The Durability of Truth and Reconciliation in Peru´: A Perspective from 2018

AuthorTravis Smith
The Durability of Truth and Reconciliation
in Perú: A Perspective from 2018
Travis Smith
For the last two decades of the 20th century,
Perú experienced violent internal conflict.
Terrorist groups such as the Sendero
Luminoso (the Shining Path) sought to
overthrow the government, and a dictator
named Alberto Fujimori rose to power who
attempted to stamp out resistance by any
means necessary. About 69,000 people died
during the conflict and many more were
displaced. After Fujimori fled the country in
2000, the incoming government sought to heal
the wounds caused by the conflict and to better
understand what had happened. They
established the Comisión de la Verdad y
Reconciliación (the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission), which subsequently published a
report detailing the genesis of the conflict,
identifying culpable actors, and making
recommendations about reparations and
governance going forward. This report has
become the touchstone document for
understanding what happened during the
conflict, but many of the recommendations
212 SLJ 6(1)
have not been implemented. In 2007, Alberto
Fujimori was extradited to Perú, where he was
tried for a number of crimes committed while
in office. He was given a 25-year sentence, the
maximum then allowable under Peruvian law.
Ten years later, as a result of political jockeying
by Fujimori’s children (who are members of
Congress), Fujimori was pardoned, ostensibly
on medical grounds. The country was split
over the events, but outrage caused widespread
protest throughout the country. Many asked:
what has changed since Fujimori was
president? Has anything gotten better? The
pardon seemed to negate the value of the
findings of the CVR and made people ask
whether the project had led to any real change.
In this article, I argue that the CVR has been
valuable as a tool for social understanding and
social change, despite a lack of definite legal
impact.
Introduction
Visiting Lima is rarely a relaxing experience. The city is huge,
chaotic, and unpredictable. However, early in 2018, Lima was
more chaotic than usual. The congress was on the eve of
ousting the president, Pedro Pablo Kuzcynski (commonly
referred to as PPK), in a politically motivated lightning-
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 213
impeachment.
1
In the days leading up to the final vote on 21st
December 2017, the president inefficiently defended himself
and the consensus was that he was dead in the water.
2
On the
day of the vote, a crucial faction withheld their support of the
ouster and crippled the effort.
3
Most of Perú breathed a sigh of
relief; they still had a president. However, the story was about
to take another dramatic turn: during the debates before the
impeachment vote, newscasters began to speculate that the
former president, Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), could be
granted medical pardon.
4
Fujimori had been convicted of
human rights abuses in the late 2000s and given a 25 -year
sentence, the maximum allowable under Peruvian law at the
time.
5
The newscasters quickly discredited the rumours.
1Agencia EFE, ‘Vacancia presidencial: Frente Amplio y Nuevo
Perú presentan pedido para destituir a PPK’ Gestión (1 February
2018)
amplio-y-nuevo-peru-presentan-pedido-destituir-ppk-226285>
accessed 20 December 2018.
2 EC, ‘Alberto Borea: los cinco momentos de su defense de PPK’
El Comercio (22 December 2017)
defensa-ppk-noticia-483315> accessed 20 December 2018.
3 EC, ‘PPK no fue vacado por el Congreso de la República’ El
Comercio (2 December 2017)
vacado-congreso-republica-noticia-483477> accessed 20
December 2018.
4
Ángel Páez and others, ‘Alberto Fujimori y PPK: Cronica de un
indulto deseado y de una vacancia frustrada’ La República (31
December 2017) ica-
de-un-indulto-deseado-y-de-una-vacancia-frustrada> accessed
20 December 2018.
5
Rebecca K Root, Transitional Justice in Peru (Palgrave Macmillan
2012) 123.
214 SLJ 6(1)
Most Peruvians spend Christmas Eve at home with their
families. As the celebration of Christmas takes place at
midnight of the 24th, the 25th is mostly a day of rest. On
Christmas Eve of 2017, three days after the attempted
impeachment, word leaked out that the pardon had gone
through.
6
The odd timing of granting the pardon gave rise to
speculation.
7
Moreover, the fact that the miraculous defection
that saved the PPK presidency had been spearheaded by a
congressman named Kenji Fujimori (the son of the pardoned
Alberto Fujimori) fanned the flames.
8
Though no evidence
surfaced to demonstrate collusion, Peruvians did not need
convincing: PPK had bought time in his presidency by
pardoning a former dictator and known abuser of human
rights.
9
The days that followed were chaotic. Marches of up to
6
La República, ‘Los 4 indultos que ha dado el Gobierno en la
vispera de Navidad’ La República (24 December 2017)
los-4-indultos-que-ha-
dado-el-gobierno-en-la-vispera-de-navidad> accessed 20
December 2018.
7
‘Indulto de Kuczynski a Fujimori bajo sospecha de ser un
acuerdo político’ El Nuevo Día (Lima, 25 December 2017)
uczynskiafujimoribajosospechadeserunacuerdopolitico-
2385045/> accessed 21 December 2018.
8
EC, ‘Kenji: Optamos en no apoyar la vacancia votando en
abstención’El Comercio (21 December 2017)
votando-abstencion-noticia-483379> accessed 21 December 2018.
9
Félix Reátegui, ‘Entre el indulto y la vacancia: ‘PPK canejó
nuestras instituciones’’ (OjoPúblico, 26 December 2017),
el-indulto-y-la-vacancia-ppk-
canjeo-nuestras-instituciones> accessed 21 December 2018.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 215
20,000 individuals filled the streets in protest.
10
Drones buzzed
overhead as the news and security helicopters loudly hovered
higher up. Tear gas thinned the crowds, which reconvened
elsewhere just as dense.
11
The lack of accountability or democratic process in making
decisions about the pardon was in discord with the findings
(and, indeed, the very existence) of the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission (CVR). The latter was formed to
investigate the human rights abuses that took place in Perú
from 1980 to 2000, the last ten years of which were under
Fujimori’s rule.
12
The CVR was touted as a means of
transitional justice aimed at understanding who was
responsible for the violence that occurred between 1980 and
2000. Additionally, it aimed to give a voice to those who were
unheard as the conflict unfolded.
13
For some, the release of
Fujimori calls into question the degree to which the CVR
10
‘Multitudinaria prostesa en Perú por el ‘insulto’ del indulto a
Fujimori’ La Vanguardia (Lima, 29 December 2018),
86935/multitudinaria-protesta-peru-insulto-indulto-
fujimori.html> accessed 21 December 2018.
11
Ghiovani Hinojosa, ‘Indulto a Fujimori: los jóvenes volvieron a
liderar la protesta’ La República (29 December 2017))
http://larepublica.pe/politica/1163848-los-jovenes-volvieron-a-
liderar-la-protesta accessed 20 December 2018.
12
Ariel Dulitzky, ‘Dulitzky sobre el indulto: un retroceso a la
verdad y justicia’ (Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos, 25
December 2017)
dulitzky-indulto-fujimori-retroceso-la-verdad-la-justicia/>
accessed 21 December 2018.
13
Root (n 5) 73-75.
216 SLJ 6(1)
succeeded in its mandate.
14
After all, if Perú is still granting
impunity to corrupt and violent leaders, has anything changed
and did the CVR even help the country? In addition, if
thousands of people in organized protests cannot inspire a
cogent response from the government, who has a voice in this
conversation?
At this point, it was easy to perceive the CVR as a failure. The
vast majority of the recommendations of the CVR had not been
implemented
15
and its findings seemed to be receding into
history.
16
Moreover, one of the most important wrongdoers
imprisoned as a result of the CVR’s work was out of jail, and
the country was certainly not reconciled.
17
Most importantly,
it seemed like the country had not become either more
democratic or more just, and that Fujimori’s pardon was just
another expression of the system’s failures. Nevertheless, the
CVR still continues to be a very important achievement.
18
It
14
‘El indulto y la reconciliación nacional’ El Montonero (26
December 2017) a/el -indulto-y-la-
reconciliacion-nacional> accessed 21 December 2018.
15
Onur Bakiner, Truth Commission: Memory, Power and Legitimacy
(Univ. of Pa. Press, 2016) 13.
16
ibid 141.
17
To illustrate: after we ran out of the panicked crowds and
away from the tear gas, we caught a taxi. Within minutes the
ride had devolved into a shouting match about politics and we
were rather unceremoniously dumped at our destination as the
argument peaked.
18
Cynthia E. Milton, ‘The Truth Ten Years On: The CVR in Peru’
in Eugenia Allier-Montaño and Emilio Crenzel (eds), Th e
Struggle for Memory in Latin America Recent History and Political
Violence (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) 126.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 217
gave voice to many who had never been heard.
