Friday, July 18, 2014

A Few Photos From Along Ayacucho's Main Plaza

The Plaza

Ayacucho's main plaza

Equestrian statue of Gen. Antonio Jose de Sucre, one of Bolivar's lieutenants, who led the Independentist forces to victory over the last remnant of the Spanish colonial army at the Battle of Ayacucho.

Most of the plaza was built in the late 1500s and 1600s and all the buildings are in the Spanish style of the time.  There is one detail, however, that passes unnoticed even by people who've grown up in Ayacucho:

Portion of a wall  in Portal Independencia, along the north side of the plaza, showing that at least one Inca mason was used in erecting the original building along the plaza.  Note the close, mortarless fit between stones, and that the face of the each stone bulges out, and recedes toward the joining edges.



The Cathedral 

Ayacucho cathedral, erected in the 1600s and consecrated in 1671.  To it's right is the Zamora y Castilla mansion, which once belonged to Bishop Cristobal de Castilla y Zamora, who donated it to the newly-created University of Huamanga in 1677.

Central nave and the Baroque main altar of the Cathedral.

 Baroque wooden pulpit.

Detail of one of the chapels along the side naves of the cathedral.  In this case, the depiction is of the Holy Trinity.

The main altar.

Litter bearing the image of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, ready to be borne in procession in the upcoming Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen (July 16th).

The University House


Patio of the Zamora y Castilla mansion.   According to some authorities, that fig tree is 500 years old and is the first one to have been brought to Peru.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Few Pictures of the Old Family Home in Ayacucho

The view down the street, on Av. Garcilazo de la VegaThe peach-colored building used to be a police station, and during the Shining Path attack on the city jail in March 1982 guerrilla snipers took over the rooftops on the near side of the street in order to prevent the officers from sallying in support of their comrades at the jail, five blocks down the street.

The view out back.  The large building used to be the Cavero family's cinema.  Every afternoon on my summer visits to Ayacucho was marked by the sound of the cinema's generator going on for the day's showings.  Today it is an evangelical church, but they have kept the projector on display in what used to be the lobby.

The main part of the house, likely built in the 1700s, viewed from the entrance to the courtyard. My great aunt Esther had a parrot, named Pepinillo Landaeta (or Pepe, for short), who lived on the ledge on that nearest column.

A partial view of the house's courtyard and balcony.  The door at the end of the balcony used to be my great aunt Esther's room, and to its right, behind that shuttered window, was the parlor.

Ayacucho Museum to the Memory of Those Killed and Disappeared During the War Years

The main reason I traveled to Ayacucho last week was to attend a two-evening colloquium on "Class, Gender and the Building of Peace in Peru (1961-2014)".  It's main purpose was to examine the role of women in social movements, guerrilla groups, and in building peace and reconciliation, beginning with the  guerrillas of the 1960s,  but centering on the internal war waged  between the Peruvian state and the guerrillas of the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement in the 1980s and 1990s.

Given the political climate in the country at the moment, all doors were closed to the holding such an event in Lima.  However, in Ayacucho, which had been at the center of the violence and which suffered the greatest number of victims -between those killed, disappeared, tortured, traumatized, and displaced- the doors were opened.  And they were opened by no less than the mothers and relatives of the disappeared organized in the Association of Relatives of the Kidnapped, Detained, and Disappeared of Peru (ANFASEP).

ANFASEP was started in 1983, when Angélica Mendoza de Ascarza -"Mamá Angélica"- after fruitlessly searching for her son Arquímedes, who had been taken one night by the army, joined with other women searching for their own relatives who had also been detained.  Mamá Angélica organized them to help each other draw attention to their cause and try to bring pressure on the authorities to release their relatives -or their corpses- and to bring those responsible to justice.  Now, thirty years later, they're still waiting for justice, and the fate and location of many of the victims, including Mamá Angélica's Arquímedes, are yet to be revealed.

Anyway, after thirty years of facing down authorities, threats, and every obstacle thrown in their path, the mothers of ANFASEP are not afraid of much, and they generously co-sponsored the event and got the Jesuit Order to provide the meeting space.

Not only did Adelina Garcia, ANFASEP's current president, open the event on Wednesday evening, but as part of it, they invited those attending to visit the ANFASEP's Museum of Memory, which was the first museum in Peru dedicated to exploring the war and to the memory of the victims.
ANFASEP's building on Prolongacion La Libertad, Ayacucho.

The museum houses photos, documents, and artwork related to the war's victims and their relatives' search for justice and reparations, and clothing and other items that belonged to the disappeared.

ANFASEP's first banner and the cross with the inscription "Do Not Kill", which they bore in their early mobilizations.

Mrs. Lidia Flores -standing before a photo of her late husband, Felipe Huamán, and the shirt he was wearing when he was taken by the police in July of 1984- talks about about the night he was taken, the day, a month later, when she discovered and disinterred his corpse, and her continuing struggle to gain convictions of the policemen who murdered him.

To say that the museum is moving, and harrowing and inspiring at the same time, understates the impact  on one caused by the exhibits and the courage of the women -mainly- who established and run it and ANFASEP.

Artwork depicting the kitchen which ANFASEP ran to feed 200 war orphans in the 1990s.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Back in Ayacucho

I'm in Ayacucho, having arrived yesterday for a two-evening colloquium on "Class, Gender, and Building of Peace in Peru".

I'm staying at the rather pleasant ViaVia Hotel, right the main square.

The hotel is located in Colonial  mansion that has been fixed up with funds from Belgium and is run by the ViaVia traveller's cafe and hotel chain  - they even have Belgian beers on sale in the restaurant.

Normally, I'd stay at the family home on Garcilazo de la Vega street, two block from here, but it's never that comfortable -despite being free- so I opted for the hotel and hot showers on demand.

Not much sooner than I had arrived than the power went out and remained out through lunchtime and on into the late evening.

That meant that I missed all of the Argentina-Holland soccer game in the World Cup except for the addiional time added on because they were tied at the end of egulation time.

The game went to penalty kicks, which I had to miss as otherwise I'd have been late to the colloquium. Fortunately, like sio many others, I could keep up with the progress at any shop doorway and window!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Few Views of Downtown

From L to R: The Presidential Palace, the House of the Oidor, the Archbishop's Palace, the Cathedral.  In the background, at the end of the street is the old Desamparados train station, and in the distance, Mt. San Cristobal overlooking it all.

The House of the Oidor (member judge of the Royal Audiencia during colonial times).  Built in the early 1700s, it is said to be the oldest house in Lima.

Main door to the Lima Cathedral and Basilica

The church of the monastery of San Francisco

The Changing of the Guard at the Presidential Palace

On Thursday, Liz and I headed downtown for a bit before lunch just to look around and get out a bit.  As luck would have it, we arrived just as the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Presidential Palace was getting started.

The guard regiment at the palace are the Dragoons of the "Marshall Domingo Nieto" Cavalry Regiment.   Every midday, Monday through Saturday, some 40 Dragoons, accompanied by the regimental band, take part in the ceremony which was established by President Manuel Prado in 1940.

This was only my second time witnessing the ceremony up close, and the first time I was a little kid, so it was pretty cool.  (I might go back with a video recorder!)