With the appointment of Valentin Paniagua, a political moderate and the head of the opposition-led Congress, as interim President of Peru, new hope is surfacing for the thousands of imprisoned Peruvians who were forced to cooperate with Shining Path terrorists.
Numerous cases have been under official review for years, and some prisoners have even been recommended for pardon, but because of Peru's corruption and recent political turmoil under ex-President Fujimori, many men like Edgar Cahuana Curi remain behind bars.
Shining Path knew that fear was a powerful tool to force Peruvians to obey them. The leftist guerrilla terrorist movement used it in the 1980s and early 1990s in their quest to impose communism on Peru. The Shining Path movement ultimately was crushed, but Peru's prisons are still filled with its victims, including Cahuana Curi, according to Peace and Hope Association lawyer Wuille Ruiz.
Cahuana Curi sought a better life. The son of poor farmers, he had moved with his parents from their Quechua Indian community in the Andes to Callao, a sister community adjacent to Lima. He worked hard to finish secondary school and was working odd jobs to support his family when an unknown militant of the terrorist group Shining Path forced Cahuana Curi to store a container in the house. The militant did not disclose the container's contents, but refusing to keep it was not an option, Cahuana Curi's lawyer said.
"One of the methods used by the terrorists in their work to get people to collaborate with them was to threaten them," Ruiz said. "This forced Edgar to accept the terrorists' package for fear for his own life and that of his family members. This didn't just happen with Edgar but also with many others."
On August 14, 1993, ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more