Who owns El Museo de Cacha?

Jorge and Mercedes Duchicela (and me)

I was lucky enough to meet the people who own my site…and it is not the community of Cacha, surprise! Well technically the Federación de Pueblo Cacha de la Nación Puruwa Cacha (FECAIPAC) own the land but the Duchicela Family has a 10 year lease on Pucara Tambo that started in 2007. Jorge Duchicela MD is a doctor who started the non-profit international medical program Cachamsi that offers medical students the opportunity to come to Riobamba and learn medical spanish and work in clinics in the surrounding area, his sister Mercedes also works for Cachamsi. Since 2007 they have put $100,000 into the renovation and updating of the Pucara Tambo site, which includes the museum. They were very pleased that I was interested in the museum and have given me free rein to do and write what I want about the museum and Pucara Tambo and also offered the resources of Cachamsi in Riobamba to me, which is where I am doing this post from right now.

Short side bar/history lesson: The History of the Duchicela Family as told me by Jorge Duchicela. The Duchicela Family has a long history in Cacha and have been the ruling family for centuries. The Inca Huayna Capac expanded his empire north and fought the King of Quito for 20 years or so and when he

Casa Duchicela

finally defeated him he was given a Cacha princess to be his wife (one of many), this princess was a Duchicela and the offspring from this union was Atahualpa who was the last Sapa Inca. He fought his half-brother Huáscar for the title after their father’s death and after his victory, on his way south to Cusco, he met Pizarro and the Spanish and the rest as we say is history. The oldest son of the Duchicela family is considered King of Cacha and he owns the “Casa Duchicela” which is located in the parroquia de Cacha south of Pucara Tambo and is the nicest house I have seen in Cacha. Their older brother was also the man who performed the Chicha Ceremony at the festival and I was told he does this every year.

So, the Duchicela Family obviously has strong ties to Cacha but none of them live here any longer, with most of them having moved to the States to go to college (Mercedes Duchicela actually went to my alma mater Lawrence University!) and now live in Texas.


They wanted to give back to Cacha but they refused to invest so much money in Pucara Tambo without having any control over the site and how it is used, which is why they got the lease from the FECAIPAC. I was told that in 2007 when they took over the site it was very much in disrepair and had all but been abandoned. Pucara Tambo was originally built by the FECAIPAC in the 90’s but with the leadership of the organization turning over every 2 years, the organization lost interest in the site, took away their funding and never completed the original plans for the site.

So how does all of this relate to my research, well what I thought was a community museum run by the FECAIPAC is actually owned by Cachamsi and the Duchicela Family. They fund the site with the profits from Cachamsi and funding they solicit from the Ecuadorian and US governments and have total control over what is presented in the museum and how the objects are interpreted. In the 3 weeks I have been here I haven’t seen a single person in the museum (other than during the festival), which is kept locked unless I ask for it to be unlocked. There could be many reasons for this, one of which is that there is no sign that says Museo, so if you didn’t already know nothing would indicate it is a museum at all. Just today I was actually asked to take a visitor who didn’t speak Spanish through the museum…so I guess I am the english speaking guide here in Pucara Tambo.

More on the museum next week!

Posted by Sarah Szabo — MA Candidate in CLACS/Museum Studies at NYU

One thought on “Who owns El Museo de Cacha?

  1. el tema muy importante compañera Mercedes, a los tiempos permitame saludar de parte de JUAN MANUEL HIPO ex TRABAJADOR DE SAMARINA WASI HOY ESTOY ASUMIENDO CON LA RESPONSABILIDAD DE LA COAC SAGRADA FAMILIA LTDA. ESPERO QUE NO ME HAYAS OLVIDADO MI No de cel: 080544654

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