Friday, 3 April 2009

Peru: 3 April 1983, Lucanamarca

There are words in Peru that conjure up the memory of violence. Gaping wounds in the collective consciousness of the nation. Accomarca, Tarata, La Cantuta. Other things happened and happen in these places but people remember the iconic events that define them, the multiple killings, the trauma. Uchuraccay. Lucanamarca.

On 3 April 1983, Shining Path columns entered the village of Lucanamarca in Ayacucho and murdered 69 people with machetes. Children were among the victims. The attack was directed from the very top of Sendero: Guzman ordered it as a punishment because there had been resistance to guerrilla activities in the area. It was to serve as an example: you resist the Shining Path, you die. He said as much himself:
Frente al uso de mesnadas y la acción militar reaccionaria respondimos contundentemente con una acción: Lucanamarca, ni ellos ni nosotros la olvidamos, (...) ahí fueron aniquilados más de 80, eso es lo real; y lo decimos, ahí hubo exceso (...) en algunas ocasiones, como en ésa, fue la propia Dirección Central la que planificó la acción y dispuso las cosas, así ha sido... (...)ahí lo principal fue hacerles entender que éramos un hueso duro de roer, y que estábamos dispuestos a todo, a todo(...).

"In the face of the reactionary operations of the military we replied forcefully with our own operation: Lucanamarca, neither they nor we will forget it. (...) "More than 80 people were wiped out there, that is a fact, and we admit it there were excesses there...on some occasions, such as this, it was the Central Directorate which planned the operations and gave the orders...the main thing was to make them understand...that we were prepared for everything."
(Spanish taken from the CVR report, pp. 44-45, which is quoting from Guzman's interview in El Diario in 1988, English translation from the BBC)

Just look at the agony etched on the faces of these women whose relatives were an 'example' to any who dared to resist the Shining Path. Of course, not resisting the Shining Path could well have earned you the wrath of the armed forces, whose treatment would be no better. The indigenous highlanders truly were caught 'between two fires'.

3 comments:

Otto Rock said...

good job L

QueenBina said...

So that's how they won the hearts and minds, eh?

No wonder they made no progress. Che would not approve.

Lillie Langtry said...

The Shining Path were indeed different to many traditional guerrilla movements in their belief in the need for extreme, indiscriminate violence. Guzman believed that it might take "a million" deaths to provoke a revolution, and he seemed determined to test his theory. They also showed disrespect for traditional indigenous methods of government, decision-making, etc. Sure, they won the approval of some village communities early on, but they lost it again with their sheer brutality. That's why I would defend referring to SP as "terrorists" when I'm aware that generally, it is a contentious term (one man's terrorist, bla bla bla...).