19
It created a
foundation for the social processing of a period of violence that
changed the shape of the nation.
20
It illuminated the complex
back-story that led the country to conflict and it serves as the
academic touchstone for understanding the socio-history of
the nation.
21
As I was leaving Perú at the beginning of 2018, I
wondered: what is the value of the CVR after 15 years? Is Perú
better off because of it? My essential contention in this article
is that it is. Even though the CVR did not create a reconciliation
that brought everyone eye to eye, it did create a space in which
a sincere and productive dialogue about what happened, and
about what should happen, can take place.
22
Creating a better
democracy is perhaps too much to ask of a Truth Commission
(TC). What this article argues, rather, is that TC’s are part of
the machinery that allows society to build a better democracy.
I. The Conflict
To understand the violence that took place from 1980 to 2000,
one must look much further back. Throughout Peruvian
history there has been a stark separation between the urban
and the rural, the ruling and the disempowered classes.
23
This
dynamic has meant that much of the national consciousness
19
Rebekka Friedman, Competing Memories (Cambridge
University Press 2017) 156.
20
Milton (n 18) 127.
21
Root (n 5) 90.
22
Friedman (n 19) 172.
23
José Matos Mar, ‘Desborde Popular y Crisis del Estado: Viente
Años Después (Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú 2004) 23.
218 SLJ 6(1)
and most of the nation’s resources have focused on the capital,
rather overlooking the rural areas.
24
The government and the
civil society have often ignored everything outside the capital,
and this has led to a pattern of neglect in the more rural areas
of Perú, which see little government support or assistance.
25
From 1968 to 1980, Perú was ruled by a military dictatorship.
26
In contrast to many other countries, the military government
in Perú was not particularly repressive or authoritarian, and
when they turned the reins over in democratic elections in
1980 the Peruvian people moved forward without particular
ill will toward the Armed Forces (AF).
27
That same year, the
Partido Comunista del Perú Sendero Luminoso (Peruvian
Communist Party Shining Path) (SL) launched its first
attacks on the populace.
28
The SL was a Maoist group whose
goal was the liberation of the State through a violent
overthrow.
29
Another revolutionary group, the Movimiento
Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (Túpac Amaru Revolutionary
Movement), formed around the same time.
30
They were
responsible for fewer deaths overall but still played an
important role in the conflict, especially in its later stages.
31
The
24
Root (n 5) 15.
25
ibid 16-18.
26
ibid 16.
27
ibid 17.
28
Friedman (n 19) 131.
29
Hatun Willakuy, Versión abreviada del Informa Final de la
Comision de la Verdad y Reconciliación (comisión de la Verdad y
Reconciliación 2004) 98.
30
Willakuy (n 29) 191.
31
Friedman (n 19) 134.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 219
first attacks went mostly unnoticed in Lima, but their
increasing violence and frequency caught the attention of the
national media, politicians, and the AF.
32
By 1983, the AF was taking up positions in the highlands.
33
For
many villages, this was the first time any official
representative of the State had made an appearance.
34
The
sudden interest by the central government caused suspicion,
and in fact, the AF were one of the greatest causes of casualties
and suffering from the entire conflict.
35
The dynamics between
the SL, the AF, and the rural communities were particularly
destructive.
36
The SL recruited villagers but also forced them
into supporting them. The AF sought to infiltrate communities
in order to get information about the activities of the SL, but
they were often unable to tell unaffiliated campesinos (rural
farmers or peasants) from SL militants or sympathizers.
37
This
led to mistrust on all sides, and a number of massacres t ook
place based on suspicion, conjecture, and fear. In Putis, for
example, the government massacred 123 villagers and buried
them in a mass grave because it suspected the villagers were
sympathetic to the SL.
38
The SL were even more brutal when
they believed villagers were collaborating with the
government, sometimes destroying entire communities: in
Lucanamarca, they tortured and murdered at least 69
32
Estado de Miedo ‘Estado de Miedo’ (Morena Films 2005).
33
Root (n 5) 20.
34
Estado de Miedo (n 32).
35
Willakuy (n 29) 19.
36
Friedman (n 19) 134-135.
37
Root (n 5) 18, 22.
38
ibid 22.
220 SLJ 6(1)
villagers.
39
This dynamic left the rural populations caught
between the hostile forces of the AF and the SL and also
divided from the inside.
40
While the SL’s attacks began in rural areas, over the years they
moved closer and closer to the capital.
41
By the 1990s, car
bombings were part of the national consciousness in Lima and
a ‘culture of fear’ had begun to take hold.
42
Even though the
SL’s leader was captured in 1992, this culture of fear persisted,
exacerbated by politicians who used the fear to clinch their
power.
43
Alberto Fujimori had been democratically elected in
1990, but had essentially become a dictator by abolishing the
Congress and changing the voting rules to allow for his re-
election.
44
Violence continued throughout his rule despite the
fall of the SL, in part because of the Movimiento Revolucionario
Túpac Amaru (MRTA) and in part because of the state itself,
which organized paramilitary groups to track down and
liquidate dissidents and used fear as a means of securing
power.
45
One of the darkest periods in Fujimori’s rule had to
do with the Grupo Colina, a state-sponsored organization
involved in many extrajudicial killings and actions, aimed at
rooting out dissidents.
46
Another technique used to stamp out
39
ibid 18-19.
40
See Kimberly Theidon, Intimate Enemies (Univ. of Penn. Press,
2013).
41
Friedman (n 19) 130.
42
Estado de Miedo (n 32).
43
Root (n 5) 32-33.
44
ibid 28-37.
45
ibid 34.
46
ibid.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 221
subversion were the ‘faceless judges’, hooded judges who ran
expedited and closed trials for accused terrorists.
47
At the same
time, rampant corruption and anti-democratic behaviour had
attracted domestic and international attention.
48
Fujimori’s government fell swiftly and suddenly.
49
After scandals destroyed his credibility, he faxed his
resignation from Japan, claiming Japanese citizenship and
thus immunity from extradition.
50
In the vacuum of power
created by his absence, a transitional government, headed by
Valentín Paniagua, established a Truth Commission to look
into the atrocities committed from 1980 to 2000.
51
The
subsequent president, Alejandro Toledo, added the goal of
Reconciliation to the mandate of the Commission.
52
II. Truth Commissions
The most comprehensive definition of the term ‘truth
commission’ comes from Mark Freeman in his book Truth
Commissions and Procedural Fairness:
A truth commission is an ad hoc, autonomous, and
victim-centred commission set up in and authorized by
47
ibid 31.
48
ibid 37-39.
49
ibid 38-40.
50
ibid 40.
51
Decreto Supremo 065-2001-PCM (Crean Comisión de la
Verdad 2001).
52
Decreto Supremo 101-2001-PCM (Modifican Denominación de
la Comisión de la Verdad por la Comisión de la Verdad y
Reconciliación 2001).
222 SLJ 6(1)
a state for the primary purposes of (1) investigating and
reporting on the principal causes and consequences of
broad and relatively recent patterns of severe violence or
repression that occurred in the state during determinate
periods of abusive rule or conflict, and (2) making
recommendations for their redress and future
prevention.
53
Essentially, TCs are a way of dealing with national traumas
and transitions.
54
The underlying principle is that the truth can
be a foundation for moving forward as a nation. By knowing
what has happened before, those who establish TCs hope to be
able to prevent it from happening again.
55
This idea is not
supported by much hard data, though it does have anecdotal
support and common-sense appeal.
56
Getting to the bottom of
what happened is usually the principal goal of a TC,
57
but there
are usually corollary aims.
58
Once the truth has been
discovered, some commissions seek to punish those involved,
to make systemic changes to government systems, to educate
the population and the world about what has happened, or to
offer reparations to victims.
59
The TC’s mandate, composition,
53
Mark Freeman, Truth Commissions and Procedural
Fairness (Cambridge University Press 2006) 18.
54
Bakiner (n 15) 89.
55
Freeman (n 53) 33.
56
Bakiner (n 15) 4.
57
W van der Wolf, C Tofan, and D de Ruiter (eds.), National Truth
and Reconciliation Commissions Facts and Materials IX (International
Courts Association 2011).
58
Freeman (n 53) 33.
59
Bakiner (n 15) 89.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 223
and authority are all shaped by the reasons it was established.
Thus, TCs may take a variety of forms, and the fact that all
national traumas are different means that all TCs are
different.
60
Some TCs comprise legal experts
61
and some are
staffed mostly by academics (as in the Peruvian CVR).
62
Public
hearings and victim testimony can play an important role, as
‘truth-telling’ is an aspect of the commission process.
