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8/3/08

News from "investment grade" Peru (part 2)

Thanks to 'Memory in Latin America' (a recent find, and another excellent pan-regional blog I've added to the links list today) I've found an English version of a column I read last week in Peru's La Republica. Written by the Peru gov't's "Defender of the People" minister, Beatriz Moreno, it gives another aspect of "The Other Peru" that hides behind the investment grade obsession and the marketing of a prosperous and growing country that exists for only a minority of its population.

I'll paste the first paragraphs of Moreno's article, but please visit the home of the translation for the full report.

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No Justice for Putis?

Beatriz Moreno 27th July

Imagine that one day you answer the military’s offer for protection from terrorist attacks. Imagine that because you were convinced that you were protected beside the military base, you headed back to your town to bring other campesinos, including your wife and children, along with you.

Imagine that after a few days tragedy strikes, that the military from whom you expected protection turned into criminals. The women are raped before being killed, the men are deceived into digging their own graves and 19 children under the age of seven are killed to make sure there will be no trace in the future. Can you imagine something like this? Well, this is how it happened. In Dececember 1984, a total of 123 campesinos, including women, men, children and elderly, were brutally murdered and buried in Putis.

There is no explanation that justifies this massacre, which remains on every Peruvian’s conscience and that of humanity as a whole. But, as if this wasn’t enough, can you imagine that after 24 years not a single person has been punished for these crimes?

After so many years, we can no longer accept answers such as: “the information doesn’t exist,” or “we don’t have the necessary funds to investigate.” Or what is worse: “We must take into consideration the context in which these deaths occurred.” All are obstructions and excuses that favor impunity. This is inadmissible in a democratic society and it violates human dignity.

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The Other Peru suffers terribly from this ongoing impunity. And if you think this is something stuck in Peru's past, think again. This from Reuters, May 5th 2008:

LIMA, May 5 (Reuters) - President Alan Garcia is jeopardizing Peru's human rights gains in his drive to turn the economy into a regional powerhouse through free-market reforms, activists say.

Garcia recently issued a decree that will make it easier to use the military to arrest protesters. He also called a respected human rights activist a traitor for saying the government was using the threat of terrorism to clamp down on protests. (continues here).

For a country with such a chequered past on this issue, any lapse into police statism cannot be allowed in Peru. Unfortunately, it is being allowed.

Viva investment grade. Viva viva viva