Interview with Peruvian General Sinecio Jarama (Part III)

hariette spierings hariette at
Fri Sep 27 12:32:57 MDT 1996

>Thanks very much for translating that interview, Adolfo; very interesting
>How representative is this guy of the army and/or the Peruvian ruling
>class? Is their analysis of their own culpability as sophisticated as his?

I will be translating some other interviews.  They are all from the most
influential generals (the ideologues of the various tendencies in the armed
forces) vis a vis the anti-insurgency strategy of the Peruvian ruling class

Next is an interview - from the same book - with the recently departed Grl
Luis Cisneros, former Minister of War at the time in which the Armed Forces
first went directly in to fight against the People's War (under Belaunde's
government, 1980-1985).

"If our answer continues to be approached in this fashion, if we have many
Maria Elena Moyanos (United Left "martyr" and organiser of paramilitary
bands to defend the old Peruvian state - executed by a women's guerilla
detachment of the People's Guerilla Army - A.O.)within different organisms
which may begin to knit together the social body, we could then begin to
control the insurgency"

Luis Cisneros Vizquerra
Former Divisional General Peruvian Army
Former Minister of War and Minister of Defense

The telephone was answered by the maid.  "Who is calling?"  Why do you want
to speak with him? Just a moment, I am going to see if he is in".

In the background a little dog with its characteristic decorative yelps,
would not be quiet even though it was eveident that she was trying to make
him stop barking.  It was one of those playful toy dogs seemingly impossible
to shut up and able to drive the most patient person to despair.

The General was in.  He already had been told that we wanted to talk to him.
He invited to come to his house on a Sunday, exactly 8 days before our date
to leave Peru.  We had no problems to accept the date:  It is not every day
that you get to have coffee with the former Minister of the Interior of
General Morales Bermudez (Dictator, 1975-1980) and former Minister of War of
the second Belaunde government (1980-85).

We nearly failed in finding his house. It is located near the hyppodrome.
According to what the tai driver was trying to eplain to us, these are new
urban developments.  But we could not understand that these were so totally
"terra ignota" for this cabbie.  After we stopped 4 times to ask people for
the street, the driver confessed that the car he was driving was on loan
>from a friend who lent him his cars on Sundays and admitted that it was
difficult to be an epert tai driver with so little practice.  However, we
found the house, and if had not stumbled soon upon the street, our Sunday
cabbie would would have given up the search:  "To drive several times along
the same street is dangerous in these neighbourhoods.  They can shoot us
first and ask questions later.  The rich are afraid".

We rung the bell and the yelps of the doggie we had first heard over the
phone approached us pretending to be those of a fierce guard dog.  Via the
entry-phone we were briefly questioned. Then a young man opened the door and
invited us in.  We went through a pretty garden and entered a kind of
library room where we sat down to wait some minutes for general Luis Cisneros.

He took his place behind a wide desk and in front of a large assault rifle.
A man that speaks clearly and without ambiguety.  He believes in and
advocates that one must use the strongest and most pityless methods against
the rebels and their supporters.  A phrase of his is very famous: "Killing
60 people to get at 6 Shining Path supporters is justified".  He is
recognised as the leader of the hard line or fascist tendency within the
armed forces.  He has been nicknamed "El Gaucho" (the Argentinian), thanks
to his admiration for the "dirty war" methods used by the Argentinian

He tells us that the Peruvian Army, as is the case with most Latin American
armies, has been formed in the spirit of sacrifice for the motherland's
interests.  They are not like the Argentinian or Chilean armies, whose
pretorian guard origins imbued these with the frame of mind of a privileged
caste.  When he (and those from his generation) went into the Military
Academy, he never thought about asking what his salary was going to be.  He
feels a bit betrayed by the new generations who are concerned about this
above all things.  However, he understands that it is difficult for an
officer to spend four years locked in while studying and to come out earning
150 dollars a month, which means that they are the worse paid in South
America.  He accusses Alan Garcia (President 1985-1990) of trying to destroy
the military institutions because he feared "losing the power base he had
among the populace".

The day that Abimael Guzman was arrested, General Cisneros said to us over
the phone that this was the result of the support that the Armed Forces and
the Police were now receiving from Fujimori.

A few months later, towards the end of January 1993, we found out that
General Cisneros had been accussed by Fujimori before the Supreme Military
Council for the crimes "insulting his superior (Fujimori, as "Commander in
Chief") and "affront to the symbols of the motherland" (Fujimori's
presidential sash, one supposes - A. O.) and against the State (Fujimori:
"Le Etat ce Moi" - I surmise).

All this because the General had angrily protested when some high ranking
officers implicated in a plot to topple the dictatorship were sent to a jail
for common criminals and imprisoned guerillas. However, it seems that his
real "crime" had been to say that Valdimiro Montesinos (Fujimori's CIA
linked adviser, chief of the National Intelligence Service), a former Army
captain and the "power behind the curtain" in the Fujimori regime, was a
"dishonour to the motherland" becuase of his shady curriculum (more of this
will appear elsewhere in this book).

On that date, the Supreme Military Council found no grounds to arrest
Cisneros.  But as the General carried on with those and other exposes, at
the beginning of 1994 the Military Tribunals condemned him to 90 days
detentions for "expressing insulting opinions".

GC- We have already fought for 12 years.  In all this time we have grappled
with the spectre that this struggle could not be done Argentina, Chile or
Uruguay style.  We have not yet found our own style but we already have more
dead than under the Argentina, Chile or Uruguay models.  In some way it
would seem that we do not want to find the style because we do not want to
assume the responsibility of harshness.

There is no clean wars.  The war against the subversives or any other war is
a dirty business.  A dirty war because all means are used, licit or illicit.
Wars are all unjust because many people that have nothing to do with the
conflict die.

These are the characteristics of war.  That is why, for us, professionals of
war, the question is to seek that the war shall be a short as possible,
because the longer it goes on the dirtier it will be.

Q- And what is the reason that - as you put it - this own style to face down
the subversives has not yet been found?

GC - In my view this has several aspects, essentially political ones.  We
should not overlook the fact that the rebellion has been planned from the
time of the military regime (1968-1980) and that it raises its head during
the constitutional government.  We knew that they were recruiting people.
We had detected several people and knew something about the organisation.
But we could not act against that which had not yet presented any problems.

When Shining Path begins its actions, we told President Belaunde how he
should act. But the President had the idea that democracy had returned and
that this movement was geared to political struggle against the military.
That we democracy back and a party with wide popular support, the problem
would be finished.

The civilians thought that we were attempting to resist going back to
barracks (after the military regime of 1968-80).  That we wanted to have a
presence in the political life of the country and that because of that we
were exaggerating the subversive problem.  That is why the government begins
to handle things with exagerated calm.  They presumed that this was an
ordinary kind of insurgency such as those that are characteristic in
under-developed countries.

I am sure that for not wanting to give the military a more active
participation, a second mistake was committed: To send in the police.  This
is because the civilians have always wanted to innoculate society against
the military.

Q- And what was this more active participation that you asked for?

GC- We wanted to use the Armed Forces from the beginning.  I was Minister of
War in President Belaunde's cabinet, and he would say to me that he did not
wanted an Argentine style solution.  But I did not want it either.  I was
only insisting in the fact that the sooner the political decision (to send
in the Armed Forces) was taken, the social cost would be lower.  And these
last 12 years demonstrate precisely that.

Q- Nevetheless, after two years, the decision to send in the Army was taken
and they have been fighting already for 10 years. Moreover, according to the
reports of Human Rights organisations, the Armed Forces have committed
serious crimes against the population.

GC - The problem is not only that the Armed Forces were sent to fight -
because they were sent too late.  The problem was that a legal framework was
lacking.  This is because the rebels act outside of the Constitution, they
are not hobbled by the ethical principles of Human Rights, and we had to
fight within all of this.  This was a totally uneven fight.  Therefore, what
we were demanding, was to adapt the Constitution - which was a Constitution
for a country at peace - to the reality we were faced with.

Q- And which were the points for which the laws had to be adapted so that
the Army could fight in a level playing field with the guerillas?

GC- Several points.  These is a total war, not a convetional war. Here the
aim is to win over the minds of the people. It is a war that embraces the
psychological, the economic, the social, the political and the military fields.

And our idea was to fight in those places where the young people who were
taking up arms against the system were being recruited. In the schools, in
the Universities, in the peasant organisations, in the working class
organisations, in the township organisms. To wage an unarmed, psychological

And, who are those who bear the basic task of doing this?  The education
system. But look here, we cannot afford the luxury of having 30.000
subversive teachers, because that lot is forming 900.000 pupils oriented
towards the rebellion.  We believe it is not the task of the military to
kill while we await the education system to throw up another generation of
subversives, so that we have to kill them all over again.  Because who we
are killing is the youth of 16 to 24 years of age.  We are killing the future.

We demanded that if a teacher or a doctor was proven by the courts to be
mixed up with the rebels he or she be benned for life from his profession.
We also demanded the death penalty for the leaders.  But we were told that a
democracy could not enact such laws.  And, under those conditions, it is
very difficult to act.

Under those conditions is very difficult to act and up to know the only ones
paying the cost are the military.  It is one thing not to justify actions,
and another thing is that one should understand them.

To be continued......



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