63
In other
cases, where accountability is a priority, TCs may have
adjudicatory powers or the power to recommend
prosecutions.
The party that is in power after a conflict often establishes the
TCs.
64
This can mean that some TCs are part of a political
agenda. Indeed, many TCs work within the frame of a broad
amnesty for the past crimes and their work can be limited to
reparations and a somewhat symbolic function. This has led
some critics to say that TCs are a ‘soft-option’ for incoming
governments, which can help to legitimise their power and de-
legitimise the former rulers in a relatively uncontroversial
way.
65
Professor Onur Bakiner, however, cautions that ‘the
view of truth commissions as an uncontroversial alternative to
adversarial models of fact-finding injustice, such as the
courtroom, is wrong: commissions reflect and seek to
transform societal disagreements over past atrocities, which
60
Freeman (n 53) 27-36.
61
ibid.
62
Root (n 5) 74.
63
Bakiner (n 15) 59.
64
Freeman (n 53) 37.
65
Bakiner (n 15) 61.
224 SLJ 6(1)
makes their work political and adversarial’.
66
Additionally, in
some instances of human rights violations, the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights has expressly said that a TC is
not a substitute for criminal prosecution and victim
reparation.
67
III. La Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación
Composition and Goals
The Peruvian CVR mainly comprised individuals from
academic backgrounds.
68
They were all Peruvian citizens, but
few of them had any background in the Andes or in
Quechua.
69
This academic and expressly Peruvian
composition reflects the fact that one of the fundamental goals
of the commission was to understand what had happened
from a national perspective.
The commissioners took a broad view of the ‘truth’ part of
their mandate, approaching it in a historical rather than
judicial sense.
70
Thus, in addition to creating a detailed record
of the conflict itself, the findings of the Commission addressed
the issues in Peruvian society that paved the way for the
conflict.
71
Conversely, the Commission took a rather narrow
view of its goal of promoting reconciliation. They contended
66
ibid.
67
Van der Wolf (n 57) 12.
68
Bakiner (n 15) 129.
69
ibid.
70
ibid 129.
71
Bakiner (n 15) 13.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 225
that justice is the predicate for reconciliation
72
and thus that
the entirety of the CVR’s activities would be an essential
foundation for reconciliation. The Commission noted that
there are a number of levels of reconciliation - on a national
level, on a local level, and between victims and the state as a
whole - and that they could at most pave the way for some of
them.
73
As a result, the findings of the CVR comprise a wide-
ranging and frank search for the deeper causes and impacts of
the conflict and eschew a reduced or simplified narrative that
can please all parties.
74
The official decrees that establish the CVR shed some light on
what its creators intended to achieve.
75
The executive act
known as Decreto Supremo 065-2001-pcm created the CVR in
2001. In the preamble, the Decreto affirms the importance of the
respect for human rights. It goes on to say that a truth
commission is a necessary tool to bring clarity regarding the
events that took place from 1980 to 2000 and to ensure that
they are never repeated. The Decreto then lays out four specific
goals, all of which pertain to understanding the violence that
took place between May of 1980 and November of 2000.
Specifically, the CVR was established to analyse the
circumstances under which the violence occurred and
investigate crimes in conjunction with other State organs. It
was also expected to create proposals for reparations to the
72
ibid 124.
73
Friedman (n 19) 145.
74
Bakiner (n 15) 14.
75
Decreto Supremo 065-2001-PCM (Crean Comisión de la
Verdad 2001).
226 SLJ 6(1)
victims and recommend institutional reforms. After looking at
how the CVR has been perceived in Perú and internationally,
I will discuss these goals below and whether the CVR was
successful or not in pursuing them.
Perspectives on the CVR
There have always been multiple perspectives on the work of
the CVR. While opinions have changed over time, most
Peruvians felt that the CVR was necessary when it was
established.
76
Predictably, some of the most critical voices have
been those that have the most to lose. The AF and the
politicians affiliated with the violent episode, for example,
have been quick to condemn the report as biased.
77
Some of
these voices are reflected in the populist narrative that
launched Alberto Fujimori and sustained him throughout his
decade of rule. This narrative continues to be one of the
dominant explanations for the arc of the conflict. I break out,
in a simplified form, some of the more divisive and vocal
factions below.
The Public and ‘Civil Society’
The public is not a monolithic entity.
78
The divides mentioned
earlier between the coastal elites and the inland campesinos
mean that there is a broad spectrum of lay perspectives on the
violence. However, much of the public lacked reliable
76
Root (n 5) 68.
77
ibid.
78
Matos Mar (n 23).
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 227
information about the conflict. Citizens in Lima, by and large,
did not hear of the violence in the highlands until the conflict
was well under way
79
and even when the conflict intensified,
the news that reached the capital was often fragmented and
unclear.
80
Those closer to the conflict also lacked good sources
of information, an issue which was magnified by the lack of
media and infrastructure.
81
Even at the epicentre of the
violence, it was impossible to get a clear picture of the
situation, and uncertainty about the events and the actors in
the conflict was a problem for much of the country. As a result,
the goal of understanding what had happened resonated with
a large part of the population.
82
The divide between the rural and coastal populations
generally delineates differing perspectives about the AF and
the state apparatus more generally. Much of the country had a
neutral-to-positive impression of the military when the
conflict began.
83
Throughout the conflict, most of Lima seemed
to support a strong military response in the fight against the
SL.
84
Those in the more rural parts of the country, however, felt
the brunt of the AF’s anti-terrorism efforts during the conflict.
The AF presence in the rural parts of the country was of longer
duration and greater intensity than in Lima. Constitutional
rights were suspended, and massacres were perpetrated by
79
Estado de Miedo (n 32).
80
Root (n 5) 46.
81
ibid 18.
82
Milton (n 18) 115.
83
Root (n 5) 16.
84
ibid 46.
228 SLJ 6(1)
the AF away from the public eye.
85
The experience of the
campesinos with regard to the AF and the mechanics of the fight
against SL were very different from the experience in Lima.
The history of marginalization meant that the state had to
scramble for footholds in the rural parts of the country when
the conflict began. For many rural Peruvians, the arrival of the
AF marked the first substantial encounter with official actors.
86
This generated antipathy and mistrust as many felt the
government had been neglecting the rural parts of the country
until the violence began.
87
Many of the victims of the violence sought to have their voices
heard via the CVR.
88
Some victims also hoped for the
prosecution of those responsible, and others sought
reparations in various forms.
89
A commonly expressed hope
among victims groups and the country at large was that this
would never happen again.
90
Many felt that a better
understanding and better education would help to ensure that
this hope would be fulfilled and that Perú did not repeat its
past.
On the other side of the coin, many in Perú have come to see
Fujimori as a national hero who defeated terrorism. While
many felt that he should stand trial for his crimes,
paradoxically, a majority also felt like his government was
85
ibid 20.
86
Estado de Miedo (n 32).
87
ibid.
88
Willakuy (n 29).
89
Friedman (n 19) 154-159.
90
Bakiner (n 15) 144.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 229
good for the country.
91
Fujimori was a master of populism,
literally bursting onto the political scene riding on a tractor,
symbolizing his connection with the working man.
92
Under his
rule, Perú went from violence to peace and experienced
significant economic growth and prosperity. Thus, one of the
most digestible narratives of the conflict is that the
government did what was necessary to crush the SL and
restore the country to peace and prosperity, the implication
being that individual human rights sometimes must be
sacrificed in pursuit of peace and security for all. This
perspective about human rights does not align with the
international norms and countering this narrative was one of
the CVR’s goals from the outset. Salomón Lerner Febres, the
lead commissioner for the CVR, says that the CVR was born
with the conviction that the crimes committed should no
longer be portrayed as ‘el costo que se debía pagar’ (the price that
must be paid) for revolution or security.
93
Thus, despite
enjoying broad support at the time of its formation, the CVR
was in some ways contentious from the outset.
Civil society actors and an extensive network of human rights
groups were important in the creation of the CVR and the
91
Root (n 5) 124-25.
92
James F. Smith, ‘Outsider Not Surprised by Edge in Polls:
Peru: His opponent for president is closing the gap. But the
Japanese-Peruvian front-runner maintains his backers are a
majority’ Los Angeles Times (May 26, 1990)
llosa> accessed 21 December 2018.
93
Salomón Lerner Febres, La Rebelión de la Memoria (Centro de
Estudios y Publicaciones 2004) 200.
230 SLJ 6(1)
dissemination of its findings.
94
These groups helped ensure the
creation of the CVR in the narrow window in which it was a
political possibility
95
and helped to publish the report in an
abbreviated form.
