Thursday, 5 November 2009

Peru: Elsa Malpartida

Peruvian politician Elsa Malpartida is facing a storm this week following her admission that she was a member of Shining Path/Sendero Luminoso. The MP and former coca farmer claims she was forced to cook for the terrorists during the height of the conflict in the region near Tingo Maria.

Malpartida is now also claiming that the news stories are putting her life, and the lives of her family, in danger from Shining Path members, and this may well be true.

Naturally, there are pretty polarised reponses to these revelations. Is Malpartida a victim, like so many highland Peruvians, who was forced to work for the guerrillas for fear of her life? Or was she more willingly involved?

Part of the issue turns on whether Malpartida took advantage of the Ley de Arrepentimiento (Repentance Law) in the early 1990s. This gave former senderistas the chance to become re-integrated into mainstream society in return for officially renouncing violence and informing on comrades. Many news reports are reporting that she did turn to this legislation, although others are saying that she is denying this on the grounds that she had committed no crime.

As a politician, Malpartida must accept that the public will have an interest in her past. I don't think that it's realistic to exclude anyone who may ever have been involved with Sendero from any participation in public life; in a pervasive conflict like this one, so many were involved that cutting them all out would be very difficult. Besides, roles could be fluid and the same people could find themselves on one side of the battle at one time and then, a few years ago, on the other side. And that's without getting started on the issues of coercion and force. Nevertheless, difficult though it may be, a certain amount of openness would seem to be a prerequisite for those involved in politics - and for the 'reconciliation' part of 'truth and reconciliation' to get started.

Parliamentarian claims she was forced to be a member of Shining Path (Living in Path)
El Milagro de Malpartida (Caretas)
"Ella ha estado en el corazon del terrorismo" (Correo)
Fiscalia analiza vinculo de Malpartido con SL (El Comercio)

1 comment:

Matteo said...

Actually, the Ley de Arrepentimiento allows not-senderistas that were forced by Sendero Luminoso to take advantage of it.

You can see that law here:
The case applies by art. 52.

That is, not necessarily a "arrepentido-by-law" is actually a repentant, but can be a hostage.

About public interest in her past, which is obvious... Actually, following the law, El Comercio nor any other newspaper should be allowed to publish that news, because the same law guarantees the protection of the "arrepentida"s identity.

It seems more like a El Comercio's work to damage the opposition image by associating it with Sendero. See El Comercio treatment of the news here: