Missing in Peru

Paralyzed for more than a decade by a conflict between the Shining Path and the military during the 80’s and 90’s, Peru’s peasant communities have found a slow road back to recovery, with few answers about the fate of their missing loved ones. With tens of thousands killed, so far the remains that have been found and restituted to the families are estimated at 1,300 out of a universe of nearly 16,000 people in the whole country. In late October of last year, a ceremony took place in the Andean Highlands as family members of the disappeared came from varying provinces around Ayacucho to collect the remains of their loved ones. 85 white coffins lined the courtyard of the Legal Medicine Institute of Ayacucho and were then carried on the backs of family members and volunteers through the main square in Ayacucho. Families, some of whom had traveled for 24 hours by van and in some cases by mule, were escorted back home to give their loved ones a proper burial. In the village of Huancasancos, where the conflict had hit hard, 12 victims were eulogized. Children were orphaned, women left to raise fatherless families, and babies wrongfully killed.