96
They also channelled international norms
about human rights and the relative procedures,
97
pushing
Perú to adhere to international standards for human rights and
to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
and the Inter-American Convention on the Forced
Disappearances of Persons.
98
The Government
The government of Fujimori collapsed in November 2000
99
and was replaced by a duly elected government about nine
months later. In the brief interim, a government headed by
Valentín Paniagua established the CVR.
100
This was the perfect
window to establish the CVR: the former government could
not take action to stop its creation, and the new government,
which might wish to avoid the divisive issues it would raise,
had not been elected. Even the duly elected government was
concerned that they could have been incriminated by the CVR
for not establishing a Truth Commission on their own. As a
result, the exploitation of this window was key.
101
94
Root (n 5) 44.
95
ibid
96
Bakiner (n 15) 141
97
Friedman (n 19) 139-140
98
Root (n 5) 58
99
ibid 40.
100
ibid 44-57.
101
ibid 44-57.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 231
The governments following the establishment of the CVR have
been largely hostile to it and its findings.
102
However, the
broad public support in the early stages of the CVR meant that
administrations had no choice but to formally support it.
103
For
example, Alan Garcia, who was president from 1985 to 1990,
was implicated by the findings of the CVR for his role in the
Fronton massacre, among other acts.
104
Naturally, he had
reason to cast doubt on the veracity of the CVR’s findings. In
more contemporary politics, Fujimori’s children serving as
elected representatives have vigorously contested the findings
of the CVR.
105
Thus, there is tension in the government’s
perspective regarding the CVR.
The Military
The AF have consistently defended their actions by stating that
they were necessary to protect the country.
106
They contend
that they were authorised by the people and the government
to use whatever means necessary to win the war. They also
claim that many of the deaths they caused occurred because
102
ibid 130.
103
Elin Skaar, Jemima García-Godos, & Cath Collins , Transitional
Justice in Latin America: The Uneven Road from Impunity Towards
Accountability (Routledge 2016), 232.
104
Willakuy (n 29) 449-450.
105
Keiko Fujimori, for example, vowed to release her father from
prison if she were elected president, Root (n 5) 126-127 (2012),
and Kenji Fujimori qualified his sister’s apparent approval of the
CVR (see Kenji Fujimori: ‘la CVR nació viciada desde un
principio’, El Comercio,
nacio-viciada-principio-387794)> accessed 21 December 2018.
106
Friedman (n 19) 168
232 SLJ 6(1)
the conflict had no clearly-defined combatants.
107
In 2011, the
AF released a counter-report with the stated goal of giving
voice to the AF.
108
Accordingly, they have never had a positive
perspective on the CVR. Some politicians have even
characterised the report as a ‘Marxist ploy to undermine (…)
the armed forces’.
109
The Revolution
While the CVR attempted to present an unbiased perspective
on the conflict, the act of assigning fault made some acrimony
inevitable.
110
Even in the interview process the CVR seemed
hostile to the combatants, sometimes forcing them to
repudiate their former causes before allowing them to
testify.
111
These factors led the SL and their successors to feel
they were not being treated fairly in the process. Salomón
Lerner Febres stated that the commissioners attempted to
incorporate the voices and perspectives of the SL into their
account, but it is hard to imagine a way in which such an
account could fail to alienate supporters of the SL or the
MRTA.
112
The ‘glorious struggle’ narrative has survived
among the more die-hard supporters, but this is not a popular
perspective.
113
107
Root (n 5) 55
108
Friedman (n 19) 163-164
109
Root (n 5) 93
110
Friedman (n 19) 146
111
ibid 143
112
Lerner Febres (n 93) 203
113
Estado de Miedo (n 32)
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 233
In the early days of the transition, the new government of Perú
took pains to reintegrate the country into the Inter-American
Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and to set new standards for
what was meant by an ‘interruption’ of democracy in the
Organization of American States.
114
While the international
community did not significantly interfere or opine on the
violence during the conflict, some decisions in international
courts after Fujimori’s resignation had important impacts on
both the CVR and the reconciliation process more generally.
For example, the Barrios Altos case in 2001 was critical in
ensuring that amnesty was not granted by the government to
state actors.
115
In that case, the IACHR declared amnesty laws
illegal and assigned fault to the Peruvian state for a specific
massacre.
116
This decision made it clear that amnesty for those
responsible for violence contravened international law.
117
Some international decisions had profound social impacts on
the process of reconciliation. One of these had to do with a U.S.
citizen, Lori Berenson, who was convicted for aiding the
MRTA.
118
The IACHR required Perú to pay Berenson’s legal
fees, totalling in the tens of thousands of dollars. The contrast
between these payments and the sluggish reparations sparked
a national debate about who should be the beneficiary of the
state’s reconciliation efforts.
119
Another decision by the
114
Root (n 5) 60-62.
115
Barrios Altos v. Peru, Merits, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R.
(ser. C) No. 75 (14 March 2001).
116
Root (n 5) 65.
117
ibid.
118
ibid 105.
119
ibid 139.
234 SLJ 6(1)
IACHR, Penal Miguel Castro Castro v Perú, required that the
names of certain SL members who had been victims of
government violence should be included among the other
names in a memorial to the victims of the violence (‘El Ojo que
Llora the Crying Eye).
120
This decision disrupted the victim-
perpetrator dichotomy from the popular narrative and forced
Perú to consider whether terrorists could also be ‘victims’ of
this conflict.
121
The debate is ongoing, and re-integration of
combatants has proven to be one of the most complex parts of
the reconciliation process.
122
The current international perspective on the CVR itself is that
the project was successful.
123
The CVR has been hailed for its
rigour and has provided an example for subsequent TCs.
124
It
is likely that the establishment and execution of the CVR, as
well as other measures taken during the transition, were
important steps in increasing international credibility after the
conflict.
125
IV. Assessing the CVR
So, did the CVR succeed? It is hard to say. To start, it is difficult
to measure or quantify the effects of the CVR. The concrete
impacts flowing directly from the actions and findings of the
CVR are limited, and the recommendations and prosecutions
120
ibid 143.
121
ibid.
122
See Theidon (n 40).
123
Root (n 5) 97.
124
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 248.
125
Root (n 5) 61.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 235
are fading further into history. It is tempting to cabin the
proceedings as belonging mostly to the period of transition,
with little relevance today.
126
Still, the CVR is widely
considered to be a success according to its mandate, and the
findings in the report are the definitive version of events
between 1980 and 2000.
127
Despite its limited direct impact,
significant social impacts stem from the work of the CVR.
The most important of these impacts relates to repairing the
social fabric in Perú, which was torn asunder in a conflict that
revealed fundamental fissures in the constitution of the nation.
While there is a desire in Perú to end the years of conflict and
strife and move on toward the prosperous future, the country
is still coming to terms with the conflict itself and with the
circumstances that gave rise to it.
128
Despite it having ended
almost twenty years ago, the dust has not settled on the
memory of the conflict and a ‘politics of memory’ persists in
shaping the larger narrative of Peruvian history.
129
In other senses, the CVR was perhaps less successful. The
judicial impacts and reparations have been hampered by
shaky implementation and uncertain funding.
130
However,
because the CVR was a fundamentally social endeavour, its
institutional impacts are best measured by their social
126
Bakiner (n 15) 136.
127
Root (n 5) 97.
128
Interview with Juan Carlos Arrunátegui, Professor of
Sociology at Universidad Puruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (12
February 2018).
129
See Friedman (n 19).
130
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 247.
236 SLJ 6(1)
ramifications. Thus, after attempting to look at the more
quantifiable accomplishments, I turn my attention to the social
role of each achievement of the CVR. While there has been
debate about the value of a TC since the CVR’s inception, it is
my contention that the CVR has had important impacts on the
Peruvian society, which can still be felt today, despite its
failure to create a significant institutional change. By creating
a stage for dialogue about the conflict and giving voice to those
populations that had historically been marginalized, the CVR
has helped to lay the groundwork for a workable and lasting
reconciliation.
As mentioned above, the decreto that established the CVR laid
out four goals for the commission. The CVR was to analyse the
circumstances under which the violence took place, create
proposals for reparations to the victims, investigate and
prosecute certain crimes connected with the conflict, and
recommend institutional reforms.
131
I explore each of these
goals below.
‘Analysing the Circumstances’: The Truth
Few had a clear picture of the conflict at the time when the
CVR was established. The exaggerated distance between the
rural and the urban population in Perú during the conflict
meant that there was an impediment to communication in
both directions. Communities in the Andes were often
131
Decreto Supremo 065-2001-PCM (Crean Comisión de la
Verdad 2001).
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 237
unaware of the situation in the country as a whole
132
and the
SL had to turn into a national threat before the elite in Lima
began to pay much attention to it.
133
A lack of clarity about
what had been happening for the past twenty years provided
little foundation for a national understanding of what had
transpired. Additionally, the SL and the AF used tactics
regarding their perpetrations of violence that exacerbated
uncertainty and obfuscated their respective roles in the
conflict. The SL sought to ‘set an example’ with each of their
massacres, and terror was a mechanism they employed
intentionally.
134
For instance, they left corpses out in the open.
On the other hand, the AF, ostensibly an arm of the
government and therefore accountable for its actions, often
sought to hide its misdeeds.
135
This meant that disappearances
were a preferred tactic and that obfuscation was state -
sponsored.
136
These modi operandi, along with other factors,
contributed to the unavailability of a clear picture of the
conflict and who was responsible to the public when
Fujimori’s regime fell.
Further, Fujimori’s regime maintained a tight grip on
information throughout his time in power. His rule has been
called a ‘media dictatorship’, meaning that part of his control
was established and maintained by controlling the media and
132
Root (n 5) 18.
133
Estado de Miedo (n 32).
134
Root (n 5) 19.
135
ibid 21.
136
Friedman (n 19) 163.
238 SLJ 6(1)
selective disclosure.
137
His reform of the judicial system also
resulted in many of the trials of accused terrorists and
dissidents taking place behind closed doors, and his Grupo
Colina enforcement squad wore no official uniform when they
assassinated dissidents or made them disappear.
138
The
intentional obfuscation under Fujimori compounded other
communication challenges and gave society a reason to be
suspicious about what they heard. The CVR addressed these
issues by creating a holistic account of the violence, from the
historical factors that facilitated it to the events themselves.
They came up with a figure for the total number of victims and
displaced individuals and charted attacks and developments
on a timeline.
139
They took almost 17,000 statements from
victims.
140
They investigated specific incidents, exhuming
mass graves and building a comprehensive story of the
conflict.
141
Detailed knowledge of what happened was crucial
to the prosecutions that ensued and to giving closure to the
victims, and the historical framework helped the nation
understand just what happened and what it would require to
move forward.
137
Paul Alonso, ‘Peruvian Infotainment: From Fujimori’s Media
Dictatorship to Democracy’s Satire’ (2016) Bulletin of Latin
American Research 210.
138
Root (n 5) 31-34.
139
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 231.
140
ibid.
141
ibid.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 239
Giving a voice to victims
One of the most important impacts of the CVR was that it gave
the victims the opportunity to be heard at a national level.
142
As mentioned previously, there was a significant void
between the rural and urban parts of the nation.
143
The
wealthier urban population circulated longstanding narratives
about the backwardness of the indigenous populations, and
the lack of social mobility and education meant that the
indigenous were often seen in Lima only in the context of the
desborde popular’ (the overflow of the masses) from rural to
urban areas.
144
Thus, being able to speak was a crucial step
towards telling the story of the conflict from the perspective of
the most impacted. The involvement in the national dialogue
was a critical assertion of a citizenship that had long been
withheld. Indeed, it has been suggested that the opportunity
to speak in this context can be seen as a performative
constitution of citizenship.
145
Salomón Lerner Febres, in a speech shortly after the
completion of the final report, said that he and the other
commissioners conceived the CVR as primarily victim-
centred. One of the goals that he highlighted is crafting a story
that focused on the voices of those who were most affected in
the conflict and those that have been traditionally
142
Interview with Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Professor at University
of California Hastings (San Francisco, January 2018).
143
Willakuy (n 29) 20.
144
See Matos Mar (n 23).
145
Bakiner (n 15) 59.
240 SLJ 6(1)
marginalized in Perú.
146
Thus, the voice of affected indigenous
communities was prominent in the work of the CVR from the
outset. Public hearings were held in Lima and in Ayacucho
(the epicentre of the violence), and people whose dominant
language was Quechua were able to testify in their native
tongue.
147
The stories of these individuals helped the
commission to piece together what had happened in the
highlands and to begin to estimate the gravity of the abuses
that took place.
Creating space in which to engage over memories
The dialogue about what happened and how to reconcile the
country is complicated and splintered. At the outset of the
CVR, some flatly rejected the idea of reconciliation with
terrorists.
148
Their narrative was that the Fujimori
administration had done what was necessary to suppress a
violent rebellion and that the terrorists were entirely
responsible. Even now, there is still contention about ideas that
complicate the good/bad dichotomy that characterizes this
narrative, such as the international imposition of the idea,
mentioned above, and that members of the SL are victims of
violence.
149
Some victims’ groups have asserted that there is
limited utility in seeking reconciliation, preferring to look
ahead rather than behind.
150
The multiplicity of perspectives
and the paucity facts meant that when the CVR was created it
146
Lerner Febres (n 93) 198.
147
Friedman (n 19) 147.
148
Root (n 5) 8.
149
ibid 144.
150
Friedman (n 19) 166.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 241
was all but impossible to engage in a dialogue about what had
happened and how to move forward.
The conflict created and reflected deep ruptures in the state.
The most profound of these ruptures is that between
indigenous communities and the state. Many of the victims felt
that they had been betrayed by the state in its handling of the
crisis: ‘they killed us as if we weren’t part of Perú’, said one
campesino in an interview.
151
The SL’s terrorist policies also
reflected a deep mistrust of the state and a total refusal to
engage with its mechanisms. The terror reached the urban
populace when the SL detonated car bombs in Lima.
152
This
fear and the sense of ‘otherness’ it generated with respect to
the SL further enlarged the void between the rural and the
urban. The violence therefore came to affect almost everyone
in the country. This story means that dialogue is both critical
to restoring trust and exceptionally challenging bring about.
This social dialogue takes a variety of forms. There are
memorials to the victims such as el Ojo que Llora (‘The Eye that
Cries’), a sculpture that is set in a labyrinth of stones, each
bearing the name of a victim of the conflict.
153
This monument,
which was initially envisioned as a tribute to those who died
during the violence, has been the site of further negotiations
about the memory of the conflict. In 2006, the IACHR held that
certain members of the SL who had been the victims of a
government massacre had to be listed among the victims as
151
ibid 152.
152
Estado de Miedo (n 32).
153
Root (n 5) 143.
242 SLJ 6(1)
well, sparking intense controversy.
154
This gritty negotiation of
agency and victimhood touches on the most challenging
aspects of reintegration and reconciliation and is essential to
the social conversation that will allow the country to move
forward.
Numerous films and works of art have dealt with the impacts
of the conflict. Films like Magallanes, Boca del Lobo, and La Teta
Asustada show different perspectives on the conflict. Boca del
Lobo focuses on the actions of the AF in the sierra of Perú,
showing the complexity of the conflict. La Teta Asustada, on the
other hand, makes almost no reference to the violence itself
beyond telling the story of a brutal rape at the beginning of the
film. The rest of the film dwells on the echoes of violence that
still shape the lives of the survivors and their children.
Magallanes straddles these two approaches, connecting
violence in the sierra with the challenge of rebuilding one’s life
in the city. Two of these films have powerful dramatic
episodes near the end in which a victim gives a monologue in
Quechua, decrying the abuses she has suffered and
demanding an audience in a way that draws parallels to the
hearings from the CVR. These works serve to renegotiate and
re-establish the roles within and the significance of the conflict
as Perú moves farther away from the violence, and they make
use of the shared social stage which has been opened by the
CVR and its elucidation of the violence.
154
ibid 144.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 243
V. Reparations
In contrast to the truth-seeking and prosecutorial functions of
the CVR, reparations are a more forward-looking response to
the violence.
155
The idea that drives reparations is that they will
help to heal the divide between the state and the victims and
establish a new social contract.
156
Reparations take on
additional importance in Perú in light of the findings of the
CVR, specifically the determination that historical
marginalization and poverty were some of the root causes of
the violence. In addition to ameliorating the mistrust
generated by the conflict itself, the reparations aspire to erase
or minimize some of the fissures that led to the outbreak of
violence in the first place.
157
Unfortunately, they have been
woefully inadequate for this purpose. In fact, inequality in the
country has grown worse since the conflict, despite the
improvements in the economy.
158
The CVR itself contained recommendations for reparations
and contemplated that they should start immediately, but all
forms of reparations have stalled and fallen short of the
aspirations of the commissioners.
159
Perú passed a law
regarding reparations in 2005, about two years after the
publication of the final report.
160
The Plan Integral de
155
Root (n 5) 128.
