State Department Human Rights Reports on Peru
Declassified U.S. Documentation on
Human Rights Abuses and Political Violence
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 64
Edited by Tamara
Director, Peru Documentation Project
January 22, 2002
|“One cannot appear neutral in Ayacucho and survive.
If you are radical right, only S[endero]L[uminoso] tries to kill you. If
you are a terrorist, only the police and military try to kill you. If you
are in the middle, both the terrorists and the soldiers want you dead.”
||- Ambassador Anthony Quainton, Confidential State Department Cable,
December 20, 1990
On November 21, 2000, the Peruvian Congress voted to remove Alberto
Fujimori as president, declaring him morally unfit for office and rejecting
his resignation letter sent from Japan—where he had fled to avoid arrest.
This was the culminating point of a broad corruption scandal involving
bribery of opposition politicians, military officials, the media and others
by Fujimori’s advisor Vladimiro Montesinos. Following Fujimori’s fall,
the new interim President Valentin Paniagua took significant steps towards
the restoration of democracy, including removing restrictions on freedom
of the press, the replacement of the dismissed magistrates to the Constitutional
Tribunal—Peru’s equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court which Fujimori gutted
in 1997--and returning Peru to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court
of Human Rights. On June 3, 2001, Alejandro Toledo of the "Peru Posible"
party was elected president through second round run-off elections, which
were deemed free and fair by a host of domestic and international observers.
In the wake of the past year and a half period of political turmoil and
transformation in Peru, the Peruvian government and people have begun a
process of reassessing the policies practiced during the past two decades,
especially in relation to human rights.
Peru: Human Rights Crimes
Peru has had a troubled legacy of political violence and human rights
abuses. The Peruvian Human Rights
Ombudsman's office estimates that in the past 20 years there have
been 30,000 victims of political violence. No less than 4,000 individuals
have "disappeared", thousands of individuals were arbitrarily detained,
400,000 have been displaced, and victims of torture are too numerous to
be accurately counted.
Soon after the return to civilian government in 1980, Peru confronted
an escalating situation of political violence, generated by the appearance
of a violent insurgency carried out by Sendero Luminoso, and the MRTA,
and a violent counterinsurgency campaign conducted by Peruvian state security
forces. Three successive administrations--Presidents Fernando Belaunde,
Alan Garcia, and Alberto Fujimori--used various strategies and methods
to address the situation. During all three regimes, both state security
forces and the insurgents committed grave human rights abuses (including
assassinations, massacres, torture, forced disappearances, extrajudicial
executions and bombings).
Following President Alberto Fujimori’s resignation and Vladimiro Montesinos’s
arrest due to corruption scandals, the Peruvian government and people have
begun new investigations into past human rights cases (such as Lurigancho,
Barrios Altos, and La Cantuta) and have established a Truth and Reconciliation
Commission. In a speech presented at a forum on Truth Commissions and historical
experience on February 2, 2001, then-Minister of Justice (current Foreign
Minister) Diego García Sayan noted:
"We should be precise, therefore, about what kinds of acts have remained
in the dark due to denial, indifference or loss of memory…We need to humanize
the victims so that they will no longer be a mere statistic in official
records. The majority of these disappearances affected poor peasants, the
people that have always been forgotten in our country. That is why it is
doubly necessary to know and to show what happened to them so that those
marginalized and who have no voice obtain the respect that they have always
The Mandate of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission
On June 4, 2001, transition President Valentin Paniagua signed decree
065-2001-PCM establishing the Truth Commission. President Toledo
affirmed his commitment to support the Truth Commission by signing decree
101-2001-PCM on September 4, 2001. The Truth Commission consists of twelve
commissioners, an official observer, and an Executive Secretary.
The Commission expects to examine over 6,000 allegations of forced disappearances,
assassinations, torture, kidnappings, and other grievous violations of
human rights that date from May of 1980 through November 2000, and will
investigate key cases in detail. The Commission was given until November
13, 2001, to organize its staff and establish its rules and guidelines.
The review will last 18 months, until February 13, 2003, with the possibility
of a 5-month extension.
Although this Commission will not have judicial authority to prosecute,
it will have the power to propose initiatives that it believes will affirm
the peace, the rule of law, national reconciliation, and democracy.
President Toledo has repeatedly stated that he will implement fully the
The Truth Commission has 5 principal objectives:
To analyze the political, social, and cultural conditions that influenced
the behavior of society and the State institutions and contributed to the
tragic situation of violence that permeated Peru.
To contribute to the clarification of crimes and violations of human rights
perpetrated by either terrorist organizations or agents of the State, including
assassinations, detentions, forced disappearances, torture, violations
of collective human rights in Andean communities, and other grave human
To determine the whereabouts, identification, and situation of the victims,
and if possible determine the responsible criminal parties.
To formulate a proposal of moral and material reparation for victims and
And to recommend appropriate reforms and to establish mechanisms for the
fulfillment of these recommendations.
Valuable Information in U.S. Government Archives
Access to declassified U.S. government documents would provide a significant
contribution to the Commission's efforts. A wealth of records exist
within the archives of the various U.S. governmental agencies (Department
of State, Department of Defense, CIA, DIA, DEA, etc.) which could shed
abundant light on a range of key issues relating to human rights in Peru,
including social, political and economic developments; U.S.-Peru relations;
the origins of the civil conflict; details on specific human rights cases
and information on the Peruvian
intelligence and security apparatus controlled by Montesinos.
On January 7, 2002, the U.S. Embassy (Lima) posted a
group of 38 documents in response to a request from the Peruvian
Congress’s Townsend (formerly Waisman) Commission investigating Vladimiro
Montesinos. (Click here to see the Archive’s
analysis of the Embassy’s release.) While many of the documents
handed over to the Townsend Commission concern corruption, a number of
these documents deal specifically or in part with human right violations
during the Fujimori administration.
In the past, the U.S. government has provided timely assistance to truth
commissions and human rights investigations in Latin America by coordinating
extensive interagency declassification reviews and providing thousands
of declassified documents for Truth Commissions in both El Salvador and
Guatemala, and to the Human Rights Ombudsman in Honduras. These U.S.
documents provided critical information on human rights violations, which
significantly aided the work of these commissions. On November 27, 2001,
the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission officially requested President
Bush to provide similar assistance for expedited declassification of U.S.
The records highlighted in this electronic briefing book are a small
sample of the quality of U.S. documentation that the Bush administration
could provide to assist Peru in its investigation of truth and justice
on human rights crimes. In light of Peru’s new self-examination of
past human rights abuses, providing an expedited interagency declassification
review of documents on Peru is an essential component of the current U.S.
policy of supporting Peru’s transition to democracy. The alternative
approach – expecting the Truth Commission to file time-consuming FOIA requests
with half a dozen agencies in Washington – would take years to complete,
leaving the Commission empty-handed in its search for the truth.
[NOTE: The following forty-one documents represent the most revealing
and substantive declassified documents on human rights in Peru that the
National Security Archive has already obtained through the Freedom of Information
Act. They range in date from February 1983 until April 1994, recording
a progression of events through three Peruvian regimes while highlighting
key human rights violations committed by government security forces, and
Peruvian insurgents. The documents were declassified in response
to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by National Security Archive
staff, Lynda Davis and Tamara Feinstein.]
Note: The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe
Acrobat Reader to view.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Peruvian Terrorists Lose
the Initiative, February 24, 1983, Secret, 8pp.
This cable discusses the ramifications of President Belaunde’s
decision to place the army in charge of maintaining public order in the
Ayacucho emergency zone. The military is called on to strengthen
police forces by providing troops for defensive activities as well as offering
transportation, communications, logistics and weaponry support. The
report states that this strategy has enabled the police to pursue more
aggressive patrolling operations, and thereby reintroduced a government
presence into many rural areas previously abandoned to Sendero influence.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Peru’s President Belaunde
Makes Surprise Visit to Emergency Zone, June 14, 1983, Confidential,
President Belaunde visits the city of Ayacucho, in a move to
demonstrate a united civil-military approach to terrorism and economic
decay. The document notes that opposition figures and the press have
tended to view such occasions as a de-facto presidential endorsement of
the counter-terrorist tactics employed by the security forces. The
cable also describes public criticisms and news editorials concerning the
deaths and unknown fate of hundreds of persons detained by the military
and the government’s unwillingness to offer the public any explanations.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, GOP Bars March “For Peace
and Justice” and Militarizes Lima, August 28, 1984, Confidential, 3
The document describes the canceled march "for peace and justice"
(intended to protest two prominent disappearances and recent reports of
mass killings by both terrorist and military forces) that was scheduled
for August 24, 1984 in downtown Lima. A day prior to the demonstration,
the government revokes its previous permission for the march and gives
the military responsibility for maintaining public order. To avoid
a confrontation with the military, the IU (United Left) officially cancels
the demonstration, although several IU leaders attempt to lead a smaller
march. After the military arrests 236 people the protest quickly
dissipates, and within 48 hours 235 of the 236 arrested are released.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Mass Grave Discovered in
Emergency Zone, August 28, 1984, Confidential, 4 pp.
Mass clandestine graves are discovered 36 kilometers from the
city of Huanta. This cable estimates that approximately 49 to 50
males and one female were killed in a methodical fashion and then subsequently
disfigured to prevent identification. While the government officially
denies any responsibility for the atrocity, public opinion represented
by both opposition and pro-regime press, have decidedly attributed the
murders to government forces.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Local District Attorneys
Press Charges Against Marine Commander in Ayala Disappearance and Evangelical
Killing Cases, February 26, 1985, Confidential, 2 pp.
The U.S. Embassy describes criminal charges brought against
Lt. Commander Alvaro Artaza Adrianzen, former head of the Marine garrison
in Huanta. The charges involve the August 1984 disappearance of journalist
Jaime Ayala and the murder of six members of an evangelical church on August
1, 1984 in Callqui. This is the first time since the military was
granted authority over the emergency zones in December of 1982, that the
state has attempted to prosecute military officers with command responsibility
for criminal acts perpetrated against the civilian population.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Reaction within Army to Removal
of Generals Jamara and Mori, September 19, 1985, Confidential, 4 pp.
On September 17, 1985, President Garcia removes Emergency Zone
Generals Jarama and Mori, following the Senate Human Rights Commission's
findings that an army patrol commander was responsible for the August 14th
civilian massacre at Accomarca. Their removal represents the Garcia Administration's
more general displeasure with the military’s overall record on human rights.
The handling of this affair provokes dissatisfaction within the military
and concern among military officials that their own experiences in counter-insurgency
operations may place them in danger of government reprisals.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Alleged Navy Involvement
in Disappearance of Naval Officer, March 6, 1986, Confidential, 3 pp.
