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Ayacucho, Huamanga



     I was wondering what had happened to my old student, David Scott Palmer, now a professor at Boston University. Well, he has sent me a long message from the National University of San Cristobal de Huamanga, where he is lecturing for four months. Never heard of that university? Well, it was founded in 1677 in the city in the Peruvian Andes once called Huamanga, but since 1825 renamed Ayacucho after the 1824 battle in which Antonio Jose de Sucre fought the decisive battle against the Spaniards. Huamanga was founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1539.
     That the Spaniards should have founded a city and a university in this remote Andean valley is an extraordinary tribute to them. In 1944 I travelled with the well-known Mexican Nasrciso Bassols down what was then the highest (but little-used) highway in the world; we spent a day in Ayacucho. The small hotel on the Plaza Sucre had just been built but there were few travelers. To promote patriotism among the Indians, the Peruvian Army reenacted the Battle of Ayacucho with wooden bullets. The bronze statue of Sucre had been given a coat of varnish.
     All to little avail. The university later became a focal point of the Sendero Luminoso movement, with a philosophy professor Abigail Guzman as its leader. David Scott
     Palmer will have much to tell when he returns to Boston. He was in Ayaacucho from 1962-64 with the Peace Corps. Now, in 1998, he reports on the progress of the town, very different from what I saw in 1944 and he saw 20 years later. &A He has entered the debate about guarani; we will quote his observations under PARAGUAY.

Ronald Hilton - 08/16/98


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