156
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 241.
157
Root (n 5) 139.
158
ibid.
159
ibid 130-31.
160
ibid 131.
244 SLJ 6(1)
Reparaciones (the Holistic Reparations Plan) laid out the
definition of a ‘victim’ for legal purposes and established a
framework for both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ reparations. The law
proposed monetary reparations, community projects, and
symbolic reparations.
161
As of 2018, the government of Perú claims that reparations
programs have had more than 84,000 beneficiaries.
162
However, this figure does not clarify whether it refers to
individuals given monetary reparations or individuals who
have benefitted from any sort of reparation. Community and
non-monetary reparations could inflate such a number
drastically without providing a significant benefit to
individuals.
163
Additionally, there is no information available
on the CMAN (‘Comisión Multisectoral de Alto Nivel’ the High-
Level Multilateral Commission, the agency in charge of
administering reparations) website about how much each
161
Decreto Supreme No. 015-2006-JUS Aprueban Reglamento
de la Ley No.28592, Ley que crea el Plan Integral de
Reperaciones (June 2006).
162
Comisión Multisectorial de Alto Nivel, ‘Gobieron Acordó
Destinar S/ 33Milliones para Reparaciones a Víctimas del
Terrorismo’ (2017), https://cman.minjus.gob.pe/gobierno-
acordo-destinar-s-33-millones-para-reparaciones-a-victimas-del-
terrorismo/> accessed 20 December 2018.
163
This article, for example, suggests that the amounts claimed
cover individual and collective reparations. ‘Perú lidera
reparaciones a víctimas del terrorismo en la region, señala
Jiménez’, Andina (Washington DC, 11 November 2014),
accessed 21
December 2018.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 245
victim was paid in the case of monetary reparations.
164
Flawed
delivery of reparations, coupled with a lack of transparency,
has meant that reparation efforts have not had a dramatic
impact in post-conflict Perú.
165
Monetary Reparations
There has not been a great deal of progress on issuing
monetary reparations.
166
In talks with the inhabitants of the
rural areas in the years after the law was passed, the Instituto
de Defensa Legal (Legal Defence Institute) (IDL) found that
many did not know what the reparations were.
167
Some
monetary reparations had apparently been given, but none of
those interviewed by the IDL felt that the amounts came
anywhere near what they would characterize as a good faith
reparation.
168
Despite the multiple promises of future
payments,
169
there is little documentation about payments that
164
Comisión Multisectorial de Alto Nivel, ‘Programa de
Reparaciones Económicas’,
de-reparaciones-
economicas-2/> accessed 7 May 2018.
165
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 244.
166
Bakiner (n 15) 115.
167
Sinthya Rubio Escolar, ‘Instituto de Defensa Legal, La
Reparación a las Víctimas del Conflicto Armado en Peru: la Voz
de las Víctimas’ (2013) 31.
168
ibid 32.
169
El Espectador, ‘See Por reparación, familiares de víctimas recibirán
$17 milliones’, (8 June 2012)
familiares-de-victimas-recibiran-17-millones-articulo-352121>
accessed 20 December 2018
246 SLJ 6(1)
have actually happened. As of 2014, the Defensoría del Pueblo
estimated that 54,856 individuals had been paid money
reparations averaging 3,359 soles (about $1,100 at the time).
170
Money totalling about $10,000,000 was set aside in 2017 for aid
to ‘vulnerable populations’ in connection with the violence,
but the lack of records and transparency means that it is
difficult to understand what this money will be used for and
how it will impact victims.
171
The process of identifying victims has been slow and fraught
with political issues, and there has not been a strong political
will to issue payments.
172
One of the most problematic
complications has been that the law on reparations states that
Perú21, ‘Entregarán reparaciones económicas a 232 víctimas de
violencia terrorista’, (14 December 2016)
232-victimas-violencia-terrorista-235865> accessed 20 December
2018
El Comercio, ‘Minjus Prevé S/ 10 mlls. en reparaciones
económicas para 2017’(27 September 2016),
10-mlls-
reparaciones-economicas-2017-263928> accessed 20 December
2018.
170
Defensoría del Pueblo, ‘Balance del Nivel de Cumplimiento
del Programa de Reparaciones Económicas Individuales’ (2014),
7-8.
171
Gestión, ‘Mercedes Aráoz firma decreto para reparación de
victimas por S/ 33 milliones’ (27 December 2017)
https://gestion.pe/peru/mercedes-araoz-firma-decreto-
reparacion-victimas-s-33-millones-223686> accessed 20
December 2018.
172
International Center for Transitional Justice, ‘Reparations in
Peru: From Recommendations to Implementation’ (2013) 1.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 247
a ‘victim’ cannot have been a member of a subversive
organization, although international law seems to militate
against this stance.
173
Thus, the reparations programmes have
been met by controversy since their earliest stages as the
country negotiates the finer shades of meaning in the loaded
term ‘victim.’
Commissioner Salomón Lerner Febres notes that the failure of
the monetary reparations has disposed many to feel negatively
about the CVR.
174
This makes sense because reparations were
one of the most concrete ways in which victims had hoped to
see the state express a genuine commitment to improving the
situation that surrounded the violence. One of the greatest
failures in terms of reparations actually relates to Fujimori: for
his human rights abuses, he was ordered to pay around 30
million soles in civil reparations, but at the time of his release
in 2018 he had not paid a single sol.
175
Community Projects
Community projects as a form of reparations mostly comprise
improvements in infrastructure and services.
176
However,
many questions why basic government services, which the
173
Root (n 5) 131.
174
ibid 139.
175
Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos, ‘Registro de
Deudores de Reparaciones Civiles por Delitos en Agravio del
Estado por Delitos de Corupción’
erWeb#> accessed 20 December 2018.
176
Root (n 5) 136-37.
248 SLJ 6(1)
state should ostensibly seek to provide in any case, should
count as reparations.
177
Additionally, many projects that were
supposed to be administered as reparations have been co-
opted by politicians in a way that has masked their value as
reparations.
178
As determinations about individual reparations grew more
complicated, the Garcia administration decided to start on
collective reparations in 2007.
179
As of 2013, the International
Centre for Transitional Justice found that fewer than 2,000
communities, out of the 5,697 that had been identified as
deserving reparations, had received reparations.
180
Though
completed projects have been positive in terms of their
community engagement and as a means for renewal of
infrastructure, systemic issues remain: few feel that these
projects met their reparative needs, and more than 70 percent
were not even aware that the projects were intended to serve
as reparations.
181
Symbolic Reparations
Some reparations have taken the form of actions by the state,
which seek to heal and promote reconciliation in
177
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 244.
178
Sinthya Rubio Escolar, ‘Instituto de Defensa Legal, La
Reparación a las Víctimas del Conflicto Armado en Peru: la Voz
de las Víctimas’ (2013), 32.
179
International Center for Transitional Justice, ‘Reparations in
Peru: From Recommendations to Implementation’ (2013), 11.
180
ibid 12.
181
ibid 14.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 249
predominately symbolic ways.
182
Because many state actions
can have symbolic content, the lines are fuzzy as to what
exactly falls into this category, and some state actions may be
reclassified as ‘symbolic’ for political gain. The Ojo que Llora,
discussed above, was one such symbolic reparation.
183
There
have been a number of other small parks and plaques, but the
greatest achievement in this vein is almost certainly the Lugar
de la Memoria.
184
The Lugar de la Memoria (‘the Place of the Memory’) (LUM) is
not intended to be a museum. It gives space to the plurality
and subjectivity of the perspectives about the conflict and
‘does not seek to be a place of certainties’.
185
While the AF
derided the institution before it opened, the LUM has
embraced its mandate to show the complexity of the conflict.
Rather than simplifying the history, the LUM seeks to treat the
conflict in non-judgmental terms, largely reflecting the
findings of the CVR.
186
Health, Education, and Social Services as Reparations
Reparations programmes include mental and physical health
services for those disabled by the conflict as well as
182
Root (n 5) 140.
183
ibid 143.
184
ibid.
185
Ministerio de Cultura, ‘Lugar de la Memoria’
accessed 7 May
2018.
186
Root (n 5) 146.
250 SLJ 6(1)
scholarship programmes.
187
The health services programmes
have been largely underfunded and hard to access, and
scholarships have been challenging to acquire.
188
Students and
advocate groups generally have to actively pressure
universities for each individual scholarship.
189
In 2016, the
government approved the transfer of scholarships from direct
victims to their children and grandchildren.
190
This move
expanded the reach of these measures and will hopefully have
a greater impact on the cycle of poverty. Another problem
faced by many in the poorest parts of the country, which was
exacerbated by the conflict and in turn complicated the post-
conflict administration of justice and reparations, is the
traditionally overly limited access to identification
documents.