The document discusses the recent Supreme Court decision to
have Lt. Commander Artaza stand trial in a civilian court for the 1984
disappearance of journalist Jaime Ayala, Artaza’s subsequent disappearance,
and the government's pressure to stop the March 3rd edition of commentary
program "Encuentros", believed to be critical of the Navy's involvement
in Artaza’s disappearance. The cable describes the President's difficult
position in this matter, and acknowledges that the Navy was most likely
involved in the disappearance of Artaza and a subsequent cover-up.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, GOP Orders Investigations
of Prison Deaths, June 23, 1986, Confidential, 5 pp. [NOTE: This document
comes from a collection donated by free-lance journalist Jeremy Bigwood]
The U.S. Embassy evaluates public and government responses
to the June prison riots, which left at least 240 terrorist/prisoners dead,
including calls for an independent investigation coming from the ongoing
Socialist International Conference and others. The document also
includes a description of a governmental communiqué that acknowledges
that the high death toll (no terrorist prisoners survived) leads it to
believe that excesses did occur, and that it intends to investigate and
punish any of those responsible. The cable ends with a brief analysis
of the political fallout that a truly independent investigation could bring
on President Garcia, who himself ordered the military action, concluding
that in this matter the military is unlikely to allow itself to be used
as a scapegoat by the President.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Garcia Declares 95 Police
Arrested for Summary Executions at Lurigancho Prison, June 25, 1986,
Confidential, 3 pp. [NOTE: This document comes from a collection donated
by free-lance journalist Jeremy Bigwood]
President Garcia announces the initial findings of the investigation
into the Lurigancho prison riots, noting that the police had summarily
executed 30-40 prisoners after the prisoners had surrendered. The Embassy
warns that in comparison to previous human rights investigations into the
Accomarca and Pucayacu massacres, this time “it may be difficult for Garcia
to control the process he has set in motion.” The cable also questions
how the police alone could have engaged in executions in an army-directed
operation without the army also sharing the blame, and warns that Garcia
will “have his hands full trying to avoid image that he is engaging in
transparent scapegoating of police to avoid confrontation with military.”
|Department of State Cable, Garcia and the Military:
Plea for International Support, June 28, 1986, Secret, 4 pp.
Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead sends guidance
to U.S. embassies in Latin America on how to address the current crisis
in Peru. The cable highlights growing tensions between President Garcia
and the armed forces over the Lurigancho prison riots and the subsequent
investigation. Whitehead requests that the addressed embassy posts contact
relevant officials to encourage Garcia to stop his confrontational approach
to the Peruvian military in light of the growing terrorist threat.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Current Crisis in Peru,
June 30, 1986, Secret, 4 pp.
This document describes the continued aftermath of the prison
riots and massacres, including the probable resignation of the Minister
of Justice and the Minister of the Interior. Policemen arrested following
the investigation into Lurigancho continue to be held by police authorities
and have not been transferred to Canto Grande Prison as previously promised.
Navy forces have also recently been implicated in the media of summarily
executing prisoners in El Fronton prison. The cable also notes the possibility
that Garcia may remove top military command officers, if it turns out the
ultimate responsibility for the massacre lies with the joint command.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, President Garcia Says Crisis
Is Over, July 1, 1986, Secret, 2 pp.
Embassy Political Counsel Felder and President Garcia meet
and discuss the current domestic political situation, including the two
prison riots at El Fronton and Lurigancho. In the conversation Garcia
clears the Navy of any responsibility for El Fronton, and says that while
the Guardia Republicana was responsible for the excesses at Lurigancho,
the joint military command could not be held accountable. Garcia
limits the possible responsibility for the Lurigancho massacre to General
Rabanal, who he says would have to bear the consequences if he were found
guilty. In the conversation President Garcia goes on to say that
while unfortunate, the crisis at the prisons would have the long-term positive
effect of diminishing the capabilities of Sendero Luminoso, and that until
terrorism could be eradicated, the Peruvian people would have to "learn
to live with a high level of violence".
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Alleged Massacre at Pomatambo
and Parcco, November 26, 1986, Confidential, 5 pp.
The document discusses conflicting reports put forward by the
military and independent journalists, over the killings of between 12 and
13 people in Ayacucho in October. Military accounts claim that 13
guerrillas, including Sendero leader Camarada Caszelly, were killed in
combat, while press reports, based on eye witness testimony, purport that
security forces actually executed 12 civilians. Local human rights
groups question whether Senate investigations will be carried out (similar
to the 1985 Senate Accomarca investigations) or will instead dissipate
like the earlier investigations into the June prison killings.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Embassy Visit to Ayacucho,
January 21, 1987, Confidential, 18 pp.
The U.S. embassy assesses the current situation in the South
Central emergency zone of Ayacucho, following a two-day visit to this area
in December. The report provides an analysis of the following areas:
terrorist and counter-terrorist operations, human rights abuses, political
groups, development projects, and narcotics. The paper concludes
that the military maintains a strong hold on local government activities.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Cayara: No Bodies Left,
June 1, 1988, Confidential, 2 pp.
