A WORLD TO WIN    #25   (1999)

Shining a light in the Darkness of Peru's Prisons

Interview conducted 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 dictatorship!

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 position?

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 remained firm.

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.