los niños de sendero
November 22nd, 2010
I was watching the news last night with the sisters, and a “special report” came on that I can’t get out of my mind. It was a report entitled “los niños de sendero”, or “the children of sendero” which is the terrorist group (Sendero Luminoso) that terrorized the entire country of Perú from 1980-2000. Thanks to our IFSA-Butler class on Peruvian Social Reality I knew exactly what the program was talking about. I really like understanding the history of the country, especially when the area I am in was so greatly impacted by the violence.
At first I thought it was going to be a story about the child soldiers of that time that are now adults, but I was unfortunately mistaken. The news station had been permitted by Sendero to film their current training and preparation for the “new war” as they called it against the Peruvian government.
This is happening in the jungle of Ayacucho, which is about 5 hours away from where I am right now. In the film they focused on the child-soldiers that are currently being trained by Sendero. There were about forty children, all under the age of 11, that are being trained by Sendero. All but one of them were abducted from their families and forced to come and be trained by Sendero.
The video clearly demonstrated the brainwashing that is occurring to these children. There is only one girl that was shown, and she sang for the cameras. As she was singing about the fight against the evil Peruvian government the only thing I could focus on was her eyes. This 10 year old child had eyes full of fear and sadness, but spoke words of hatred and violence. It breaks my heart to see the video footage of these children that are having their childhood taken away from them.
The new leader of Sendero, Alipio, has turned his extremist beliefs into a family affair. His brother is his right-hand man, his wife is the head of the women of Sendero, and his 10 year old son heads up the children and was videotaped wielding a machine gun as if it was nothing.
Beyond the horrific aspect of the abduction and brainwashing of children, the fact that Sendero is still ever-present in Perú is just as frightening. Everyone here in Chuschi talks about “when” Sendero returns, not “if”. After watching the special I better understand why.
Communities like this, Chuschi, as still extremely isolated from the rest of the country, and the cutting off of the only road that exists would completely cut off all communication that they have. The people here have been through so much, and the painful memories are still all too fresh for the people here.
I dearly hope that Sendero will never be able to come back to the level of power and terror that they once had, for the sake of the entire country of Perú. I really do not believe that the democracy is stable enough here to withstand another internal conflict. I personally believe that if Sendero came back into power it would put Perú back into the ruin that it was left in in 2000.