EntertainmentHow did Sendero seduce thousands of young people at...

How did Sendero seduce thousands of young people at the beginning of the 80s? Karina Pacheco explains it in her most recent novel


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Urgent and timely for the times we live in, “The Year of the Wind” seems like a book written expressly to illuminate our current situation. While an erratic government does not know what to do with the remains of the terrorist Abimael Guzman, Karina Pacheco tells the origin of his crime move in Ayacucho, Apurimac and Cuscosummoning ghosts that we thought had disappeared and that, however, continue to manifest themselves now in grotesque repetitions.

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—How do you feel how appropriate your novel is with a situation like the current one?

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The truth is that I am also surprised. This is a novel that had been going around in my head for many years. For me, 1981 was a pivotal year in my life, and I wanted to build a novel that started from this date to count from the appearance of Path up to the present, in Madrid, a place that allows me to look back, from a distance. Sometimes, the extreme distance allows you to ask urgent questions that you haven’t asked yourself up close. When we already had the issue of “terruqueo” quite hot in recent months, Guzmán’s death came on September 11. The discussions that have arisen show us that we continue to weigh down the same ghosts, while others fight for forgetfulness. The novel has come at the right time.

Skydiving exhibition held at the Cusco airport on August 7, 1977. Quiet times that did not presage imminent violence.  Photo: GEC Historical Archive

What does it mean to you that he body of the genocidal Abimael Guzmán Have you been in the morgue for more than a week? What has taken us so long to decide what to do with his remains?

It means we don’t know what to do with the terrible lessons of the past. means that We have not learned to dialogue and understand each other, that is why we do not dare to decide what to do with that dead person.. Look how many bodies were destroyed, dynamited, unburied and we have there the body of the one who caused all this horror. That body without a destination reveals to us that we do not know what to do as a country. It was predictable that Abimael was going to die at some point, and the fact that the subject has not been discussed shows our inability to look at the past. We do not learn such egregious lessons from the past. In Europe, the horror of the Holocaust generated a social mobilization to prevent something like this from happening again. We, instead, We have been 41 years since the irruption of Sendero and we do not want to draw lessons from it. There are 70,000 deaths and we are told that we must turn the page to look at the future. But you can’t look to the future with such horror behind you.

With faces and white clothes.  This is how the young people who participated in the carnival festivities in Cusco ended.  Postcard from the early sixties.  Photo: GEC Historical Archive

—Why do you think that the preaching of Shining Path summoned thousands of young people?

That is the question that disturbs me. In Peru there are large studies that tried to answer that. Among the best, it stands out “The Emergence of Sendero Luminoso” by Carlos Iván Degregori, who in the 70s taught at the San Cristóbal de Huamanga University, one of the best public universities after its reopening. Degregori tells you about all the expectations that the possibility of climbing socially through education generated in young people, in such a stratified and unequal society. Nevertheless, many students felt that no matter how much access they had to education, they were always going to be left behind. On the other hand, it was a time when there was a romanticization of the armed struggle. Many on the left had the idea that “power comes from the gun”. Guzmán comes, trained in Mao’s China, and he takes that preaching seriously. And worst of all, is that his idea of “razing everything to build again”, had a lot of depth. So Sendero gradually infiltrated the educational sector. What worries me is that today, because of the immense corruption in Peru, many young people lose hope. The speeches that say “everything is rotten, nothing works”, permeate people who feel fed up. A speech of destruction is siren songs for them. That is why it is important to clean up politics, to rebuild hope on a democratic and peaceful basis.

Remains of community members killed by Sendero Luminoso are handed over to their families in the city of Cusco, in 2013. [Foto: AFP]

—From the beginning of the novel it is announced that this is a fictional story. How much, however, does “The Year of the Wind” have of personal memory for you?

From my childhood memory, a lot. I have always remembered the year 1981 as a key milestone in my life. It was the year in which, somehow, I began my first independence. My parents left me alone for almost two months in my house in Cusco, and all that time I dedicated myself to flying with my skates in the park.

—It was the time of “Roller Boogie”…

From “Roller Boogie”, and from other movies that I loved, like “Excalibur”, for example. It was a pivotal moment, when one is still a child and does not want to stop being one. then it arose Path after twelve years of military dictatorship. So no one understood what was happening. The left said they were CIA agents, the government said they were rustlers, and later guerrillas trained in Cuba. Meanwhile, everyone in Ayacucho already knew what was happening.

Pavilions of the historic Almudena Cemetery in Cusco.

