10 andean truths aimed to ‘investigate and make public the truth’ of the previous two decades of internal violence.
In her study of narrative acts in transitional justice efforts, Molly Andrews notes that:
truth commissions act as conduits for collective memory; as individual stories are selected as being somehow representative, these stories come to frame the national experience. Truth commissions are not, however, mere conduits of stories; rather they wield an important influence on which stories are told and how they are to be interpreted. Thus they both produce and are produced by grand national narratives.22 However, the very notion of collective national memory, especially that articulated by state institutions, has recently come into question by many notable theorists. In a broader reflection on the relationship between memory and human rights, Andreas Huyssen suggests we ‘abandon or at least bracket the notion of collective memory altogether.’23 He proposes, ‘In any collectivity, there will inevitably be conflict and struggle over memories that rarely, even within small groups, amount to something one could call collective.’24 This would seem particularly true in an ethnically and culturally heterogeneous context where the large majority of victims of human rights abuses are members of historically marginalized ethnic groups, such as is the case in Peru.
The Peruvian truth commission was the first in Latin America to hold open tribunals. For weeks, thousands of testimonies by mostly indigenous, peasant victims and witnesses were broadcast, live and uninterrupted, on national television. Thus, living rooms in Lima were suddenly filled with the voices, faces, and stories, of serrano (highlander) testifiers. The Informe final, nine volumes plus appendixes made public in elaborate ceremonies in 2003, filled in the blanks, providing statistical data, sociological and historical contexts, and a processing of evidence collected during the two-year fact-gathering enterprise. This processing occurred not only in the Final Report, but also in other products of the Commission, namely, an elaborate website, a large online photographic archive, and the Yuyanapaq photographic exhibit. It was an attempt to focus the process of recovery; even though the Commission was extra-official, composed by the government but independent, in the end it was a Lima-based bureaucratic organization that would determine the whats, whys, and hows of truth gathering and reconciliation in Peru. It is significant to note that of the twelve commissioners, none was indigenous and only one, the ex-President of the University of San Cristóbal de Huamanga in Ayacucho, was a Quechua speaker.
It is beyond the scope of this book to provide a more thorough analysis 22 Molly Andrews, ‘Grand National Narratives,’ 46. 23 Andreas Huyssen, ‘International Human Rights,’ 615. 24 Ibid. 616.