Press Release - January 22, 2002
Contact: Tamara Feinstein - 202 / 994-7219

Declassified U.S. Documentation on
Human Rights Abuses and Political Violence


Washington, D.C., January 22, 2002 – The National Security Archive today published on the World Wide Web forty-one declassified U.S. government documents detailing human rights atrocities over the past 20 years in Peru. They range in date from February 1983 until April 1994, recording a progression of events through three Peruvian regimes (Presidents Fernando Belaunde, Alan Garcia, and Alberto Fujimori) while highlighting key human rights violations committed by government security forces and Peruvian insurgents. The documents were declassified in response to Freedom of Information Act requests filed by National Security Archive staff Lynda Davis and Tamara Feinstein.

Following President Alberto Fujimori’s resignation in November 2000 and Vladimiro Montesinos’s arrest due to corruption scandals, the Peruvian government and people have begun new investigations into past human rights cases (such as Lurigancho, Barrios Altos, and La Cantuta) and have established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In response to a request from the Peruvian Congress’s Townsend (formerly Waisman) Commission investigating Vladimiro Montesinos, the U.S. Embassy (Lima) posted on January 7, 2002, a group of 38 documents, some of which dealt specifically or in part with human right violations during the Fujimori administration. 

In complement to the Townsend release, the records highlighted in this National Security Archive electronic briefing book are a small sample of the quality of U.S. documentation that the Bush administration could and should provide to assist Peru in its investigation of truth and justice on human rights crimes.

Highlights from this briefing book include:

  • Revelations from a member of the Ayacucho police force on his 1989-90 participation in a secret extra-judicial death squad that eliminated 300 “suspects” and was based within the state security apparatus in the region. [Document 24]

  • Details on the aftermath of the 1986 prison massacre at Lurigancho and El Fronton prisons, including comments from President García that while the crisis was “terrible” and “he would not have wished it to happen in this fashion,” it had its “positive side” in eliminating a great number of terrorists and ending the prisons’ previous role as “indoctrination centers” for terrorists. [Documents 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

  • The U.S. Army Intelligence and Threat Analysis Center’s profile of the Peruvian military, intelligence and security apparatus as of 1992, including a critique of counterinsurgency efforts and biographies on key officials such as Vladimiro Montesinos and Alberto Fujimori. [Document 32]

  • A 1991 U.S. Embassy dissection of Sendero violence and psychology, which concludes that Sendero is not “pathological” in its killings, but “calm and dispassionate” and focused toward purely ideological aims. [Document 27]

  • A military source corroborated in 1993 allegations of a death squad based in Montesinos’s National Intelligence Service (SIN) responsible for the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres, but notes he will not speak out since military officers are watched by the state “in Peru’s version of Germany under the Gestapo.” [Document 37]

  • The U.S. diplomatic protests of the massacres at Barrios Altos (1991) [Documents 29, 30] and Huanco (1994) [Document 41], revealing new details of the U.S. government’s attempts to address human rights concerns in Peru under Fujimori.

    Go to the documents