Peru's Supreme Court of Justice on Oct. 3 overturned (PDF) the December 2017 pardon of ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori, and ordered that he be returned to prison. Human rights advocates hailed the ruling, but the ex-dictator's supporters and his politically powerful daughter, Keiko Fujimori, gathered outside his home in Lima to condemn it. "This is persecution against my family," Keiko said. Alberto himself implored President Martín Vizcarra not to return him to prison, saying his "heart would not cope." The former strongman spoke in a video address from a private clinic where he is undergoing treatment for heart disease and under police guard. Fujimori's attorney has appealed the pardon's annulment The fujimorista bloc in Congress is drafting a law to make the pardon permanent, but this is on dubious constitutional grounds and arguably violates the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. (Jurist, Diario Uno, Oct. 6; Reuters, Oct. 4; NYT, Oct. 3)
Two imprisoned leaders of the Sendero Luminoso guerilla movement were released from military prison to house arrest by authorities in Peru, sparking outrage and debate in the country's media. Osmán Morote, once considered the number-two man in the organization, was arrested by anti-terrorist police in Lima in 1988. He completed his 25-year term in 2013, but remained in detention as new charges were brought against him. He was now accused of having directed from prison the 1992 car-bomb attack on Tarata Street in Lima that left 23 dead. This year, additional charges were brought against him, concerning the 1984 massacre of 120 peasants at the village of Soras, Ayacucho. Also ordered released was Margot Liendo, who was arrested in 1988 along with Morote, and also faces outstanding charges in the Tarata Street attack. The transfers from the detention facility at Callao Naval Base were ordered by the National Penal Chamber of Peru. Both Morote and Liendo were required to pay a bond of 10,000 soles ($3,100), and will be guarded at their homes in the Lima area by National Police agents. Morote and Liendo have both declared a hunger strike in protest of the police presence and house arrest order, saying they should have absolute freedom after serving their 25-year terms. But President Martín Vizcarra called upon the judges to reverse their decision, and keep Morote and Liendo behind bars while the new charges are pending against them. (El País, Peru21, April 20; InfoBae, April 27)
Potato farmers across Peru's sierras blocked roads with their tractors and trucks for weeks starting in mid-January, demanding a subsidized distribution system for the staple crop in the face of plummeting prices. The National Commission of Potato Producers (Conapropa) struck a deal with the government Jan. 10, but wildcat protests continued in Huancavelica, Huánuco, Junín, Ayacucho and Arequipa regions. Finally, farmers advanced on Lima in a cross-country motorcade. This forced Conapropa leader Fernando Gutiérrez back to the table, meeting with Agriculture Minister José Arista in early February to strike a better deal. Huancavelica regional governor Glodoaldo Álvarez denied government claims of over-production by farmers, and pointed to massive imports since the 2009 Free Trade Agreement with the US. Farmers at the roadblocks carried banners with slogans such as "¡Abajo el TLC!" (Down with the FTA!). (Peru21, La República, Feb. 2; TeleSur, Feb. 1; El Comercio, Jan. 12)
Gregorio Santos, the populist president of Peru's Cajamarca region, was comfortably re-elected Oct. 5—despite being imprisoned as corruption charges are pending against him. The biggest issue in the race by far was the unpopular Conga gold mine project, majority-owned by US-based Newmont Mining. Peru's central government said it would recognize the victory, while his supporters marched in Lima to demand his freedom. Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal called for a "political dialogue with all the actors" to resolve the crisis in Cajamarca. But Jorge Vergara Quiroz, president of the Cajamarca Chamber of Commerce, said that Santos' re-election created a climate of "uncertainty" that would discourage investment, and called on him not to take office. Segundo Mendoza, spokesman for Santos' Social Affirmation Movement (MAS), responded that the party respects private investment. He called on authorities to free Santos, saying he posed no flight risk.
Investigators from the Fiscalía, Peru's public prosecutor, exhumed 21 bodies from four mass graves in a remote area of Ayacucho region, the office announced Sept. 15. The find was made at the hamlet of Belen Chapi, in the Paccha area of Chungui district, in a zone of high jungle known as the Oreja de Perro which had been a stronghold of the Shining Path rebels in the 1980s. The victims were members of a peasant community who were summarily executed by security forces on July 14, 1984. The remains included those of nine children; a pregnant woman, whose fetus was counted among the 21 dead; four other women; and six men. Authorities will now begin the work of identifying the bodies, as well as naming the members of the army and National Police who were responsible for the massacre. The remains of nine other community members said to have been killed that day remain missing.
Press reports in Peru that judicial authorities have opened an investigation into Interior Minister Daniel Urresti in connection with the murder of a journalist have sparked calls for his resignation. The former army general is reportedly suspected of being "intellectual author" of the slaying of Hugo Bustíos, a writer for Caretas magazine, who was attacked Nov. 24, 1988 by what is presumed to have been a group of soldiers in civilian dress at the hamlet of Quinrapa, Huanta district, Ayacucho, where he was covering the war against the Shining Path guerillas. Peru's Press and Society Institute issued a statement calling it "rudely offensive to the values of a democratic state" that Urresti remain at his post while facing a murder probe. The National Association of Journalists also called for Urresti to step down. The National Coordinator of Human Rights added that Urresti's continuation as interior minister, overseeing the country's National Police, "constitutes a grave risk for the security of family members and witnesses" that will be called in the investigation. Urresti, who took office in late June, denies any involvement in the slaying. President Ollanta Humala has stood by him.
Peru's President Ollanta Humala oversaw a ceremony April 3 at the village of Lucanamarca (Huancasancos province, Ayacucho region), delivering a "symbolic" package of reparations for the massacre there on that date in 1983. The reparations, delivered to five communities in the district-level municipality, ammounted to 100,000 soles (not quite $40,000). The ceremony centered around the reading of the names of the 69 victims of the massacre, including 11 women and 18 children. The youngest of the victims was less then six months old. (Andina, April 3) Sendero Luminoso guerillas occupied the village and "executed" the 69 residents after villagers had killed their local commander Olegario Curitomay, in retaliation for cattle thieving by the rebels. (La Republica, April 4; pro-Sendero account at RevLeft)
The Peruvian Press Association on Jan. 26 noted the 30th anniversary of the massacre of eight journalists and their local guide at the village of Uchurachay, Ayacucho department, where they themselves had been investigating reports of massacres. But a commentary in the left-leaning Lima daily El Popular decried that the violence against Uchurachay's campesinos was "more invisible." Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) found that in the months around the slaying of the journalists, 135 members of the community of 470 were killed—hanged, hacked or stoned to death, their bodies thrown into canyons to be eaten by dogs. Most of the killings seem to have been ordered by village authorities in an effort to purge sympathizers of the Shining Path guerillas. (La Republica, Feb. 1; La Republica, La Republica, Jan. 29; El Comercio, Jan. 26; El Popular, Jan. 21)