Authors: Santiago Roncagliolo
because I'm from
wherever you are
Sunday, March 12 / Tuesday, March 21
Thursday, April 6 / Sunday, April 9
Monday, April 10 / Friday, April 14
Saturday, April 15 / Wednesday, April 19
Saturday, April 22 / Sunday, April 23
Observe the orgy of corruption that is flooding the country;
the hunger that annihilates some, the excess that fills
others to bursting;
talk to the people on foot, observe those on horseback
… In this way the violence will be explained …
And if you don't want present-day explanations,
read the Gospel of Saint Matthew (21:12, 13) again
and you will find the millenarian explanation
of a rage that many in the world deem holy.
Rector of the
National University San Cristóbal de Huamanga
We are people with an abundance of faith …
In the Fourth Plenary Session we promised to confront the
The children of the people have not died, they live in us and
vibrate in us.
Leader of Sendero Luminoso
War is holy, its institution is divine
And one of the sacred laws of the world.
It maintains in men all the great emotions
Such as honor, magnanimity, virtue, and valor,
And in a word it keeps them from falling
Into the most repugnant materialism.
HELMUT VON MOLTKE,
quoted in the Senderista
pamphlet “On War: Proverbs and Citations”
On Wednesday, the eighth day of March, 2000, as he passed through the area surrounding his domicile in the locality of Quinua, Justino Mayta Carazo (31) discovered a body.
According to his testimony to the duly constituted authorities, the deponent had spent three days at the celebration of Carnival in the aforementioned district, where he had participated in the dancing of his village. As a result of this contingency, he affirms he does not remember where he was on the previous night or on the two preceding nights, at which time he reports having consumed large quantities of alcoholic beverages. This account could not be confirmed by any of the 1,576 residents of the municipality, who attest to having also been in the aforementioned alcoholic state for the past seventy-two hours on account of the aforementioned celebration.
During the early-morning hours of the eighth day of March, the abovementioned Justino Mayta Carazo (31) states that he was on the main square of the municipality with Manuelcha Pachas Ispijuy (28) and Deolindo Páucar Quispe (32), who have been unable to corroborate this. Then, according to the testimony of the deponent, he remembered his employment obligations at the Mi Perú grocery store, where he fulfills the duties of a sales clerk. He stood and began walking to the above referenced establishment, but when he was halfway there he experienced the inconvenience of being victimized by a sudden attack of exhaustion and decided to return to his domicile to enjoy a well-deserved rest.
Before he reached his door, the attack intensified, and the
abovementioned subject entered the domicile of his neighbor Nemesio Limanta Huamán (41) to rest before resuming his traversal of the remaining fifteen meters to the door of his own domicile. According to his testimony, upon entering the property, he noticed nothing suspicious and encountered no person, and he went across the courtyard directly to the hayloft, where he lay down. He states that he spent the next six hours there alone. Nemesio Limanta Huamán (41) has refuted his version, affirming that at twelve o'clock he surprised the young woman Teófila Centeno de Páucar (23) leaving the hayloft, the aforesaid young woman being the wife of Deolindo Páucar Quispe (32) and endowed, according to witnesses, with sizable haunches and a lively carnal appetite, which has to all intents and purposes been denied not only by her spouse but by the above referenced deponent Justino Mayta Carazo (31).
One hour later, at 1300 hours, as he stretched his arms upon awakening, the deponent states that he touched a hard, rigid object partially obscured in the hay. In the belief that it might be a strongbox belonging to the owner of the property, the deponent decided to proceed to its exhumation. The Office of the Associate District Prosecutor lost no time in reprimanding the deponent on account of his manifestly evil intentions, to which Justino Mayta Carazo (31) responded with demonstrations of genuine repentance, declaring that he would immediately confess to Father Julián González Casquignán (65), pastor of the aforesaid municipality.
At approximately 1310 hours, the abovementioned deponent decided that the object was too large to be a box and resembled instead a burned, black, sticky tree trunk. He proceeded to move away the last stalks of straw that concealed it, discovering an irregular surface perforated by various holes. He found, according to his statement, that one of those holes constituted a mouth filled with black teeth, and that on the length of the body there still remained
shreds of the cloth of a shirt, also calcinated and fused with the skin and ashes of a body deformed by fire.
At approximately 1315 hours the screams of terror of Justino Mayta Carazo (31) awoke the other 1,575 residents of the municipality.
