planting rites, picnics, soccer matches, and musical and dance performances. All these events were free of alcohol consumption in keeping with anarchist moral strictures38 .

Similarly, on a smaller scale, unions affiliated with FOL ritually held soirées in celebration of the establishment of labour unions or to raise funds for strikes and other union expenses39 . In addition to these social functions, the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement continued to hold May Day celebrations throughout the 1920s. Significantly, all of these events allowed workers to assert their power in public spaces.

Another important institution embraced by anarcho-syndicalists to advance working-class culture was the popular university. Organised by reform-minded students from San Marcos University, the popular university was conceived as an outreach program to broadly educate and train workers who in turn would serve as pedagogues dedicated to the cultural emancipation of all workers and peasants40 .

Despite the dominant role of students as administrators and teachers, the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement endorsed worker enrolment in the Popular Universities (UPs) established in Lima and Vitarte in 1921. This imprimatur stemmed largely from the fact that the UPs were expressly committed to workers’ integral education and the cause of social justice. It didn’t hurt the Ups’ appeal that they were named after Manuel González Prada, the anarchist intellectual. Nevertheless, some workers, according to El Obrero Textil, were reluctant to participate in the UPs because of their “tendency to view with distrust anything that does not originate from the working-class”41 .

For the most part, however, anarcho-syndicalist workers were eager to join the UPs as both students and teachers, and to infuse them with an anarcho-syndicalist sensibility. For example, in Vitarte, workers hung red banners from the walls of the UP broadcasting slogans like “Truth, Justice, Liberty”, “Culture Liberates Man”, and “The drunk is a being without will”. A sign marked with three eights painted in red and white was placed in the middle of the proscenium to underscore the UP’s support for eight hours of work, eight hours of study, and eight hours of rest—a position in accord with the First International42 .

For the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement the UPs formed part of its extensive network of cultural associations which could be harnessed in support of its project and class struggles. A case in point was the mass protest against Leguía and the Catholic Church’s attempt to officially consecrate Peru to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in May 1923. Threatened by the possibility of expanding Church influence and the suppression of freedom of thought, FOL joined with the university students in mobilizing its union members, cultural groups, and the UPs in mass street demonstrations against the consecration. After a pitched street battle between security forces and protestors, resulting in the death of a worker and a student, the Leguía government deemed it prudent to cancel the consecration43 . Leguía also exacted revenge on “the centres of popular agitation”, his derisive appellation for the UPs44 . In the wake of the protest students and workers linked to the UPs were arrested and many were deported.

Leguía not only viewed the UPs as subversive but the anarcho-syndicalist cultural infrastructure in toto. Acting frequently at the behest of the Church, employers, and elite politicians, Leguía ordered the suppression of workers’ libraries and union presses. In 1921 police razed the workers’ Popular Library Ricardo Palma in Neptune Park and seized the holdings of the workers’ library in Rimac the following year45 .

The publication of union papers was often interrupted or extinguished altogether by state repression. After two years of circulation, Solidaridad, one of the official organs of FOL, was forcibly closed in 1927. State repression was also accompanied by bourgeois censorship. In 1924 M.A. Arcelles, the secretary general of FOL, complained that the bourgeois press refused to publish union denunciations of inhumane treatment by capitalist enterprises46 . In addition to worker libraries and union presses, Leguía also targeted the CMO for repression on the pretext that its members participated in the 1923 anti-consecration protest. FOL denounced the Leguía regime in 1924 for its “abominable campaign to impede the redemption of the working-class by cultural empowerment”. This vehement condemnation was triggered by the government’s arrest of a Chilean student in Vitarte for having delivered a presentation on the Mexican Revolution to union workers47 .

The Peruvian variant of revolutionary syndicalism

Any account of anarcho-syndicalism in Lima-Callao must address not only the emphasis on class-based unionism and workers’ countercultural politics, but the multiple meanings of revolutionary syndicalism. In 1921 FOL formally declared its adherence to revolutionary syndicalist doctrine. Six years later it would reaffirm this ideological and political orientation at the Second Local Workers’ Congress. At the First Local Workers’ Congress, general secretary Delfin Lévano, defined revolutionary syndicalism as “not only achieving through worker organisation and direct action, immediate improvements but also the intellectual and moral elevation of the worker”. He added “ goes against whatever constitutes an error, obstacle, falsehood that impedes the effective solidarity of all the exploited of the earth and it marches toward the future, toward the goal of the medium program of syndicalism: the suppression of the employer and the wage earner, implanting on the free earth, a society of free producers”48 .

Although interpretations of revolutionary syndicalism would vary among FOL’s members, most shared Lévano’s stress on the practical goals of worker organisation, solidarity, and cultural uplift. The libertarian social revolution was a long way off. Arturo Sabroso, a textile union leader, elaborated on this outlook in an article entitled “For Revolutionary Syndicalism”. Writing in El Obrero Textil shortly after the first congress, Sabroso endorsed the idea that Peruvian workers ‘should be revolutionaries’ but with the caveat that syndicalist organisation, working class unity, and “forming CONSCIOUSNESS in our comrades” must come first. He also cautioned against impulsiveness and urged careful, well-considered syndical action49 .

Espousing a pragmatic brand of revolutionary syndicalism made sense in the Peruvian context. As one observer of Lima’s labour movement noted in 1921 it suffered from the ongoing influence of conservative artisan organisations, the lack of class awareness and union organisation among sectors of the urban labour force, and the persistent hostility of the state and employers50 .

Peruvian anarcho-syndicalists interchangeably referred to themselves as revolutionary syndicalists and syndicalists in the 1920s. Their understanding of the principles and practices of revolutionary syndicalism were derived mainly from the First International, the French General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Général du Travail, CGT, 1902–1914), and the Argentine FORA51 . In essence they subscribed to workers’ self-reliance and the primacy of class-based unions in the struggle to achieve short-term economic improvements and comprehensive emancipation through the destruction of capitalism and the bourgeois state. They also embraced the repudiation of party politics and electoralism in favour of direct action tactics, especially the general strike. Within these broad parameters Peruvian anarcho-syndicalists like their counterparts in Europe and elsewhere tended to adapt revolutionary syndicalist doctrine to fit local conditions and power relations52 .

In response to unfavourable economic and political conditions, anarcho-syndicalists moderated their goals and pursued a pragmatic form of class struggle. Increasing competition in the urban labour market owing to weak economic growth and an influx of rural migrants undermined organised labour’s bargaining power and challenged its ability to represent the broad working-class. Between 1920 and 1931 Lima’s population grew by 68 percent, from 223,807 to 376,097 inhabitants53 . Over this same period the percentage of workers employed in manual trades and manufacturing climbed by just 1 percent54 . Most of this increase occurred in the difficult to organise building trades and construction industry. Given this inauspicious economic environment and a regime determined to protect the interests of national and foreign capital, anarcho-syndicalists opted for a practical syndicalism commensurate with organised labour’s limited strength.

Deferring revolutionary aims and actions, they focused instead on defending workers’ rights and on improving workplace and living conditions. To these ends they employed both direct and indirect actions. Despite proclaiming “the strike” to be workers’ weapon par excellence, FOL and its member unions often resorted to bargaining with employers and negotiating with state officials55 . A combination of direct and indirect action could prove effective as when the union at El Inca cotton mill succeeded in thwarting a wage reduction after management had installed new automatic looms in 1928. The union staged a work stoppage and pressed the government’s Labour Section to intervene56 .

In general the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement sought to eschew high risk actions like general strikes. With the exception of 1923, when 3 general strikes were implemented, these were rare occurrences. FOL and its constituent federations reserved the use of general strikes and mass street demonstrations for extraordinary circumstances such as to seek the release of imprisoned labour leaders, to defend the right to unionize, and to overturn anti-labour decrees like the Road Conscription Act (discussed in detail in the next section). This tendency to avoid potentially costly direct confrontations with the state left one anarcho-syndicalist worker with the impression that revolutionary syndicalism was essentially “the conquest of workers’ rights without going to extremes”57 .

Peruvian revolutionary syndicalism as incarnated by Lima-Callao’s union movement had two additional prominent features. First, it displayed a keen interest in the emancipation of women and indigenous workers. Female workers were the targets of unionization efforts and considerable anarcho-syndicalist propaganda. Carrying a message of equal pay for equal work, anarcho-syndicalists sought to organise female workers in the textile and light consumer goods industries. FOL and the FTTP also sought to launch a campaign to organise Lima’s 23,000 female domestic workers58 .

The organisation and cultural emancipation of indigenous peasants was also major concern of the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement. This was reflected in union collaboration with the Tahuantinsuyo Pro-Indian Rights Central Committee (see next section) and the “indigenous liberation” agenda adopted by the Second Workers’ Congress59 . The second feature refers to its internationalist outlook. Lima’s union presses maintained contact with anarcho-syndicalist organisations in the Americas and Europe and reported on labour news from around the world60 . Anarcho-syndicalist unions also mobilized in response to external events. For example, despite a government imposed news blackout on the execution of the anarchists Nicola and Bartolomeo Vanzetti in 1927, word spread quickly and organised labour responded with protest strikes61 . Two days before the execution Callao’s dock-workers expressed their condemnation by walking off the job. Railway workers followed suit. The FTTP also urged textile workers to strike and denounced those who didn’t as “workers without consciousness”62 .

Revolutionary syndicalism as practiced by Lima-Callao’s union movement was not without its critics. Indeed, criticism emerged within its own ranks and from groups sympathetic to anarcho-syndicalism. The Union of Workers in Civil Construction complained about FOL’s bureaucracy and its penchant for “referring to revolutionary syndicalism every minute, at every critical juncture wanting to go with requests to the State”63 . The Federation of Carpenters and Similar Branches disapproved of conceding too much influence to non-workers like the university students64 . The Anarchist Worker group criticized FOL for permitting Marxist politics and “false redemptive theories” to gain traction65 .

