light in the Darkness of Peru's Prisons
at the request of A World To Win with Comrade Inez, who had
herself been imprisoned in the notorious Chorrillos women's prison
in Peru. - AWTW
Some initial words:
I want to start by thanking people for the opportunity to express
before public opinion the things that I have gone through personally,
but that go beyond just me. Therefore, throughout this testimony,
I will try to reflect upon the situation that is being experienced
by thousands of political prisoners in Peru, who are truly survivors
of Nazi-style concentration camps, created to annihilate them, not
just physically, but also morally. For me it is a duty to denounce
all of this publicly and this is the reason for this interview.
Q: How is it that the political prisoners in Peru are able to
survive the conditions that they have been subjected to?
A: The political prisoners of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP)
have years of experience of the repressive apparatus of the old
Peruvian state and have drawn many lessons in order to resist and
continue fighting, even under the worst conditions. Because of this
and in accordance with what the Party and Chairman Gonzalo has taught
us, we convert the black dungeons of reaction into shining trenches
of combat, giving substance to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Gonzalo
Thought, principally Gonzalo Thought. Three tasks are carried out:
to fight, to mobilise and to produce. In this way, the prisoners
are organised into the party, army and front within the trenches,
and assume the all-around carrying out of the three tasks. One question
that cannot be overlooked is the high morality of our class which
is put to the test in this situation, demonstrating that we are
superior to the reactionaries and their sinister dream of annihilating
us, not only physically, but principally annihilating us morally.
This - never! They have not and will not be able to do this! A clear
expression of this is that the plans of the Party continue to be
carried out while fully taking on our condition as prisoners of
war: Defending the leadership against the genocidal and country-selling
Q: Before going on to other details, what are the conditions
under which the prisoners carry out their daily activities? Describe
the cells in which they are confined.
A: The conditions of confinement are similar to what we know about
the conditions in Nazi concentration camps. There are three Pavilions.
Pavilions B and C have the same structure, having been especially
constructed for this regime of "maximum security". Pavilion
A has smaller cells and more overcrowding, but has an open regimen.
The cells measure 1.5 x 1.5 metres, built totally of concrete, with
two cement platforms that serve as beds, one toilet inside (which
is an open well), and a water tap (from a basin). There is a gate
with thick metal bars aligned in such a way that only one finger
can fit between the bars. The bars are covered with a metallic panel
that covers 30% of its surface. The cells are aligned in groups
of eight, and face on to a passageway which is approximately 80
centimetres wide. The walls of the passageway have oblique openings
that permit some passage of air and light diagonally, so that the
light only reaches the passageway. In each cell there are two or
three detainees. Some of the detained are the mentally disturbed
who remain in isolated cells. In the whole prison there are approximately
17 of these prisoners. Similarly, they also put some people who
refuse to give in to the servitude that the authorities try to impose
in to these isolation cells. The electric lights are controlled
by the prison guards. Along the passageways there are florescent
lights of very low intensity and light (opaque) that only lights
the passageway and just reaches the edges of the bars (this generates
serious vision problems, producing mydriasis, in other words, dilation
of the pupils).
Q: What goes on day to day in the prison?
A: The detainees remain in their cells 23 hours a day. Throughout
the night the prison guards carry out periodic armed patrols in
order to "verify any situation"; their purpose is to harass
the prisoners and prevent them from sleeping. The final night patrol
of the guards is at 6am and this is the time that the prisoners
get up. We proceed to carry out the cleaning of the cell, and to
prepare ourselves for breakfast, which is either fruit or yoghurt,
prepared by the detainees themselves and which depends on what our
families are able to bring us during visits. At 8am the detainees
of Pavilion A come by with a cup of Quaker Oats for each prisoner.
