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The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has twice explained the context in which the sense of the declarations referred to the political nature of the so called Partido Comunista del Perú (Communist Party of Peru) have been distorted. These declarations, as all those attributed to the Commission, must be understood by the country in the light of the mandate we exercise.

The mandate conferred to CVR consists in contributing to clarify serious crimes and violations of human rights as well as to identify the causes of the violence process that gravely affected the country during 20 years. This will commits us to prepare viable proposals of redress, justice and reconciliation.

The Commission is not here to label, name or justify any group, but it will do so concerning their behavior whenever they imply active or passive responsibility in crimes and human rights abuse. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a state institution with a national sense, therefore, it devotes- and it could not be otherwise- to strengthening constitutional democracy.

The Real Academia de La Lengua dictionary says, “party: set or aggregate of people who follow and defend a same opinion or cause”.

Guillermo Cabanellas, author of one of the best known juridical dictionaries used in the field of law, gives the following definition in the “Diccionario Enciclopédico de Derecho Legal”, XII edition, volume V: “political party: grouping that seeks government or State domination or that exercises either of them with more or less defined ideas or programs.” The illustrious author Max Weber, one of the greatest figures of modern sociology calls parties, “the socialization forms aimed at providing power to its leaders within an association and, through that, at providing its active members certain social or material possibilities (the achievement of objectives or the attainment of personal advantages, or both). These can be ephemeral socialization forms or they may have some duration and they appear as associations of all kinds or forms: charismatic entourages, traditional staffing and rational adepts” (Max Weber, Economy and Society. Volume I. Page 228).

On his side, Maurice Duverger and Benjamin Constant point out that a political party is a grouping of persons who profess a same political doctrine.

As Giovanni Sartori points out, and this is an analysis that has been used in the country by social scientists such as Nicholas Lynch and jurists such as Marcial Rubio, we can in fact find up to 2 definitions of political parties: one is the one existing in reality (facts) and another, the prescribed one within a certain political system.

From the former point of view, sheer reality, we can define as political organization or party that which fights to reach power and from it govern to transform reality according to its proposals. In this definition there is no prescription, only the attempt of appropriately describing a certain organization. Denying the political character of an organization that attempts to reach power and govern means to ignore the nature of things.

The subversive groups we have had and we have in Peru can be included within this concept of political organization, which is strictly descriptive.

However, there is another dimension in which no political entity can be acknowledge to be a subversive organization. I refer to the one guided by the principles and values of a determined political system. Specifically, the constitutional and prescriptive juridical vision establishing which among all really existing parties can be accepted within a party system that exists and is regulated by the Constitution.

From this perspective, obviously, a political organization that intensively uses crime and terrorism cannot be admitted within the democratic political system. Article 35 of the State’s Political Constitution cannot be applied to it. This article is:

“Citizens can exercise their rights individually or through political organizations such as parties, movements or alliances, according to law. Such organizations concur in the formation and expression of the people’s will. Their registration in the corresponding registry grants them legal status.”

In this regard, the use of terrorism as a method to accrue power cannot be admitted within the democratic system. Condemnation and rejection of terrorism and crime include the explicit segregation of the Shining Path and MRTA from the party systems, according to the mentioned constitutional regulations.

In sum:

1. A political party is an organization based in an ideology seeking to conquer power. Ideology plus set of ideas/program plus action plan equals political party.

2. In the general characterization, there are democratic and totalitarian parties, the former acknowledge other parties, the latter do not acknowledge the “rules for parties” that characterize democratic regimes.

3. The strategy of some totalitarian parties can be criminal and their objective is to physically eliminate opponents. Not all totalitarian parties are criminal, but we must remember that the worst crimes against humanity were committed by political organizations or parties. The German Workers’ Social National Party, the Italian Fascist Party, the Kampuchea Communist Party, which even after it was toppled by Vietnamese invasion, maintained for long years its place in the United Nations. All these parties sought power. There are innumerable examples, such as that of the Shining Path, that seek to create a “new State” attempting at destroying the existing legal and political order using several methods, especially terror.

4. A political party/ synonym of legality: there can be a legal political party after the decision of those who hold power and apply specific juridical rules in the country. Finally, CVR reminds you of one of the conclusions that the Senate’s Special Commission reached concerning the causes of violence and peace making alternatives in its report of October 18th, 1988, which recommendations were unanimously approved.

“ For the Commission, it has been important to locate this phenomenon, its deep rooting and expansion, its characterization as a political group attached to an ideology that structures an organization and prepares a power strategy, that is, the 3 elements that political science points out as the requirements identifying any political organization, even though its action, the military violence of its application and the terrorism of its acts will have the organization lose the whole political vision of its own proposal.”

