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Peru: 20 Years Later, Bloggers Remember Bomb Blast in Tarata Street

At 9:15 pm, on Thursday July 16, 1992, a bomb blast took place in the small and then almost unknown Tarata Street, in the Limean district of Miraflores. Days before the blast, Lima experienced many bomb blasts, but none had the same impact as the blast in Tarata.

Miraflores is a middle-class commercial district, and Tarata is located in the middle of the whole activity. In those days, due to the terrorist bombing campaign in the Peruvian capital, the government had implemented a curfew for vehicles and no cars were supposed to circulate on the streets after 9 pm.

That evening, residents of the buildings located in the second block of the two-block long Tarata Street were about to enjoy dinner or watch a program on TV when the first blast rattled their homes. A few seconds later, they felt a second and stronger blast. The shock wave extended for 300 meters, and the only thought back in those days was: “where could it have been this time?”

Two trucks, each packed with 1,000 kg of explosives, exploded on the street at 9:15 pm, killing 25 and wounding up to 200. The blast destroyed or damaged 183 homes, 400 businesses and 63 parked cars. The explosive payload was 400—500 kilograms of ANFO mixed with dynamite. The buildings most affected by their locations near the center of the blast were El Condado, San Pedro, Tarata, Central Residential and San Carlos.

Terrorism had been hitting Peruvian highlands for 12 years, but this attack was a wake up call for many residents of the capital.

A view of Tarata Street Memorial. Photo taken by the author.

Twenty years after, bloggers remember and reflect on that day.

Yanina Patricio, on her self-named blog [es], posts pictures and notes:

Sendero luminoso  había demostrado una vez más el salvajismo con el que actuaba. Lo hizo durante muchos años con los pobladores de la sierra peruana, asesinando a quienes no siguieran sus ordenes. Consideraban que los peruanos debían revelarse [sic] contra la clase opresora.

Shining Path had proved onece again the savagery they operated with. They did so formnany years with residents from the Peruvian highlands, killing those that would not abide by their orders. They believed that Peruvians had to rebel against the oppressing class

Marilú Villanueva, the blogger of Cenizas en la Oscuridad [es] (Ashes in the darkness), writes a long post sharing her story. She lived in a fourth floor in one of the most affected buildings in Tarata Street:

Somos muchos los testigos de esa noche… cada uno tiene una historia que contar… En mi caso, muchas veces a lo largo de mi vida, he tenido la necesidad de hablar de esto… de sacarlo de mi alma y de compartirlo. A veces no sabía con que propósito… pero sentía esa necesidad… la última vez que hablé sobre esto ante la prensa era una niña, tenía seis o siete años… era inocente, llena de esperanza porque pensé que todo había terminado… y que por fin la paz había llegado a mi país y eso, a por algunos años me dio fuerzas para seguir adelante…

[...]
Vivíamos en una época muy difícil para nuestro país: los años 90. No eran raros lo apagones, las explosiones, las trágicas noticias en la televisión… el famoso toque de queda que aún recuerdo… en donde no se podía salir a partir de las 6 de la tarde, porque podían detenerte o dispararte… siempre se me quedarán grabadas esas palabras “toque de queda”, es algo al mencionarse me lleva a esa época en un instante. Muchas veces, tenía que hacer mis tareas a la luz de una vela, una pequeña luz que iluminaba en medio de la oscuridad…

Many of us witnessed that night… each one with a story to tell… As for me, many times during my life, I've felt the need to talk about this… to take it away from my soul and share it. Sometimes, I didn't know what was the point of doing so… but I felt that urge… the last time I spoke about this I was a little girl, I was six or seven… I was innocent, full of hope, for I thought everything was over… and that my country was finally in peace and that, for some time, gave me strength to go on…

[...]
Our country was living hard times: the 90s. Blackouts weren't a rare thing, blasts, tragic news on TV… or the infamous curfew, which I still remember… when you couldn't go outdoors after 6 pm, because you could be arrested or killed… I'll always have that word carved, “curfew”, when mentioned, I go back in time in an instant. There were many times I had to do my homework with candle lights, a small light that lit amidst the darkness…

She continues:

Eran aproximádamente[sic]  las 9 y 20 p.m. cuando de pronto, hubo un ruido  fuerte y según recuerda mi mamá también se oyeron disparos y gritos… Yo tenía miedo… no entendía bien qué estaba pasando, o mejor dicho no me daba cuenta de que tan cerca estaba el peligro… Mi mamá y mi papá empezaron a preguntarse ¿dónde había sido esa bomba?, al darse cuenta que había sido muy cerca. Mi papá se paró y dijo :-Voy a ver.

