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Press Release - August 28, 2003
Contact: Tamara Feinstein - tfeins7i@gwu.edu

The Search for Truth
The Declassified Record on Human Rights Abuses in Peru


Washington, D.C., August 28, 2003 - Marking today's release of the final report of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Security Archive posted on the Web 33 of the most important declassified U.S. documents used by the Commission in its work. The documents detail 20 years of human rights atrocities in Peru, recording a progression of events through three Peruvian regimes (Presidents Fernando Belaunde, Alan Garcia, and Alberto Fujimori) and highlighting key human rights violations committed by government security forces and Peruvian insurgents.

The Commission's final report investigates 20 years of internal conflict and human rights abuses in Peru from 1980 to 2000. From the initial burning of ballot boxes by the Shining Path in Chusqui, Ayacucho, on May 17, 1980, to the eventual flight of former President Alberto Fujimori to Japan in November 2000, Peru has been witness to many forms of political violence and human rights violations; committed by both government forces and insurgent groups.

The National Security Archive assisted the Commission in drafting a Freedom of Information Act request for the declassification of US government documents pertaining to its investigation. In the meantime, the Archive set about collecting all available documents on the subject, and helped the Commission to analyze any new releases. On January 6, 2003, the US Embassy delivered 326 declassified State Department documents to the Commission's main office in Lima. For an analysis of this release and links to the 326 documents themselves, click here.

This briefing book offers a selection of historical materials from U.S. government sources that sheds light on this brutal period. They include two documents from the January special release and 31 documents from collections of declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive through the Freedom of Information Act. Both were important sources for the Truth Commission's report.

Highlights from this briefing book include:

  • " An ex-Army officer, who reveals systematic human rights abuses committed by military and intelligence units, reminisces about his favorite forms of torture and discusses his use of US anti-bomb training assistance to perfect his bomb-making skills for use in assassination attempts. [Document 27]
  • " CIA intelligence analysis of the growing insurgent threat, ranging from early underestimations of the threat posed by the Shining Path to later overestimations of the threat posed by the MRTA to U.S. interests. [Documents 1, 2, 10, 15]
  • " A 1986 Embassy profile of the hostile relationship between newly elected Alan Garcia and the military, discussing the strains over human rights and counterinsurgency policy. [Document 9]
  • " The 1988-89 rise of the Rodrigo Franco death squad and its rumored links to the Peruvian government [Documents 11, 12, 13]
  • " A former ally of National Security Adviser Vladimiro Montesinos (now openly opposed to him) alleges that Montesinos was directly linked to a May 1990 bombing of opposition congressman Fernando Olivera; claiming Montesinos openly alluded to his involvement in the bombing during a campaign strategy session in front of President Fujimori. [Document 28]
  • " An April 1990 Defense Intelligence Agency analysis of the Shining Path policy of massacring Ashaninka Indians in the North Satipo Province. [Document 14]

Click here to go to the Electronic Briefing Book


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