This criticism was quickly dismissed in Solidaridad with the rejoinder that not a single union affiliate had embraced communist principles66 . Revolutionary syndicalists had previously rejected this same allegation by anti-Bolshevik anarchists in La Protesta group67 . Like the French CGT, FOL embraced all workers regardless of political orientation provided they accepted apolitical class-based unionism. FOL’s apolitical stance however had its detractors and they would forcibly present their case at the Second Workers’ Congress in 1927.

Pro-socialist workers and intellectuals at the Second Workers’ Congress criticized FOL’s abstention from politics and its ideological ‘neutrality.’ They called for workers’ ideological indoctrination and the formation of a national labour confederation committed to seizure of the state and the redistribution of wealth68 . Arturo Sabroso, who served as general secretary of the congress, was among those who swayed the worker delegates representing 27 unions to renew their adherence to revolutionary syndicalism69 . He refuted the accusation that FOL had ignored political questions. He noted FOL had struggled against “oppressive laws”, a point grudgingly acknowledged by socialists70 . Ultimately, his argument on the need to maintain revolutionary syndicalism in order to avoid ideological sectarianism and to preserve working class unity carried the day71 .

Ideological tensions within the union movement were temporarily put on hold, when, in June 1927 the Leguía regime arrested scores of labour leaders and activists of all political stripes and ideological orientations. Conflicts over ideology, party politics, and union autonomy would resurface with a vengeance in the early 1930s when the newly established Peruvian Communist Party and the social democratic, Peruvian Aprista Party vied for control of the labour movement.

Anarcho-syndicalism in Peru’s southern highlands

In the southern highland region of Peru, comprising the Andean departments of Arequipa, Cuzco, and Puno, a loose but significant network of anarcho-syndicalist movements emerged in the late 1910s and 1920s. This network coincided with the expansion of Peru’s wool export economy. The growth of the woollen trade between 1902 and 1924 fostered commercial links between the three departments and stimulated hacienda expansion, infrastructural improvements, and the development of urban economies in Arequipa and Cuzco. Contact between anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists in southern Peru was facilitated by the completion of the Southern railway line in 1908 which connected the wool producing areas in Puno and Cuzco, with Mollendo, Arequipa’s principal port. As the capital of the eponymous department and commercial centre of the southern regional economy, Arequipa became the focal point of the anarcho-syndicalist network in southern Peru.

The development of anarcho-syndicalism in Arequipa can be traced to the influence of four factors: 1) a radical liberal press 2) Lima’s labour movement 3) immigrant anarchists and 4) cross-border ties with Chilean anarcho-syndicalists. Each of these factors will be taken up in turn. First, middle class intellectuals and artisans in the 1890s and early 1900s promoted a radical liberal discourse that offered a trenchant critique of Arequipa’s aristocratic, conservative, and church-dominated society.

Inspired by Manuel González Prada, prominent Arequipeño liberal intellectuals and newspaper editors like Mariano Lino Urieta, Manuel Mostajo, Modesto Málaga, and Armando Quiroz Perea regularly denounced the oppressive and exploitative influence of oligarchic rule, religion, and capitalism72 . Under their supervision radical newspapers like El Ariete (“The Battering Ram”), Bandera Roja (“Red Flag”), El Volcán (“The Volcano”), Defensa Obrera (“Worker Defense”), and La Federación (“The Federation”) articulated local political issues and themes that would be taken up by Arequipa’s anarcho-syndicalists.

Editorials and letters decrying “the tragedy of centralist tyranny” and demanding decentralization frequently appeared in these publications73 . Calls for human redemption, workers’ rights and dignity, and Indian emancipation were likewise de rigueur74 . In addition, Arequipa’s radical liberal press encouraged artisan and worker organisation in defence of their interests. In this way it served to engender a popular oppositional movement which was reflected in Arequipa’s first major strikes in 1902, its first May Day celebration in 1906, and the formation of the Worker Social Centre of Arequipa (Centro Social Obrero de Arequipa, f.1905), the anarchist Cooperative and Savings Bank (Cooperativa y Caja de Ahorros de Arequipa, f.1912), and the class-based Worker Coalition of the Neighbourhoods, (La Coalición Obrera de los Barrios, f.1918) and Red Assistance (Socorros Rojos, f.1919)75 .

A second significant factor in catalyzing anarcho-syndicalist organisation and praxis in Arequipa was the influence of Lima’s labour movement and to a lesser extent the labour movements in Argentina and Chile. The principles, goals, class struggles, and organisational structures of these relatively advanced movements served as a reference point for Arequipa’s workers.

In December 1918, for example, artisans and workers cited news reports of an upsurge in proletarian struggles in Argentina, Chile, and Lima as the inspiration for organising the Society of Workers and Mutual Assistance (Sociedad de Obreros y Socorros Mutuos, SOSM), a class-oriented resistance society committed to a rejection of formal politics and adherence to the principle ‘That the emancipation of workers should be the task of workers themselves.’76 Two months later, taking its cue from Lima’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement, the SOSM launched a propaganda campaign to rally workers to enforce the eight hour day in Arequipa.

On July 21, 1919, Arequipa’s principal labour organisations again followed Lima’s lead by forming a Comité Pro-Abaratamiento de las Subsistencias to reduce the rising cost of food staples, rent, and utilities. Like Lima’s Comité it presented local authorities with a list of demands and when these were ignored workers responded with a mass-based general strike. Arequipa’s first general strike lasted eight days in early October and involved organised shoemakers, textile, mechanics, and transport workers affiliated with the Comité and commercial employees and railway workers of the British-owned Peruvian Corporation. Although the strike received tremendous popular support it yielded mixed results. Wage and benefit demands by Peruvian Corporation workers were granted but the Comité’s call for price reductions went unheeded. In the months following the general strike the Comité would hold mass demonstrations and continue to promote an anarcho-syndicalist agenda77 .

In the wake of the 1919 general strike Arequipa’s artisans and workers moved swiftly to build working-class organisations and labour federations. Ably assisted by anarcho-syndicalists linked to the Socorros Rojos, they founded Arequipa’s first local labour federation, the Arequipa Worker Federation (Federación Obrera Arequipeña, or FOA), in 192178 . Dedicated to the expressed purpose of “looking out for the true interests of the working class”, FOA counted among its affiliates organised railway workers and employees, transport workers, barbers, bakers, and other artisans79 . Between 1919 and 1926 an array of resistance societies and labour unions were organised among bakers, tanners, shoemakers, printers, wood workers, railwaymen, and construction workers. These in turn were rapidly organised into sectoral and local labour federations80 .

This upsurge in labour organisation corresponded to FORP’s 1919 call for Peruvian workers to form unions and federations in order to enhance their capacity for direct action against capitalists and the State81 . With the establishment of a regional federation, the Local Worker Federation of Arequipa (Federación Obrera Local de Arequipa, FOLA), modelled after FOL-Lima in 1926, a clear symmetry emerged between the Arequipa and Lima anarcho-syndicalist oriented labour movements. Indeed, FOLA’s stated priority to achieve the “integral unification of all workers” in the pursuit of “liberty and justice” reflected the orientation of FOL-Lima82 .

Like its counterpart in Lima, Arequipa’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement utilized direct and indirect action in the pursuit of immediate and long range goals. For example, in October 1923, labour organisations in Arequipa staged protests and work stoppages against a hike in passenger and freight tariffs on railways owned by the British-owned Peruvian Corporation. SOSM and the Tailors’ Union (Unión de Sastres) pointed to the imperialist character of the Peruvian Corporation and denounced it for “sucking the blood of the people”. At the same time, they sought to enlist the support of Arequipa’s Chamber of Commerce. Ultimately, sufficient pressure was brought to bear to compel the Peruvian government to intervene to suspend the price hike83 .

Two years later the labour movement launched a general strike, the anarcho-syndicalist weapon par excellence, to demand the Peruvian government repeal the despised Ley Conscripción Vial (Road Conscription Law), which required adult males to register and to work on State infrastructure projects for upwards of twelve days per year84 . This strike is examined in more detail below. Suffice it to say, the general strike was spearheaded by the Popular Worker Assembly (Asamblea Obrera-Popular) an ad hoc umbrella organisation comprising the major anarcho-syndicalist organisations in Arequipa and coordinated with FOL-Lima85 . The government viewed the Popular Worker Assembly as a subversive organisation of “agitators”. Its ties to FOL-Lima and Chilean IWW elements undoubtedly reinforced this perception86 . Following the December 1925 general strike the government sought to arrest affiliated labour leaders even though it could not readily identify assembly leaders because it “had no active president but conforms to an anarchist regime”87 .

The combativeness and manifest class consciousness of Arequipa’s labour movement belied its relatively small size and incipient character. Arequipa had only 45,000 inhabitants in 1925 and lacked a dynamic industrial sector. Nevertheless, the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement extended its reach beyond workers employed in the dozens of artisan workshops, 19 commercial enterprises, and 15 industrial establishments88 .

Emulating Lima’s labour movement, Arequipa’s resistance societies and labour unions cultivated organic links to the broad popular sectors. By sponsoring grass-roots level worker libraries, theatre groups, and sports clubs, they sought to achieve two primary objectives: 1) the promotion of worker solidarity and 2) workers’ socio-cultural emancipation89 . A case in point was the streetcar conductor and employees’ union and its patronage of the Tranelec soccer club. As an extension of the union, which was affiliated with the Popular Worker Assembly, Tranelec would be enlisted to join direct actions in defence of working-class interests such as the protests against the Ley Conscripción Vial90 .

