After years of leading protests against violence and human rights abuses in Peru, Angélica Mendoza passed away at age 88.
The decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s were profoundly traumatic for Peru. Shining Path insurgency group had taken over large areas of the country and was poised to destabilize the government.
Under threat, the “democratic” governments of Peru at this time waged what is now known as “the dirty war” against terrorist forces. In the process, the Peruvian military, like the insurgents, committed atrocious human rights abuses against innocent people.
Among the innocents were indigenous woman Angélica Mendoza’s son, who was taken away by men in black hoods with assault rifles and never seen again.
In response, Mendoza, who became known as “Mamá Angélica”, spent the next 20 years fighting for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It wasn’t until 2001, when a caretaker government took over in wake of ex-president Alberto Fujimori’s flight from the country, that she was able to make progress.
In 2003, she testified in her native language of Quechua. According to Washington Post, around 75% of the victims caught between the military and the insurgents were indigenous Quechua speakers.
Angélica Mendoza will be missed; she decided to take action against violence despite the tragedy she lived and didn’t give up hope when all seemed hopeless. In a reality where a government soldier was as likely to torture and kill you as a terrorist, she fought for truth and justice until the end. She ensured that some, if not all, of those responsible were brought to answer for their crimes.