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Peru: MOVADEF – The Return of the Shining Path?

In the afternoon of January 20, 2012, the National Elections Board (JNE) issued its decision [es] denying [es], for the second time, the registration of MOVADEF (Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights) as a political party. Social networks were immediately teeming with reactions and the next day traditional media reported extensively about the news. But what is MOVADEF, and why is there so much fuss about it?

If we go along with what MOVADEF's blog says [es], it's about:

[un] movimiento constituido para aportar a la solución de los problemas de nuestro país, de la nación peruana, de nuestro pueblo trabajador y explotado luchando por sus derechos fundamentales y por la democratización de la sociedad peruana.

[a] movement formed to contribute to the solution to the problems of our country, of the Peruvian nation, our people and exploited workers fighting for their fundamental rights and for the democratization of our Peruvian society.

But in the section of their blog dedicated to their newspaper General Amnesty [es] one can see a number from the paper with a front page photo of Abimael Guzmán with text asking for his freedom, which is practically evidence that the movement is a façade for the terrorist movement Sendero Luminoso (SL - Shining Path).

Motion to deny Movadef, photo from the Congress of the Republic of Perú, photo under Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Motion to deny Movadef, photo from the Congress of the Republic of Perú, photo under Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The probability that the application would be approved, together with the annulment [es] of the first resolution denying registration gave rise to sit-ins [es] and protest marches. But many Peruvians are asking: How did this happen? How did a terrorist group that caused so much damage to the country obtain more than 350,000 signatures of support? Is it possible that within our democracy, we are embracing these violent movements?”

In the opinion columns of the media, attempts to answer this are varied. While one proposes [es] bringing back a 1990s song that “mixes terrorism, corruption and the mediocracy of political parties with irony and humor,” another compares [es] MOVADEF's denial of terrorism to the Real Madrid football manager José Mourinho, “saying he wasn't interested in the match with Barcelona [Real Madrid's main rival].”

It has also been mentioned [es] that “this incursion into democracy they now claim” is only “a tactic required by the imprisonment of their leader” and reminds us [es] that “at the time, the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation declared that SL has no place in our democracy.” But as another columnist notes [es]: “What we are seeing these days needs to bring us to a deeper reflection about what else we can do to combat these fanatical ideas.”

However, this isn't something that's come up all of a sudden. As in the 1980s when nobody paid attention to the terrorism until it reached Lima, there have been signals for some time to which nobody has given enough importance. Since 2010 it was already public knowledge [es] that MOVADEF, whose core is made up of members of the acuerdista” (those in favor of the peace accord) [es] faction of SL, would try to become a legal political party.

The blog Apuntes Peruanos (Peruvian Notes) picked up on a couple [es] of facts [es] that pointed towards that decision. More recently, Francisco Canaza, the blogger for Peruvian Notes, noted [es]:

Luego de años de combate legítimo contra la insanía, ciertos sectores de la sociedad peruana han terminado por abandonar la causa del Estado contra el terrorismo e incluso han terminado abrazando a los terroristas. [...] Ese es el marco de pasividad. Una situación en que [se lanza] un panegírico en el que [se] analiza y pondera un supuesto conflicto de “libertad de opinión” aún sabiendo que el tema de fondo es la participación política de un grupo antidemocrático. El falso debate de “libertad de opinión y de ideas” es justamente el argumento de MOVADEF.

After years of legitimate combat against the insanity, certain sectors of Peruvian society have ended up giving up on the State's cause against terrorism and have even ended up embracing the terrorists. This is the framework for passivity. A situation in which a panegyric has been launched to analyze and weigh a supposed conflict of “freedom of opinion”, even knowing that the underlying issue is the political participation of an anti-democratic group. The false argument of “freedom of opinion and ideas” is precisely MOVADEF's argument.

On Ideele Radio's blog, the analyst Carlos Tapia is quoted [es] as stating SL's probable motives in asking for the registration of MOVADEF as a political party:

“Una hipótesis es que al interior del Movadef hayan sectores propiamente senderistas, porque ojo ellos dicen que no son el Partido Comunista del Perú-Sendero Luminoso (PCP-SL). De las 350 mil firmas que han presentado, entre unas 5 mil u 8 mil firmas deben ser de gente seguidora del PCP-SL y el resto es gente ingenua [...] Pero, esos militantes del PCP-SL están presionando para que [Movadef] diga: ‘cuidado, si no nos inscriben nos están cerrando las puertas de la legalidad, por lo tanto –según ellos– se abren las puertas legítimas de la violencia’”

Anotó, sin embargo que la conjetura principal está vinculada a que el propósito del Movadef sería ir acumulando fuerzas para presentar su caso a la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos y argumentar que son una supuesta fuerza democrática víctima de “la derecha bruta, achorada y recalcitrante” porque se le impide su inclusión en el Registro de Organizaciones Políticas del JNE.