The promotion of a ritual calendar of events by Arequipa’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement likewise paralleled developments in Lima. In addition to May Day festivities, celebrations were held to commemorate the foundation of workers’ organisations. Tributes to fallen working-class martyrs were also organised. On January 30 annual tributes in honour of the “memory of the immolated victims of the 30 of January 1915” were sponsored by the Workers’ Societies of Arequipa91 . This well-attended event recalled the mass protest against economic austerity measures in Arequipa’s main plaza and the brutal massacre of 13 workers by gendarmes and police. Ritual events like this reminded workers of the class bias and repressive character of the State and fostered working-class solidarity.

The influence of immigrant anarchists constituted a third factor in the spread of anarcho-syndicalist ideology and organisation in Arequipa. Foremost among these immigrants was Ramón Rusiñol, a Spanish architect and self-proclaimed anarcho-syndicalist, who arrived in Arequipa in 1919. A dedicated and indefatigable promoter of anarcho-syndicalist doctrine, Rusiñol instructed workers from his office in Barrio Antiquilla in central Arequipa. By dint of his prodigious proselytizing activity, Rusiñol transformed Barrio Antiquilla into a libertarian space where militant worker groups and anarcho-syndicalist labour leaders gathered, socialized, and were trained92 .

Jacinto Liendo and Francisco Ramos, two of his devoted students, emerged as prominent anarcho-syndicalist labour leaders in the mid-1920s. Liendo, a typographer, served as leader of the combative Popular Worker Assembly. Ramos, a tailor, served as the secretary of actas for FOLA. Rusiñol also mentored a coterie of university students in anarchism who in turn were anointed to carry “the light of knowledge” to Arequipa’s worker and artisan organisations93 . Before his arrest for alleged subversive activities and deportation to the island of Taquila in 1927, he founded a Popular University. Staffed by anarchist students associated with Humanidad, a weekly organ of “free students”, the Popular University sought to foster workers’ integral education. Both Rusiñol and the anarchist students advocated workers’ self-improvement and utilized the locals of the Sociedad Obrera I Socorros Mutuos, Coalición Obrera de los Barrios, and Sociedad de Panaderos I Constructores (Society of Bakers & Builders) to hold their Popular University classes94 .

European immigrants were not the only foreigners to promote anarcho-syndicalism in Arequipa. For example, Manuel B. Rodas, a Bolivian textile worker, actively sought to organise Arequipeño factory workers along anarcho-syndicalist lines. Between 1916 and 1922 Rodas worked in the La Industrial Huaico, a relatively large textile factory with over 200 workers in Arequipa’s fledgling manufacturing sector. Apparently with some assistance from Rusiñol, Rodas encouraged workers at La Industrial Huaico to organise a union and to pursue direct action tactics to improve wages and work conditions. It wasn’t long before Rodas’s propaganda and labour organising activities stirred the M. Forga and Sons, the factory owners, to action. In the wake of a strike by Huaico workers on October 20, 1922, M. Forga and Sons implemented a company lockout, denied recognition of the workers’ union organisation, and petitioned the prefect of Arequipa to expel Rodas. The owners cannily played on xenophobic prejudices and the threat of subversion in their appeal to the prefect: “[Rodas] is one of the principal promoters of the strike. This individual is of Bolivian nationality and consequently his expulsion as a dangerous element to public order is prescribed by the law.” The prefect sided with the owners despite the pleas by Huaico worker delegates that Rodas was unjustly severed from his job and was merely the treasurer of their mutualist organisation95 .

Rodas’s expulsion in 1922 however did not prevent textile workers at Huaico from establishing an anarcho-syndicalist union. In 1926 the Huaico Textile Union (Unión Textil del Huaico) adopted the IWW-inspired slogan, “One for All and All for One” and warned workers against “living in isolation and resignedly suffering [sic] capitalist oppression”96 . Living up to its creed, the Huaico Textile Union pursued worker solidarity and pressed for improvements in wages and work conditions throughout the 1920s.

Cross-border contacts with Chilean workers affiliated with the IWW constituted another key factor in the spread of anarcho-syndicalism in Arequipa. Initially Chilean IWW activists sought to develop close ties with Lima’s anarcho-syndicalist movement. This largely took the form of infrequent communiqués and the distribution of propaganda. In 1922, for example, Luis Armando Triviño, a prominent Chilean IWW leader published a series of articles in La Protesta extolling the virtues of IWW organisation and methods and issued a call for “solidarity with an international reach”97 .

Though some individual workers were undoubtedly influenced by this appeal, there is little evidence that Lima’s labour movement was meaningfully affected98 . In contrast, Arequipa’s labour movement, especially employees and port workers in Mollendo, were profoundly influenced by their interactions with Chilean Wobblies. Unlike their counterparts in Lima, workers in Arequipa had more direct and substantive contacts with Chilean IWW activists during the 1920s.

It is difficult to pinpoint precisely when, given the fragmentary evidence, the Chilean IWW maritime workers made their first contact with Peruvian port workers in Mollendo. Certainly by early 1925 close ties were established. Chilean IWW crews abroad the steamships Mapocho and Cachapoal, which were owned and operated by the South American Steamship Company, reportedly held secret meetings under the cover of darkness with Peruvian workers in an abandoned house on Islay Street99 . On March 24, 1925, the Voz del Mar, (Voice of the Sea), an IWW organ based in Valparaiso, hailed the formation “in Mollendo of a local of the IWW”.

The establishment of an IWW presence in Mollendo appears to have taken place in the aftermath of a triumphant general strike by maritime workers and railwaymen between February 18 and 25. According to Peruvian delegates of the “Associations of the Sea” (the Agrupaciones del Mar) in Mollendo the strike was sparked by the capricious and unjustified dismissal of three storage workers by managers of the British-owned Peruvian Corporation. In a communiqué dated March 8, the delegates expressed their gratitude to the “distinguished comrades of Mapocho and Cachapoal and the labour “Central of Valparaiso” and “all the brothers of the coast of Chile” for their solidarity. They characterized Peru as a “country in which the [Anglo] Saxons dominate and seek to silence the voice of the worker with terror”. The communiqué concluded with an affirmation of their support for the IWW: “the unification of workers is our primary desire, because the one who lives by sweat and the fatigue of labour, shouldn’t recognize boundaries or flags, and for this, we will not separate ourselves from the I.W.W. which we consider the greatest tree in the world”100 .

Peruvian security forces often noted with alarm working-class internationalism and the rejection of national divisions by southern workers. In a report entitled “About the Bolshevik International Society Y.W.W”. [sic.], one security agent warned the prefect of Arequipa of a seditious “theory” propounded by Octavio Manrique, president of the Confederation of Railway Workers of the South. He observed that Manrique had called on workers to recognize that “in terms of workers’ home, there exists neither country nor class rivalry”101 . That many Arequipeñan workers shared this view marked an extraordinary advance in class consciousness102 . All the more so, given Peru’s long-standing border dispute with Chile and the concerted efforts by both national governments to whip up patriotic fervour103 .

For Peruvian authorities the “Bolshevik” influence of the IWW in the strategic port of Mollendo was intolerable. Senator Bedoya of Arequipa demanded that stern measures be taken in a fiery speech to the Peruvian congress. He insisted that “Chileans and other foreigners had implanted the virus of Bolshevism in Mollendo, and that the government ought to exterminate them in order to assure national tranquillity”104 . No sooner had he uttered those sentiments than on May 4, security forces deported Octavio Manrique and another radical leader of the railway workers, and forced several known IWW propagandists to escape to Chile105 .

Despite these actions, the subprefect of the province of Islay warned of the persistence of “subversive” leaders and ideas within Mollendo’s Maritime Workers’ Union106 . This warning proved prophetic. In January and early February 1926 four to five hundred stevedores staged a series of protests and work stoppages over wages and the use of non-union workers to unload cargo107 . Rising tensions between the port’s Customs Authority and dock workers prompted one worker to physically assault the head of the Mollendo Agencies & Co., who was responsible for unloading regulations108 . Prior to this incident, on January 14, Raúl Alejando Nuñez Gómez and his brother Julio Fernando, radical lawyers and directors of La Escoba (“The Broom”), an anarchist paper, were said to have instigated a mass protest against the municipal government.

According to the subprefect, the aim of the movement was to discredit city officials and to undermine their authority by causing workers’ councils to break off relations with the government109 . Against this backdrop, on February 8, the Peruvian government sent two naval warships to Mollendo to restore order. Still, worker unrest continued. The captain of the port reported another work stoppage by stevedores on February 23 and called for “the Bolsheviks that sustain the terror in Mollendo to be deported”110 . In early March the prefect of Arequipa had La Escoba suppressed and twelve known subversives including the Nuñez Gómez brothers, a customs official, and nine dock workers arrested and transferred to Lima111 .

State repression aimed at disarticulating the Mollendo labour movement and neutralizing IWW, anarchist, and communist influence among Arequipeñan workers intensified in the late 1920s. In September 1927, a presidential supreme resolution instructed all prefects to “impede undesirable elements from distributing propaganda based on dissociative doctrines”. It also ordered prefects to establish registers for both national and foreign propagandists and troublemakers. These and other repressive measures seem to have severed ties between Chilean Wobblies and Arequipeñan workers. Nevertheless, anarchist and IWW doctrines continued to inform the labour movements in Mollendo and Arequipa. The use of direct action, demands for social justice, expressions of working-class solidarity, and denunciations of bourgeois capitalism would remain staples of Mollendo and Arequipa worker organisations into the early 1930s and beyond112 .

As noted earlier the spread of anarcho-syndicalism to Arequipa formed part of a broader regional pattern that encompassed Peru’s southern highland departments of Cuzco and Puno. Anarchist ideas began to circulate in Cuzco in the first decade of the 20th century. Lima’s anarchist press and the writings of Manuel González Prada penetrated Cuzco, the remote former capital of the Inca Empire113 .

