Catherine Binet

Catherine Binet (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team – EPAF): Before going to university, Catherine interned at EDUCA, a Mexican NGO that promotes community development in the department of Oaxaca. Catherine completed her undergraduate studies in International Development and Hispanic Languages at McGill University, where she graduated with first class honours. At the time of her fellowship, she was studying for a Masters degree in International Development and Global Studies at the University of Ottawa. The Human Rights Internet in Ottawa supported Catherine’s fellowship.

Flashback to Huamanquiquia

10 Aug

Of all the rural communities that I have visited so far with EPAF, Huamanquiquia has left one the deepest imprints in my memory, due to the warmth with which we were welcomed. No doubt this was in large part because of Renzo’s (a historian with EPAF’s memory area) presence among our group. He lived in Huamanquiquia for three months while doing fieldwork for his thesis a few years back, and he is treated like family any time he returns.

Huamanquiquia lies in the province of Víctor Fajardo, in Ayacucho. This area was immensely affected by the internal armed conflict, as it is where the Shining Path first began its activities. The community is surrounded by towering mountains; added to the seemingly never-ending hours of travelling on treacherous roads needed to reach it, I could not help but be overpowered by a sense of isolation upon our arrival. Isolation may be quaint and awe-inspiring when you are on a brief visit, but when your community is caught in a dirty war between insurgent groups and the armed forces, neither of whom are afraid to use cruelty and kill to defeat the other, I imagine that isolation can only amplify the distress felt.

Unsurprisingly, the recent history of Huamanquiquia has been marked by the political violence, and its sequels are omnipresent, as any community member will tell you. Two horrific events are seared into the local memory: the detention and murder of more than 25 campesinos by the military in 1984, otherwise known as the Huamanquiquia case, and the massacre of 18 campesinos by members of the Shining Path in 1992.


A few weeks ago, Huamanquiquia made the local news because new exhumations were about to take place, meaning that 27 years after the 1984 executions, the families of some of the victims would finally able to bury the remains of their loved ones. From what I understand, these new exhumations are the result of the recent extradition of Telmo Hurtado from the United States. Hurtado is currently on trial for his direct responsibility in the death of 69 individuals from the Ayacuchan community of Accomarca in August of 1985. He is also the presumed author of the 1984 massacre in Huamanquiquia.

While this is undeniably good news, it got me thinking about all the widows and orphans we met in Huamanquiquia, and the conditions they live in. I wondered if recuperating the remains would ever be enough to close the circle of suffering they find themselves in. This inspired to re-visit the material I filmed in Huamanquiquia back in June to make a short video. It is an attempt to portray the current situation in Huamanquiquia, and by extension the situation of countless post-communities in Peru, through the testimony of a local victim’s representative.

Posted By Catherine Binet

Posted Aug 10th, 2011

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