This usually contains camphor to sedate the prisoners. They also
give a small piece of bread. At 9am the guards come by to make a
roll call, at which time the prisoners are made to stand next to
the bars, to try and humiliate them. Some are taken to the "workshops"
(larger cells), according to the discretion of the prison authorities,
in general the detainees carry out artisan work. At 10am the outings
into the yard start in groups of four cells at a time. This continues
until 5pm when the last group is allowed out. The amount of time
they are allowed out is less than that established by regulations.
Restrictions on outings to the courtyard are a frequent punishment.
At 1pm the "lunch" is distributed (more explicitly the
"genocidal bowl") which generally consists of a cup of
semi-cooked rice infested with worms and potato stew. At 6pm they
give out a liquid, supposedly made with herbs, to which they add
camphor and other substances.
Q: What kind of medical attention do they receive?
A: During the day the butchers of the health service come by, guards
of the National Penitentiary Institute, who after a ten day course
are supposed to be trained to give injections and prescribe medications.
They work in complicity with the chief-butcher who is supposedly
a doctor but carries out the actions of an intelligence officer.
These include interrogations, physically abusing women prisoners,
blackmailing them with their treatments (and shows a lack of the
most minimal measures during his supposed clinical examinations).
Outings to the "tópico" (which is a small examination
room with only an examination table and almost no equipment) are
supervised and approved directly by the Colonel and are used as
a mechanism to promote servitude. Those who do not submit to this
blackmail are not permitted visits to the "tópico" and
are restricted from any necessary medical attention. In the rare
cases of "medical attention," they deal with illnesses
by giving out placebos or analgesics, without treating the underlying
medical conditions, a situation which produces a worsening of these
illnesses and generates medical emergencies that put the lives of
the detainees in great danger (as in the case of appendicitis and
galbladder infections). In some cases they have even carried out
medical experiments with the women prisoners (the case of Mrs Soledad
Flores and Soledad Espinoza who were the subject of unnecessary
laparascopies at the Loayza Hospital). The detainees are removed
from the hospitals after being operated on without being released
by the doctors and transported back to the prison without the necessary
conditions for their post-operative recovery being guaranteed in
any way (as happened with Mrs Rosa González Pérez, who after being
operated on, was taken immediately back to the prison, where she
developed a serious infection that almost cost her life).
The medications are administered at the whim of the "technicians",
who ignore the dosing schedules prescribed by the doctors and even
try to make the prisoners take vaginal suppositories by mouth. Lithium
is denied to prisoners with psychiatric problems, in an effort to
create a highly tense situation among the detainees. The "social
assistants" (actually agents of the state) use the psychiatrically
ill prisoners to create hostility against other prisoners, provoking
punishments, including submitting prejudicial reports that can be
used as criminal records against the prisoners in their legal proceedings.
Prisoners with serious medical conditions like cancer are denied
appropriate and timely medical attention, in an attempt to annihilate
them. The rare cases of transfers are denigrating, brutally savage
and inhuman. The detainees are taken shackled by the hands and feet,
with a metal bar joining the two sets of shackles, and they are
forced to undergo examinations by doctors while in this shackled
condition, even for gynaecological exams.
Q: What kind of illnesses are most often seen?
A: A variety of illnesses exist that are the result of the inhuman
conditions in the prison. For example, there are frequent contagious
infectious diseases and gastritis and ulcers are recurrent and affect
almost all the detainees. We have to emphasise the role played in
this by the "genocidal bowl" that we receive. The poor
lighting that we are exposed to produces vision problems, and although
the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) assumes the
cost of buying eyeglasses in some cases, they only do this when
there is a prescription given by an optometrist, something that
does not happen in the majority of cases because we have no access
to an optometrist. Numerous diseases of the skin exist. There are
epidemics of mites producing scabies which is impossible to control
or eradicate since the boiling of clothing is not permitted. There
is also a high incidence of tuberculosis and hepatitis. There are
some cases of meningitis and these are made worse because of the
numerous complications resulting from lack of treatment. No measures
are taken by the penal authorities to disinfect areas to prevent
the spread of infections. Those who suffer from conditions like
cancer do not receive adequate treatment. The older women prisoners
have no special treatments addressing their difficult situation.