By all accounts anarchist thought initially resonated with Cuzco’s dissident intellectuals. Luis Velasco Aragón, Julio Luna Pacheco, Humberto Pacheco, Edmundo Delgado Vivanco, Roberto Latorre, Luis Yábar Palacios, Manuel Jesús Urbina, and Angel Gasco were the leading exponents of anarchism in Cuzco. Perhaps the most influential intellectual of this group was Velasco Aragón. A disciple of Manuel González Prada, Velasco Aragón founded and directed the Centro Manuel González Prada and the anarchist literary and artistic society, Capa y Espada (Cape and Sword) in the early 1920s114 . Inspired by European anarchist publications and anarchist pamphlets from Buenos Aires, he also disseminated handbills endorsing workers’ economic demands and social revolution115 . He gained national notoriety in April 1923 for a blistering speech entitled “La verdad sobre el Fango” (“The Truth of the Shameful Mire”), denouncing political and judicial corruption, militarism, and landlord abuses under Leguía’s dictatorship before cheering throngs of Cuzqueños. For this public incitement and his anarchist activities, Velasco Aragón would be arrested and imprisoned for one year116 .

Roberto Latorre, the owner and editor of Kosko, a countercultural magazine, would see to it that anarchist ideas remained a part of Cuzco’s public discourse during the mid-1920s. Kosko routinely reprinted articles by González Prada and offered tributes in his honour117 . Latorre himself published editorials in praise of anarchism and publicly praised the works of Kropotkin and Malatesta118 . He and Velasco Aragón would also publish articles in Kuntur, a radical polemical and literary magazine that appeared in 1927119 . The previous year, Pututo, a short-lived experimental magazine was launched by a group of radical cuzqueno intellectuals and it too offered tributes to González Prada120 . An offshoot of these publishing endeavors was the formation of a radical study group known as “El Falansterio”. The group took its name from the French libertarian socialist, Charles Fourier’s concept of a Phalanx, a small voluntary community based on communal property. The group held meetings at the home of Rafael Tupayachi, an Indian intellectual, who served as the first general secretary and instructor in Cuzco’s Popular University of González Prada in May 1924121 .

An outgrowth of the 1920 university reform movement, Cuzco’s Popular University provided another forum for workers to become exposed to anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist thought. Many university instructors were openly sympathetic to anarchism. These included intellectuals such as Humberto Pacheco, Erasmo Delgado Vivanco, Luis Villa, and Genaro Baca, and Ricardo Santos from a working-class background122 . The latter, a carpenter, was an outspoken proponent of anarcho-syndicalism. Adopting the slogan “Truth, Justice, Liberty” and committed to fostering solidarity between intellectuals and workers, Cuzco’s Popular University received the enthusiastic support of the city’s artisan guilds and workers’ organisations. From its inception the university enrolled “no less than 100 students”123 .

Despite the activism of pro-anarchist intellectuals and groups, Cuzco’s labouring class only gradually and rather fitfully adopted anarcho-syndicalist organisation and methods. Undoubtedly the slow growth of Cuzco’s consumer industries, which were based mainly on artisanal production until the establishment of textile and beer factories in 1918 and the early 1920s, and the small size of the urban proletariat were inhibiting factors124 . Nevertheless, in October 1919, textile and railway workers undertook strike actions signalling the emergence of a new class outlook and a commitment to direct action125

Concurrently, Cuzco’s major artisan societies and worker organisations founded a Local Workers’ Federation of Cuzco (FOLC) modelled after FORP126 . FOLC established formal ties with FORP and later FOL-Lima but only survived until 1923127 . Notwithstanding its short duration, FOLC’s influence should not be dismissed128 . By 1922 it had succeeded in organising a May Day celebration based on the ideals of the First International. The May Day program announced in the daily newspaper El Sol reminded workers that “The conquest of the legitimate rights that correspond to workers and their welfare . . . must come from the efforts and the direct action of worker organisation, the emancipation of workers must be the task of the workers themselves”. It also rejected formal politics declaring that “in each election campaign the worker is victim of deception and fraud”129 .

To strengthen working class unity and organisation in Cuzco, FOLC’s publication, Obrero Andino (“The Andean Worker”), called for a Worker Congress to be held at the departmental level. It indicated the stated goal of the congress would be to “provide the basis for the resurgence of the Peruvian proletariat and defend its forces, prerogatives, its rights and privileges”. The congress never took place130 . But FOLC’s anarcho-syndicalist message did not go unheeded. In 1924 Ricardo Santos, Martín Pareja, and Manuel Castro founded an anarchist organisation for fellow artisan workers131 . By the mid-1920s Cuzco’s labour movement had irreversibly shifted away from mutualist and guild organisation toward resistance societies and class-oriented unions132 .

In addition to urban labour the influence of anarcho-syndicalism extended to the indigenous peasantry in the rural areas of Cuzco and Puno. The principle porters of anarcho-syndicalism in these areas were provincial migrants. During the 1910s and 1920s internal migration intensified in Peru with a steady flow of migrants travelling back and forth between Puno, Cuzco, and Lima as well as between Puno, Cuzco, and Arequipa133 .

For many southern provincial migrants, contact with Lima’s anarchists and anarcho-syndicalist labour movement profoundly shaped their political thinking and activism. Carlos Condorena (a.k.a. Carlos Condori Yujra), an indigenous peasant from Puno, for example, developed close ties with anarcho-syndicalist leaders and read European and Peruvian publications on anarcho-syndicalism while in Lima in the early 1910s134 . Soon after, he became a leader within the Tahuantinsuyo Pro-Indian Rights Central Committee (Comité Central Pro-Derecho Indigena Tahuantinsuyo, or CPIT) which was founded in 1919 by provincial émigrés residing in Lima and supported by anarcho-syndicalists135 . Before his imprisonment in Puno in 1925, he championed indigenous labour organisation and the struggle for the eight-hour day136 .

Provincial migrants played vital roles as both interlocutors for the CPIT and indigenous peasants and as intermediaries between them and the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement. Notable figures in this regard were Ezequiel Urviola, Hipólito Salazar, and Francisco Chuquiwanka Ayulo. Urviola, a quechua speaking “Indian-Mestizo” from Azángaro, Puno, epitomized the synthesis of an indigenous and anarcho-syndicalist sensibility137 . Driven from Puno by gamonales (rural bosses) for organising indigenous self-defence organisations, Urviola would ultimately wind up in Lima in 1920 where he collaborated with the CPIT, the union movement, and the Popular University González Prada138 .

Urviola’s heterodox views were evident in all three areas of collaboration. To textile workers and students in the Popular University he expressed an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist outlook; one student recalled how he repeated slogans like “get back bourgeois pigs” and “down with Yankee imperialism”139 . Another issue he addressed with workers was the importance of taking pride in the indigenous race and the Inca past140 . Along with his fellow puneños, Salazar and Ayulo, both leaders in the CPIT, he opposed the influence of the Catholic Church and advocated rationalist education and schools for Indians141 .

He also insisted on indigenous peasants and workers’ self-emancipation and rejected state paternalism, an anarchist conviction he sought to imprint on the CPIT and the Peruvian Regional Indian Worker Federation (Federación Indígena Obrera Regional Peruana, FIORP), an indigenous labour federation founded in 1923. Urviola clearly bridged the divide between provincial indigenous peasants and the urban-based anarcho-syndicalist labour movement. On the occasion of his death in 1925, he was lionized by anarchist labour unions, the CPIT, and indigenous groups142 .

Under the leadership of Urviola, Salazar, and Ayulo, the CPIT and the FIORP, while not anarcho-syndicalist organisations per se, fostered anarcho-syndicalist ideology, organisation, and tactics among the indigenous peasantry143 . Indeed, a dramatic upsurge in peasant revolts in Puno and Cuzco in the early 1920s was viewed by land-owners, gamonales, and the government as the work of the CPIT and FIORP, which never sought to conceal their aim to educate, organise, and emancipate the indigenous peasants144 . That these organisations promoted a class and internationalist outlook, peasant-worker solidarity, direct action, and ethnic pride, was not lost on their adversaries. Official tolerance for FIORP and the CPIT ended in 1924 and 1927 respectively. Both organisations would suffer repression. Francisco Gamarra Navarro and Paulino Aguilar, anarcho-syndicalist leaders of the FIORP, would be deported to Bolivia where they would assist in
the formation of Bolivia’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement145 .

Government attempts to repress anarchist networks in the south and to sever their ties with Lima’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement were never entirely successful. This was due in large part to the loose, flexible, and decentralized nature of these networks. It also was a result of state policies that galvanized anarchist-inspired worker, peasant, and indigenous opposition throughout the southern highlands and in the nation’s capital. Leguía’s decision to enact the Ley Conscripción Vial in 1920 and to insist on its application for the duration of his presidency aroused anarchist passions against state oppression and coerced labour146 . The Road Construction Act as it was euphemistically called had the effect of inspiring a permanent anarchist-coordinated anti-Conscription movement in the 1920s.

Overt resistance to the Ley Conscripción Vial erupted in 1923. Leaders of the CPIT in the southern provinces encouraged indigenous peasant uprisings. In a thinly veiled reference to the CPIT, Pedro José Rada y Gama, the Minister of Government and Police, attributed the revolts in Pomabama, Huanta, Pampas, Aganares, Chiquián, Anta y La Mar, to “known agitators that make them [Indians] believe that the laws of the Road Conscription and other acts of the municipalities profoundly discriminate against their interests”147 .

