Indigenous Peru: Between army and guerrillas

Ayacucho is an area of indigenous Quechua culture and one of the poorest areas in Peru. The Society of Jesus has taken charge of a new rural parish in Cangallo, with 25,000 inhabitants in some 70 villages scattered throughout the mountains. Much of its territory was ?liberated? in the 1980s by the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) guerrillas. They assassinated many local authorities and leaders and for a while established the collectivist organisation of production favoured by this radical Maoist group. In the 1980s the violent devastation was due as much to the Peruvian armed forces as to Sendero. In the town of Cayara the Army killed about forty peasants, many of them women and children, and in the community of Lucanamarca the Senderos killed seventy inhabitants who refused to support them. Deficient pastoral attention in the last years has allowed fundamentalist sects to invade the whole area. Top priorities are the formation of lay pastoral agents, and a pastoral programme to reconcile and heal the people?s trauma. Another objective is to help reweave the social fabric, supporting popular organisations such as women?s groups and peasant federations, weakened first by the Sendero, then by military repression, and now by the economic crisis. Fe y Alegría (HL10303) will take responsibility for a string of rural schools to improve teacher training and establish bilingual education in Quechua and Spanish. So far the people are responding favourably to the newly-established Cangallo community of three Jesuits: the Catholics of the area are ?coming back to life? and dare to hope again. [HL11103]