Ash Kosiewicz

Ash Kosiewicz (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team): Ash graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 with a dual degree in government and journalism. After graduation, he worked for two years as a child support officer with the Texas Office of the Attorney General. In 2004, he moved to Ecuador, where he lived for 10 months working with a local foundation in Guayaquil to raise funds for a health center project in the rural canton of Santa Lucia. Upon returning from Ecuador, he worked for two years as communicators director with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which provides legal aid to the poor in the United States. At the time of his fellowship, Ash was studying for a master's degree in Latin American studies from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. After his fellowship, Ash wrote: "The AP experience has given me another incredibly impactful experience in Latin America. It has given me an incredible story to tell, one that truly leaves people interested though unsure how to respond. I feel like I’ve gone through some pretty intense stuff, and I’ve come out of it stronger and more aware. I know I can handle tough environments, and work in a fast paced environment."

The Final Farewell – Day 3

05 Aug

“Peru has suffered so much because of terrorism – that of the state, and that of the subversive groups. We must demand justice.” – Fedor Muñoz, speaking at the burial of his fallen brother and professor Hugo Muñoz Sanchez

Now two weeks after the burial of the Cantuta 10, I remember a few stanzas from the poem I reproduced in my first blog.

“Huamanguino,” originally written in the indigenous language of Quechua by Ranulfo Fuentes, a Peruvian songwriter and high school teacher from Ayacucho, recounts the disappearance of a young man dragged from his home at the hour of “deepest sleep.”

Months and years have passed
Where could he be?
Perhaps under the stony ground
becoming earth
or among the thorns
budding like wild flowers.

Soon he will return, he will come back
like rain for the crops
to make the seeds sprout
like the sun at dawn
that makes flowers bloom.

On July 19, the martyrs of Cantuta received their Christian burial at El Angel cemetery. Disappeared in the rocky hills of Cantuta for years, they finally returned.

Yet many in Peru still wait. Recent estimates of the total number of disappeared in Peru now exceed 15,000. Fewer than 1,000 have so far been found. Of those found, less than half have been identified. While relatives of Cantuta now await the condemnation of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, many families simply want to know where their loved ones are – and to bury them with dignity.

The ceremonial burial invoked songs, chants demanding justice, and flags declaring “student integration” – the latter representing a new student movement determined to create a consciousness around human rights in Lima.

The ceremony also included the singing of “Flower of Retama,” a song written in honor of 20 peasants and students killed by paramilitaries in the city of Huanta in 1969 after “Huantinos” challenged a decree instituted by the then-military government ending free secondary education. The song, written by Ricardo Dolorier in December 1970, became increasingly associated with subversive movements in the 1980s, including the Shining Path – despite aclarations by its author of the song´s original meaning.

Surrounded by their relatives, members of the larger Cantuta community, and other supporters, the fallen Cantuteños claimed their dignified final resting place – together.


Part II


Posted By Ash Kosiewicz

Posted Aug 5th, 2008

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