Since the first National Indian Congress at Tahuantinsuyo in 1921, Lima’s anarchist press and anarcho-syndicalist delegates had admonished Indians not to accept State impositions such as obligatory military service and labour exactions148 . By 1923 it did not require much convincing as local authorities and gamonales routinely abused the Conscripción Vial employing Indians 24 days or more, in violation of the prescribed 6 day obligation149 . That same year, the Third National Indian Congress of the CPIT, under the leadership of the indigenous anarcho-syndicalist, Ezequiel Urviola, who served as general secretary, called for the abolition of the Conscripción Vial150 . Even as the Congress was in session uprisings flashed across Cuzco and Puno. District authorities had to suspend the Conscripción Vial in several Cuzco provinces in 1924 because of Indian resistance151 . FIORP, though debilitated by state repression, continued to urge Cusqueño Indians in 1925 to organise and to combat injustices in the name of “indigenous proletarian redemption”152 .

Anarchists and anarcho-syndicalist organisations in Arequipa also led a campaign to repeal the Conscripción Vial. In December 1925 Factor Lama, Francisco Ramos, and Miguel Aguilar of the Popular Assembly organised a three day general strike to this end. To break the strike and attendant mass demonstrations in central Arequipa, the prefect deployed police and gendarmes resulting in many wounded protesters and the death of at least one worker. The excessive brutality by security forces prompted the city mayor and the municipal council to send protests to President Leguía and to call for the suspension of the Conscripción Vial153 . In effect, this acknowledged the de facto situation in Arequipa. In order to end the general strike and protests, the prefect had agreed to suspend the law in Arequipa until July 1926154 . Leguía’s extraordinary decision to dismiss the mayor and city alderman and to maintain the Conscripción Vial in Arequipa reignited the anarchist-led opposition movement. In February 1926 the Popular Assembly sent delegates to Lima to organise a nation-wide campaign with the anarcho-syndicalist labour movement to abolish the Conscripción Vial. Their subsequent arrest led to protests in Arequipa and Lima155 .

Despite increasing state repression in the late 1920s, anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists continued to make resistance to the Conscripción Vial a top priority. Both in Arequipa and Lima this took the form of coordinated propaganda campaigns and protests. Among the anarcho-syndicalist unions that spearheaded this campaign were the Print Workers’ Federation-Lima (Federación Gráfica), the Union of Various Trades of Lima (Sindicato de Oficios Varios de Lima), and the Construction Workers’ Federation-Arequipa (Federación de Constructores)156 . In Arequipa the campaign took propaganda by the word to new level by issuing direct threats to the parties responsible for the implementation of the Conscripción Vial. The Popular Worker Assembly and the Assembly of Workers’ Neighbourhoods informed local authorities that “it had taken note of the home addresses of the conscripción vial council . . . and had made them known to the people . . . the assembly is not responsible for the consequences that may result if it [the council] insists on implementing the law”157 .

The Conscripción Vial was a burning issue for the Peru’s working-classes and indigenous peasantry in the 1920s. Anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists in the southern highlands and in Lima were responsive to this popular concern. The valour they displayed combating this state imposition earned them the gratitude and support of significant sectors of urban and rural labour force.


The spread of anarcho-syndicalism in Peru during the first three decades of the 20th century was the result of a confluence of factors: The wide circulation of anarchist and syndicalist publications, the influence of a small group of radical immigrants and Peruvian intellectuals, and contacts between Peruvian workers and anarcho-syndicalist organisations in Argentina and Chile.

However, the most important factor was influence of self-constructed worker-intellectuals in Lima-Callao. Home-grown anarcho-syndicalists like Manuel Lévano, Delfín Lévano, Nicolás Gutarra, Adalberto Fonkén, Arturo Sabroso, José Sandoval, and Samuel Rios adapted anarcho-syndicalist doctrine and praxis to fit Peruvian realities. The pervasive reality they confronted was a system of domination that politically excluded and socially and culturally marginalized Peru’s working classes.

Power over the state and civil society was decidedly under the control of Peru’s agro-export creole elite. In contrast to the power and relative cohesion of Peru’s ruling elite, workers in the modern sectors lacked independent bases of power, were divided by ethnicity, race, sex, and skill, and were widely dispersed among the coastal cities and rural estates, and provincial towns and mining centres in the sierra. Cognizant of this imbalance of power, Peru’s anarcho-syndicalists adopted a gradualist approach to social revolution. Indeed, they articulated a revolutionary project predicated on the incremental accumulation of power in workers’ union organisations and class struggle. They also emphasized the inseparability of workers’ cultural emancipation from social revolution. As a result, they developed an integrated network of union structures and cultural associations that inculcated workers in counter-hegemonic beliefs and values.

Although Peru’s anarcho-syndicalist labour movement began to rapidly decline by 1929, it laid the groundwork for subsequent labour politics and working-class struggles in the 1930s and 1940s. Many former anarcho-syndicalist workers would join the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP, f.1930) and the social democratic Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP, f.1930).

In so doing, they transferred to these pro-labour parties elements of their discourse and notions of social justice, cultural emancipation, working-class solidarity, practical syndicalism, and union autonomy. Not infrequently this produced tensions and conflicts between the parties and their supporters within the union movement. For example, workers often resisted subordinating their union organisations and interests to these rival, highly dogmatic, and hierarchical Left parties. Aprista and communist workers in defiance of their respective parties would eschew partisanship and prioritize class solidarity and union autonomy. Old anarchist slogans would also be revived and invoked as when PAP espoused “Neither Liberty Without Bread, Nor Bread Without Liberty” in 1946. Anarcho-syndicalist ideas related to cooperativism and worker control over centres of production continued to influence workers struggles under the PCP and PAP into the 1940s.

Finally, it should be noted that while anarcho-syndicalism went into a steep decline by 1929, it did not disappear completely. As late as the 1940s anarcho-syndicalist workers maintained a presence within the union movement and the anarcho-syndicalist paper, La Protesta, reappeared158 .

References Cited in Text

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Other Important Works
:arrow: Benoit de Velazco, Beatriz. El ideario anarquista y su pentración en el area rural, Lima: Universidad La Molina, Serie: Movimientos Sociales No.6, 1980.
:arrow: Lévano, César y Luis Tejada R., La Útopia Libertaria en el Perú: Manuel y Delfín
:arrow: Lévano, Obra Completa, Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2006.
:arrow: Pereda T., Rolando, Historia de las luchas social del movimiento obrero en el perú Republicano, 1858–1917, Lima: Editorial Imprenta Sudamerica, 1982.
:arrow: Sabroso Montoya, Arturo, Réplicas Proletarias, Editorial Imprenta Minerva, 1934.
:arrow: Sobrevilla, David, Manuel González Prada Textos Esenciales, Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2009.
:arrow: Stein, Steve, Lima Obrera, 1900–1930, Vols. I & II, Lima: Ediciones El Virrey, 1986.
:arrow: Tejada R. Luis, La Cuestion del Pan: El anarcosindicalismo en el Perú, 1880–1919, Lima: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 1988.
:arrow: Torres Franco, Manuel, Breve antología del pensamiento anarquista en el perú, Lima:
Movimientos Sociales No.3 La Molina, 1980.