Prisoners who find themselves pregnant receive no adequate pre-natal
or post-natal care. It should be noted that some find themselves
pregnant as a result of sexual assaults that they have suffered.
The new-born find themselves imprisoned along with their mothers
since it is often complicated for them to be taken in by the families
of the detainees. Dental problems are also widespread since there
isn't even the most minimal attention to dental care. To all this
we should add the broncho-pulmonary infections, the constant colds
that result from humidity and cold that exist in the zone of Chorrillos,
which is along the coast.
Q: What is the daily attitude of the prisoners that allows them
to overcome this situation?
A: The attitude of the compañeras is based on a revolutionary optimism,
which belongs to our class, in knowing that we are worthy daughters
of Chairman Gonzalo, of the Party and of the Revolution, a living
example of the prisoners of war who have given their lives in defence
of the revolutionary cause, of communism, and because of this we
are also prepared to be part of the price that must be paid. We
are strengthened by a profound conviction that the revolution will
win, that victory is our sweet sentence, our only one - one in which
the condition of being a prisoner is seen as only transitory. In
daily life it is reflected in the joy of carrying out our tasks,
in our songs and in our dances, that for the reactionaries is a
huge affront and a clear proof that they will never subdue us. So,
we always come together, especially in the celebration of very significant
dates, as well as on the birthdays of the compañeras.
Q: We know that there are not only communists, combatants and
activists detained in the prison, but also masses who have been
brought there. How do these masses confront this situation?
A: We should start by understanding that in this prison, the activity
of the Party has enabled the building of a Shining Trench of Combat,
where we fight politically and ideologically against imperialism,
revisionism and reaction. In this way it also becomes a school for
all the prisoners. The masses get close to and recognise the leadership
and authority of the Party that strengthens them ideologically and
politically - which arms them against this sinister plan of the
reactionaries to annihilate them. The love of the masses and the
Party is great, powerful, indestructible.
Q: What can you tell us about the judicial process?
A: Well, as the world knows, in Peru there is no respect for the
judicial rights and guarantees of political prisoners and prisoners
of war. They continue to try the prisoners in military courts that
are both judge and litigant (this has even been recognised by the
Inter-American Human Rights Commission). They have continued to
use anonymous testimonies (witnesses who have themselves "repented")
to condemn the detainees despite the fact that the reaction itself
has recognised that these testimonies lack any probative value and
that the very "law" that created these "repentant"
witnesses was itself repealed. The trials are not public. Today
they have "repealed" the faceless tribunals, but the detainees
are still blindfolded or hooded, which amounts to the same thing.
Lawyers have been imprisoned, are being pursued, or are part of
a sinister list that the National Intelligence Service (SIN) has
in order to attack them. Therefore no form of legal defence exists.
Lawyers still cannot interrogate witnesses such as the prosecution's
own police agents or military who participated in the arrests. All
those who are found not guilty by the military courts are then tried
again on the same charges by civilian courts. The sentences handed
down or the accusations of the prosecutors are not substantiated
by anything except police reports. There is no evidence provided
to condemn the accused, the sentences are not substantiated and
the arguments of the defence are not even taken into account. To
this we would have to add the fascist control by the state over
the so-called "judicial power" - which is each day more
obvious, so that even reactionaries, like the genocidal Belaunde,
have recognised it publicly. To sum up, the detainees are brought
before sham trials, truly Roman circuses where the thumb of the
genocidal accusers decides the situation of the prisoners. There
is no possibility of legality here.
Q: What do you think of the Ad Hoc Commission?
A: This reactionary scheme was created to clean up the image of
the genocidal regime. Its members are unconditional servants of
Fujimori and the military. They act in co-ordination with the political
police DINCOTE and SIN. International pressure and the exposures
conducted by progressive people have revealed the unlawful persecution
of the masses and the people. The reactionaries have been obliged
to create a mechanism to blunt these exposures, but in practice
this has not changed the basic situation. In reality, it has seriously
complicated the situation, because when this Commission refuses
to give consideration to a case, it has the effect of "justifying"
the logic of the condemnation of this prisoner; besides, there are
no guarantees with regard to Commission decisions. Even Father Lansier
himself has pointed out that he has many cases of prisoners who
have no proof against them in their judicial records - in other
words, their detention is clearly arbitrary and unjust, but the
Ad Hoc Commission has not approved their cases because they say
that they know the prisoner belongs to "red sendero" (based
on information from DINCOTE and SIN). The practice of the Ad Hoc
Commission is even more sinister than that of the courts. Here no
form of defence exists whatsoever. Prisoners are submitted to police
interrogations without having a lawyer present. They confront prisoners
with "those who have repented", or they even look for
proof against the detainees in their hometowns or homes. They call
on neighbours and others to accuse them (this is under coercion).
They do not take the time to study the judicial records since they
only use these as reference points. They have "investigative"
teams that are really intelligence agents. They only admit certain
cases presented by non-governmental organisations that co-ordinate
with DINCOTE and that are as obsequious as this Commission is. This
Commission has reached extremes of immorality. They have received
many big contributions from international foundations, which have
not been used on behalf of the prisoners but instead for the benefit
of the members of the Commission, or in some cases for certain servile
individuals who have been liberated by them. Another example of
their immorality is the sexual favours openly demanded by Lansier
the Priest himself, who behaves like a sexual pervert toward the
women prisoners. This game is catered to by women prisoners who
support the peace accord, those of the MRTA and those "who
have repented". Lansier and his clique have a great deal of
power and control over what goes on in the prison - they control
it jointly with the Police.
Q. It is known that in the prison there are those who are calling
for a peace accord. What arguments do they have to support their
A: They put forward that Chairman Gonzalo has made a call to the
Party to sign a peace accord. They base this on some letters supposedly
presented by Fujimori, which they take as creditable. They say that
conditions to develop the People's War do not exist, that there
is no clear leadership, that the leadership of Chairman Gonzalo
is not there, that the leadership of the Party is being usurped,
that the course put forward by the Party will lead to the defeat
of the People's War, that the actions are not being developed like
they used to be, that the position of continuing is "rash and
militarist", that the Party is leading the masses into genocide
because the leadership is incorrect and that without the direct
and personal leadership of Chairman Gonzalo the People's War cannot
develop. They call for ending the People's War - that is their slogan.
They propose to surrender to a general amnesty for all the political
prisoners. That is what is central for them. That is what they put
forward nowadays, all the time, everywhere, through their slogans.
Q: What is the situation for them, the ones who support the
peace accord? Do they face the same conditions as the rest of the
prisoners? What is the attitude of the authorities with respect
to those who are calling for a peace accord?
A: They have facilities such as access to the authorities, they
have frequent contact and dialogue with them (like with the Ad Hoc
Commission). Father Lansier, representative of Fujimori, visits
them constantly and co-ordinates with them. Their organisation is
permitted and openly recognised. They co-ordinate and participate
in the activities organised by the prison authorities. They are
enthusiastic participants in the championships - contests organised
by the prison directors. They are always doing Peruvian dances to
entertain the authorities, for the genocidal Colonel Ernesto Castillo
Leon and his agents of SIN, who are always coming to the prison.
They play volleyball with them. They do not denounce the genocidal
conditions in the prison, on the contrary, they have a very good
relationship with the guards for whom they even do their laundry.
Q: How do the supporters of the peace accord act with respect
to the rest of the detainees?
A: Every woman prisoner who arrives at the prison is subjected
to tortuous harassment in order to try to break her and have her
join their ranks. They utilise any method they can to try to accomplish
their goals. They have physically assaulted the compañeras. The
harassment is constant. Generally the newly arrived women prisoners
are put into cells with these individuals. Here they dedicate themselves
to harassing them twenty-four hours a day. If they cannot convince
them, they try to break them down psychologically. They repeatedly
rattle off their peace accord gibberish. The compañeras resist and
then they are openly denounced by the defenders of the peace accord.
In front of the guards, they accuse them of things so that the guards
will punish them. In front of the social assistants and other authorities,
they ask them to become informants against those who have remained
firm. They look for every opportunity to provoke them, including
organising "searches" with the guards in order to steal
and destroy their belongings. They publicly snitch on the compañeras
from the Leadership, doing this in front of the agents of SIN, the
Ad Hoc Commission, Father Lansier and the genocidal Colonel Castillo.
For example, the Ad Hoc Commission uses the information provided
by the peace accord prisoners to process the cases and prevent the
release of compañeras. Father Lansier has pointed out publicly that
there are many detainees who have no evidence against them in their
judicial procedures but who they cannot free because they have been
informed (by the peace accord prisoners) that these compañeros have
Q: What is the attitude of the compañeras who put forward upholding
and advancing the People's War with respect to the prisoners who
put forward the peace accord? Is there two-line struggle with them,
and what form does it take? What is put forward in response to the
arguments that they make?
A: In the first place we must clarify some concepts. The two-line
struggle goes on inside the Party, it is the motive force for the
development of the Party, it is its motor. But it is impossible
to develop a two-line struggle with these prisoners who have separated
themselves from the Party, by their own choice. It would be absurd
to do so. We, particularly the Party, according to what I understand,
consider them revisionists, capitulationists and traitors. We combat
them under the political guidance of "Combat Imperialism, Revisionism
and Worldwide Reaction, Inseparably and Implacably!" We take
this up within the task of sweeping away revisionism. We understand
them to be part of that colossal heap of garbage that needs to be
swept off the face of the earth. Keep well in mind that it is being
demonstrated very clearly that the black grouplet is collaborating
with the reaction - it is completely out in the open - they act
in collusion with each other to snitch on and harass the compañeras.
I believe firmly that they are part of the genocidal plan against
the political prisoners and prisoners of war - this is how they
act. It is important to denounce the fact that it is they who poisoned
the tea water on more than one occasion, but the actions of the
Party made them abort their sinister plan. It is also important
to see who these low-lifes are - who their delegates are. Many of
them are snitches, wretches who took up the sinister repentance
law. They even turned in masses; in this way they are all used by
the prison authorities as their representatives. Another question
which is important to clarify is that the Party has taught us to
distinguish, that besides the heads of the black grouplet, there
exist some detainees who have been duped and threatened into following
this revisionist nonsense about peace accords; they trick them by
telling them that they are going to be freed. This is seen clearly
in the public betrayals seen among them. Many have left their ranks
in order to gain the benefits given to "the repentant"
who are among the common prisoners or in areas where there is a
more lenient regime being applied.
With respect to the arguments that they put forward, they are very
absurd and weak. They say that they uphold the peace accord in order
to defend Chairman Gonzalo, but their conclusion is amnesty for
prisoners with the exception of Chairman Gonzalo - since "the
reactionaries will not accept that point". What are they struggling
for then? They are doing this only because they cannot stand up
to the prison conditions, because they seek their own freedom. The
sinister accusation that Chairman Gonzalo is the author of these
letters is unfounded and inconsistent. None of them say that they
have met with Chairman Gonzalo personally. Although there are public
statements from them, none of them have left the prison for that
purpose. They themselves have admitted this in front of the masses
and compañeras who they have tried to force into submission. So
the only thing on which they base themselves is the proof given
by Fujimori - his trick video. They deny the conditions for continuing
to develop the People's War. They don't see that these conditions
intensify every day and that there is a developing revolutionary
situation that is on the rise. This has been demonstrated in six
years since the bend in the road - since the detention of Chairman
Gonzalo. They don't understand the deepening of the class struggle,
the deepening poverty of the masses, nor do they see how the masses
are fighting and resisting.
