Week Eleven

I think if there was one word to sum up what the reading talks about and the video interview is violence. The word is mentioned so many times and for good reason. Most of the focus is on Peru although there is mention of some other states and how certain regimes oppressed their people through violence. Dawson does note that the Sendero Luminoso was just as bad, if not worse than the government in use of violence. Part of the explanation for this is because they were able to fund their cause (through cocaine trade) more than in other countries. This gave them a huge advantage because they did not need as much support in numbers since they had a large supply of arms. They did not need to rely on support from peasants, however this later lead to most peasants siding against the Senderistas with the government. What was interesting to read though was how the Senderistas came about and helped the rural populations because they were largely ignored by the government. In the video Cameron talks about how they helped with local injustices and crime like cattle thieves, corrupt mayors/tax collectors, and punishing abusive men. As well, when the government first attempted to eradicate the Senderistas they only caused more people to support it because of the massacres the marines enacted. I am a bit confused at the time around the 1980’s though because Dawson mentions that the Senderistas lost support from most peasants around the 1980’s, but Cameron doesn’t seem to mention that at all. Dawson discusses how many peasants created their own defensive or rebel groups because they did not support either the government or the Senderistas, although as I mentioned earlier, people were happy when an end was brought to the Senderistas.

What is clear though that those who suffered the most through this was the peasants or rural people. As well, from what I understand from the readings, it is difficult to place where there support lay throughout the war and it should not necessarily have to be. Their stance in the war cannot be universalized because both sides were doing such terrible things and to add onto that, some people decided not to choose a side and chose to defend themselves. Another point I wold like to mention is that this sentence: “indeed, most of the senderistas who ever made it to a jail cell were urban, middle-class students. Their rural comrades and sympathizers met more violent ends” proves that a difference in class still changed the way people were treated and even the views of the senderistas evolved so that they “treated peasants as if they were ignorant tools of revolution, to be called to arms when useful and destroyed when recalcitrant”.

How would you define/place the peasants involvement in the war?

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