Looking for Carmen
Looking for Carmen explores a violent episode in recent Peruvian history: the civil war instigated by the Peruvian communist guerilla group, The Shining Path, between 1980 and 2000. Abimael Guzman, a philosophy professor considered the “Fourth Sword of Communism” after Marx, Lenin and Mao, founded The Shining Path in the late 60’s in response to the break-up of the Soviet and the Chinese Communist Parties. The Shining Path espoused the Maoist doctrine and fostered armed conflict as the only strategy for changing Peru’s social and political situation. The group’s tactics were widely condemned for their brutality against peasants, trade union organizers, popularly elected officials, and the general civilian population.
In the early 90’s Peru’s newly elected controversial President Alberto Fujimori established an authoritarian regime, closed the Peruvian Parliament, suspended the Constitution and granted the military unlimited power to arrest suspected Shining Path members and have them tried by a secret military court. The government organized more than 7000 native communities in the Andean Highlands into groups known as “rondas campesinas” (“peasants patrol”). International Human Rights Organizations accused the Fujimori government and the Peruvian Armed Forces of engaging in widespread human rights abuses as a tactic to defeat The Shining Path. More than 69,000 people died or disappeared as a result of the armed conflict.
After the collapse of the Fujimori government in 2000, the new interim government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the conflict. Looking for Carmen examines the legal, historical, and human rights context of the civil war by interlinking multiple stories, among them those of Carmen, a member of the Shining Path, Angelica Mendoza de Ascarza, an 81 year old mother, whose son disappeared during that period, Ernesto Jimenez, a photo journalist who worked in the emergency zone during the conflict, and Tomas Livias, one of the few survivors.
Pleasure Dome, Fall Program
Toronto, Canada, 2016
San Marcos University
Lima, Peru, 2015