This document describes the controversy surrounding the killings
that occurred in or around Cayara, on May 14th and the student demonstrations
in response to these killings. According to the military, 16 guerillas
died in a firefight with government forces in or near Cayara. Other
sources, including the Ayacucho Special Prosecutor Carlos Escobar, claim
that the military executed at least 30 villagers before removing their
bodies from the scene. The military has denied the press, the ICRC,
and other Peruvian human rights groups, access to the area. While
there is currently no decisive answer to this controversy since the victim's
bodies have yet to be found, the cable implies that embassy officials are
skeptical of the army's position, due to the large number of victims and
the lack of military casualties.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Memorandum of Conversation, Human
Rights Abuses on the Increase, September 20, 1988, Confidential, 5
This memorandum of conversation represents the opinions of
an unknown interviewee. Covered are the subjects of Sendero violence,
which he predicts will escalate as the economy worsens; human rights abuses
that he believes will continue to grow due to the current military mind-set;
and the police/military's use of torture, which will remain unchanged because
of ineffective investigative and detective techniques/procedures.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, GOP Quashes the Cayara Massacre
Report, November 10, 1988, Confidential, 3 pp.
This cable discusses the problems of the investigation into
the May 14th Cayara massacre, including conflicting eyewitness testimony.
Based on information from an embassy source and other reliable information,
the document draws three main conclusions: some Cayara residents probably
participated in ambushing the Army patrol; the Army did murder the residents
of Cayara; and finally, the Army almost certainly tried to cover up their
|Defense Intelligence Agency Defense Intelligence Terrorism
Summary, Peru: SL Activity, December 14, 1988, 2 pp.
The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) assesses recent Sendero
Luminoso terrorist activity in Lima and Huaraz. The actions discussed
include the December 7th bombing of the national electric grid, the December
5th assassination of two French developmental workers and two Peruvian
technicians, and the bombing of four hotels in Huaraz on December 1st.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Sendero Massacres 39 Villagers,
March 3, 1989, Confidential, 5 pp.
This cable discusses Sendero Luminoso’s murder of 39 Canaire
villagers in the Department of Ayacucho. After giving a detailed
account of the massacre, based on the testimony of survivors, the report
mentions that human rights sources have speculated that the killings were
in response to the villagers efforts to organize civil defense patrols
to defend against Sendero attacks. The document also suggests that
the attack may have been related to illicit coca production in the Mantaro
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Sendero Kills 14 Mayors in
10 Day Period, October 17, 1989, Confidential, 5 pp.
Sendero violence surges again, after a two-month period of
inaction. Specific information on the numbers of dead and positions
they held are given, and speculation on how the government will handle
the coming election in lieu of this violence is noted. The report also
analyzes possible effects of this violence and comments that these actions
have given Sendero a huge psychological advantage in their war with the
|Defense Intelligence Agency Cable, Peru: Insurgent Developments,
May 1, 1990, 2 pp.
This DIA cable lists several of the recent terrorist attacks
by Sendero Luminoso, and the affects they have had on the Satipo province.
Noted effects have been the large migration of refugees into the major
towns of Satipo and the closing of all the schools in the province.
Estimates from the Congressional Commission concerning the numbers of dead
are included in the report. The report concludes that Sendero is
gaining strength and that with the 10-year anniversary of Sendero on May
17th and the runoff elections on June 3rd the level of violence in the
countryside will probably continue to grow.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Extrajudicial Executions
in Ayacucho: Peruvian Military and Sendero Are Blamed, October 25,
1990, Confidential, 6 pp.
The document discusses two separate mass killings, one committed
by the guerrillas and one by the military. The report indicates that
the military patrol that committed the killings was under the control of
a local military official known as “centurion,” who according to other
embassy reports has operated with impunity in Huanta and may have been
the “right-hand man” of Ayacucho’s political-military commander, General
Fernandez-Davila. The Fiscal and Regional President have attributed
the killings to the “rondas” (civil defense patrols) or to the military
and the Senate has unanimously approved the formation of a special commission
to investigate the killings. The report concludes that this episode
represents the first test of President Fujimori’s commitment to enforce
accountability on the military in their campaign against the guerrillas.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Ambassador’s Human Rights
Calls in Ayacucho, December 11, 1990, Confidential, 12 pp.
U.S. Ambassador Quainton discusses human rights and political
violence in Ayacucho with Emergency Zone Commander General Fernandez-Davila,
the Public Ministry’s Chief Prosecutor, the Special Prosecutor for Human
Rights, and the municipal authorities. General Fernandez-Davila asserts
that the frequency of military human rights abuses has been greatly exaggerated
and that when excesses have occurred the responsible officials have been
investigated and prosecuted. Other local officials, including the
acting Mayor and Prosecutors, acknowledge that there has been increased
cooperation from the military authorities. The report cites the military’s
willingness to reveal the identity of “centurion” (Army Sergeant Johnny
Jose Zapata Acuna), as an example of this new spirit of cooperation.
However, the document concludes that the General’s claims of Sendero’s
military defeat is overly optimistic, and that despite noticeable signs
of improvement in recent months the military’s human rights performance
is “far from good” and that the army has not “entirely reformed”.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Ayacucho Cop Describes Extra-Judicial
Killings, December 19, 1990, Secret, 10 pp.
In this cable released on appeal, U.S. Embassy Political Officers
reveal their conversations with an Ayacucho police officer, who had been
a member of a secret police hit squad. The officer details the activities
of the death squad, noting 300 suspects were assassinated in 1989.
He explains how targets were selected and notes he even requested and received
permission to kill two fellow police officers. The hit squad was disbanded
in 1990 after a Sendero ambush seriously wounded or killed three of its
four members. The cable notes the officer appeared “neither proud nor ashamed
of his role as an extrajudicial assassin,” and seemed eager to tell his
story to someone “official” since few (even within the police force) knew
of the existence or activities of the hit squad.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, In the Eye of the Storm:
An Ayacucho Trip Report, Part I, December 20, 1990, Confidential, 19
Ambassador Quainton describes in detail the situation of political
violence and insurgency in Ayacucho, detailing the historical roots of
the region and the current political and military situation. He notes that
Ayacucho is of primary psychological importance to both Sendero Luminoso
and the Peruvian government, even though it is of little strategic value.
The document notes growing complaints that the leaders of the “rondas”
(civil defense patrols) are often thugs and narco-traffickers. It also
discusses allegations that the police kidnap young men, accuse them of
terrorism and then ransom them to their families.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Americas Watch Human Rights
Inquiries, August 2, 1991, Confidential, 5 pp.
The U.S. Embassy attempts to uncover information on the Chuschi
disappearances and cases involving the military's mistreatment of SUTEP
(United Union of Education Workers of Peru) teachers in San Martin, in
particular the alleged abuse of SUTEP teacher, Moises Tenorio Banda.
On both accounts, the politico-military chief of Ayacucho, General Martinez,
is reported to have pleaded military innocence. Sources (sanitized)
consulted in this document have apparently written the Chuschi case off,
barring a decision on the part of the military to cooperate in an investigation.
The cable also suggests there is little hope that the Tenorio case will
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, The Mind of the Beast: Sendero
Luminoso Brutality, August 7, 1991, Confidential, 12 pp.
This document presents a profile of Sendero Luminoso violence,
speculates on the purpose and nature of the violence, and provides various
examples of past and recent atrocities committed by Sendero. It concludes
that Sendero is not pathological in its killing, but is “calm and dispassionate”
in its violence, which is committed purely for ideological reasons.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Barrios Altos Massacre: One
Month Later, December 4, 1991, Secret, 2 pp.
This update of developments in the investigation into the Barrios
Altos massacre notes that the Peruvian government has demonstrated little
“political will” to find the perpetrators of the crime, and that most now
believe security forces were involved in the killing.
|Department of State Cable, Barrios Altos Massacre,
December 12, 1991, Secret, 1 p.
