Peru's moment of truth

 CAFOD has welcomed the report of Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission which expresses solidarity with Peruvians as they come to terms with the tragedy that led to the death of nearly 70,000 people in the country's 20 years of war. The war, between 1980 and 2000, pitted the Peruvian state against the insurgent groups Shining Path and MRTA. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (TRC) is one of the most important parts of Peru's push to rebuild democracy after the period of conflict and the corruption of the authoritarian regime of Alberto Fujimori. It seeks to identify the values and attitudes that allowed such a tragedy to take place and highlights the fact that over 75% of the victims were non-Spanish speakers from poor rural communities. It argues that this fact exposes the concealed racism and the attitudes of contempt that persist in Peruvian society almost 200 years after the proclamation of the Republic,. The Commission places the main blame for this tragedy on Shining Path, which, it says: "carried fundamentalist ideology and totalitarian organisation to extremes, saw classes and not individuals, which led it to a complete lack of respect for human persons and the right to life". It also criticises the various political parties that governed Peru during this period for failing to ensure that the necessary military response to terrorism respected moral principles and human rights. For much of this period, members of the Peruvian Congress failed to exercise their duty of scrutiny over the Executive. The Commission also criticises successive Peruvian governments for not giving Peru,s young people the education and career prospects that would have made Shining Path's myths less attractive. Francis McDonagh, CAFOD's Latin America Project officer said: "The report notes that the majority of the Christian Churches resisted these abuses, and singles out our partner, the Episcopal Commission for Social Action (CEAS) as an important actor in this field. The international community must now support the Peruvian people as they begin the process of self-examination and renewal and work to construct a new founding pact between the Peruvian state and Peruvian society and between the members of Peruvian society, so that such abuses cannot happen again. The report was published on August 28th 2003 and copies can be found at

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