Baltasar Bustos and his friends represents the aristocratic landowners who fought for victory against Spanish rule. The influence of Enlightenment ideas on Bustos is an accurate reflection of the intellectual climate that fomented revolution throughout Latin America.
The other social groups that are of interest in this story are the Indians that Bustos encounters on his travels. Though Bustos is motivated by the idea of racial equality, he does not understand the indigenous people and fails to communicate with them. The linguistic and spiritual differences between Bustos, who represents the educated, urban class, and the native inhabitants of Upper Peru, reflect the real distinction between these groups.
The guerrilla bands that Bustos finds in Upper Peru are also a factual representation of the fighters who fought for independence from Spain and controlled much of that region.