When Blanco was a child he heard that a landowner applied a redhot iron on an indigenous man. When he was 10 he met an indigenous leader who told him the story of his struggles. He involved himself in school strikes against Odria, which the students won. At age 20 he traveled to Buenos Aires and began studying in the university. There he joined a workers' party after he met Argentinian Trotskyists. Without finishing his agronomical studies in Argentina's Universidad de la Plata he became a worker in a factory because he did not want to work for the landowners. He worked on a coffee plantation as a subtenant farmer.
Returning to Peru he joined the Revolutionary Workers Party (POR) in Lima and participated in the famous protest to the then Vice-President of the United States, Richard Nixon, in 1958 . Following those demonstrations, Blanco caught the attention of the police, and decided to move to his home region in the Convencion Valley. Here he took residence in 1958 as a subtenant farmer, immersing himself in local politics. Beginning in 1958, with the help of students from the Cuzco University, Blanco’s Quechua federation mobilized the allegados against the hacendados and arrendires.
In the early 1960s he led the Quechua peasant uprising in the Cuzco region of Peru. He was the first who managed to build a bridge between the Spanish speaking intellectuals and the Quechua speaking workers. He organised the 2000 peasants in trade unions which occupied the landowners' lands and organised the defence of the occupations against the police and the landowners. His organisation controlled an area, where national control did not exist, there he put an agrarian reform into effect. He set up a peasant trade union in the valleys of Convencion and Lares in Cuzco. Blanco's Chaupimayo Community had its government, public law, popular justice, defense and education, Blanco called this "dual power" It was reported at this time that, while he was arresting a hacienda owner in Pucyura who raped a little girl, he shot a police officer in self-defense. According to some historians this seems to be propaganda, since he could not have been at Pucyura at the time. De la Puente rejected a union with Blanco because Blanco was a Trotskyist. Captured by the military, he was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment on the island of El Frontón. Nearly all his Trotskyist comrades where already in prison when he was captured. In 1963, unionists took the city of Quillabamba, who were carrying out an order, that was issued in Cuzco by the Federation, to go on strike, so that some imprisoned union leaders, among them, Hugo Blanco would be freed. During his imprisonment he wrote Land or Death: The Peasant Struggle in Peru. During this time he exchanged letters with José María Arguedas which were written in Quechua. In 1968 he was chosen by the Swedish section of Amnesty International as prisoner of the Year.
In 1971 Blanco was deported to Chile. During Augusto Pinochet's coup on September 11, 1973, he took refuge at the Swedish embassy, from where he was smuggled out of the country under dramatic circumstances under the leadership of Ambassador Harald Edelstam in 1976 following an international solidarity campaign that included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Bertrand Russell. In 1976, he became a political refugee in Sweden, where he supported himself among another Jobs as a language teacher at Sando school and as a warehouse worker in a Press Office. In 1977, the Canadian Organisation USLA achieved to get a nonimmigrant visa for Hugo Blanco so he could travel to the U.S.A. where he spoke on a tour that was organized by USLA. Blanco spoke to approximately 10,000 people in the U.S.A.
After spending several years of exile in Sweden, Mexico and Chile he returned to Peru in 1978, was a founder of the Workers Revolutionary Party and was elected to parliament on a left-wing slate.
In 1980 he was a presidential candidate in Peru, a Leftist Revolutionary Alliance formed to support him. He came in fourth out of sixteen candidates. In 1983 he accused General Clemente Noel, who was then the military chief of the Ayacucho region of murder. Because of this he was suspended from his seat until the end of the current session.
He served in the Peruvian Senate as a representative of the Partido Unificado Mariateguista until 1992 because of Alberto Fujimori's "self-coup" and declaration of a state of emergency, after he received information that both the Peruvian Intelligence Police and by Shining Path had sentenced him to death. Together with two of his children and his wife, he fled to Mexico where he was granted asylum following.
After the Healy Group stated that Joseph Hansen, George Novack and the Socialist Workers Party were aiding Joseph Stalin’s assassins, he signed a statement that refuted the allegations against them.
Hugo Blanco is currently Director of a Cusco-based newspaper called Lucha Indígena, and a member of the editorial board of Sin Permiso. He stated that today it is no longer logical to form a Trotskyist party. Today he believes in the Ideology of Zapatism.
In 2008 he was arrested for the crime of “Violence and resisting authority" Many people and institutions demanded his liberation, and since he was not present at the date where the Incident happened, the authorities freed him.
In 1991 Blanco published a text in which he described that the inhabitants of the town of Ilo and surrounding villages where defending their villages against pollution from the Southern Peru Copper corporation. In 2008 he signed The Belem Ecosocialist Declaration. He said that he supports the workers of the Vestas Wind Turbine on the Isle of Wight who had occupied their factory. In 2010 during September and October he toured Britain. A group of green leftists organized lectures by him all over the country. He said that the current struggle of the indigenous people is not only socialistic but also ecological.
He is the father of six children, including Carmen Blanco Valer, (born 1959), who grew up in Sweden, who is a chairman of the Group Solidarity Sweden-Latin America In 2002 Hugo Blanco suffered a brain hemorrhage during a visit in a peasant community in the cusco region. Despite all difficulties he managed to be treated in Mexico City, where he remained in Hospital until during 2003. Friends and colleguages from all around the world helped him with the hospital bills
His granddaughter, by way of his daughter Carmen, is Sissela Nordling Blanco, Spokesperson of the Swedish Feminist Initiative party and candidate for the Riksdag (the Swedish parliament) in the 2014 general election.
"I do not believe in struggling to take power, but to build it."
"We must initiate this revolution within ourselves."