After arriving in Ayacucho, I stood incredulously in the heart of the region that had served as the central front of the war between the Shining Path and the Peruvian state.
When you’re in an overnight bus and then a car for 14 hours in total, you have ALOT of time to reflect and talk. I shared a small truck to Putis with Jose Pablo Baraybar, EPAF director; Iain Guest, director of The Advocacy Project; and Dan Collyns, a reporter with the BBC. Making stops in Huanta and Santillana along the way, the Peruvian landscape was something to behold. I was surrounded by tranquility, but I couldn’t help but look out the window and try to visualize the terror that had ensued within these seemingly pristine mountainous communities.
The Peruvian Truth Commission reported that there was considerable fragmentation within Peruvian society during the conflict, as the rural poor that suffered within the far removed regions of Peru described their communities as “pueblos ajenos dentro del Peru” (“foreign countries inside Peru”). Although the six most affected rural regions of Peru accounted for only 9 percent of the country’s population, 85 percent of those killed and disappeared came from these areas. Imagine – the Putis massacre occurred what is only now 14 hours from the centers of power in Lima given the recently constructed road connecting Huanta and Putis. The violent war in the mountains tragically unfolded with little resonance in distant urban centers.
Watch our trip to Putis and our first moments at the grave site …[youtube]4f4mdbGtSOA[/youtube]
Posted By Ash Kosiewicz
Posted Jun 3rd, 2008