191
The government has sought to give citizens
greater access to such documents and has classed this as
reparation but this is one of the most blatant examples of the
government rebranding as reparations what should be basic
services.
192
187
ibid 138.
188
ibid.
189
ibid.
190
La República, ‘Hijos y nietos de víctimas del terrorismo
pordrán acceder a Beca 18’,
https://larepublica.pe/sociedad/739288-familiares-directos-de-
victimas-del-terrorismo-podran-acceder-beca-18> accessed 6
February 2016.
191
Root (n 5) 137-38.
192
ibid 137-38.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 251
VI. Judicial and Institutional Impacts
The CVR recommended certain prosecutions for the
individuals involved in crimes related to the violence.
Additionally, decisions from the IACHR obliged Perú to give
fair trials to the Senderistas and the members of the AF alike.
193
These trials demonstrated that the state was willing and able
to hold violators accountable and had the effect of increasing
the domestic and international perception of the rule of law.
Prosecutions
Given this was a complex conflict in which a number of parties
played culpable roles, there are multiple dynamics in terms of
prosecutions. The Senderistas and MRTAistas have historically
been the least popular groups, and trials for their crimes began
to take place under Fujimori.
194
However, many of these trials
were declared unfair by the IACHR because they were
administered by the ‘faceless judges,’ and retrials of these
individuals have proven contentious.
195
Members of the AF
have been insulated from prosecution by amnesty laws, which
193
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 238
Also see Loayza-Tamayo v. Perú, Merits, Judgment, Inter- Am.
Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 33 (Sep. 17, 1997), Castillo Petruzzi et al. v
Peru, Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct.
H.R. (ser. C) No. 52 (May 30, 1999), Cesti-Hurtado v. Perú,
Merits, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 56 (Sep. 29,
1999), and Cantoral-Benavidez v. Perú, Merits, Judgment, Inter-
Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 69 (Aug. 18, 2000).
194
Root (n 5) 31.
195
ibid 102.
252 SLJ 6(1)
were repealed after Fujimori’s resignation, and subsequently
by the continuing support of the AF.
196
The AF asserts that its
members should be tried in military courts, where the
standards will be different than in civilian courts.
197
Even
though the Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that violators should
be tried in civilian courts, the AF continues to assert its
jurisdiction, which delays cases and ‘muddies the legal
waters’.
198
There have been prosecutions of some high-profile violators,
but these appear to have been primarily symbolic. Fujimori
was the headliner, but, as mentioned before, actors like Alan
Garcia were never tried, even though the CVR found him and
his administration responsible for a number of abuses.
199
Still,
the fact that Fujimori was brought to justice was seen as
tremendously significant. Many considered his conviction to
be part of a ‘justice cascade’ in Latin America and a majority
of Peruvians (and international observers) believed that the
trial respected Fujimori’s right to due process.
200
Thus, this
trial affirmed that justice could be done even where it
pertained to the highest levels of the government, and
affirmed that Peruvian courts could administer justice fairly
and without prejudice.
196
Skaar, García-Godos, & Collins (n 103) 233.
197
Root (n 5) 113.
198
ibid.
199
Bakiner (n 15) 137.
200
Root (n 5) 125.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 253
Re-establishing the Rule of Law
According to the estimation by the World Justice Project’s Rule
of Law Index, the rule of law in Perú is at acceptable levels.
The data from this estimation indicate that Peruvians are
generally free from arbitrary interference, but the organisation
gave low scores for government corruption.
201
The idea that
politicians and institutions are corrupt is one that is widely
held in Perú.
202
The data from the World Bank indicate that the
rule of law is strengthening steadily in Perú since its transition
to democracy
203
but still puts it at 126 out of the 193 ranked
countries.
204
According to a recent article in the Miami Herald,
Perú has recently been seen as a regional leader in terms of its
commitment to the rule of law.
205
Fujimori’s pardon may
blemish that representation, but whether it will materially
affect the strength of the rule of law will depend on public
201
World Justice Project, ‘Rule of Law Index 2016’
of-law-index-2016> accessed
20 December 2018.
202
Interview with Juan Carlos Arrunátegui, Professor of
Sociology at Universidad Puruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (12
February 2018).
203
Globaleconomy.com, ‘Peru: Rule of Law Index’,
accessed 21 December 2018.
204
Globaleconomy.com, ‘Rule of Law – Country Data from
Around the World’,
accessed 21 December 2018.
205
Miami Herald, ‘Peru’s Test on Respect for Rule of Law’
ed/article38141850.html> accessed 7 October 2015.
254 SLJ 6(1)
perception of the pardon and on factors beyond the scope of a
single action.
Conclusion
Despite failing to force rapid or dramatic change, the CVR has
proven profoundly impactful.
206
It laid a solid foundation for
prosecutions and put some of those responsible for atrocities
behind bars. It initiated reparations, which have, despite many
failings, provided monetary and educational support to
victims of the conflict. Most importantly, it created a definitive
account of what transpired between 1980 and 2000 which has
opened the door to the social process of reconciliation. The
latter achievement has had a significant impact, both revealing
the foundational challenges faced by Perú as a nation and
providing a bank of facts to which the country can refer as it
processes the atrocities and forges ahead.
It is true that multiple narratives about the conflict and the
CVR coexist in contemporary Perú. Further, the fact that the
CVR no longer occupies a prominent role in the public
discourse may make it seem like the findings are being ignored
or forgotten. I would say, however, that it indicates the
opposite: the findings, while still disputed, have been
assimilated into the national consciousness and the history of
Perú. The shared experience exposed by the CVR illuminates
the workings of contemporary Perú and allows lawmakers,
academics, and citizens to work pragmatically from a single
factual foundation.
206
ibid 97.
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 255
Fujimori’s arrest and sentencing symbolized a new page in the
Peruvian history. It marked the end of impunity for politicians
and the AF. This reflected an ambition to move towards a more
just and successful Perú. However, Fujimori’s release seems to
be a step backwards in this regard and it remains to be seen
how this development will impact the perception of Perú’s
adherence to the rule of law at home and abroad. Still, while
Fujimori’s release may reflect poorly on the progress that Pe
has made towards these goals, it does not undermine the
crowning accomplishment of the CVR: the balanced
exposition of a complex and unsavoury truth. Because the
truth is such an important tool in reconciliation, as long as this
accomplishment remains unblemished, the value of the CVR
cannot be nullified.
256 SLJ 6(1)
Bibliography
Primary Sources
Barrios Altos v. Peru, Merits, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R.