  • 1There are no national level studies of anarcho-syndicalism in Peru. The extant historiography focuses almost exclusively on Lima-Callao. Evidence of the influence of anarcho-syndicalism among workers along Peru’s northern coast and in the central sierra can be found in Demetrio Ramos Rao, Mensaje de Trujillo del anarquismo al aprismo, Trujillo: TAREA, 1987, and Fiona Wilson, “Género y clase en un pueblo de los Andes”, in Mujeres Latinoamericanas: Diez Ensayos y una historia colectiva, Lima: Flora Tristán Centro de la Mujer Peruana, 1988, 95–138
  • 2Carl Levy has pointed out the futility of “identifying a natural constituency” for syndicalism. Carl Levy, “Currents of Italian Syndicalism before 1926”, International Review of Social History, 45:2, 2000, 209–250.
  • 3Foreign firms dominated Peru’s mineral extraction industries by 1910. See, Rosemary Thorp and Geoffrey Bertram, Peru 1890–1977: Growth & Policy in an Open Economy, New York: Columbia University, 1979, 40 and Ch.5.
  • 4Resumen del censo de las Provincias de Lima y Callao 17 de diciembre de 1920, Lima: Im Americana—Plz. del Teatro, 1927, 49–52, 166–174. The author is responsible for all translations.
  • 5Censo de la Provincia Constitucional del Callao 20 de junio de 1905, Lima: Im y Libreria de San Pedro, 1906, 189; Resumen del censo de las Provincias de Lima y Callao, 3–5, 49–53, 55.
  • 6Demographic data for this period is incomplete and necessarily imprecise. Lima’s working class was undoubtedly more diverse than in other cities and regions of the country. For example, according to a 1920 census the province of Lima had 224,000 inhabitants comprised of 208,000 Peruvian nationals, 16,000 foreigners, 85,000 whites, 31,000 Indians, 10,000 Blacks, 8,000 “Yellows”, and 89,000 mestizos. The Indian population, which as late as 1940 constituted at least 40 percent of the total population, was concentrated in 9 out of Peru’s 23 departments, mainly in the central and southern highland departments. See, Resumen del censo de las Provincias de Lima y Callao, 118–123; Thomas M. Davies, Jr., Indian Integration in Peru, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 3.
  • 7El Hambriento, no. 21, February 1907, 1.
  • 8Emilio Costilla Larrea, Apuntes para la historia de la lucha social en el perú, Lima; Ediciones Peru Nuevo, 1944, 31.
  • 9The massacre of nitrate mine workers in Chile took place in Iquique on December 21, 1907: Costilla Larrea, 33.
  • 10For an analysis of how Peruvian workers appropriated and ritualized May Day, see, Ricardo Melgar Bao, “The Dual Identity of May Day in Peru”, in Andrea Panaccione (ed.), The Memory of May Day, Venezia: Marsilio Editoria, 1989, 673–675.
  • 11“La Huelga de Vitarte I el Paro General”, La Protesta, no.3, abril de 1911, 1; “El Paro General”, Variedades, no.163, 15 April 1911, 437–441.
  • 12The founding document of the Textile Workers’ Unification of Vitarte can be found in Julio Portocarrero, Sindicalismo peruano: primera etapa 1911–1930, Lima: Editorial Gráfica Labour S.A., 1987, 35.
  • 13Government persecution of the Vitarte textile union intensified between 1915 and 1917. The arrest of its principal leaders brought about its temporary disintergration in 1918. However, it would be re-activated that same year. See Portocarrero, sindicalismo peruano, 39–43.
  • 14Carolina Carlessi, Mujeres en el origen del movimiento sindical: crónica de una lucha, Huacho 1916–1917, Lima: Ediciones Lilith y TAREA, 1984, 59–71.
  • 15González Prada died in July 1918. La Protesta was the only significant anarcho-syndicalist paper that was not sponsored by a particular labour union. It was, however, edited and published by workers.
  • 16Many anarcho-syndicalist workers who played prominent roles in the 8 hour day struggle were arrested and tortured by the police. José Sandoval Morales, Arturo Sabroso Montoya, Manuel Cabana, and Aurelio Reyes were left physically (and likely psychologically) scarred as a result of police torture. See, José Sandoval Morales, “Cómo se gesto la jornada maxima de ocho horas en el perú”, unpublished manuscript, 1972 and Interview with Arturo Sabroso, conducted by Steve Stein, Lima, Peru, January 1974, 5. The transcribed interview is housed in The Arturo Sabroso Collection, A.I. 98 (1/28).
  • 17Quoted in Ricardo Martínez de la Torre, Apuntes para una interpretación marxista de historia social del peru, vol.1, Lima: Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, 1975, 427. The general strike for the 8 hour day in Lima-Callao took place from January 13–15, 1919, but it should be noted that strikes by textile, bakery, and port workers had been underway since December and early January.
  • 18The 1918–1919 struggle for the eight hour workday has justifiably received a great deal of scholarly attention. It is also the subject of some controversy. David Parker, in a recent revisionist study, has called into question the impact of workers’ collective actions. He contends elite acceptance of the 8 hour workday rather than working-class solidarity was mainly responsible for the success of the strike. See David Parker, “Peruvian Politics and the Eight-Hour Day: Rethinking the 1919 General Strike,” Canadian Journal of History, December 1995, 417–438. For a balanced analysis of this struggle see, Peter Blanchard, The Origins of the Peruvian Labour Movement, 1883–1919, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982, ch.9.
  • 19“General Strike in Lima & Callao”, The West Coast Leader, May 31, 1919, 1.
  • 20“Yesterday’s Demonstration”, La Prensa, 8 July 1919.
  • 21Cited in Martínez de la Torre, Apuntes, vol I, 49–50.
  • 22Steve Stein has argued that Lima’s workers had internalized a deferential, resigned, and fatalistic outlook. See, Steve Stein, “Cultura popular y politica popular en los comienzos del siglo xx en Lima”, in Stein, ed., Lima Obrera, 1900–1930, vol. I, Lima: Ediciones El Virrey, 1986, 73 and chapter 3.
  • 23Wilfredo Kapsoli, Mariátegui y los congresos obreros, Lima: Empresa Editora Amauta S.A., 1980, 16–17, 21.
  • 24“El movimiento obrera de esta mañana”, El Comercio 13 de 1921; “En las fábricas de tejidos”, El Comercio, 14 September 1921.
  • 25Antonio Gramsci’s delineation of the “war of position” aptly describes the strategy adopted by Peruvian anarcho-syndicalists. This is not to suggest however, that Peruvian anarcho-syndicalists were influenced directly by Gramsci or embraced his ideas regarding a revolutionary vanguard and seizure of the state. For an explication of Gramsci’s strategy of the “war of position” see, Quentin Hoare and Geoffrey N. Smith (eds.), Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks, New York: International Publishers, 1989, 229–239, and Joseph V. Femia, Gramsci’s Political Thought, Oxford, Great Britian: Oxford University Press, 1987, 50–55, 205–209.
  • 26The declaration of principles adopted at FOL’s First Congress were printed in Claridad, no.1, primera quincena de May 1923, 29.
  • 27Ibid., 30.
  • 28“Por la cultura del pueblo”, El Obrero Textil, no.25, primera quincena August 1921, 8.
  • 29El Nudito, 29 June 1919, 6.
  • 30“Por la cultura del pueblo” El Obrero Textil, no.25, primera quincena August 1921, 8.
  • 31For a content and thematic analysis of the anarcho-syndicalist and union presses for this period, see, Guillermo Sánchez Ortíz, La prensa obrera 1900–1930 (analisis de El Obrero Textil), Lima: n., 1987, and Garbiela Machuca Castillo, La tinta, el pensamiento y las manos: la prensa popular anarquista, anarcosindicalista y obrera-sindical en Lima 1900–1930, Lima: Universidad de San Martin de Porres, 2006.
  • 32El Constructor, no.11, May 1925, 1.
  • 33Edmundo Lévano La Rosa, “Un cancionero Escondido: Historia y Música del Centro Musical Obrero de Lima: 1922–1924”, in I Convocatoria Nacional ‘José Maria Arguedas’ Avances de Investigación—Música, Lima: Biblioteca Nacional del Perú, 13–37.
  • 34Ibid., 19, 24–25.
  • 35For all 11 stanzas of Canto del Trabajo see, Ibid., 34.
  • 36Cancionero Revolucionario, Imprenta Editorial Minerva, 1927.
  • 37The first festival of the plant which involved the participation of pro-labour university students is described in detail in, “El exito de la fiesta de la planta”, La Crónica, 26 December 1921, 2–5.
  • 38For an insightful analysis of the cultural and class implications of the fiesta de la planta, see, Rafael Tapia, “La fiesta de la planta de Vitarte”, Pretextos, 3:4, 1992, 187–205.
  • 39For example, on May 31, 1924 the print workers’ federation organised a series of poetry readings, comedy shows, and movies to raise money for the federation. See Historia de la Federación Gráfica del Perú, Lima: Federación Gráfica, 1985, 151.
  • 40See, Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre, “Defensa de la Universidad Popular”, El Tiempo, 23 September 1921, 1; Jeffrey Klaiber, S.J., “The Popular Universities and the Origins of Aprismo, 1921–24”, Hispanic American Historical Review, 55:4, 1975, 693–715.
  • 41Cited in Piedad Pareja, Anarquismo y sindicalismo en el peru, Lima: Ediciones Rikchay Peru No.3, 1978, 89.
  • 42Josefa Yarleque de Marquina, El Maestro ó Democracia en Miniatura, Vitarte, Peru: n.p., 1963, 33 and 43.
  • 43“Political Religious Disorders”, The West Coast Leader, May 23, 1923. See also, Portocarrero, sindicalismo peruano, 110–114.
  • 44Luis F. Barrientos Casós, Los tres sindicalismos, Lima: Ediciones Continente, 1958,165.
  • 45“Destrucción de la biblioteca popular Ricardo Palma”, Variedades, 26 de febrero de 1921, 452; Walter Huamani, “La Biblioteca Obrera de “Abajo del Puente”, Revista del Archivo General de la Nación, 11, May 1995, 136.
  • 46“Denuncia que se negaron a publicar los periódicos burgueses”, Claridad, no.7, primera quincena November 1924, 17.
  • 47Claridad, segunda quincena de September 1924, 12.
