Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Peru: Monument Controversy

Here's my translation of an article republished on the blog of the Peruvian human rights coordinator. For what it's worth, I agree with Vargas - this is a transparent attempt to undermine the Museum of Memory project and could herald the beginning of a series of 'competing' memorials, which makes me recall Marita Sturken's powerful piece on the controversy surrounding the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (PDF).

The construction of a monument in honour of the civilian and military victims of terrorism committed by Shining Path and the MRTA is responding to a spirit of opposition to the Museum of Memory, believes Germán Vargas, president of the Asociación Paz y Esperanza (Peace and Hope Association).

Vargas Farías gave his opinion on the CNR radio station about the project of the Asociación de Oficiales, Generales y Almirantes (Officers', Generals' and Admirals' Association) which announced the consturction of a monument in honour of the "defenders of democracy and victims of terrorism" in Jesús María [a district of Lima].

He indicated the existence of an intention to present a fragmented memory of what happened during the turbulent years of terrorism. "There is the intention to present a separate memory, of one sector of the population, in this case the military sector, which seems strange to me coming from a top functionary of the State such as the Minister (of Defence, Rafael) Rey," he stated.

Vargas said that it was contradictory for conflicting opinions to be coming from members of the government about the Museum of Memory, a space which has not
even been built yet but which has been the subject of substantial criticism.

"The attitude of Minister Rey, who always opposes anything which would show what really happened during those years, just demonstrates he is at the forefront of impunity. He questions the museum because it will show what really happened in the country. It's really a cheek," he claimed.

The monument planned by the Officers', Generals' and Admirals' Association will seek to honour the memory of all victims of terrorism and those who offered their lives in the struggle against terrorists from 1980 onwards, according to the president of the institution, Lieutenant General of the Peruvian air force (FAP), Arnaldo Velarde Ramírez.

He said that the initiative aimed to evoke the gratitude of the Peruvian people and that the building of the monument would be funded by donations. The project was approved in May by the Defense Commission of Congress, while the Mayor of Jesús María, Enrique Ocrospoma, has donated a large site in his district for this purpose.

Monumento en honor a militares presentaria memoria fragmentada del conflicto armado (CNDDHH)

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