Sunday, 20 April 2014

Peru: Cipriani in Ayacucho

It's a while since I wrote about the cardinal and archbishop of Lima, Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne. Years ago, I noted that he opposed the memory museum, opposed the truth and reconciliation commission, raved against the commissoners, and called for the pardoning of Alberto Fujimori.

However, I've never written much about the fact that before being archbishop of Lima, he spent the 1980s and 1990s in Ayacucho and was appointed archbishop there in 1995. A recent book by Luis Pasara and Carlos M. Indachochea, Cipriani como actor politico, discusses this period. I have not read the book, but Fernando Rospigliosi reviews it for El Comercio today.

The slim volume describes how, once in Ayacucho, Cipriani immediately identified himself with the armed forces, despite the serious human  rights abuses they were accused of, and later became an ardent supporter of Fujimori. Apparently, he actually had a notice posted in the bishopric stating "Human rights complaints are not dealt with here" - and this in the region which saw the most tortures, disappearances and extrajudicial executions in the Peru.

As for the disappeared, if you believe the cardinal, they were killed in shoot-outs with armed forces; the exact official line of the military themselves.

The book goes on to look at the background of Cipriani's membership in Opus Dei and his alliance with the Fujimori regime. Its main thrust - of the archbishop's deep politicial involvement - is both evident and concerning.

On a personal note, I will say that those who know me know that I have little time for religion. That aside, I just find it incomprehensible that a leader of a religion which is purportedly about compassion and forgiveness can hold such views. I just don't get it. It's not that Cipriani is alone in this - across Latin America, the Catholic Church hierarchy was largely allied with military regimes and complicit in their abuses - but he is a particularly odious example.

Happy Easter...

El polĂ­tico Cipriani, por Fernando Rospigliosi (El Comercio)

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