Secretary of State James Baker instructs the U.S. Ambassador
in Lima to seek an appointment with President Fujimori in order to discuss
the Barrios Altos massacre. This cable sets out the main talking points
to be discussed. The Ambassador is to demonstrate deep U.S. concern over
the handling of the Barrios Altos investigation and is to urge Fujimori
to ensure that a vigorous investigation brings those responsible to justice.
Baker highlights in particular the recent removal of the prosecuting attorney
on the case as disturbing to the U.S. government.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Barrios Altos Massacre,
December 13, 1991, Secret, 1 p.
Ambassador Quainton describes an interchange with various Peruvian
officials (including President Fujimori), where Quainton expressed deep
U.S. concern over the investigation into the Barrios Altos massacre. One
unnamed official noted that the investigation was still active and opined
that those responsible were probably a group of military and civilians
seeking revenge for previous Sendero killings.
|Defense Intelligence Agency Cable, Sendero Luminoso
Ground Activities in the Satipo-Mazamari Region, January 2, 1992, Secret,
This cable reports various actions taken by Sendero in the
Satipo-Mazamari region of Peru during the first half of 1991. It focuses
on Sendero clashes with the Sinchi’s, and on Sendero assassinations of
local authorities and rondero organizers. It provides the names and circumstances
of death for various victims.
|U.S. Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center Report,
Country Profile, June 15, 1992, Secret, 73 pp. [Excerpt]
This partially excerpted report provides a broad overview of
the political, economic and military situation in Peru, as well as a detailed
description of the mission, structure, composition, personnel, and operations
of the Peruvian military and intelligence forces. The report also provides
a critique of the army’s counterinsurgency efforts, highlighting Peru’s
deficiencies and suggests ways to reform their efforts. The second section
of the report on intelligence and security profiles some of the key military
and intelligence figures, including President Alberto Fujimori and Vladimiro
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Sendero Car Bombs ILD Think
Tank: Continues Terrorism Wave, July 21, 1992, Confidential, 5 pp.
This cable describes recent violent acts committed by Sendero
Luminoso, including the bombing of Hernando de Soto’s Democracy and Liberty
Institute (ILD) in the Miraflores district of Lima, killing five and injuring
fifteen individuals. This bomb comes in the wake of the larger June 17th
Sendero bombing, killing 18 individuals.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Alleged Witness to Barrios
Altos Massacre Wants to Speak Out – If He Can Leave Peru, January 3,
1993, Secret, 5 pp.
A Peruvian army officer and member of the Army Intelligence/National
Intelligence Service (SIE/SIN) group approaches the U.S. Embassy through
an intermediary, stating his desire to speak out on the Barrios Altos massacre
and other SIN related killings if he is provided safe conduct to another
country. The officer claims he can link the killings to Presidential Adviser
Vladimiro Montesinos. The embassy notes providing asylum for this officer
would become a “major sore point in bilateral relations” with Peru, but
on the other hand it would also support U.S. human rights goals in the
country. The Embassy requests guidance from the State Department on what
assistance they should offer to the officer.
|Department of State Cable, General Asks for Asylum at
U.S. Embassy, Says Threat Tied to His Effort to Investigate Killings,
May 6, 1993, Secret, 6 pp.
General Rodolfo Robles makes a surprise request for asylum
from the U.S. government, while making a farewell call on the U.S. Embassy
with his family. While at the Embassy, Robles states he and his family
are in imminent danger because he had passed information on the “La Cantuta”
killings to the military judge reviewing the case. Robles states he is
ready to go public with his allegations that Vlademiro Montesinos and Army
Commander Hermoza were personally responsible for the death squads which
carried out the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta murders, and that they are
also linked to narco-trafficking. The Embassy notes Robles’ reputation
in the army as a “straight-shooter” and warns his actions will be a “bombshell”
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Retired General on Plotting
in the Army and La Cantuta Investigation, May 22, 1993, Secret, 7 pp.