(ser. C) No. 75 (14 March 2001)
Decreto Supreme No. 015-2006-JUS Aprueban Reglamento
de la Ley No.28592, Ley que crea el Plan Integral de
Reperaciones (June 2006)
Decreto Supremo 065-2001-PCM (Crean Comisión de la
Verdad 2001)
Decreto Supremo 065-2001-PCM (Crean Comisión de la
Verdad 2001)
Decreto Supremo 065-2001-PCM (Crean Comisión de la
Verdad 2001)
Decreto Supremo 101-2001-PCM (Modifican Denominación
de la Comisión de la Verdad por la Comisión de la Verdad y
Reconciliación 2001)
Secondary Sources
Books
Bakiner O, Truth Commission: Memory, Power and Legitimacy
(Univ. of Pa. Press, 2016)
Brandenburg H & Orzel M, When Two Worlds Collide (2016)
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 257
Freeman F, Truth Commissions and Procedural
Fairness (Cambridge University Press 2006)
Friedman R, Competing Memories (Cambridge University
Press 2017)
Lerner Febres S, La Rebelión de la Memoria (Centro de Estudios
y Publicaciones 2004)
Root RK, Transitional Justice in Peru (Palgrave Macmillan
2012)
Skaar E, García-Godos J, & Collins C, Transitional Justice in
Latin America: The Uneven Road from Impunity Towards
Accountability (Routledge 2016)
Skaar E, Gianella Malca C, & Eide T, After Violence:
Transitional Justice, Peace, and Democracy (Routledge 2015)
Theidon K, Intimate Enemies (Univ. of Penn. Press, 2013)
Van der Wolf W, Tofan C, and de Ruiter D (eds.), National
Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Facts and Materials IX
(International Courts Association 2011)
Willakuy H, Versión abreviada del Informa Final de la Comision
de la Verdad y Reconciliación (comisión de la Verdad y
Reconciliación 2004)
258 SLJ 6(1)
Journal Articles
Alonso P, ‘Peruvian Infotainment: From Fujimori’s Media
Dictatorship to Democracy’s Satire’ (2016) Bulletin of Latin
American Research 210
Escolar SR, ‘Instituto de Defensa Legal, La Reparación a las
Víctimas del Conflicto Armado en Peru: la Voz de las
Víctimas’ (2013) 31
Estado de Miedo ‘Estado de Miedo’ (Morena Films 2005)
International Center for Transitional Justice, ‘Reparations in
Peru: From Recommendations to Implementation’ (2013) 1
International Center for Transitional Justice, ‘Reparations in
Peru: From Recommendations to Implementation’ (2013) 11
Milton CE, ‘The Truth Ten Years On: The CVR in Peru’ in
Eugenia Allier-Montaño and Emilio Crenzel (eds), The
Struggle for Memory in Latin America Recent History and
Political Violence (Palgrave Macmillan 2015) 126
Websites
‘El indulto y la reconciliación nacional’ El Montonero (26
December 2017) l-indulto-y-
la-reconciliacion-nacional> accessed 21 December 2018
‘Indulto de Kuczynski a Fujimori bajo sospecha de ser un
acuerdo político’ El Nuevo Día (Lima, 25 December 2017)
ta/indultod
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 259
ekuczynskiafujimoribajosospechadeserunacuerdopolitico-
2385045/> accessed 21 December 2018
‘La ONU lamenta indulto humanitario a Fujimori’ Proceso (26
December 2017) 361/la-
onu-lamenta-indulto-humanitario-fujimori> accessed 21
December 2018
‘Multitudinaria prostesa en Perú por el ‘insulto’ del indulto a
Fujimori’ La Vanguardia (Lima, 29 December 2018),
229/43393
6886935/multitudinaria-protesta-peru-insulto-indulto-
fujimori.html> accessed 21 December 2018
‘Perú lidera reparaciones a víctimas del terrorismo en la
region, señala Jiménez’, Andina (Washington DC, 11
November 2014),
4> accessed
21 December 2018
Comisión Multisectorial de Alto Nivel, ‘Gobieron Acordó
Destinar S/ 33Milliones para Reparaciones a Víctimas del
Terrorismo’ (2017), gobierno-
acordo-destinar-s-33-millones-para-reparaciones-a-victimas-
del-terrorismo/> accessed 20 December 2018
Comisión Multisectorial de Alto Nivel, ‘Programa de
Reparaciones Económicas’,
de-reparaciones-
economicas-2/> accessed May 7, 2018
260 SLJ 6(1)
Defensoría del Pueblo, ‘Balance del Nivel de Cumplimiento
del Programa de Reparaciones Económicas Individuales’
(2014), 7-8
Dulitzky A, ‘Dulitzky sobre el indulto: un retroceso a la
verdad y justicia’ (Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos,
25 December 2017)
ulto-
fujimori-retroceso-la-verdad-la-justicia/> accessed 21
December 2018
EC, ‘Alberto Borea: los cinco momentos de su defense de
PPK’ El Comercio (22 December 2017)
https://elcomercio.pe/politica/alberto-borea-5-momentos-
defensa-ppk-noticia-483315> accessed 20 December 2018
EC, ‘Kenji: Optamos en no apoyar la vacancia votando en
abstención’El Comercio (21 December 2017)
yar-
vacancia-votando-abstencion-noticia-483379> accessed 21
December 2018
EC, ‘PPK no fue vacado por el Congreso de la República’ El
Comercio (2 December 2017)
o-
republica-noticia-483477> accessed 20 December 2018
EFE Agencia, ‘Vacancia presidencial: Frente Amplio y Nuevo
Perú presentan pedido para destituir a PPK’ Gestión (1
February 2018)
presidencial-frente-amplio-y-nuevo-peru-presentan-pedido-
destituir-ppk-226285> accessed 20 December 2018
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 261
El Comercio, ‘Minjus Prevé S/ 10 mlls. en reparaciones
económicas para 2017’(27 September 2016),
ve-s-10-
mlls-reparaciones-economicas-2017-263928> accessed 20
December 2018
El Espectador, ‘See Por reparación, familiares de víctimas
recibirán $17 milliones’, (8 June 2012)
ca/reparacion-
familiares-de-victimas-recibiran-17-millones-articulo-352121>
accessed 20 December 2018
Fujimori K, ‘la CVR nació viciada desde un principio’, El
Comercio, iones/kenji-
fujimori-cvr-nacio-viciada-principio-387794)> accessed 21
December 2018
Gestión, ‘Mercedes Aráoz firma decreto para reparación de
victimas por S/ 33 milliones’ (27 December 2017)
https://gestion.pe/peru/mercedes-araoz-firma-decreto-
reparacion-victimas-s-33-millones-223686> accessed 20
December 2018
Globaleconomy.com, ‘Peru: Rule of Law Index’,
leoflaw/>
accessed 21 December 2018
Globaleconomy.com, ‘Rule of Law – Country Data from
Around the World’,
_ruleofla
w/> accessed 21 December 2018
262 SLJ 6(1)
Hinojosa G, ‘Indulto a Fujimori: los jóvenes volvieron a
liderar la protesta’ La República (29 December 2017)
olvieron-
a-liderar-la-protesta> accessed 20 December 2018
IAHCR, ‘IAHCR Expresses Deep Concern and Questions the
Presidential Pardon Granted to Alberto Fujimori’
(Organization of American States, 29 December 2017)
leases/2017/2
18.asp> accessed 21 December 2018
Interview with Juan Carlos Arrunátegui, Professor of
Sociology at Universidad Puruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (12
February 2018)
Interview with Juan Carlos Arrunátegui, Professor of
Sociology at Universidad Puruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (12
February 2018)
Interview with Naomi Roht-Arriaza, Professor at University
of California Hastings (San Francisco, January 2018)
Jumpa AP, ‘7 Años de Conflicto de Bagua: la Sentencia Sobre
los Hechos de la ‘Curva del Diablo’ y su Legitimidad’,
(AgroEnfoque, February 2017) lumnas/7-
anos-del-conflicto-de-bagua-la-sentencia-sobre-los-hechos-
de-la-curva-del-diablo-y-su-legitimidad/>, accessed
December 21 2018
La República, ‘Hijos y nietos de víctimas del terrorismo
pordrán acceder a Beca 18’,
https://larepublica.pe/sociedad/739288-familiares-directos-
Truth and Reconciliation in Peru 263
de-victimas-del-terrorismo-podran-acceder-beca-18>
accessed 6 Feb 2016
La República, ‘Los 4 indultos que ha dado el Gobierno en la
vispera de Navidad’ La República (24 December 2017)
s-que-ha-
dado-el-gobierno-en-la-vispera-de-navidad> accessed 20
December 2018
Matos Mar J, ‘Desborde Popular y Crisis del Estado: Viente
Años Después (Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú 2004)
23
Miami Herald, ‘Peru’s Test on Respect for Rule of Law’
ed/article38141850.html> accessed 7 October 2015
Ministerio de Cultura, ‘Lugar de la Memoria’
accessed 7
May 2018
Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos, ‘Registro de
Deudores de Reparaciones Civiles por Delitos en Agravio del
Estado por Delitos de Corupción’
WebAction
_verWeb#> accessed 20 December 2018
Páez A and ors, ‘Alberto Fujimori y PPK: Cronica de un
indulto deseado y de una vacancia frustrada’ La República (31
December 2017) 688-
cronica-de-un-indulto-deseado-y-de-una-vacancia-frustrada>
accessed 20 December 2018
264 SLJ 6(1)
Panamericana, ‘Estado Peruano pago costosas
indemnizaciones a terroristas’ (29 April 2016)
39-peruano-
paga-costosas-indemnizaciones-terroristas> accessed 20
December 2018
Perú21, ‘Entregarán reparaciones económicas a 232 víctimas
de violencia terrorista’, (14 December 2016)
onomicas-
232-victimas-violencia-terrorista-235865> accessed 20
December 2018
Reátegui F, ‘Entre el indulto y la vacancia: ‘PPK canejó
nuestras instituciones’’ (OjoPúblico, 26 December 2017),
el-indulto-y-la-vacancia-
ppk-canjeo-nuestras-instituciones> accessed 21 December
2018
Smith JF, ‘Outsider Not Surprised by Edge in Polls: Peru: His
opponent for president is closing the gap. But the Japanese-
Peruvian front-runner maintains his backers are a majority’
Los Angeles Times (May 26, 1990)
272_1_vargas-llosa> accessed 21 December 2018
World Justice Project, ‘Rule of Law Index 2016’
of-law-index-2016>
accessed 20 December 2018

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT