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Peru in the eighties

Roller skate or skate board,
Converse All Star or Stan Smith,
Technotronic or Boy George,
E.T. or The Terminator; everybody could think the eighties nice or funny.

We would like to make you discover a song from a Peruvian artist that we like, “El Hombre Misterioso”, which tells abouts the eighties in the other side of the Atlantic. It’s called 80 veces 80:

80 veces 80… It was a nice opportunity to tell you a little bit about this period of history, sadder from the peruvian point of view.

Because the same time our beloved country lived the darkest hours of its history, due to a bloody guerilla between subversives groups, and the Gobernment through the Police and the Armed Forces which replicated with violence.

Peruvian culture is completely impregnated by these dark years, there is a lot of hidden (or not) references of this period, including in many films like Coraje, Dias de Santiago, La Boca del Lobo, Caidos del Cielo, La Teta Asustada or Paloma de Papel that here you can find the trailer:

- The beginnings

Sendero Luminoso, 1989


Remember us the context: After two years of social disruption (1977-79), Peru ratifies a new Constitution that means the return to democracy, 12 years after a military dictatorship. The former President Fernando Belaunde Terry goes back to the power in 1980. A few days after his election, “Sendero Luminoso”(Shining Path), a communist organization in the Maoist ideology commits its first acts of terrorism. The group has an idea: replace the Peruvian institutions, considered like high class, by a communist revolutionary regime. It is the people’s war which began in the most ignored communities, like the central Andes and in the south, including the region of Ayacucho, one of the poorest regions, which will suffer the more. The Shining Path began to persecute the civilians.

In 1982, the government realizes that the police are overwhelmed by the events and decides to send the Army in the Ayacucho region in order to restore order, while there was already more a hundred victims.

- The response of the Army

The Army continues to deploy them on the south and the center of the country, but suffers by attacks and ambushes of the Shining Path, because the armed forces don’t have any precise knowledge of their ideology and, 20 their forms of struggle, leading a bloody repression and sometimes risky on the part of the state that wants to eradicate the movement.

But in 1984 the SL is joined by a new organization Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA), which combines strikes, kidnappings and armed attacks, and like the Sendero Luminoso eventually kills innocent people. This group developed numerous training camps.

Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru, 1986

In 1985 the new President Alain Garcia, opts for the gentleness promising the politics of development in the poorest regions. But a few months later the Path and the MRTA repeat their actions, and intensify them untill the warderes, a day of rebellion of some members of these groups, kills nearly 200 prisoners at the prison “El Fronton” in Lima.

- The spreading

The economic and social crisis rises every day, and prices, as the attacks are increasing every day.
The Shining Path grow throughout Peru, in cities as in rural areas and carry out selective assassinations campaigns to spread fear and weak to the government, which can not even protect the people.

In March 1989 over 100 people from the Path helped with many drug dealers, attacked a police base in Uchiza, where more than a dozen police officers dead.

These terrorist groups used the social crisis, economic and political argument to counter the Peruvian state and to justify their acts of violence.

- The climax of the conflict

Many conflicts are continuing, with ambushes and reprisals…
In 1989 the population is invited to vote for the municipal and regional elections, despite threats from the terrorists, and the results are in majority for peace and democracy, which will however not affect the actions of violence.

On April 5, 1992 Alberto Fujimori makes a coup d’etat without any consideration for the Constitution and will create new laws that give total power to the Peruvian Army. Crimes and violations of human rights by the military became common place (which is why Fujimori was sentenced and is still in prison).

The Shining Path is stepping up its offensive on the capital, but a few months later the state regains the advantage and capture the top leaders of each group, including Abimael Guzman, leader of the Shining Path, leading to the strategic defeat of the terrorism. We have to add that Fujimori has not been an essential part of the arrest because it’s police officers from their own initiatives who investigated, and all have been downgraded then.

- The end of terrorism, the beginning of authoritarianism

Arrest of Guzman, 1992

After the arrest of its number one Path is divided and weak, and in 1993, Guzman signed a peace agreement with the government from prison.

But while the accusations of abuse made by the military come to light, the Fujimori government totally refutes it, although concrete evidence as the discovery of mass graves of Cantuta in July 1993 may be revealed. The government sticked to its positions until creating the amnesty law in 1995 that grants impunity to any government official involved in violations of human rights.

The MRTA has repeatedly tried various actions, all successfully concluded by the state.

All those years of terror left more than 70,000 dead according to the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, more than half by the only fault of the Sendero Luminoso.

The Sendero Luminoso took refuge in the Selve


But a irreducible fringe of the Sendero continues, fled in difficult access areas as in the Selva where the group income is made of the racket of drug traffickers, clandestine teams to cut down protected trees and fuel smugglers ( tax-free in the forest areas).

This allowed them to prosper and to respond with force and violence to the offensive of the state, now supported by the United States. But now the leaders of the Sendero no longer necessary use force to convince people neglected by the authorities, but try to win their sympathy and sometimes help, but also by propagating their ideological work, particularly using the local media, student associations or unions.

One can legitimately fear that if the Peruvian government perseveres in autism, and does not demonstrate political will by giving the armed forces and police the means to eradicate terrorism, the problem does grow up, having the same consequences as in the 80′s.

“Nunca mas” would we be tempted to say again on this rich Latin America, which has already poured too many tears.

You can find further information about these tragic episodes on the Truth and Reconciliation website (in Spanish and English).

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