Madame Chairwoman, along its work, as well as in all the occasions in which it has publicly addressed citizens, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has shown it is fully identified with consolidating democracy in our country, democracy that means unrestricted respect for the Rule of Law and, at the same time, fundamental tolerance and honesty attitudes among those who are honored to work in public positions. Therefore, we state that any insinuation concerning the slightest proclivity of our institution towards those who are involved in violence is totally unacceptable. We are just complying with our duty. Calling the things by their names and thus, having the State, the political sectors and citizens at large learn about the true nature and dimensions of a phenomenon that caused the death of thousands of Peruvians and abundant material losses to society. Besides, we are not the only ones to have applied this description -political party or organization-to the Communist Party of Peru, known as the Shining Path. Many experts have done so before without causing the insults we have received these days. Even members from State security forces have done so. Allow me, Madame Chairwoman, to quote some official texts and also some recent declarations regarding this issue so we can illustrate congress people.

Firstly, I would like to refer to a publication that does not belong either to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or to any non-governmental organization or political group. I refer to the Manual “Subversion, Ideology and Doctrine”, produced and edited by the Ministry of Defense in 1996. Such document synthesizes the anti-subversive strategy of the armed forces, including an evaluation of what is considered as the internal enemy, that is to say, subversive organizations. Such text points out, concerning the Shining Path’s objectives, that the ideas this group supports are aimed at “designing the objectives and policies that must rule the Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path” (page 30).

This text is not a Marxist publication. It is an official text of our Armed Forces, where they candidly and openly analyze the enemy’s nature, because, as it has been shown in many occasions, it is fundamental to educate in anti-subversive doctrine so as to ensure the effectiveness of the battle against subversion.

This manual points out in page 30 that the Shining Path’s subversion aims at “obtaining power as a means to achieve communist world revolution.” In other words, this official text by our Armed Forces consider PCP-SL as part of the international communist movement. Obviously, this analysis assigns the Shining Path an organization based upon an ideology and a program, as well as a violent strategy to reach power. An organization with these characteristics is a political organization.

However, its methods and strategies as well as the ends they seek, cannot take us to say in any way that the Shining Path makes part of the democratic political parties.

For more detail I quote this military manual again. Referring to the ideology adopted by the Shining Path it states: “it is a political, military organization framed within Marxism, Leninism, Maoism.” (Page 15).

On the other hand, high officers of the Armed Forces with great anti-subversive experience have highlighted the political character of the Shining Path:

A former head of the political military command in Ayacucho, who cannot be suspected of any sympathy towards subversion, declared in an interview to the Commission that the Shining Path’s exclusive aim is a distortion of facts to prevent others from highlighting that the “one leading subversion is the Communist Party of Peru, which aims at taking power by the politics of violence.”

Also, a former national police colonel, who founded the operational intelligence work in the country, making a balance has declared to the Commission that “this was a political war, a non-conventional war. When we speak about subversion, we speak about ideology (….) what is not solely military is a political act and fighting political acts is political war.”

In turn, police general Antonio Quetín Vidal pointed out before the Commission that there was a conceptual error from the start in the State response to subversion because the idea was that they were a group of armed terrorists, exercising violence here and there. However, there was no clear vision of the problem. It was, whether we like it or no, a political project, with political objectives and, strategies, as well as military objectives and strategies and a whole organization that grew in time, of course. And even if it was a chimera, the objective was to seize power.

On the other hand, police colonel Benedicto Jimenez, a recognized expert in this matter, in his recommendations on ideological war in his book Start, Development and End of Terrorism in Peru (Volume II) Page 818, states the following:

“We have to let [subversives] know that there is an error in their interpretation of Peruvian reality and we must question the foundation on which they have built their ideological and political construction (Marxism, Leninism, Maoism - Gonzalo thought). We agree that at this stage of internal war in the country, the strategy must be more political than military. If we do not take into account this detail, we will be making the same mistakes we committed before capturing Abimael Guzman. The best-aimed blow against the Shining Path is in its ideology, which is crumbling.”

Besides, General Maximo Rivera Díaz former head of the National Directorate against Terrorism has pointed out the following: “the Shining Path is a political organization. I have fought subversion for 18 years. I have buried colleagues who were killed by Shining Path people and I have had the chance to speak with subversives and to know who they are.”

Our country still faces some challenges in peacemaking and internal security, as we have all been able to see the last week. It is the duty of every responsible public organization devoted to this issue to seek deep diagnose and solutions instead of becoming destroyed due to short- sightedness or interests other than the Nation’s interest, or lost in secondary discussions that deviate us from the substantial responses the State must give. I say nothing new: old Castilian wisdom contains clear lessons on the bad consequences of frivolity- another name for superficiality when we face serious matters. Iriarte, the fabulist, said this better than any one in a text you all certainly know.

Whether great hounds or simple hounds, subversive organizations have a particular nature that will not simply disappear because we raise our voices or because we get into mutual insulting. Our duty, also that of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, allow me to remind you so with all due respect, also that of the Nation’s representatives, is to better know the subversion issue, which we reject for its violent methods.

Salomón Lerner Febres
Truth and Reconciliation Commission President