Survivors of the 'disappeared' protest in Lima
Thousands have taken to the streets of Lima every night since the Christmas Eve pardon of ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, to be repeatedly dispersed by the riot police with tear-gas. One TV journalist was injured when he was hit by a fired tear-gas cannister in Lima's downtown Plaza San Martín on Christmas Day. The lead contingent in the marches has often been relatives of those assassinated and "disappeared" under Fujimori's rule, especially victims of the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres—carried out in 1991 and 1992, respectively, by regime-linked death squads against suspected sympathizers of the Shining Path guerilla movement. Marchers hold placards with the faces and names of "disappeared" students, workers and activists from the Fujimori era. (RPP, Dec. 29; Diario Uno, Dec. 26)
President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) called the pardon "perhaps the most difficult decision in my life," but defended it asan "effort at reconciliation" in a polarized country, urging protesters to "turn the page." He added: "Those of us who feel democratic should not allow Alberto Fujimori to die in prison. Justice is not revenge."
But survivors of the disappeared and their advocates said that Kuczynski's office had ignored repeated requests for meetings with a group of the kin of Fujimori's victims "I feel deceived by a president who has lied once again," said protester Carolina Huaman Oyague. "We will continue on the streets and will fight so that the judicial process under which he was tried is respected." Her cousin Dora Oyague Fierro was one of several students at La Cantuta University who were abducted and killed in 1992.
"Granting pardons is a prerogative that demands rigorous case-by-case analysis, taking into account the severity of the deeds through a transparent and inclusive process that is in line with international human rights norms," added Amerigo Incalcaterra, the South America representative for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights. "Not putting victims at the center of this decision derails the progress the Peruvian state has made on truth, justice, memory and reparations." (NYT, Dec. 26)
Protests also continue to be reported from Cuzco, Chiclayo, Huaraz, Tarapoto, Iquitos and other cities around the country. (Diario Uno, Dec. 26)
PPK's culture minister, Salvador del Solar, has resigned in protest of the Fujimori pardon. (BBC News, Dec. 27) A letter issued by 230 prominent Peruvian writers, including Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, also repudiates PPK's "illegal and irresponsible conduct" in pardoning the forrner dictator. (EFE, Dec. 30)