Week 11 Thoughts

The power that the Shining Path had -and still has today- is chilling. I watched a video about the current conditions of the Shining Path in Peru. The video interviewed several peasants who produce cocaine for the Shining Path. It is interesting the way that they treat these peasants. The group treats them as close friends. They protect them, play games together and occasionally provide bananas for them. It seems to me that they are putting on a show for these peasants and using them for their drugs. The Shining Path is now a friend to the coca farmers.

The governmental civilian defence committees that were responsible for shutting down the insurgent group in the 80s are still around today in Peru, but the surprising thing is that they do very little now. In the interview with a few of the officers on these defence committees, they tell the interviewer upfront that they allow drugs carried by the Shining Path to pass by. They say that they only fight “common crime”. This seems corrupt and unjust to me and directly contrasts what Fujimori hoped would happen in his “1992 Declaration of the Autogolpe”.

We also see the theme of an ambiguity between hero and villain. This time of terror in Latin America produced great fear, and often uncertainty about who to be afraid of. In an interview with a man from a village that was attacked by the Shining Path, he speaks of his fury at the Shining Path for killing his family in 1986, but he feels a similar fury towards the Peruvian government that has brought in soldiers and created an insecure environment for those who remain in the village. In his case, it is ambiguous as to who should be considered the hero or the villain. He even says: “We are left traumatized; and who is to blame for that?”. Calling this period of Latin American history “the Terror” seems appropriate.

This ambiguity is also apparent in Mario Vargas Llosa’s account of events. History is subjective and the hero and villain changes depending on who tells the story. The excerpt from Chairman Gonzalo’s interview is scary. He claims that he has the support of the masses and that there was broad support by the peasants to overthrow the government, but this is not true. Even so, there would be no justification for the genocide that he proposed in this interview.

Fujimori provides another perspective on the nature and aims of Peruvian politics. Fujimori seems to emerge in Peru as a result of a vacuum of power. Another reoccurring theme in Latin American history.

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