4 andean truths want to avoid thinking of them as ‘bridges,’ ‘translations,’ or efforts to ‘speak for’ or ‘give voice to’ the subaltern. I believe such metaphors overly simplify the processes and imply a certain hierarchy of cultures de-emphasized in these works. Rather, these are aesthetic-political projects that take Andean (rather than Western) culture as a starting point in attempts to propose truly transformative alternatives.
Manchay tiempo: The Time of Fear 7 In what is now one of the most iconic moments in Peruvian history, on May 17, 1980, the day before Peru was to hold its first democratic elections after over a decade of military rule, a group identifying itself as the Partido Comunista Peruano–Sendero Luminoso (The Communist Party of Peru– Shining Path) burnt the election list and ballot boxes in the small highland town of Chuschi, in the department of Ayacucho, symbolically declaring war on the new Peruvian government and launching a violent conflict which would last the next twenty years.8 Initiated in the early 1970s as a splinter group of the Partido Comunista Peruano–Bandera Roja (the Peruvian Communist Party–Red Flag), Shining Path found its intellectual headquarters in the Universidad Nacional de San Cristóbal de Huamanga (National University of San Cristóbal de Huamanga, or UNSCH). The group was led by Abimael Guzmán, a professor of philosophy at that institution, and drew its leadership and activist base from an emerging educated highland middle class. Guzmán, known popularly as ‘Presidente Gonzalo,’ built a significant movement with professors, staff, and students, who began to take their message to the rural population through educational projects and new school initiatives.9 Grounded in Marxist–Leninist principles and declaring an ideological allegiance to Mao Tse Tung and José Carlos Mariátegui, Shining
7 Manchay tiempo is one of the common phrases with which Quechua speakers refer to the Shining Path era. Another is Sasachakuy tiempo, the difficult time. 8 Two years later, rival rebel group Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (Tupac
Amaru Revolutionary Movement, MRTA) launched its first significant public action as well. With its terrorist activities concentrated more intensely, though not exclusively, in Lima, MRTA also contributed to the period’s climate of terror, but on a far lesser scale. The group was responsible for the 1996–1997 seizure and occupation of the Japanese Embassy in Peru, at the end of which its leaders were captured, and the organization effectively neutralized. 9 In an insightful study, Gonzalo Portocarrero argues that Guzmán gained the popularity he had among youth because he was able to develop and successfully articulate a discourse that recognized the oppressed social circumstances of the majority and appealed to their ‘thirst for justice’ (Portocarrero, Profetas del odio). His complex interdisciplinary analysis examines how Guzmán appropriates colonial and evangelical religious discourse in developing a ‘cult of violence’ that, Portocarrero argues, turned ‘many disoriented youth’ into ‘insatiable avengers, into the new tyrants’ (Portocarrero, Profetas del odio, 10). Unless otherwise indicated, all