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  HOME | Peru

Vargas Llosa Quits Peru Rights Memorial Panel in Protest

LIMA – Acclaimed novelist Mario Vargas Llosa tendered his “irrevocable” resignation from presiding over the commission charged with the construction of a memorial to victims of 20 years of politically motivated violence in Peru, a move he said he made to reject a controversial decree he called a “barely disguised amnesty” for rights abusers.

Vargas Llosa sent a letter from Paris to Peruvian President Alan Garcia informing him of his decision to put an end to his participation on the commission.

The writer and former presidential candidate said in his letter, to which Efe gained access on Monday, that Decree 1097 “is only going to bring discredit” on Garcia’s administration.

Different sectors have warned of the danger posed by the regulation, promulgated Sept. 1, in making some crimes against human rights subject to the statute of limitations.

Decree 1097 says that prosecutions for such offenses must be shelved if they don’t lead to court verdicts within 36 months, and that the international convention declaring crimes against humanity not subject to the statute of limitations took effect in Peru only when Lima signed the pact in November 2003.

The majority of trials for human rights abuses focus on actions committed between 1980 and 2000, when Peruvian security forces battled Maoist-inspired Shining Path guerrillas.

A post-conflict truth commission blamed Shining Path for a majority of the roughly 70,000 fatalities, attributing most of the rest to the security forces.

Vargas Llosa said in his letter that originally he had accepted the presidency of the commission for the memorial site because he was convinced that the government “was determined to continue the perfecting of Peruvian democracy that was so damaged by the crimes and robberies of the dictatorship of (Alberto) Fujimori and (Vladimiro) Montesinos.”

However, the writer said that the decree will benefit “a good number of people linked to the dictatorship and convicted or tried for crimes against human rights – murders, torture and disappearances – among them the ex-dictator himself and his righthand man.”

He said that he agreed with the protests expressed by representatives of the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Peru’s Catholic bishops, the National Ombudsman’s Office and numerous social and political organizations, including members of Garcia’s party.

In the face of the flood of criticisms of the law, Garcia and his minister said on the weekend that they will not make the matter into a “question of state” if the regulation is overturned by Congress, which this week will decide whether or not to form a commission to analyze the case.

The controversy increased this week, after a score of members of the Colina death squad, created by Montesinos during the 1990-2000 regime of Fujimori, asked for protection under Decree 1097.

Fujimori and Montesinos are currently behind bars after being convicted for corruption and human rights abuses while in power.

Now a Spanish citizen, Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru in 1990, losing to Fujimori. EFE

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