Last week was the 17th anniversary of “La Cantuta” Massacre. Jess and I attended two of the three events that took place during the week. The first was on Tuesday night. Fours speakers talked about the memory of “La Cantuta” and of the fight against impunity, what it meant to finally achieve some justice after 17 years, and what it also means for the future. Gisela Ortiz, the director of operations at EPAF, was the last speaker. Her brother was one of the students forcibly disappeared during the massacre. The family members of the other victims were also there. They wore pictures of their lost loved ones on their shirts. It’s difficult to imagine how terrible it must have been to have a family member taken and killed, and then have that event covered up like nothing happened. Gisela is a powerful speaker. Her emotions and pain were evident when she spoke, and her words affected everyone in the crowd.
On Friday night a catholic mass was held in memory of “La Cantuta” in the historical center of Lima at the Recoleta Church. The mass was precluded by traditional music as part of a march for “La Cantuta” victims, as their entrance to the church and the proceedings. The priest’s sermon was accompanied by several people reading brief statements at the pulpit, and by some very beautiful music. Hayden, a program officer at EPAF, was one of the speakers at the pulpit. At the end the mass, the march of traditional music exited the church as they had entered. Following the mass, the people in attendance gathered outside of the church to listen to the various musicians that played in memory of “La Cantuta.” The concert lasted for a couple of hours, and covered many genres of music, including even a rap trio, and the impressive guitar playing of Gisela’s boyfriend Omar. The following morning an event that was more intimate for the victims’ families took place at “El Ángel” Cemetary, the place where the victims now lie after their exhumation and recovery from the clandestine graves where they were originally placed by the “Collina Group” that murdered them.
On Monday, while having lunch at our usual restaurant, the television happened to be showing the sentencing of Ex President Alberto Fujimori on charges of corruption. Fujimori was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for giving a $15 million bribe to his spy chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. This is the third conviction for Fujimori since his return to Peru. He was already sentenced to 25 years for human rights violations. Montesinos, and ultimately Fujimori himself, were responsible for ordering the Collina Group in “La Cantuta Massacre.”