  • 48Quoted in Guillermo Sánchez Ortiz, Delfín Lévano: Biografía de un lider syndical (1895–1941), Lima: UNMSM, 1985, 112.
  • 49“Por el Sindicalismo Revolucionario”, El Obrero Textil, no.24, July 1921, 2–3.
  • 50“Breve sinopsis del año obrero”, El Tiempo, 16 January 1923, 1.
  • 51See, for example, Arturo Sabroso Montoya, “Episodios de una época del sindicalismo autonoma”, n.d., passim. The Arturo Sabroso Montoya Collection, AIV 924 (1/43), Lima, Peru.
  • 52Revolutionary syndicalism assumed various organisational forms and practices depending on the national and regional context. For an international comparative analysis of revolutionary syndicalism see, Ralph Darlington, Syndicalism and the Transition to Communism: An International Comparative Analysis, Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2008; Marcel van der Linden and Wayne Thorpe, (eds.), Revolutionary Syndicalism: An International Perspective, Hants, England: Scolar Press, 1990.
  • 53Steve Stein, Populism in Peru: The Emergence of Mass Politics and the Politics of Social Control, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1980, 51.
  • 54Wilma Derpich, José Luis Huiza, and Cecilia Israel, Lima años 30: salaries y costo
    de vida de la clase trabajadora, Lima: Fundación Friedrich Ebert, 1985, 20.
  • 55“La Huelga”, Solidaridad, no.3, November 1925, 4.
  • 56Martínez de la Torre, Apuntes, vol.. I, 109.
  • 57Interview with Juan Alvarez, Lima, June 13, 1989.
  • 58It appears the campaign was never fully realized. It is discussed in La Antorcha, 9 October 1933.
  • 59Kapsoli, Mariátegui, 33–34.
  • 60The Federation of Print Workers’ press had direct links to the Argentine Syndical Union and its organ “The Proletarian Banner” and the Spanish Anarchist Federation, and the FTTP maintained contacted with the Argentine anarcho-syndicalist paper, Argentina Obrero Textil. See, Historia de la Federación Gráfica del Perú, VOL.1, 165–168 and El Obrero Textil, primera quincena de August 1921, 4.
  • 61Pierre de L Boal, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim to Secretary of State, September 1, 1927, U.S. Department of State Records, 823.00/539. This archive is herafter abbreviated to D.S.
  • 62Subprefecto Pablo Palmo a Prefecto del Departamento, 16 de agosto de 1927, Ministerio del Interior Direccion del Gobierno. This archive is hereafter referred to as MI/DG.
  • 63El Constructor, no.12, August 1925.
  • 64El Obrero en Madera, no.5, June 1923, 3.
  • 65El Obrero Anarquista, no.1, May 1926, 1.
  • 66Solidaridad, quincena de October 1926, 1.
  • 67Anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists in Lima-Callao were initially enthusiastic about the 1917 Russian Revolution. However, they became increasingly disillusioned, especially those associated with the La Protesta group, as news of Bolshevik persecution of Russian anarchists and the establishment of the New Soviet Political Economy became known. See, La Protesta, mayo de 1921, 1–2. On the initial rejection of this allegation, see, “Lamentable Error del Elemento Anarquista”, El Obrero Textil, quincena de April 1924, 1.
  • 68Kapsoli, Mariátegui, 35–36.
  • 69Acta de la Cuarta Asamblea del Congreso Obrero Local”, Solidaridad, primera quincena de febrero de 1927, no.15, 2. See also, Piedad Pareja, “Biografía de Arturo Sabroso Montoya”, Lima: unpublished manuscript, n.d., 18.
  • 70Kapsoli, Mariátegui, 114. The socialist intellectual, Ricardo Martínez de la Torre, a fierce critic of Sabroso and revolutionary syndicalism, acknowledged that FOL had fought against the Road Conscription and Vagrancy Laws. Martínez de la Torre, Apuntes, VOL. I, 251.
  • 71Sabroso’s position was not altogether different from José Carlos Mariátegui, the founder of Peru’s Socialist Party (1928), who also stressed the need to preserve proletarian unity. See, “Mensaje al Congreso Obrero”, Amauta, no.5, January 1927, 35.
  • 72David O. Wise, “La Consagración de González Prada: Maestro y Epigones, 1918-1931”, Cuadernos Americanos, 5, 1983, 145; Miguel Angel Urquieta, “González Prada y Urquieta”, Amauta, no.5, 1927, 5.
  • 73El Volcán, 22 July 1911; La Federación, 8 May 1915.
  • 74See, for example, La Bandera Roja, 18 May and 28 July 1907; La Defensa Obrera, 21 November, El Volcán, 31 May, 1 July 1911; La Federación, 2 May 1916.
  • 75Raúl Fernández Llerena, Los origenes del movimiento obrero en Arequipa: el partido liberal y el 1 de mayo de 1906: Lima: Amauta/Tarea, 1984; Idem, Arequipa: La jornada de las 8 horas, la primera huelga general, Arequipa: 1983, 5 and 70; Víctor Colque Valladares, Dinamica del movimiento syndical en Arequipa, 1900–1968, Lima: PUCP, Estudios Sindicales #4, 1976.
  • 76Fernández Llerena, Arequipa: La jornada de las 8 horas, viii–x; Héctor Ballón Lozada, Cien años de vida política de Arequipa, 1890–1990, tomo II, Arequipa, Perú: UNSA, Talleres Gráficos Flores Villalba, 1992, 29.
  • 77Fernández Llerena, La jornada de las 8 horas, 70 and passim.
  • 78Ibid., 75.
  • 79Archivo Departmental de Arequipa Prefectura, Vicente Salas, secretaria de correspondencia, Federación Obrera Arequipeña, to Prefecto del Depto., 4 de mayo de 1921. This archive is hereafter referred to as ADA/PFT.
  • 80Among the most important new labour organisations were: Confederación Ferrocarrilera Obrera del Sur (1919), Federación de Zapateros (1919), Federación de Trabajadores en el Ramo de Construcción (1923), Confederación de Tranviarios y Electricistas (1924), Sindicato de Trabajadores en Madera (1925?), Federación de Empleados de Comercio y la Industria (1926).
  • 81Martínez de la Torre, Apuntes, VOL. I, 59.
  • 82ADA/PFT, Francisco Ramos, secretaria de actas F.O.L.A. a Presidente de la Sociedad de Unión Empleados, 8 de abril de 1926.
  • 83La Voz del Sur, 6 de octubre de 1923. See, also, José Luis Rénique, El movimiento descentralista arequipeño y la crisis del ’30. Lima: Taller de Estudios Políticos, CCSS, Universidad Católica del Perú, 1979, 10.
  • 84President August B. Leguía signed Law 4113 on May 10, 1920 authorizing The Road Conscription Act. It obligated adult males, ages 18–60, to repair and construct roads, bridges, aqueducts, irrigation ditches, and railway lines for a prescribed number of days annually in accordance with one’s age. Workers were to be paid a daily wage determined by each region.
  • 85ADA/PFT, Enrique Lozada, jefe de la sección de investigaciónes a Prefectura e Intendencia de Arequipa, 30 de diciembre de 1925.
  • 86ADA/PFT, Coronel Prefecto de Arequipa a Ministerio de Gobierno y Guerra, 27 de diciembre 1925; Fernández Llerena, La jornada de 8 horas, x and 75.
  • 87ADA/PFT, Teniente Comandante Accidental del Cuerpo de Seguridad a Prefecto del Depto., 28 de diciembre de 1925.
  • 88Ramón Gutiérrez, Evolución Histórica Urbana de Arequipa (1540–1990), Lima: Epígrafe S.A., 1992, 175 and 209. Manuel Zevallos Vera, Arequipa Historia de su Modernidad, 1540–2002, Lima: Fondo Editorial Universidad Alas Peruanas, 2002, 25–28.
  • 89The Coalición Obrera de los Barrios founded a workers’ library to promote workers’ self-education. See, La Voz del Sur, 21 January 1922.
  • 90ADA/PFT, Nicanor F. Ordoñez, secretaria general de Asamblea Popular a Presidente Taneles {sic} Foot-ball y Socorros Mutuos, 28 de diciembre, 1925.
  • 91ADA/PFT, Carlos Gómez Sánchez a Prefecto de Depto., 20 de enero de 1922.
  • 92Antero Peralta Vásquez, La Faz Oculta de Arequipa, Arequipa: Impreso de Talleres Gráficos de la Cooperativa de Producción y Trabajo Universitaria, 1977, 212–214 and Ricardo Temoche Benites, Cofradías, Gremios, Mutuales y Sindicatos en el Perú, Lima: Editorial Escuela Nueva S.A., 1988, 429–433.
  • 93Peralta Vásquez, La Faz, 214.
  • 94Ibid., 215 and La Voz del Sur, 23 June 1923.
  • 95ADA/PFT, Luque, et al. to Prefecto del Departmento, 23 de octubre de 1922; ADA/PFT, M. Forga é Hijos a Prefecto del Departmento, 3 de noviembre de 1922.
  • 96Reglamento de la Unión Textil del Huaico, 15 de setiembre de 1926.
  • 97La Protesta, March 1922, 8.
  • 98There is some evidence for IWW influence on Callao’s dockworkers. And, in Lima, at least one worker clearly identified with the IWW, V. Racchumi, a baker. He disseminated IWW doctrine. For example, see his editorial “Reflexión” published in the Mexican labour press, El Proletario, Nogales, Sonora, 30 September 1922. Thanks to David Struthers for drawing my attention to this document.
  • 99ADA/PFT, Subprefecto de la Provincia Islay a General Prefecto de Depto., 1 de junio de 1925.
  • 100ADA/PFT, De la “Voz del Mar” 24 de Marzo de 1925.
  • 101ADA/PFT, Cuerpo de Seguridad 12a Compañía Comandancia al General Prefecto, 19 de mayo de 1925.
  • 102Ballón Lozada cites a letter to El Deber, an Arequipa daily, on 20 April 1925, in which the Federación Local de Sociedades Obreras repudiated the paper’s allegations that railway workers were anti-patriotic by boldly asserting, “If capitalists engage in solidarity without taking account of borders or flags, how strange is it that workers from both sides, with a superior morality, engage in solidarity and unite?”. Ballón Lozada, Cien años de vida, tomo II, 32.
  • 103Following the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) Peru and Chile disputed ownership of the former Peruvian provinces of Tacna and Arica. The territorial conflict was not resolved until 1929. See, William E. Skuban, Lines in the Sand: Nationalism and Identity on the Peruvian-Chilean Frontier, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.
  • 104Miles Poindexter to Secretary of State, May 4, 1925, 832.0/508; ADA/PFT, Subprefecto de la Provincia Islay a General Prefecto del Depto., 1 de junio de 1925.
  • 105ADA/PFT, Cuerpo de Seguridad 12a Compania Comandancia al General Prefecto, 19 de mayo de 1925.
  • 106ADA/PFT, Subprefecto de la Provincia Islay a General Prefecto del Depto., 1 de junio de 1925.
