Peru: students deny Sendero link, march against police intervention

A video uploaded to YouTube of a rally in support of the Shining Path movement, which supposedly took place at Lima’s San Marcos University June 14, has set off a media frenzy in Peru—and raised fears of police or military intervention on campus. The newspaper La República wrote June 16 that “authorities of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Ministry will begin an investigation together with the university administration.”

“I share the concern and condemnation,” La República quoted President Alan García as saying. “I find it strange that if the university authorities knew about these facts why they didn’t notify the public prosecutor. They are asking for amnesty for the biggest butcher in Peru [Abimael Guzmán], that seems to me like an apology for terrorism.” He added ominously: “We will do what is necessary to protect Peruvians.”

That same day, the daily Peru. 21 editorialized: “The scenes that were recorded Monday night in [San Marcos] university seem to come from the dark history lived by the university when, at the end of the 1980’s, the terrorists walked around as if it were their home and welcomed new students.” (Global Voices, Peruvian Times, June 18)

Sources within the Anti-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE)—the secret police agency that changed its name from the National Anti-Terrorist Directorate (DINCOTE) after the scandals of the Alberto Fujimori era—said 12 students, mostly from the law and social science departments, are under investigation in relation to the supposed pro-Sendero rally. (El Comercio, June 25)

Diego García Sayán, Peru’s former justice minister and now president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH), said that the supposed Sendero presence at San Marcos is being “used to benefit Fujimori” and conservative forces opposed to the limited amnesty now being instated for those convicted by Fujimori’s secret military tribunals. (La Republica, June 17)

On June 24, San Marcos students and faculty held a much larger rally—in the hundreds rather than scores—marching through the streets of Lima to deny any link to Sendero Luminoso and protesting any police or military intervention on campus. Organizers accused García of hypocrisy (doble discurso) for threatening to unleash police against students as he is cutting the San Marcos budget. “We reject any link with Sendero Luminoso,” said Gonzalo Castañeda of the San Marcos law faculty. “We have to defend our rights and liberties.” (La Republica, June 26)

See our last post on Peru.

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