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Peru: Terrorism, Youth and Social Networks

One of the strongest repercussions of the case of MOVADEF's (Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights) application to register as a political party, besides allegations of being a cover for the terrorist group Shining Path (SP), is the amount of young activists and supporters the group has attracted. It is widely believed that most of the 350,000 signatures that the movement presented for its inscription were gathered by means of deception or forgery [es]. Nonetheless, even if this is true, there is no way to deny MOVADEF counts with support among certain young groups.

Most of the explanations are oriented towards the faults of the Peruvian education system that is said to have failed to teach [es] kids and young people about the terrorist era, and to the attitude of some politicians [es] who are against spreading the Final Report [es] of the  CVR (Commission for Truth and Reconciliation). There isn't much talk about the responsibility of the political parties for not confronting [es] the propaganda of this or any other anti-democratic group in spaces like universities or urban and rural bases.

There hasn't been much talk either about the strategies that MOVADEF is using to gain support. However, the alleged objective of at least one of them becomes evident as they increasingly use social networks to spread their message, given that these platforms are mainly used by the youth [es] in Peru. A simple search in Facebook [es] throws several results of profiles and pages of the different MOVADEF cells. The same search results in some pages against MOVADEF, so things get even in a certain way.

YouTube is another social network where MOVADEF is present and active. The group's channel [es] offers videos of their past activities and interviews with members like this one:

There's at least one YouTube user dedicated to uploading videos of activities and interviews against MOVADEF, as well as historic testimonies of the terrorism era: Hagamos Memoria Perú [es] (“Let's Remember Peru”) posts videos like this one:

We haven't found an official Twitter account for MOVADEF, but there is a user named @noalmovadef [es] (“no to MOVADEF”).

Even though the arguments posed by MOVADEF activists, like the ones shown in the previous video, can be despicable and rebuttable, TV stations have shown certain intolerance by not arguing or debating such arguments. This was evident in two (1, [es] 2 [es]) shows from channel Frecuencia Latina. Susana Frisancho posted in her blog [es] about another TV interview, and a commentator points out the attitude of the TV hosts:

fundamentalmente se dedica a interrumpir a sus entrevistados sin dejarlos terinar [sic] una frase completa y sin permitirles que expongan sus ideas con ninguna claridad. Eso no es disputar algo en el terreno político, sino querer silenciarlo, y también es producto de nuestro sistema educativo y de la asunción (en el fondo, irracional) de consensos que no por ser mayoritarios (quizás) son justos o beneficiosos. Por ejemplo, el consenso de que estos jóvenes no tienen derecho a hablar, o incluso el consenso de que Abimael Guzmán debe seguir en la cárcel, algo que debería justificarse en el diálogo y no simplemente decirse a voz en cuello por encima de los que creen que no es así.

Basically, they keep interrupting their guests without letting them finish a complete phrase and without letting them expose their ideas with clarity. This is not debating in a political arena, this is silencing, and it is also a product of our education system and the assumption that (irrationally) consensus that not because they are not coming from a majority (maybe) are fair or beneficial. For example, the consensus that these young men do not have the right to talk or even the consensus that Abimael Guzmán must stay in jail, something should be justified in the dialogue and not simply said on top of their lungs and over the people that don't believe so.

On Ideele Radio's blog there is a transcription [es] of an interview of Congressman Javier Diez Canseco, who pointed out the need for a political and ideological debate: “because their game [MOVADEF's] is not getting registered, but making themselves known and spreading their senderista [Shinning Path] ideas”:

“para cualquiera que tiene dos dedos de frente el colocar el tema de que adhieren al ‘pensamiento guía de Gonzalo’, tenía precisamente por objeto colocar por delante el hacer difusión de la lógica senderista más que el de lograr la inscripción” […] “Me parece claro que en ese sentido han jugado y juegan, y creo que esa es la lógica de negociación desde la cual están presionando al Gobierno y al país. Creo que efectivamente, tienen una presencia juvenil que revela un nivel de significación que hay que encarar en un debate político ideológico en el pedido que viene por delante”, acotó. Ratificó que el tema debe ser enfrentado con una batalla ideológica y el esfuerzo de gestar un liderazgo político que genere niveles de movilización, de acción, y levante banderas y campañas concretas que resuelvan los problemas que tiene la población.

