Historical Figures

Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzman

Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán He was the son of Gaspar Viscardo y Guzmán and Manuela Zea y Andía. He was born on June 26, 1748 in Pampacolca, part of the province of Condesuyos in Arequipa.
His Spanish ancestors dated back to the 17th century:one of them -his great-grandfather Juan Viscardo de Guzmán- had settled in the town of Camaná around 1630. He studied at the Real Colegio de Nobles de San Bernardo of Cuzco.

Life in Italy of Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán

In 1761, at the age of 13, he entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in that city. Following the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, Viscardo had to leave Peru for Italy. That was how he arrived, together with his brother José Anselmo -Jesuit novice-, to the small town of Massacarrara in Tuscany. These years were very hard for both of them. The meager pension they received prompted them to claim their paternal inheritance in Peru. From 1773 to 1789, both Viscardo brothers fought tirelessly for the regular remittance of the income that corresponded to them from the family patrimony.


It is in Italy where Viscardo receives the first news about the movement of Tupac Amaru II. These circumstances prompted him to ask John Udny, English consul in Leghorn, for help from England for the definitive emancipation of the American colonies. Thanks to this consul, Viscardo was able to establish contact with the English minister in Florence, Sir Horance Mann and, through him, travel to London in 1782; Unfortunately for his plans, he did not get the help he needed and had to return to Massacarrara two years later. Later he made a second trip to England, but this time without the company of his brother, who had died in 1785. This second stay, between 1789 and 1797, was equally disappointing for Viscardo, since he did not receive the political support that he expected. It is in these circumstances, at the age of fifty, that he died in that city, on February 10, 1798. Before he died, he gave his money and writings to Rufus King, the American minister in London, so that he could put them in the hands of his executor. Francisco de Miranda.

Literary contribution of Juan Pablo Viscardo y Guzmán

The most important testimony of his intellectual production is his famous Letter to the Spanish Americans . Said pamphlet -a short text of forty pages- is one of the most representative manifestos of Creole proto-nationalism in Hispanic America. In this text, Viscardo presented the New World as a common "homeland" for Hispanic Americans, opposing it to the peninsular homeland. Viscardo's main purpose was to exalt the values ​​of criollismo and emphasize the urgent need to undertake political emancipation . For this reason, he insisted on the injustice of the relations between Spain and the Indies and emphasized the undying search for the common good. The letter was written in French - with the original title of Lettre aux espagnols americains – and had successive editions. Thus, between 1799 and 1822, eight versions were printed, the first five published in London. The second London edition -from 1801- is the first in Spanish. The Hispano-American ideological climate was conducive to the political demands of the Charter. Numerous translations on the rights of man and the citizen had appeared in various cities of Spanish America. Thus, in 1793 Antonio Nariño published in Bogotá the translation of the Declaration of the rights of man and citizen . For this reason, the Charter was an important ideological incentive for the political demands of the Creole leaders, which would culminate in the Hispanic American emancipation.
But the Charter was not Viscardo's only text; Next to his copious correspondence, a series of essays and texts must be cited, such as the Project to make America independent from Spain, written in Livorno in 1791 . in which he suggests the general uprising in Hispanic America. Other works of his, written in London in 1792, are:Historical essay on the riots in South America in 1780 and the Political outline on the current situation in Spanish America and on the means of strategy to facilitate its independence , in which he praises the virtues of criollos and indigenous people. His last rehearsal. The peace and happiness of the new century, an exhortation addressed to all free peoples or those who want to be free by a Spanish American, was written in 1797.


In recognition of his ideological trajectory, he was recognized by the historians gathered at the third congress on the History of America held in Buenos Aires, as "the first ideological precursor of American independence" . In 1988, Banco de Crédito published his Complete Work, within its collection Clásicos del Perú.
On the 250th anniversary of his birth, in 1998, a national commission to commemorate the life and work of the great precursor, chaired by the linguist Martha Hildebrandt, reissued the complete works of Viscardo and Guzmán in two volumes, issued commemorative medals and dealt with to guarantee the diffusion of his thought in the educational centers of the country. At the end of the same year, a colloquium called "Juan Pablo Viscardo and Guzmán:the man and his time" took place, with the participation of prestigious Peruvian and foreign intellectuals.

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