The Wiphala: the historical fraud of the indigenist flag

José Papparelli

We are faced with an authentic political and ideological farce that is not only modern but of recent construction and that promotes a new symbol against Western civilisation.

The so-called indigenism would describe it more or less as follows: “The Whipala is a quadrangular flag with the seven colours of the rainbow, composed of multiple symmetrical squares, 49 exactly, and with a central white diagonal. It is the flag used by the Andean peoples for more than two thousand years. It is the symbol of resistance of the First Nations and today it flies proudly throughout Latin America. That is why the Wiphala is the symbol of national and cultural identification of the native peoples who have been victims of the greatest genocide in history: the conquest of America.”

“The Wiphala was inspired by the spectrum of a ray of sunlight passing through the rain and has without a doubt an enormous poetic and symbolic charge. It is the harmonious emblem based on equity, equality, harmony, solidarity and reciprocity of the collectivist Nation of the people who inherited the Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca Empire.”

Aymara ceremony with wiphalas in Copacabana, near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, 2010

“It is the emblem of the Aymara and other Andean peoples who are distributed mainly in Bolivia and Peru, but also in Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, who consider the Wiphala among their most important emblems, their symbol of identity and resistance to the murderers who came from Europe to exterminate the ancestral culture of our peoples with the sword and the cross.”

Of course, all this is absolutely false, a lie, a fiction without any historical and cultural content whatsoever. A real political and ideological farce that is not only modern but of recent construction and that pushes a new symbol against Western civilisation.

The big lie

In Spain, welcoming land for millions of Hispanic-American brothers and sisters, we have recently seen the wiphala mixed in feminist demonstrations such as the 8M, together with the multicoloured banners of the different LGTB collectives, anarchists, the Mapuche people, the rainbow, purple with the symbol of Venus, the red one with the hammer and sickle, the flag of the Second Spanish Republic and other anti-system symbols so fashionable lately.

The wiphala was raised in the recent and incipient iconoclastic protests that emerged in Spain from the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States, those of the so-called racialised anti-racists. But we had already seen her in the last 12 October, leading some counter-demonstrations against the “Columbus genocide”. All this would be nonsense if it were not for the appropriation of this sectarian and ideological symbol by those that called themselves the town councils of change, which on that date even hung it from the balconies of the town halls.

Why do we say that the wiphala is a fraud and a historical forgery? Let’s get down to it. The Incas had no national symbols, let alone a flag. It is an ahistorical and totally ideological invention, born out of cultural Marxism, and today it is a political instrument of the New World Order.

The historical chronicles that are preserved indicate that a part of the Inca army, the one closest to the emperor, used the unancha, which was a personal banner and has nothing to do with the supposed wiphala. The flags as such are of European origin.

Archangel Gabriel, by the Master of Calamarca

One argument used by its defenders, in the face of historical evidence of its non-existence, has been that something similar to the wiphala can be seen in a work by the viceregal baroque painter, known as Maestro de Calamarca, who worked in present-day Bolivia during the 17th century. In one of his beautiful paintings, known as “ángeles arcabuceros”, belonging to the series “Ángeles de Calamarca”, which can be found in the temple of the same name in La Paz, the archangel Gabriel can be seen carrying a chequered flag of different colours, which is just another pictorial device.

Another argument is that a quadrangular decorative design can be seen on some pre-Columbian clay objects, such as the two qiru or keru (vases) in the Tiwanaku Museum in the Department of La Paz. And nothing else. There is no similar object or symbol in any other museum, nor any archaeological remains that could be considered a wiphala.

Proponents continue to insist that the design of the multi-coloured squares is found in textiles attributed to the Nazca and Tiwanaku cultures. Multicoloured textiles are common in the Altiplano but are of recent vintage and are simply decorative, without any cultural meaning or symbolism. Andean peoples have been textile peoples and if the wiphala had existed in ancient times, it would not have gone unnoticed for so many centuries, much less if it had had an authentic cultural and identity emblematic background.

Indigenists speak of an “ethnic symbol of the Aymara people”. The Aymara were defeated by the Incas and ethnically and culturally assimilated before the arrival of the Spanish in the area. It is impossible for a victorious empire to take as its own symbol the symbol of an enemy and subjugated people.

In Peru, the National Academy of History pointed out that there are no references to the use of flags in pre-Columbian cultures and noted that: “The official use of the misnamed flag of Tahuantinsuyo is misleading and improper. In the pre-Hispanic Andean world did not exists the concept of flag, which does not correspond to its historical context”. In 2011, the Congress of the Republic of Peru, citing the Peruvian Academy of History, made an official statement against this false flag of Tahuantinsuyo.

In the words of the Peruvian historian specialising in Inca culture, Maria Rostworowski, with regard to the Wiphala: “I give you my life, the Incas did not have that flag: that flag did not exist, no chronicler refers to it. Let’s separate the truth from the nonsense. It is time to make a demarcation and rectify, because something that is not historical is taking shape. And history must be defended”. Nothing could be truer.

The research professor of Pre-Columbian History and Colonial Art at Harvard University, interim director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and professor at the School of Art History at the University of Chicago, Thomas B. F. Cummins, in his book “Toasts with the Inca”, established that the supposedly Nazca and Tiwanaku ceramics correspond to post-colonial periods. “It is then possible that the chequered flag brought by the Spaniards was painted on them. They would not have ancestral origins”. Perhaps a flag similar to that of the Italian Tercios like Spinola’s would be the modified model for such an aberration?

What was the origin of this fraud, where did it come from and when did it appear? There are two versions. The first: the Bolivian Indigenist Congress of 1945.

On 17 November 1944, the First Bolivian Indigenous Congress was convened. One of its organisers was the aimarologist (yes, there is a science called Aimarology) Hugo Lanza Ordóñez, who pointed out to the audience that the word wiphala existed and whose etymology came from two Aymara words: wiphai (/uipjai/), which means triumph and lapks-lapks, the sound produced by the effect of the wind, which originates the word laphaqi (/lapjakji/) which is understood as the flowing of a flexible object. From the union of the two words came wiphala. The first phase of fraud was completed.

Lanza Ordoñez moved on. He suggested that some kind of flag must have always existed in Andean culture and proposed its recovery with a white one. Congressman Germán Monrroy Block proposed a more colourful one, more in keeping with the Kolla aesthetic. Then came the third protagonist who implemented the second and last phase of the historical fraud: Gastón Velasco, owner of a printing house in La Paz. Velasco recalled that years earlier he had designed a label for a soft drink company owned by two Italians, Salvietti and Bruzzone, who had launched a soft drink called Champancola, the first of its kind in Bolivia.

Velasco printed the label, which was a square made up of other small squares of different colours. Thus was born the wiphala, the millenary flag of the resistance of the native peoples. Some time later, both Hugo Lanza Ordóñez and Gastón Velasco told the story of the creation of the emblem. When asked about the historical fact, Gastón Velasco himself, with a smile, corroborated it by saying: “That’s right, when have you ever seen a chequered weave among the Aymara, or when have these colours ever been known before, if they are a modern invention?”

The Marxist Incas, Huanca and Fidel Castro

The second version of the origin of the wiphala: 1970s cultural Marxism. In Bolivia during the 1970s, small trade unions, agrarian and peasant associations and some indigenist and Marxist parties began to emerge in the heat of the Cuban Revolution, the Castro guerrilla movement and the revolutionary leftism of liberation theology. Among those activists formed at the time was Germán Choque Condori, the father of today’s wiphala, a key character in this story that surpasses the literary imagination of García Márquez and literary magical realism.

Germán Choque Condori

Germán Choque, born in 1955, dedicated his life to the formation of radical political groups of an ethnic indigenist bent. He was the founder of the Movimiento Katarista de Liberación MKL and was elected deputy for the Movimiento Indígena Pachacuti. He later aligned himself with Evo Morales‘ Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS).

In 2007, he created and directed the controversial and almost non-existent University of Tahuantinsuyo (UTA). Controversial, not precisely because of ideological issues, but because of various fraud and corruption scandals.

He also called himself Inka Waskar Chukiwanka Kunturkanki, anointed (sic) in the Plaza Mayor de San Francisco in La Paz, on 12 October 1992, in memory of the 500 years of invasion and “re-founding” the State of Qollasuyu and Tawantinsuyu for the occasion.

