Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Shining Path Finder

I asked my poet-friend M.A., who's in Peru just now, to give me an update on the late, unlamented Sendero Luminoso guerrilla movement. He responded with this wonderful little evocation of a country adrift:

Sendero Luminoso -- "Shining Path,” which well describes Peru's snailtrack of terrorism -- was most effective in terrifying the campesinos down into Lima, which grew from a population of 2,000,000 to 8,000,000 within a decade and has become the national cloaca. Anyone with money left. Some went to Spain and have since returned to enjoy their higher financial-class status here. Most, I think, rode out the SL terrorism in Miami. One of the best guys I know here spent seven years at the University of Arizona, safe from the kidnap-worries of his father. Now the SL leadership are all in jail, along with [the ever spooky Vladimiro] Montesinos and members of [former President Alberto] Fujimori´s administration. Bruce Chatwin´s great biographer, Nicholas Shakespeare, wrote an interesting novel, “The Dancer Upstairs,” about the Peruvian experiment in terrorism. Like most things here, it got lost or forgotten or just petered out with the quickly exhausted national attention span. Nobody seems to keep the record straight; people don´t lie, but the truth changes. People go out momentarily to buy a newspaper and come home hours later from the movies.

1 comment:

David Goldenberg said...

I have dim memories from the mid-1960's of a student from Lima who came as an exchange student to my high school in CT--he was from an affluent Jewish family and at the time, his description of Lima was not very different from how we were living in CT--we became close friends as I remember, and now reading M.A.'s update, I can only wonder if what is happening in Peru is a micrcosm of what is happening on some scale in the good ole USA--I mean, he was like looking in a mirror back then, as much as my addled memroy serves...