One hypothesis is that MOVADEF there are actually senderista factions, because look, they say they are not part of the PCP-SL (Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path). Of the 350,000 signatures that have been submitted, between 5,000 to 8,000 signatures must be PCP-SL supporters and the rest are naïve […] But these members of PCP-SL are pushing MOVADEF to say: “Careful, if they don't register us, they're closing the doors to legitimacy against us, therefore–according to them–it opens the doors to legitimizing violence.”

He noted, however, that the main speculation is tied to MOVADEF's intention of gathering strength to present a case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and argue that they are a so-called democratic force, victim of “the ignorant, rude and recalcitrant right” because it keeps them from being included in the Register of Political Organizations of JNE.

The journalist Jaime del Castillo reacts [es] in his blog to the media appearances of MOVADEF members:

Y que bueno que hayamos escuchado a la propia juventud integrante del MOVADEF decir que el sanguinario y enloquecido criminal ABIMAEL GUZMAN REINOSO no es un TERRORISTA … afirmación que indigna y que subleva … porque dicha declaración en medio televisivo hace unas horas de la mencionada juventud MOVADEF demuestra el altísimo grado de cinismo y de perversión ideológica que ostentan estos TERRORISTAS-EMBOZADOS que pretenden sorprender al Perú democrático …

And how nice that we've heard MOVADEF's own young members declare that the bloodthirsty and crazed criminal ABIMAEL GUZMAN REINOSO is not a TERRORIST … a statement that incenses and infuriates because the declaration made a few hours ago via television by the MOVADEF youth demonstrates the high degree of cynicism and ideological perversion flaunted by these CAMOUFLAGED TERRORISTS who are trying to catch democratic Perú unawares…

Meanwhile, another journalist, Raúl Weiner, talks about [es] the reasons for the disturbing presence of young people among the supporters and activitists for MOVADEF:

El error que creo que se comete en primer lugar es que los que dicen que combaten a Sendero y al MOVADEF, no brindan una explicación creíble sobre ellos, las distintas caras de la violencia y las vías para aprender a vivir en paz, y más bien lo que transmiten es que se mueven en un eterno miedo que quieren que sea el de los demás. [...]  Que un sector político con enormes pasivos por haber encabezado una guerra que destrozó al país, desorganizó el movimiento popular y engendró una dictadura, pueda desafiar al sistema con la cara descubierta, después de una profunda derrota, y hacerse atractivo para un sector de la juventud peruana, lleva a preguntarse qué fue lo que se construyó en el Perú sobre la derrota de Sendero. Tal vez ahí haya mejores respuestas de porqué muchos jóvenes levantan ahora el brazo contra esta democracia.

I think the mistake that's being made to begin with is that those who say they are fighting SL and MOVADEF, can't come up with a credible explanation for it, the different faces of violence and the ways to learn to live in peace, and really what they convey is that they live in perpetual fear that they want others to live in. […] That a political sector with a huge responsibility for leading a war that destroyed the country, disrupted the popular movement, and spawned a dictatorship, can, after a huge defeat, openly challenge the system, and make itself attractive to a segment of Peruvian youth, begs the question of what was created in Perú through the defeat of Sendero. Maybe there are better answers for why so many young people raise up now against this democracy.

After seeing their attempt to be registered denied, MOVADEF's representatives have announced [es] they will appeal the decision that was issued. They have five business days to do this. However, it has now come out [es] that for various reasons, the JNE will not be able to issue its decision until the middle of February, but the debate is far from over.

Post originally published in the personal blog of Juan Arellano on January 23, 2012.[es]
  • Pingback: Peru: MOVADEF – The Return of the Shining Path? | Sao-Paulo news

  • http://mandyf.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    Well done! A very powerful piece. It seems as if there is a large portion of the population suffering from something akin to Stockholm Syndrome in the manner they are beginning to embrace the terrorists. Hopefully peace prevails.

  • http://www.candacemountain.com Candace Mountain (@candacemountain)

    Interesting post, thank you for shedding light on the political landscape down there.

  • Anne Thomas

    Thanks!

  • http://socialpositive.wordpress.com/ Nicolas Liu

    Thanks for the update. I don’t know much about the politics or history in Peru. But, this is an interesting read.

  • Gaye Crispin

    Thank you for sharing this article. I hope the power of social media can help create greater awareness within and outside your country of this situation.

  • http://brandonemploymentlaw.blogspot.com Rich Bradford

    Hopefully the population will know that they should not cast their votes for this group. Wishing you all the best and safety.

  • Maxus1com

    Incredible story.

  • http://www.dancingdogblog.com Mary Haight

    Wolves in sheep’s clothing are everywhere is politics, and they all speak in a “code” that twists true intent to appeal to the broadest audience. I would like to know what the education, jobs and economic situation is to flesh out the picture of why there is a disconnect on recognizing Guzman Reinoso’s past actions as being those of a terrorist.

  • http://www.pinnaclearticles.com Chris Burylo

    Very interesting piece Juan. Thanks for sharing.

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