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"If they knew we were here, they would've killed us already."
―Barranca on the Hovitos[src]

Barranca was a Peruvian guide and thief who tried to kill Indiana Jones to claim a Chachapoyan Fertility Idol.


Barranca ran scams in the South American jungles with his partner Satipo, with whom he engaged in any con, heist or dirty job they could find in the jungle. They based their guide business from out of the jungle outpost of Machete Landing, where they had a contact down-river who recommended their services as jungle guides or touts.[4] The two con men had contacts throughout Peru, Colombia and Venezuela who set up jobs for them, and they often guided adventurers into the jungle only to then murder or rob them. Other illegal yet profitable activities they would engage in included the trade of junk with native tribes in exchange of artifacts and valuable stones, the collection of funds to finance phony expeditions or their service as mercenaries to waylay others when trying to find fortune within the rain forests.[3]

Around 1935,[5] Satipo and Barranca were hired by the French mercenary archaeologist René Emile Belloq to steal a partial map to the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors from one of the campsites of the Princeton University archaeologist Forrestal. However, under the pretext that the incomplete map was useless and couldn't be used to find more treasure, Barranca and Satipo kept it for themselves, wishing to tempt some poor treasure hunter to retrieve the prize and then steal it upon recovering it. Belloq worked out the general area that Forrestal was looking for the site by calculating where Barranca and Satipo had gone hunting for the map instead.[4]

Golden Idol and death[]

The next year, Barranca and Satipo were hired by the American archaeologist Indiana Jones to guide him to the Temple of the Warriors and, if possible, retrieve the golden idol said to be there. Despite Jones' awareness of their reputation,[2] and considered that he might have eventually found the temple on his own, that would have taken more time. Barranca and Satipo already had the other fragment of a map to the site and some knowledge of the route and Jones was certain that some treasure hunter had a head start on him.[6] Unknown to Jones, Barranca and Satipo had received an anonymous tip-off from Belloq that he had the missing map fragment and so they had offered their guiding services to him.[4] During the approach to the temple, Barranca was irritated by the superstitions of the Quechuan porters who travelled with the group and treated them harshly as their fears progressed, even silencing them after they were spooked by a macaw.[2]

Within sight of Mount Shubet, Barranca helped to tie off one of the mules carrying supplies. Later, while Satipo examined a still-fresh Hovitos poison dart that Jones had found, Barranca commented that the Hovitos would have already killed them if they knew the men were there. When the group reached a pond, Jones stopped to review a map he had kept from his guides. Seeing the map, Barranca attempted to silently draw his pistol and cocked it. Jones' keen hearing sensed the weapon being primed and Jones used his bullwhip to disarm his traitorous guide at Dead Man Falls.[1]


Barranca pulled his gun on Indiana Jones near Dead Man Falls.

Without his pistol, Barranca fled into the jungle while Satipo remained with Jones, assuring him that Barranca was crazy and that he knew nothing about his partner's plans.[2] Meanwhile, Barranca encountered Belloq, his former employer, and a group of Hovitos, who had been alerted by his gunshot. Barranca directed Belloq and his men to the location of the others before he was hunted down and killed by the Hovitos[4] with their poisonous darts[7] for violating the valley of their ancestors.[4]

After Jones escaped from the temple with the Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, only to have to hand it over to Belloq, Jones saw his former guide's dead body dropped to the jungle floor, his back riddled with the Hovitos' darts. Barranca's corpse remained there as Jones was chased back to his getaway plane by the Hovitos hunting him down.[1]


Indiana Jones would later write on his journal how "helpful" the "family of porters" that Barranca and Satipo were on assisting him in finding the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors, sarcastically writing that with help like that, who needs enemies.[8]

Personality and traits[]

A shady and shifty contact,[4] Barranca was furtive[2] and a swindler.[1] He had no qualms over being trusted by adventurers to serve as their guide only to then rob or murder them in the jungle. The bloodthirsty brains of his pairing with Satipo, as he made the deals, bargained the terms and was the one concerned with making off with the prize. Whatever illegal activity they did, the conniving would always be there as long they could profit from it. Unlike his partner, however, Barranca was more spiteful and treacherous, as he was willing to betray Satipo in a minute if the profits were big enough.[3]

True to form, Barranca tried to trick Jones into thinking that he was weaker than he really was, as he was generally more able to convince people to trust him that way, though Jones could easily see his cover as a tomb robber. He even offered his clients the meager accomodations of Tequila Flats, Machete Landing for free in exchange of being hired.[4] Incidentally, it was because of this impression he liked to leave that Barranca dressed in jungle khakis and tattered clothing stained with sweat and soil: to keep the sun from his face and to hide his eyes from betraying his true intent, so any of his employers would see him as weak or easier to buy off than he actually was.[3] On his employer's part, Jones could see the dark coldness at the heart of Barranca's eyes, akin to those of a shark, unable to imagine Barranca smiling or allowing daylight finds its way into his soul.[2]

Aside from money, both Satipo and Barranca followed sports and had some national pride. They were enraged when Peru's president announced that the Peru had withdrawn from the Olympic Games in Berlin following Austrian complaints about Peruvian conduct after a soccer game Austria lost led to a rematch being called. Both thieves hoped to console their country's loss by claiming any treasure they could found for themselves.[6]

Behind the scenes[]

Barranca was portrayed by Vic Tablian in Raiders of the Lost Ark.[1] Stan Vienna played Barranca during the film's opening title sequence. Tablian was hired play the Monkey Man in the film with the late actors Roger Bizley and Jacob Witkin considered by second unit assistant director Louis Friedman as the best possibilities to play Barranca, but Tablian was given the second role late into process.[9] Tablian later went on to play Demetrios/Claw in Young Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Jackal.[10]

In Lawrence Kasdan's earlier drafts of the film, Indiana Jones was the direct cause of Barranca's death instead of the Hovitos. When Barranca pulls his gun out on Jones, the archaeologist uses his bullwhip to make Barranca shoot himself. Instead, it would be Satipo the one killed by the Hovitos later on after he and Jones succeeded in escaping from the Temple of the Chachapoyan Warriors.[9] Shooting the scene in its final form, Tablian's concerns that Harrison Ford would strike him with the whip would prove to be ill founded.[11]

Barranca actually survives in the comic book adaptation as he isn't present when Belloq and the Hovitos meet Jones at the temple entrance.[12] Barranca still dies in the junior novelization of the film, but instead of poison darts, the book indicates arrows.[6] Barranca is chased away by bats to an unknown fate in the opening scenes of LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures, instead of the Peruvian Porter, who is absent from the game.[13] In the video game's sequel, however, Barranca is absent as the whole South America sequence is omitted.[14]

Barranca, like Satipo, never appears in Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! at Disney World. Indy independently goes to the temple to retrieve the golden idol.[15] Barranca is also absent from LEGO Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Brick, in which Indy and Satipo go alone to the temple.[16]


Non-canonical appearances[]


Notes and references[]