Sunday, 23 August 2009

Peru: 15 Years with Sendero

La Republica's cover story today is the testimony of "Pedrito", who has spent almost his entire life as a slave of the Shining Path.

Pedrito was part of what was known as "la masa", the mass, charged with carrying equipment and provisions from main bases to temporary encampments and with the transportation of drugs.

According to the report, he was just 8 months old when he was abducted with his family by senderista forces in Huancavelica in 1991. Pedrito, his parents and brother were then forced to work for the guerrillas. His mother and brother died, the whereabouts of his father are unknown.

Pedro relates that his 'service' initially consisted of carrying firewood and water, then when he was 10 years old they taught him to fire a weapon, but this was only for training since he never participated in a terrorist attack. When he was 13 years old he learnt to read and write.

And Maoist doctrine? Pedro says that the 15 children, later adolescents, who were brought up with him in the 'support base', received two hours of doctrine by a teacher, but he didn't let them read a book. [...]

"You saw injustice in the food, our lunch was almost always a soup with maize or yuca, despite the fact that we knew there was a lot of money because the drug traffickers paid very well for the transport of drugs", he said. [trans mine]

Eventually, despite knowing virtually no other way of life, the teenage Pedro seized his chance and escaped. He remarks that he has no official documents, which will prove an obstacle to him in any attempt to found a 'normal' life.

"Todo mi vida vivi como un cautivo de Sendero Luminoso" (La Republica)

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