Rosendo Maquis (rroh-SEHN-doh MAH-kees), mayor of the Peruvian Indian village of Rumi. He fights a losing battle to keep his people from losing their ancestral lands. He is a peaceful man who seeks only justice from the whites. Seeking to recover the village’s prize bull, he is imprisoned as a thief. He dies in prison, victim of a brutal beating administered when he is erroneously thought to be responsible for helping another prisoner, Fiero Vasquez, escape.
Bismarck Ruiz (bees-MAHRK rrwees), an unethical lawyer. He is retained by the Indians to help them in court to keep their lands from falling into the hands of Don Amenabar, a white rancher. Ruiz is but half-hearted in his efforts, as he is also in the employ of Don Amenabar.
Don Amenabar (ah-meh-nah-BAHR), a greedy, ruthless rancher. He treats the Indians as an inferior people and robs them of their cattle and lands. He tries, too, to make slaves of them for his mines.
Correa Zavala (koh-RRAY-ah sah-BAH-lah), a zealous young lawyer. He, filled with indignation, undertakes to help the Indians, but his well-meant efforts are unsuccessful.
Fiero Vásquez (FYAY-roh BAHS-kehs), a notorious Peruvian bandit. Implored by an Indian woman from Rosendo’s village who loves him, he offers to help the Indians fight eviction by force. The peaceful villagers, knowing violence will not bring them any lasting peace, reject his offer.
Benito Castro (beh-NEE-toh KAHS-troh), successor to Rosendo as the leader of the Indians of the village of Rumi. He is killed by soldiers who evict the poor people from their lands.
La Castelaña (kahs-teh-LAH-nyah), a notorious woman, mistress of the lawyer Bismarck Ruiz.