Upon arriving at the National Coordinator of Human Rights, I met with family members and lawyers, some already on the bus. I didn’t know most of them, but everyone smiled at me. I asked who I should report to and they told me, “later,” that I should get on the bus. I remembered what a friend had told me when I showed him some pictures of the protests, that all of us who worked with NGOs seem to have the same air of “good people.”
I remember the driver’s friendliness and both on the trip there and back, he always had the RPP radio station on, with information about the trial. On the bus, they passed the sign-up sheets around.
After the identification process, we went to the courtroom of the DINOES (National Directorate of Special Operations). In the main room, there are family members of the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta victims, as well as family members of victims from other cases not included in this trial, who told me that they feel represented by this trial. In the courtroom there is also a place for fujimoristas, (the majority of whom are women), in the first seats to the right. A woman, mother of a murdered journalist, told me that when Fujimori arrives, they cheer and applaud and at times verbal exchanges also occur. If in the small courtroom with its three windows, such exchanges have been prohibited, that is not the case in the main courtroom.
Thus there are family members of the Cantuta and Barrios Altos cases as well as from other cases, such as the mother of the murdered journalist, the Uchuraccay case and more, who follow the trials with great intensity. All of them remember, grieve, and comment on their expectations and the significance of this trial in their lives. To some of them, it is incredible and almost satisfactory enough just to see Fujimori on trial. For the family members, Fujimori’s responsibility is clear. One woman told me she was very grateful for the support of institutions like the National Coordinator of Human Rights and society in general, that even though she won’t have the opportunity to express herself, she knows that there are thousands of people that support them. “This makes me feel stronger and I don’t know how I could ever pay them back,”she said.
I was surprised to see that one of the security guards in the trial is my neighbor.
Héctor John Caro
He started with fickle responses, even when giving basic, personal information.
He claimed to have respected human rights. In sum, he said that this meant permitting human rights representatives to converse with those arrested. But he remembers feeling pressure; if the ministry obligated him to respect the rights of the detainees, the colonels told him that this interaction would jeopardize their positions since important information was carried off. He clearly stated his fear that human rights organizations are keeping information secret. What does he think they could do?
It seemed that his limited conceptual and democratic capacity has made him personify all actions associated with defense and respect for rights. When he referred to human rights, he referred to people and organizations that got in the way of his work.
I could tell that it is not only important to observe the attitudes and emotions of the actors in this historical process; it is also useful to analyze the type of authoritarian, violent, and linear thinking that, coming from people in power, is very dangerous.
His defense strategy, same as the fujimoristas’, to confuse his debate on the struggle against Shining Path is also to struggle against their allies, “human rights.”
Some key phrases:
“I didn’t like it, but I had to respect human rights.”
“I obey orders, I don’t have to ask questions.”
“If it is about beating Hitler, I’m capable of hugging the devil, I accept support from whoever comes to fight terrorism.”
“The military struggle, the faceless judges, the rounds, and the DIRCOTE [Directorate Against Terrorism] defeated terrorism.”
“I was a leader in Cambio 90, but nobody says that, nobody remembers that.”
Another witness was the policeman who was stationed close to the house in Barrios Altos, his responses were very precise when it came to circumstances of his presence at the scene.
The declarations of Marco Miyashiro were very similar to those of Caro.
Finally, Gen. Adolfo Cuba Escobedo testified that the police had no involvement in the massacre and that he only found out about it from the news.
In the afternoon, after a delicious but heavy lunch (carapulcra) the trial became a bit tiresome, our concentration was not the same, people were sleepy, the women and family members play to keep themselves awake, and one of the state prosecutors also falls asleep. (NB)