This cable describes a conversation with a senior retired army
general, on the “Comaca” group within the army, the Robles incident, and
a possible congressional investigation into the La Cantuta disappearances.
The officer characterizes as “absurd” the Peruvian government’s assertion
that a congressional investigation into La Cantuta would break army morale.
He notes that the investigation would mainly be a problem for Hermoza and
Montesinos, but that if only low-ranking officers were charged army tensions
would increase since army tradition required that Hermoza accept responsibility
and not pin it on others. The officer suggested that only the U.S. could
restrain President Fujimori.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, [Excised] Says Army/SIN Death
Squad Exists, May 24, 1993, Secret, 4 pp.
The U.S. Embassy’s Political Counselor discusses death squad
allegations with a Peruvian officer. The officer notes that the death squad
was responsible for Barrios Altos and La Cantuta, and corroborates that
the names listed by General Robles were correct. However, he notes that
he will not speak out, since police and military officers are watched by
the state “in Peru’s version of Germany under the Gestapo.”
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Army Officer Convicted in
Accomarco Case Reportedly not Jailed, December 3, 1993, Secret, 2 pp.
This document relates evidence that Captain Telmo Hurtado,
who had been convicted in the 1985 Accomarca Massacre, is still on active
duty and not in prison. The Embassy comments that if the information is
true, it would negate any positive results from the initial conviction
and seriously call into question the Peruvian government’s commitment “to
address military impunity in human rights cases in the future.”
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Accomarca, Hurtado, and La
Cantuta, December 30, 1993, Confidential, 5 pp.
The Embassy Charge meets with an unnamed Peruvian military
official, to discuss convicted Captain Telma Hurtado’s status. The Charge
expresses grave concern that Hurtado is not serving his six-year sentence
for the Accomarca massacre. The officer notes he would look into it but
hypothesizes that Hurtado may have been released for time served before
the conviction. He also notes the military’s commitment to the investigation
into the La Cantuta disappearances.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Eyewitness Reports from the
Killings Site, April 20, 1994, Confidential, 11 pp.
An unnamed Peruvian journalist describes his “moving
account of the death and destruction caused by a major army operation.”
He details the harrowing trip he made, along with a small group of other
journalists and human rights workers, to the Huanuco jungle region to investigate
the massacre that took place there. After being led to the site of the
massacred villagers by the surviving victims, the group then went to the
Los Laureles Army Base in Tingo Maria and interviewed Colonel Javier Rivas
Ramirez. Rivas went on to describe the army operations in the area.
|U.S. Embassy (Lima) Cable, Action Plan for Huanco Army
Killing Allegations, April 21, 1994, Confidential, 5 pp.
Human rights NGOs and journalists attribute the recent human
rights abuses in Upper Huanuco Valley to the military's counter-terrorist
operations. While the document asserts that the U.S. Embassy has
not been able to confirm these reports, some of which calculate the death
toll as high as 100, the Embassy does consider them to be credible.
The report goes on to suggest an appropriate high-level response by the
governments of the United States, Japan, and the European Union.
These responses would seek to effectively pressure the Fujimori government
to permit open access to the zone by non-governmental human rights groups
(especially the ICRC) and follow through with the civilian and military
investigations now underway. The report acknowledges that the Fujimori
government has been upset by past U.S. criticisms over human rights, and
emphasizes that any new efforts would need to be made at the highest levels
of government and in conjunction with the other major powers.
1. "Precisemos, entonces, que clase de hechos
han sido ensombrecidos por la negación, la indiferencia o el olvido.
Humanizar a las víctimas y que dejen de ser mera estadística
en los archivos oficiales. La mayor parte de estas desapariciones afectaron
a campesinos pobres, la gente siempre olvidada en nuestro país.
Por ello, es doblemente necesario conocer y exhibir lo ocurrido para que
los marginados y los "sin voz" tengan el respeto que les ha sido negado."