En ese momento el miró hacia donde estaban mi mamá y mi hermano y estaba a punto de decir algo. Y de pronto, se oyó un ruido mayor y salió una llamarada del departamento de la vecina. Las luces se apagaron, hubo un fuertísimo movimiento de piso… pánico… las ventanas habían estallado… vidrios por todos lados…
[...]

Mi mamá se levantó y se cayó en la puerta del departamento. Vio pasar a unos vecinos y les pidió que nos bajen a mí y a mi hermano y ellos le dijeron que no podían porque estaban heridos. Le preguntaron por mi papá:
-¿Y Antonio? Ella les respondió:
- Está muerto.

It was about 9:20 p.m. when all of a sudden, there was a loud noise, and as my mom remembers, shots and shouts too… I was afraid… I didn't understand what was going on, or I didn't realize how close danger was… Mom and dad started to wonder where had this bomb exploded?, when they realized it had been very close to us. My dad stood up and said:- I'll take a look.

He looked towards my mom and my brother and was about to say something. And then, a louder noise was heard and a sudden blaze came out from the neighbor's apartment. Lights went off, the floor moved very strongly… panic… the windows had been blown out… glasses everywhere…
[...]

My mom got up and fell down at the apartment's entrance. She saw some neighbors passing by and she asked them to take me and my brother with them downstairs, and they answered they weren't able to because they were injured. They asked about my father:
-¿And Antonio? She answered:
-He is dead.

Dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives on July 16, 1992. Photo taken by the author.

Twitter is also abuzz with people remembering that day.

Neron Heliogabalo (@_EMPERADOR_) [es] urges young people:

@_EMPERADOR_: #Tarata‬ Jovenes de esta generacion demostremos que no solo nos interesan las cosas banales aprendamos de nuestro pasado Nunca mas el terror!

@_EMPERADOR_[es]: #Tarata Young people from this generation, let's show that we are not interested in banal things, let's learn from our past. No more terror!

Marko Pacheco (@MarkoPacheco92) [es], regrets:

@MarkoPacheco92: A 20 años de #Tarata‬ no hemos aprendido nada. Jóvenes desinformados que apoyan al #Movadef‬, Terrucos libres y con beneficios, etc, etc

@MarkoPacheco92 [es]: 20 years after #Tarata we have't learned anything at all. Misinformed young people support #Movadef‬, Terrorists walking free and with benefits, etc, etc

And Flor Gimenez (@fmgimenez) [es] tweets:

@fmgimenez: Los jóvenes tenemos memoria. A 20 años del atentado en #Tarata‬ #TerrorismoNuncaMás

@fmgimenez [es]: We young people have a memory. 20 years after the bomb blasts in #Tarata‬ #TerrorismoNuncaMás (“Terrorism never again”)

Carla Arata (@carlita_ita [es]) takes it personally:

@carlita_ita: Recordar #Tarata‬ y todos los atentados de esos años me duele muchísimo aun. No sé ustedes, pero yo lo siento “personal”. #TerrorismoNuncaMas

@carlita_ita [es]: Remembering #Tarata‬ and all those bombing from those years still hurts me badly. I don't know about all of you, but I feel it “personal”. #TerrorismoNuncaMas

While Mario Chuquillanqui (@Mario_ChC) [es] reflects:

@Mario_ChC: Hoy se cumplen 20 años del atentado terrorista en #Tarata‬. Recordémoslo siempre, porque eso nunca mas debe suceder. #TerrorismoNuncaMas

@Mario_ChC [es]: Today we mark 20 years from the terrorist bombing in #Tarata‬. Let's remember it always, for it must never happen ever again. #TerrorismoNuncaMas

Claudia Drago, from the blog Miralara, shares her final reflection [es]:

Hoy les cuento estas cosas a mis hijas. Debemos crear conciencia en ellos. Que sepan que no la tuvimos facil como ellas. En su mente inocente de 6 y 7 años, no se si logran imaginar y entender lo que les cuento, pero algo quedara. Me encargare de recordarlo todo el tiempo.

Today I share those experiences with my daughters. We must generate awareness in them. They must know we didn't have things as easily as they do. In their innocent minds of six and seven year old girls, I don't know if they manage to imagine and understand what I tell them, but something will stay with them. I'll make sure to remember all the time.

On the day of the bomb blasts in Tarata Street, Peru was 12 days away from one its gloomiest Independence Holidays.

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