Reporters Without Borders deplores the seizure of copies of the last 33 issues of the magazine Vórtice during a raid on its Lima printing press on 24 August on the grounds of its supposed links with the Maoist guerrilla movement Shining Path.
The operation was decided jointly by the attorney-general's office, the anti-terrorism prosecutor's office and the police, who gave the mazagine no prior warning. Vórtice editor Ronald Cárdenas Loayza said it showed that the judicial authorities were trying to justify charging him with "defending terrorism," which is punishable by eight to fifteen years in prison.
"The confiscation of copies of issues that are already in circulation raises question about the authorities' intentions," Reporters Without Borders said. "Do they want to seize all the copies of Vórtice in a bid to find evidence for the charge of defending terrorism, one not supported by the facts. Or is it just an intimidation attempt that will expose the weakness of the accusation?
"Cárdenas acknowledges sharing some of the ideas of Shining Path's original leader, Abimael Guzmán, who was arrested in 1992 and who is now serving a life sentence. Vórtice also advocates a general amnesty for all of the protagonists of the 1980-2000 internal armed conflict.
"But that does not mean it defends the crimes that Shining Path committed during the war. The judicial authorities should not allow themselves to be swayed by emotion because of the Peruvian public's understandable sensitivity about this issue. A calm and profound national debate is preferable to any taboo."
Marcos Ibazeta, the former head of the national criminal court for terrorism cases, has criticized every aspect of the Vórtice seizure, which was carried out in response to a complaint by the parliamentarian Octavio Salazar. It came on the heels of the cabinet's approval of a bill, now before parliament, that would punish denying the Maoist guerrilla movement's crimes during the war years.
At the same time, a number of political movement are calling for a general amnesty, not only for Shining Path's former guerrillas and former members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), a self-styled Guevarist organization, but also for Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year jail sentence for human rights violation during his 1990-2000 presidency. It is this amnesty that Vórtice supports.
According to Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the toll from the 20-year internal conflict was 69,000 dead and missing. Blame is laid at the door of both Shining Path and the armed forces, accused of major human rights violations during this period. Elected president last year, former Lt. Col. Ollanta Humala played a direct role in combatting Shining Path during the 1990s.