With respect to the leadership, we must point out that we continue
being under the leadership of our beloved and remembered Chairman
Gonzalo - this has never been denied by the Party - very much to
the contrary, his leadership continues and this is demonstrated
by the way the accords and plans that were left by Chairman Gonzalo
have been fully carried out - what was established by the III Plenum
of the Central Committee. The way forward has been clearly defined
by Chairman Gonzalo; he repeated it clearly to the whole world in
his masterful September 24th speech [from prison - see AWTW 1992/18].
The Central Committee clearly continues what was established by
Chairman Gonzalo. Furthermore it has assumed firmly and resolutely
the defence of the life of Chairman Gonzalo - this has been established
as the political guidance for the period that is developing. Another
question of great importance is to see that the leadership sustains
itself with a Thought. The core of Gonzalo Thought is in the Party
documents, principally in general political line that was established
by the First Congress, in the party basis of unity. If we understand
these things clearly, we can see that these peace accord prisoners
are trying to negate the First Congress, are asking that the basis
be laid for a Second Congress, in other words they want to deny
the general political line and Party basis of unity. Why? Because
they want to negate Gonzalo Thought, that is, negate the leadership.
They miserably accuse us of "militarism", but say that,
"today's actions are not like the ones of the past". In
the first place, both things are wrong and besides, they contradict
each other. Actions are on an ever higher level. Just look at how
positional and mobile warfare has developed more and more in the
countryside. The reaction has admitted that they cannot defeat us.
It has already been 5 years since 1993 which was when they made
their first attempt, 3 years since 1995 which was their second stage.
In the countryside there are ever larger actions. That there is
no great fanfare on the part of the media about this is because
that is part of their reactionary plan for low intensity warfare.
Secondly, there is no such militarism - it has never been fallen
into. Those who only talk about actions are the ones who have only
militarist criteria. Another wretched invention is that the Party
is leading the masses into genocide. What a sinister accusation!
The Party is the one that defends the masses. In my judgement persisting
in the People's War is the only way to do it. What other way would
there be in the face of air bombardments, for example? The base
areas, the Open People's Committees, are defended by means of People's
War. The supporters of the peace accord call for dismantling the
committees and base areas. In other words that they be turned over
to the hands of the reaction. And for what? So that the reaction
can gorge itself more on the blood of the masses and complete its
genocide. It is precisely they who want Chairman Gonzalo to remain
imprisoned - they want the reaction to eliminate him, to assassinate
him; but they will not accomplish this because Chairman Gonzalo
continues to resist and fight from his trench of combat, and besides,
it is the actions of the Party, the People's War, that keep the
reaction from concretising their sinister plan to assassinate him.
The remaining inventions of the black grouplet are so base and wretched,
and at the same time absurd. We have demonstrated it and we will
continue to show it, not only in words, but principally in deeds,
with the People's War.
Q: Any concluding words?
A: I want to reiterate my joy and thankfulness for this interview.
I hope that it serves in continuing to develop the struggle for
revolution in my country, as well as, and particularly, for the
defence of the lives of the political prisoners and prisoners of
war, most especially in defence of the life of Chairman Gonzalo.
I want to join in the Party's gratitude and recognition of the communists
of the whole world, of all the revolutionaries, of the international
proletariat, and of the men and women of the world of good conscience
who have assumed firmly and decisively the defence of the life of
Chairman Gonzalo, the defence of the Peruvian people, and the support
of the People's War - the only road for revolution. I want to particularly
express my acknowledgement of the Revolutionary Internationalist
Movement and the International Emergency Committee, who are leading
this struggle. I want to invite and insist that we continue to struggle
in this battle. We have to strengthen it even more. Equally, I want
to reiterate my commitment to it, to the world proletarian revolution,
to the great wave that approaches. One final request: I would like
for this interview to be published as widely as possible in its
entirety, so that the world knows of this testimony. I hope that
it facilitates an understanding of what is happening in my country.
Thank you very much.