Friday, 2 October 2009

Peru: Salomon Lerner Responds

Salomon Lerner, former head of the Peruvian truth commission (CVR) and current vice president of the commission on the museum of memory, is interviewed in the current issue of Caretas about the death threats he has been receiving. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is my translation of some key parts on recent events and Lerner's view of the importance of memory for Peru:

- Was there any prior warning of what happened last week? [the poisoning of
Lerner's dogs and death threats against him]
- There were prior incidents of harm. At the beginning of the year, my Wikipedia entry was changed to present me as one of the principal allies of the terrorists. I tried to change it and it was changed back. This is people who are linked to the fascist right, among whom many are young people. [...] I understand that it was a very right-wing youth who attacked my page, he has a blog and claims to be a follower of Karl Schmidt.
What happens is that sometimes, without meaning to, one becomes a symbol for something. To my misfortune, I have become a symbol for what they call 'caviares' and what were previously called 'civicos'.* [...] But it's not just that. It's a collection of manifestations against me and the CVR which some newspapers, which are not very democratically oriented, have been making for some time.
- You are referring to Expreso and La Razón?
- And Correo. I've gone public about the matter with the dogs so that these situations do not happen with impunity. They accuse me of playing the victim because of the situation with the book by Abimael Guzmán. I shouldn't buy those papers but I do. A bit of it is masochism and also to know where they are coming from.
- But anyone who has read Guzmán's book knows that it is directed against the CVR.
- I was talking to a friend and he said that I should write a book called The Misfortune of Not Being Loved. But it's not true, I have received solidarity, even from people who I don't know. Ollanto Humala, Alejandro Toledo, prime minister Velásquez Quesquén. The Minister of the Interior has been in touch. Even [defence minister] Rafael Rey had some kind words. I am grateful to all of them. There are other people who want to deceive some people and they use a phrase which is no more than ten words long: I'm really sorry about what is happening to Lerner. But I disagree with him that... And they give eleven reasons why I'm not much more than a criminal. This is hypocrisy, manipulation. I don't accept that sort of solidarity.
- Don't you think that the members of the CVR placed an emphasis on work surrounding Memory? Doesn't this just perpetuate the pain?
- I don't say that one should continually recreate the pain, but that one should process it. This is the only way to free oneself from it. Understanding what happened, mourning and then looking ahead. If we don't do that, we are going to leave a little stone in our shoe which won't leave us in peace. Memory prevents the threat of fanaticism and intolerance. The grand masters of intolerance were the senderistas and Guzmán is the king of intolerance. Those who say that the wounds are closed, what is it that they said when Guzmán wrote his book?: Remember what he did! [...]
- What did you think of the book?
- I haven't read it, I don't intend to read it, I'm free to not read it. I've spoken with Guzmán. Knowing the author, I really doubt the quality of his ideas.
[emphasis mine, trans mine]
'Es la Derecha Fascistoide' (Caretas)

*'Caviar' - a derogatory word for a left-winger, particularly an intellectual, urban left-winger who doesn't understand 'the real world'. Wikpedia suggests 'champagne socialist' as a translation.

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