6 andean truths indigenous populations were largely forced to negotiate between two opposing forces that neither understood their culture nor were concerned with their interests. Jeff Corntassel and Cindy Holder argue that ‘the war between Shining Path and the Peruvian state was a war between alternative visions of modernization and neoliberal reforms: Maoist versus first liberal and then neoliberal visions of what must be done to turn Peru into a modern state. In none of these visions were indigenous communities to be left intact.’12
By the mid-1980s, the counterinsurgency police (known also as sinchis) began to organize civilian peasant groups, the rondas campesinas (peasant patrols) or comités de autodefensa (self-defense committees), their members called ronderos, into increasingly effective resistance against Shining Path.13 The extreme violence and loss of lives went largely unnoticed by the metropolis, until 1992, when Shining Path set off a car bomb on Tarata Street, in front of the Credit Bank in the wealthy Miraflores neighborhood, and brought terrorism to the city. While much of the violence was concentrated in the Andean highlands, the indigenous communities of the Amazon region, particularly the Asháninka, were also gravely affected.14 In 1992, under the presidency of Alberto Fujimori, Guzmán was captured in his hideout in Lima and Shining Path effectively disabled (though the organization perseveres, and occasionally shows its head, to this day). The strong-armed mobilizations of the state in the highlands, widespread corruption, and pervasive human rights violations, however, continued through the Fujimori tenure, until a series of scandals forced the president into exile in 2000 and paved the way for a new democratic era.
Common narratives of the time had the Shining Path and state forces pitted against each other in a violent conflict that saw poor, unsophisticated, rural peasants caught in the crossfire, innocent victims of a war they did not 12 J. Corntassel and C. Holder, ‘Who’s Sorry Now?,’ 481. 13 An excellent analysis of the growth of the rondas is found in Degregori, How Difficult
It Is to Be God, ch. 6, ‘Harvesting Storms: Peasant Rondas and the Defeat of Shining Path in Ayacucho.’ 14 Although the most commonplace narrative, that Shining Path and the military fought in the highlands and the indigenous peoples were caught in the middle, is quite simple, the reality of the Peruvian internal conflict is very complex. While I will be referring to specific historical incidences as this study progresses, a complete historical overview of the period is beyond the scope of my analysis. Some of the excellent histories available in English that capture the complexity of the moment and explore the conflict through various critical lenses are Degregori, How Difficult It Is to Be God; Gorriti, Shining Path; Taylor, Shining Path; and the volume edited by David Scott Palmer, Shining Path of Peru. Jo-Marie Burt’s Political Violence and the Authoritarian State in Peru provides a valuable analysis of the work and impact of Shining Path among the urban poor in Lima. Also of note is Catherine M. Conaghan’s study of the Fujimori presidency, Fujimori’s Peru. These works have each been extremely useful in helping me clarify various themes and topics with which the artistic works examined in this study grapple.