In witness whereof, this document is signed, on the ninth day of March, 2000, in the province of Huamanga,
Félix Chacaltana Saldívar
Associate District Prosecutor
Prosecutor Chacaltana wrote the final period with a grimace of doubt on his lips. He read the page again, erased a tilde, and added a comma in black ink. Now it was fine. A good report. He had followed all the prescribed procedures, chosen his verbs with precision, and had not fallen into the unrestrained use of adjectives customary in legal texts. He avoided words with
—because his Olivetti 75 had lost its
—but he knew enough words so he did not need it. He had a large vocabulary and could replace one term with another. He repeated to himself with satisfaction that in his lawyer's heart, a poet struggled to emerge.
He removed the pages from the typewriter, kept the carbon paper for future documents, and placed each copy of the document in its respective envelope: one for the files, one for the criminal court, one for the case record, and one for the command of the military region. He still had to attach the forensic report. Before going to police headquarters, he wrote once again—as he did every morning—his supply requisition for a new typewriter, two pencils, and a ream of carbon paper. He had already submitted thirty-six requisitions and kept the signed receipts for all of them. He did not want to become aggressive, but if the supplies did not arrive soon, he could initiate an administrative procedure to demand them more forcefully.
After delivering his requisition personally and making sure the receipt was signed, he went out to the Plaza de Armas. The loudspeakers placed at the four corners of the square were broadcasting the life and works of eminent Ayacuchans as part of the
campaign of the Ministry of the Presidency to breathe patriotic values into the province: Don Benigno Huaranga Céspedes, a distinguished Ayacuchan physician, had studied at the National University of San Marcos and dedicated his life to the science of medicine, a field in which he reaped diverse tributes and various honors. Don Pascual Espinoza Chamochumbi, an outstanding Huantan attorney, distinguished himself by his vocation for helping the province, to which he bequeathed a bust of the Liberator Bolívar. For Associate District Prosecutor Félix Chacaltana Saldívar, those lives solemnly declaimed on the Plaza de Armas were models to be followed, exemplars of the capacity of his people to move forward despite poverty. He wondered if someday, on the basis of his tireless labor in the cause of justice, his name would deserve to be repeated by those loudspeakers.
He approached the newspaper cart and asked for
. The vendor said that today's edition hadn't arrived in Ayacucho yet, but he did have yesterday's. Chacaltana bought it. Nothing can change much from one day to the next, he thought, all days are basically the same. Then he continued on his way to police headquarters.
As he walked, the corpse in Quinua produced a vague mixture of pride and disquiet in him. It was his first murder in the year he had been back in Ayacucho. It was a sign of progress. Until now, any death had gone directly to Military Justice, for reasons of security. The Office of the Prosecutor received only drunken fights or domestic abuse, at the most some rape, frequently of a wife by her husband.
Prosecutor Chacaltana saw in this a problem in the classification of crimes and, as a matter of fact, had forwarded to the criminal court in Huamanga a brief in that regard, to which he had not yet received a response. According to him, such practices within a legal marriage could not be called rapes. Husbands do not rape their wives: they fulfill conjugal duties. But Prosecutor Félix Chacaltana Saldívar, who understood human weakness, normally
drew up a document of reconciliation to bring together the parties, and had the husband pledge to fulfill his virile duty without causing lesions of any kind. The prosecutor thought of his ex-wife Cecilia. She had never complained, at least not about that. The prosecutor had treated her with respect; he had barely touched her. She would have been astonished to see the importance of the case of the corpse. She would have admired him, for once.
In the reception area at police headquarters, a solitary sergeant was reading a sports paper. Associate District Prosecutor Félix Chacaltana Saldívar walked forward with resounding steps and cleared his throat.
“I am looking for Captain Pacheco.”
The sergeant raised bored eyes. He was chewing on a match-stick.
“Affirmative. We have a proceeding of the greatest importance.”
The prosecutor identified himself. The sergeant seemed uncomfortable. He looked to one side. The prosecutor thought he saw someone, the shadow of someone. Perhaps he was mistaken. The sergeant wrote down the prosecutor's name and left reception, carrying the paper. The prosecutor heard his voice and another in the room to the side, without being able to make out what they were saying. In any event, he tried not to hear. That would have constituted a violation of institutional communications. The sergeant returned eight minutes later.
“Well, the fact is … today's Thursday, Señor Prosecutor. On Thursdays the captain only comes in the afternoon … if he comes … because he has various proceedings to take care of too …”
“But procedure demands that we go together to pick up the report on the recent homicide … and we agreed that …”
“… and tomorrow's complicated too, Señor Prosecutor, because
they've called for a parade on Sunday and we have to prepare all the preparations.”
The prosecutor tried to offer a conclusive argument:
“… The fact is … the deceased cannot wait …”