The Inka Chukiwanka, dedicated to the “recovery of symbols” began to wear Andean attire, restoring the indigenous new year, the writing of the millenary Tawa language, the Marawata calendar, and his great achievement, officially becoming the “rediscoverer of the wiphala”, redesigned by himself in 1979. He stated that the flag originated in the time of the ayllu, a kind of Inca collectivist social organisation. He explained that at that time “egalitarian relations prevailed, therefore, its shape and meaning showed those social, economic, political and cultural relations”.

According to Germán Choque Condori, Chukiwanka, the colours and shape are due to the crossing of two rainbows according to the Indian chronicler Santa Cruz Pachacuti, who wrote: “When Manco Kápac left Lake Titicaca on his way to Cuzco, he saw from a hill two rainbows, female and male, whose union expressed the 49 little coloured squares, in this way the rainbow is related to the wiphala”.

The Inka Chukiwanka has had its share of critics within indigenism itself. Such is the case of Franco Limber, who wrote the review “Breve historia real de la wiphala”. In it, he stated that the historical basis of the ensign “is uncounted, and many of them are impossible to verify (…) Indian intellectuals resorted to imagination to fill a void”. Limber argues that the Inka resorted to “folkloric esotericism” for his justification. And so it is, for its foundations are very reminiscent of the New Age in terms of the mystical sense of colours. It is all wrapped up in a kind of esoteric ethnic Marxism that is unique of its kind.

David Choquehuanca

Another character who enters the scene is David Choquehuanca. He made his name by assuming the post of Bolivian foreign minister during the governments of the Marxist Bolivian president Evo Morales. Choquehuanca, with the image and stereotype that Westerners have of indigenous people and as a bearer of a supposed “ancestral indigenous wisdom”, gained prestige in ideologically radical and anti-Western environments linked to Cuba, Venezuela and the San Pablo Forum.

The also self-proclaimed Inka is the Secretary General of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America or ALBA. He is a champion of 21st century socialism, whose political references are Fidel Castro and Chaves.

He has always been dedicated to revolutionary militancy and was trained as a political cadre in Cuba. Politically and ideologically, his original Marxism mutated into esoteric indigenism and pachamanism after the fall of the USSR, and that is what finally worked.

David Choquehuanca used the ideas of the Inka Waskar Chukiwaca and was a key player in the establishment of a symbol without history such as the wiphala in Bolivia, to the point that it was enshrined in article 6 of the Political Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia and agreed by the Constituent Assembly in 2009.

It has also been endorsed by a parliamentary agreement, a referendum and finally recognised as a symbol of the Bolivian state. “The wiphala is related to balance, consensus and complementarity. When we raise it we mean that decisions are made by consensus, that is why we raise our wiphalas”, Choquehuanca said. One more proof that almost anything is possible in politics, including coming back from ridicule.

By the 1990s, the use of the wiphala had spread to Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela. Today we have it here and it has begun to be hung on the balconies of communist and separatist town halls in Spain.

Whipala in Madrid Town Hall in 2016

Symbols matter, they count, they are transcendent because they signify, communicate and transmit principles, origins, values and ideas. They have a history that unites generations, that identify a culture, a people, a nation and a civilisation. When this is replaced by an artificial construction, being and identity are lost. This is the fraud.

The Andean peoples have a history and an identity as worthy as that of other peoples and nations. It is right that they should preserve it and guard it with pride. The cultural exchange and crossbreeding between pre-Columbian America and Christian Europe gave rise to a new, much richer and more transcendent civilisation. The intention of indigenist thinking, functional to globalism, goes against the growth of this world, of which the descendants of the aboriginal peoples are also part.

That is why the wiphala is the greatest historical fraud of these times. It is in tune with and sponsored by the official and unofficial international powers that seek to divide and do away with true historical and cultural identities by pitting them against each other. One more instrument of the single thought of globalism to change history, peoples and their people.

Sooner or later the truth will prevail over lies and falsehood. And with it, the good men with authentic roots and identity will proudly prevail with their authentic symbols and culture beyond geography, time or races.

Sources

This post was translated from:

Papparelli, J. (2020) ‘La Wiphala: el fraude histórico de la bandera indigenista. La construcción del mito’, 15 October. Available at: https://www.tradicionviva.es/2020/10/15/la-wiphala-el-fraude-historico-de-la-bandera-indigenista-la-construccion-del-mito/ (Accessed: 8 October 2021).

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