  • 107Miles Poindexter to Secretary of State, February 8, 1926, D.S., 823.50545/46,.
  • 108ADA/PFT, Centro Social Obrero de la Confederación Coaligada de la Provincia de Islay a Subprefecto, 28 de enero de 1926.
  • 109ADA/PFT, Subprefectura de Islay/Mollendo a Prefecto del Depto., 16 de marzo de 1926.
  • 110ADA/PFT, Capitan del Puerto al Coronel Prefecto de Arequipa, 23 de febrero de 1926.
  • 111ADA/PFT, Capitan del Puerto al Subprefecto de Islay, 2 de marzo de 1926.
  • 112See, for example, ADA/PFT, Subprefecto de Islay a Prefecto de Depto., 15 de diciembre 1930. Evidence of the persistence of anarchist influence can be seen in the library holdings of the Sociedad de Obreros y Socorros Mutuos which were catalogued by police after a raid on its headquarters in June 17, 1931. The library included scores of anarchist writings by Malatesta, Kropotkin, Arreta, Reclus, and others. See, ADA/PFT, Cuerpo de Investigación y Vigilancia Sección Arequipa a Prefecto del Depto., 17 de junio de 1931.
  • 113José Deustua and José Luis Rénique, Intelectuales, indigenismo y descentralismo en el Perú 1897–1931, Cusco: Debates Andinos 4, Centro de Estudios Rurales Anindos “Bartolome de Las Casas, 1984, 42.
  • 114“En Homenaje a La Memoria de Gonzales Prada”, El Sol, 24 July 1923. See also, Ferdinand Cuadros Villena, La vertiente cusqueña del comunismo peruano, Lima: Editorial Horizonte, 1990, 64.
  • 115Velasco Aragón accumulated a vast collection of anarchist tracts and publications from Europe and Argentina. His collection housed at the Universidad Nacional, contains titles from Kropotkin, Proudhon, et al.
  • 116Luis Velasco Aragón, La verdad sobre el fango, 22 de abril de 1923, Cuzco: Imprenta H.G. Rozas, 1923. On the popular approbation of his speech and his subsequent arrest for promoting social revolution, see, Sergio Caller, Rostros y rastros, Un caminante cusqueño en el siglo xx, Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2006, 64–65, and Julio Guiterrez, Así Nació Cuzco Rojo: Contribución a su historia política: 1924–1934, Lima: Empresa Humboldt Nicolás Dueñas, 1988, 21.
  • 117José Tamayo Herrera, El Cusco del Oncenio: Un ensayo de historia regional a través de la fuente de la Revista “Kosko”, Lima: Universidad de Lima, Cuadernos de Historia VIII, 1989, 28.
  • 118Ibid., 110.
  • 119José Carlos Gutiérrez Samanez, La Generación Cusqueña de 1927, Lima: Editorial Horizonte, 2007, 65.
  • 120Gutiérrez, Así Nació, 25.
  • 121Caller, Rostros y Rastros, 162; “La Universidad Popular”, El Sol, 14 de mayo de 1924.
  • 122José Carlos Gutiérrez Samanez, personal communication, August 25, 2008. See, also Tamayo Herrera, El Cuzco del Oncenio, 65–66, 68.
  • 123“La Universidad Popular y la Solidaridad Estudiantil Obrera”, El Sol, 9 de abril de 1924; “La Universidad Popular”, El Sol, 14 May 1924; “La Universidad Popular Gonzales Prada”, El Sol, 2 June 1924.
  • 124Reliable statistics on Cuzco’s working-class for the period are unavailable. Given that the provincial population numbered approximately 37,000 in 1920, it is fair to say the size of the urban working class was quite small. The bulk of the wage labour force was employed in small printing, leather, wood, shoe, bakery, beverage, and mechanic shops and plants. Construction and transport workers also were important segments of wage labour force.
  • 125Rossano Calvo C., El Sol 100 años: Periodismo e Historia Local El Diario “El Sol” de Cusco (1900–1950), Cuzco: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 2002, 69Rossano Calvo C., El Sol 100 años: Periodismo e Historia Local El Diario “El Sol” de Cusco (1900–1950), Cuzco: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 2002, 69.
  • 126For FORP’s influence on Cuzco’s labour movement see, Augusto Sarmiento, Eduardo Garcia, Ladislau Valdiesu, interview by Robert J. Alexander, Cuzco, June 8, 1947.
  • 127“El próximo congreso obrero departmental”, El Sol, 22 de marzo de 1922; José Carlos Gutiérrez Samanez, personal communication, August 25, 2008.
  • 128Krϋeggler stresses FOLC’s transitory character and minimizes its influence. See, Thomas Krϋeggler, “Indians, Workers, and the Arrival of ‘Modernity’: Cuzco, Peru (1895–1924)”, The Americas, 56:22, October 1999, 185.
  • 129“En homenaje a los Trabajadores del Cuzco”, El Sol, 1 May 1922.
  • 130It’s unknown why the congress failed to materialize. However, it’s important to note that FOLC explicitly proscribed artisan capitalists from participation in the congress. See, “El Próximo Congreso Obrero Departamental”, El Sol, 22 March 1922.
  • 131Cuadros, La vertiente cusqueña, 64–65.
  • 132Class-oriented unions were founded by textile workers, chauffeurs, and carpenters. Shoemakers withdrew from the Artisan Society and adopted a classist line.
  • 133On the intensity of provincial migration to Lima between 1920 and 1940, see, Roque García Frías, “Intensidad absoluta y relative de la emigración provinciana aldepartamento de Lima”, Estadística Peruana, VOL.3, no.5, (July 1947), 57.
  • 134José Luis Ayala, Yo Fui Canillita de José Carlos Mariátegui (Auto) Biografía de Mariano Larico Yujra, Lima: Kollao, Editorial Periodistica, 1990, 87, 119, 137–138; Carlos Arroyo, “La experiencia del Comité Central Pro-Derecho Indígena Tahuantinsuyo”, E.I.A.L., 15:1, (January–June 2004), 188.
  • 135Tahuantinsuyo refers to the Inca Empire and is a Quechua term meaning ‘land of the four quarters.’
  • 136Ayala, Yo Fui Canillita, 137.
  • 137Urviola was a mestizo but self-identified as an Indian. He adopted their language, dress, and culture. The term“el indio-mestizo” to describe Urviola is used by José Luis Rénique, La batalla por Puno: conflicto agrario y nación en los andes peruanos, Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2004, 93.
  • 138Urviola initially took up refuge in Arequipa and studied at the National University of San Agustín. Eventually he established contact with Rusiñol and other anarchist sympathizers. See Ballón Lozada, Cien años de vida política, 29.
  • 139Ayala, Yo Fui Canillita, 140–141.
  • 140Wilfredo Kapsoli, Ayllus del sol: anarquismo y utopia andina, Lima: TAREA, 1984, 152.
  • 141Of the three Ayulo was the most outspoken advocate of autonomous rationalist schools for Indians. See, Ricardo Melgar Bao, Sindicalismo y milenarismo en la region andina del perú (1920–1931), Cuernavaca, México: Ediciones Cuicuilco, Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia, 1988, 36.
  • 142Kapsoli, Ayllus, 138–139.
  • 143Between the CPIT and FIORP, the latter more clearly reflected an anarcho-syndicalist structure and orientation. Indeed, José Carlos Mariátegui, the founder of the Peruvian Socialist Party (1928) observed that FIORP was committed to organising Indians according to ‘anarcho-syndicalist principles and methods’ in order to achieve a social revolution. See José Carlos Mariátegui, Ideologia y Política, Lima: Biblioteca Amauta, 1987, 41–42.
  • 144For an analysis of the Indian-peasant uprisings in Puno see, Augusto Ramos Zambrano, Tormenta Antiplanica (Rebeliones Indígenas de la Provincia de Lampa, Puno, 1920–1924), Lima: n., 1990, and Melgar Bao, Sindicalismo, 45–47. César Levano points out that FIORP had links to the peasant revolt in Lauramarca hacienda in Cuzco in 1924, see, Caller, Rostros y Rastros, 34; See also, Arturo Aranda Arrieta and Maria Escalante, Lucha de clases en el movimiento syndical cusqueño, 1927–1965, Lima: G. Herrera Editores, 1978, 65.
  • 145See, Zulema Lehm A. and Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Los artesanos libertarios y la ética del trabajo, La Paz, Bolivia: THOA, 1988, 108, footnote 39.
  • 146See footnote 13.
  • 147Memoria del Ministro de Gobierno y Policía, Dr. Pedro José Rada y Gama al Congreso Ordinario de 1923, Lima: Imprenta del Estado, 1923, x.
  • 148See, for example, “La Raza Indígena y el Centenario”, La Protesta, September 1921.
  • 149In 1922 Senator Miguel González reported to the Senate that abuses of the Conscripcion Vial were directly responsible for riots and revolts. See, Thomas M. Davies Jr., Indian Integration in Peru: A Half Century of Experience, 1900–1948, Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1974, 84.
  • 150Agustín Barcelli S., Historia del Sindicalismo Peruano, Tomo I, Lima: Editorial Jatun-Runa, 1971, 172–179.
  • 151José Luis Rénique, Los sueños de la sierra: cuzco en el siglo xx, Lima: CEPES, 1991, 95–96.
  • 152FIORP also insisted on the need to establishment autonomous Indian schools to overcome ignorance and submissiveness. See, ADA/PFT, Teofilo S. de la Cruz, secretario geneal de turno, Federación Indígena Obrera Regional Peruana a secretaria general de provincial de Espenar (sic), Cuzco, 26 de enero de 1925.
  • 153Miles Poindexter to Secretary of State, December 15, 1925, D.S., 823.0/508.
  • 154Miles Poindexter to Secretary of State, December 29, 1925, D.S., 823.00/509.
  • 155Humanidad, 21 February 1926.
  • 156Craig W. Wadsworth charge d’affaires, ad interim to Secretary of State, March 8, 1926, D.S., 823.00/514; ADA/PFT, Antonio Neuman, Capitan Comisario a Contra-Almirante Prefecto de Departmento, 13 de enero de 1927; AGN/MI, Pablo Palmo a Prefectura de Departmento, 4 de mayo de 1928.
  • 157ADA/PFT Tatto Cano B. secretaria general de Asamblea Popular a Federico G.L. Emmel, 13 de enero de 1927.
  • 158Steven Hirsch, “Ideological Transfers and Traces of Anarchist Praxis: Rethinking the Influence of Anarchism on Peru’s APRA Party, 1920–1948”, paper presented at the 53rd International Congress of Americanists, Mexico City, Mexico, 22 July 2009.



7 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by altemark on June 12, 2017

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7 years 1 month ago

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Submitted by Steven. on June 14, 2017


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