Friday, August 12, 2011

The Tarnished Path

I hate it that I never followed the news. When I was growing up and even when I was in college – when I should have cared a little bit – things were going on all over the world which barely made a dent in the grey matter of my brain. Even today I don’t follow the news like I should; I guess because it is all rather depressing.

Back in the late 1970s, in central Peru, a professor by the name of Abimael Guzman organized a group called the Shining Path and tried to take over the government. Into the 1980’s his followers destroyed or bombed buildings and murdered many innocent people. When the government stepped in to put an end to things, many more people were murdered, whether followers of the Shining Path movement or not. In total over 50,000 Peruvians died.

I think I may have heard about it on the news, but it didn’t make much of an impression.

Ayacucho, Peru, was one of the hubs of activity at that time. When I volunteered there in 2009, we toured the Museo de la Memoria and learned about this dark time in Peru’s past. Marisol, the young woman who worked at Cross Cultural Solutions in Ayacucho, had been a young girl at the time and shared with us some of the horrors of the 12-year stretch that Guzman’s followers terrorized the country. She remembers being in class and men dressed in army gear would come into the room and randomly call kids out. She never saw those classmates again.

And I know the same kind of stuff has been happening around the world for years and years. When are we going to learn? When is it going to stop?

The memory wall outside of the museum
Ayacucho is known for its retalbos, boxes of varying sizes in which are figurines in scenes, which are usually Biblical in nature. This retalbo, however, shows the bloodshed of the Shining Path.

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