—When you focus on the year 1981, you talk about a crime that seemed like a watershed in the history of violence: the death of the Aprista student Marco Antonio Ayerbe in the middle of the demonstrations for the increase in fares…

It was something traumatic for all of Cusco society: in the midst of protests against the increase in fares in Cusco, Marco Antonio Ayerbe, 19, was arrested in an ice cream parlor and beaten to death in a police cell. Cusco rose then, because it was something inadmissible then. He had been a former student of my school. Since I was a child, every time I went to the cemetery to visit the grave of a relative, I would pass by this boy’s tombstone, and I would stare at it. His death was a blow to my childhood.

—As you say in the novel, cases like this, or the attacks that took place daily in Ayacucho or Cusco were ignored by the Lima media. Do you think that even today Lima maintains that blindness regarding what is happening in the regions of the country?

I have found that this is happening. Today we have all the technological means to be much more aware of what is happening, however the distance, the geographical, political or sociological fractures, deepen. The press has forgotten things as important as having good correspondents. On the other hand, today the written and radio press in Cusco do not have the quality they had 40 years ago. You can realize it if you check the newspaper archives of Cusco. Forty years ago, in political and social terms, due to a very old network of cultural ties, Cusco was much closer to Apurímac, Puno, Ayacucho and Madre de Dios. And the news gave an account of what was happening in these culturally close territories. Today that communication is not so fluid.

AYACUCHO, 2003. In January of that year, due to the efforts of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, hundreds of residents of Lucanamarca were able to bury their relatives and neighbors, murdered in one of the worst massacres of the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso.  (Photo: Daniel Silva / El Comercio)

—And it took Lima a long time to realize the existence of Sendero.

Between May 17, 1980, which was Sendero’s first public appearance the day before the elections, until December 31, 1980, there were more than 700 attacks. Most of them were centered in Ayacucho, but also in Lima. However, this was not reflected in the Lima newspapers. Sendero had set fire to the Municipalities in San Martin de Porras, San Juan de Lurigancho and Comas, but in the news these attacks appeared as “fires”, produced by “firecrackers” or “unknown attackers”. If we had known how to act intelligently in those first moments, who knows if Sendero’s horror would have reached the extreme it did.

—Apurímac and Cusco are central scenes of the childhood of Nina, the protagonist. But by addressing the present, the novel takes you to Madrid. There the dispersion of many families destroyed by Sendero, who had to take refuge outside the country, can be observed.

Barbara, the character in the novel who enters Sendero, somehow ends up dynamiting her own family. And that is a story that can be replicated a thousand times. Families with members who were part of Sendero ended up stigmatized, unable to publicly express their pain. They are intimate dramas that Peruvian society does not allow to talk about. Perhaps the worst legacy of Sendero Luminoso with its brutal violence is that it made our society normalize brutality. That is why no one considers it urgent to try to understand why what happened happened.

History, for Karina Pacheco, is permanent research material.  "The Year of the Wind", her most recent novel, synthesizes 40 years of past history.

—“The Year of the Wind” It is a women’s novel. They are the ones who move the story, they are the ones who investigate and the ones who are investigated. Was it a conscious decision?

This is reflected in the mothers looking for their lost children. In an internal armed conflict as atrocious as the one experienced in Peru, the majority of deaths have been men, and it is the women who are left wondering. The narrator in this novel has a lot of me. And in order to create intimacy, with a distant cousin whom she admires in many ways and fears in others, that intimacy had to be feminine.

—Cusco literature was the first to notice the Senderista phenomenon, with books like “The young woman who went up to heaven”, by Luis Nieto Degregori, for example. With your novel, do you think we have reached the moment to take stock of history, 40 years since the birth of Sendero without yet recovering?

I think we have to make a lot of balances. Literature has that magic: through fiction, you can build stories that address a big setting and at the same time an intimacy that readers can identify with. It is true, Lucho Nieto wrote the first stories about political violence, along with another great storyteller from Cusco like Enrique Rosas Paravicino. But certainly the literature took several years to respond. The first recorded tales appear only in 1984, four long years before fiction begins to address those terrible times.

The presentation

This Tuesday, September 21 at 7:00 pm, the writer will present her new novel “The Year of the Wind.” The event will be broadcast via Facebook Live from Planet of Books Peru. The author will be accompanied by journalist Marco Avilés.

Source: Elcomercio

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I have worked as a journalist for over 10 years and have written for various news outlets. I currently work as an author at 24 News Recorder, mostly covering entertainment news. I have a keen interest in the industry and enjoy writing about the latest news and gossip. I am also a member of the National Association of Journalists.


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