Peru army and navy continue with war memorial plans

Retired military and their supporters are going ahead with plans to build a monument to the ‘Defenders of Democracy’, in honor of those who fought against Sendero Luminoso and the MRTA rebels during the 20 years of internal war (1980-2000).  

The monument is planned to be ‘complementary’ to the Museum of the Memory, according to retired General Arnaldo Velarde, president of the Generals and Admirals Association, Adogen. However, unlike the Museum of the Memory, Velarde said, the monument “will not offer a space for reflection on violence but will be a tribute to the fallen”, which include military and police as well as judges, mayors, community leaders and ‘ronderos’ who were murdered by the insurgents.    

 In essence, the monument is the response of military and civilians who do not accept the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, a two-year study presented in 2003 that recognized that Sendero Luminoso was responsible for at least 54% of the deaths over 20 years but also concluded that the military were responsible for a third of the 69,000 deaths and had committed abuses in their counter-insurgency tactics. The military institutions do not accept the Museum of the Memory focus, despite the fact that the world-class exhibition is being expanded to include a broader spectrum of events.

The plans for the monument are being criticized by political analysts as well as human rights organizations, who see it as an instrument to deepen the divide rather than help the nation as a whole recognize its mistakes and move forward.  

Luis Negreiros, head of the Defense Committee in Congress and leading Apra member, is against what he calls a parallel initiative and believes that the promise by President Alan Garcia and museum commission president Mario Vargas Llosa that the museum will be impartial, is “sufficient guarantee.”

The Memory Museum, said Public Ombudsman Beatriz Merino, “has created a controversy. There are people who are in disagreement, but as Vargas Llosa well said, we can convince those who do not have blood on their hands; but we will never convince those who do, they would prefer a museum to amnesia and not one to memory.”

The minister of Defense, Rafael Rey, a constant critic of the Museum of the Memory commission and its plans, is an enthusiastic supporter of the military monument.  Velarde, however, said that Adogen was not expecting any government financing and will depend entirely on public donations. “We hope to ‘awaken’ the gratitude of the Peruvian people who feel that the military has not been awarded sufficient recognition,” Velarde said. The cost would be under $500,000, he said.

The monument will be built on the east section of the Los Próceres park in Jesús María, across Av. Salaverry from the Army officers club and next to the monument that honors those who fought for Peru’s independence.  The mayor of Jesús Maria, Ricardo Ocrospuma, who earlier this year refused to allow the Museum of the Memory to be built in his district, had granted the permit to use park space for the military monument.    

Meanwhile, architectural plans are being drawn up for the  Museum of the Memory, to be built on land donated by the district of Miraflores, next to the sports complex and stadium at Av. del Ejercito and the access road to the Costa Verde beach drive.  At the donation ceremony two weekends ago with Miraflores mayor Manuel Masías, were the Museum commission members, including former UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, novelist Mario Vargas Llosa, who chairs the commission, architect Frederick Cooper Llosa, former Universidad Católica rector, Salomon Lerner, and sociologist Juan Ossio.

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One Comment

  1. chrissy butcher says:

    it,s always important to remember …least we forget ..

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