“any rational mind can perceive that the issue of agreeing to ‘Gonzalo's thinking guide’, had the precise objective of spreading the Shinning Path's logic, not of achieving the inscription” […] “In that sense, I think it's clear they have played and still play and that's the negotiation logic with which they are pressing the government and the country. I think that they in fact have a lot of youth presence which raises the need to have a political ideological debate”, he said. He ratified that the issue must be faced with an ideological battle and the effort to impulse a political leadership that can bring the level of mobilization, flag raising and concrete campaigns that solve the peoples’ problems.

Many agree that against terrorism there should not be any contemplation [es]; but it is worth noting that such attitude of denying the adversary its humanity originated the attacks against human rights [es] during the anti-subversion struggle in the country. On the other hand, MOVADEF represents a certain change in Shining Path's strategy since during the terrorism era it never showed its face directly and turned away any sort of dialogue [es]. Now MOVADEF, even if it's only a tactic, shows itself “without a mask”, and has not pulled away from [es] the terrorist actions and ideology of SP.

The recent announcement [es] from the Executive saying that a bill will be presented before the National Election Jury (JNE) to prevent the registration of MOVADEF as a political party, arguing the group is a facade of the terrorist group Shining Path, represents the position of refusing to come up with a truce with terrorism. With this point in mind, Dante Castro of the blog The Fruit of the Alien Fence reflected [es]:

(MOVADEF) ha puesto a prueba la legitimidad del sistema democrático. MOVADEF quiso inscribirse como partido político en el Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE) pero fue rechazado por motivos ideológicos. Una organización que se declara “marxista-leninista-maoísta-pensamiento Gonzalo” obviamente es el PCP Sendero Luminoso con otro membrete. ¿Hasta qué punto la democracia liberal es tan sólida como para asumir un desafío de tal envergadura?

(MOVADEF) has tested the legitimacy of the democratic system. MOVADEF wanted to register as a political party before the National Election Jury (JNE) but was rejected because of ideological motives. An organization that declares itself “marxist-leninist-maoist-Gonzalo thinking” is obviously Shining Path with another letterhead. How solid is the liberal democracy to take on such a challenge?

Finally, journalist Maria Isabel Guerra brings up [es] an interesting point, and on which little has been said:

Lo que me preocupa, me reafirmo, es que el caldo de cultivo social y económico que dio origen y sustento a esta desquiciada ideología sigue vigente. En veinte años las cosas no han cambiado, seguimos teniendo vergonzosos porcentajes de peruanos viviendo en extrema miseria, y en lugar de cuestionarnos esa realidad y de hacer algo para cambiarla y crecer como sociedad integrada, lo que hacemos es temer que unos desquiciados los engañen con discursos extremistas. Me parece que eso es querer tapar el sol con un dedo. No se trata de acallar a la fuerza los discursos extremistas, que eso es como tratar de “proteger al pobrecito campesino” tapándole los oídos sino de mejorar sus condiciones de vida. Que exista un discurso extremista puede ser problemático, pero que NO sepamos cuáles son las condiciones para que éste prenda, que pretendamos ignorarlo y no hagamos nada, es vergonzoso.

What I'm worried about, and I repeat myself, is that the social and economic experiment that generated and sustained this crazy ideology is still alive. In twenty years, things haven't changed, we still have embarrassing percentages of Peruvians living in extreme poverty, and instead of questioning that reality and doing something to change it and grow up as an integrated society, what we do is fear some madmen will trick us with extremist speeches. I think it is like trying to cover the sun with a finger. It is not about silencing the strength of the extremists’ speeches, which would be like trying to “protect the poor peasant” by covering his ears, it is about trying to improve their living conditions. That there is an extremist speech could be problematic, but that we DON'T know which conditions are needed for it to blossom, that we try to ignore it and do nothing, is shameful.

Post originally posted on Juan Arellano's personal blog on January 25th, 2012 [es].

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