Peruvian prison massacres
The Peruvian prison massacres occurred on June 18–19, 1986, after a series of riots in the San Juan de Lurigancho, Santa Mónica, and El Frontón prisons in Lima and Callao. The military repression of these riots resulted in the loss of at least 224 lives.
During the internal conflict in Peru, the bloody campaign by the Peruvian Maoist group Shining Path was responsible for the deaths of thousands of inhabitants of the rural regions of Peru. The Military of Peru, which had been dispatched to put down the insurgency, was also responsible for the deaths of thousands of Peruvians, as it treated campesinos as potential terrorists or terrorist sympathizers.
At the beginning of his 1985–1990 term, President Alan García demonstrated an interest in changing the counter-subversive strategy of his predecessor, Fernando Belaúnde Terry, with the purpose of reducing human rights violations against the civilian population, by calling on the civil society to propose solutions to the problem of political violence in Peru. Nevertheless, his government authorized the prison massacres, putting Peru's human rights violations back into the national and international spotlight.
On June 18, 1986 at 6:00 am, the prisoners began to riot. The riot occurred while a congress of the Socialist International, of which Alan García's APRA party was a member, was taking place in Lima. The prisoners in San Juan de Lurigancho, El Frontón, and the women's prison in Santa Mónica, who had tacit control of the prison interiors, rose up and took prison guards and three journalists as hostages. They demanded the immediate release of 500 people imprisoned for terrorism. García and his government were caught off guard by the uprising. At 10:00, an emergency cabinet session began with the participation of García and military commanders. Three hours later, the Minister of the Interior, Abel Salinas, announced that if the prisoners did not surrender, the prisons would be taken by force. That day, Shining Path started a wave of murders and attacks in Lima that left several dead.
The government of Peru sent a negotiating commission formed by Caesar Samamé, Augusto Rodriguez Rabanal and Fernando Cabieses, who arrived at El Frontón at 4:30 pm to negotiate with the prisoners. However, these negotiations did not bring about results.
At 6:00 pm, as the negotiations had not brought about favorable results, the order to assault the prisons was given. The first attack began in the women's prison at Santa Mónica, where the Republican Guard, which at the time was responsible for protecting Peru's borders and prisons, regained control relatively quickly. They demolished a wall and they sent tear and paralyzing gases into the prison. In two hours the hostages were released, and two people had died.
At midnight, June 19, the assault on the prison on the island of El Frontón commenced. The assault was carried out under the command of the Peruvian Navy. The director of the prison, a judge, and the public prosecutor had protested against the Navy intervention, and declared that they were no longer responsible for what occurred inside the prison as a result of the assault. Meanwhile, from the island of El Frontón the vice-minister of the Interior, Agustín Mantilla, announced that the island was under the control of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces as it had been declared a restricted military zone.
Later, the Navy attacked the "Blue Ward" of El Frontón, which was where Shining Path members were imprisoned, with Naval Infantry support. The walls of the prison were then destroyed with the aid of helicopters. During the assault three members of the Peruvian Armed Forces, one of the hostages, and 135 prisoners were killed. Also at midnight, a swarm of the Republican Guard arrived at Lurigancho prison, and placed explosives around the outer wall of the Industrial Pavilion of the prison where the Shining Path members held a hostage. A joint offensive by troops of the Republican Guard and the Peruvian Army followed. At 3:00 am, after heavy fighting with guns and grenades, the rioters surrendered. Hours later, the 124 prisoners that occupied the building lay dead: they had been executed, one by one, of a shot in the nape of the neck.
According to a cable from the United States Department of State, "at least 100 prisoners were summarily executed." The Peruvian government itself concluded that all 124 rebellious prisoners in Lurigancho prison died in the assault, and that no fewer than ninety were victims of extrajudicial executions.
The national and international scandal that resulted from this multiple crime was enormous. During President García's delayed visit to the scene of the events, he declared that there were two possibilities: "or they [the authors of the massacre] go or I go." Nevertheless nothing was ever done to the punish the guilty. In fact, Luis Giampietri, the orchestrator of the massacre at El Frontón, would later become Alan García's vice president.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "World Prison Massacres". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on February 2, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080206022018/http://www.hrw.org/advocacy/prisons/killings.htm.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Weschler, Joanna (1993). The Human Rights Watch global report on prisons. Human Rights Watch. p. 93. ISBN 1564321010.
- ↑ "Garcia and the Military: Plea for International Support" (1986 State 205132). Hosted by the National Security Archive. June 28, 1986. http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB64/peru10.pdf. Retrieved January 31, 2007.
- (Spanish) Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Las ejecuciones extrajudiciales en el penal de El Frontón y Lurigancho (1986).
- The National Security Archive. Peru in "The Eye of the Storm". Declassified U.S. Documentation on Human Rights Abuses and Political Violence. National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 64. Edited by Tamara Feinstein, Director, Peru Documentation Project. January 22, 2002.es:Matanza en los penales del Perú