Butcher of the Andes

A Peruvian soldier slaughters dozens, gets away with it, and heads for the subtropics

Almudena Bernabeu is a 35-year-old, dark-haired, Spanish-born attorney for CJA who stands a head taller than her indigenous clients. She hopes to win some sort of reparations for the survivors. Bernabeu began investigating the Accomarca case in mid-2006 on a tip from a retired U.S. government employee whom she declined to name. The employee knew Hurtado was in Florida and that he was a "bad guy," she says.

Bernabeu's allegiance to war survivors is steeped in family history. Her grandfathers were held by government troops during the Spanish Civil War — one spent three decades in and out of custody. She believes neither the United States nor Peru has much interest in pursuing Telmo Hurtado. Why? First, the massacre came to light during Peruvian President Alan García's first term. Unearthing the mess could harm him politically.

Second, the U.S. government supported Peru during its civil war. Our government's payments to the Peruvian military ballooned from $8.7 million in 1989 to $168.8 million in 1992, according to an analysis by journalist Roger Atwood. Prosecuting Hurtado could tarnish relations with an old friend. "The U.S. is not going to be picky after these conflicts because, for the most part, it supported the action," Bernabeu says.

Telmo Ricardo Hurtado, who lived in Miami Beach for nearly five years, was a patrol leader during the 1985 massacre of dozens
Asociación Para El Desarrollo Humano “Runamasinchiqpaq” (ADEHR)
Telmo Ricardo Hurtado, who lived in Miami Beach for nearly five years, was a patrol leader during the 1985 massacre of dozens
The massacre took place in the lush, isolated valley of Quebrada de Huancayoc
Asociación Para El Desarrollo Humano “Runamasinchiqpaq” (ADEHR)
The massacre took place in the lush, isolated valley of Quebrada de Huancayoc

Like Bernabeu, Peruvian lawyer Karim Ninaquispe Gil wants Hurtado to pay for his crimes. A lawyer for the Peruvian human rights group ADEHR, the 30-year-old represents survivors of Accomarca. She has been threatened with death for trying to enforce an extradition order issued by a Peruvian court in 2006. "One of the ways to ensure that this never happens again [is to force] Telmo Hurtado and the others that participated in this massacre to pay their debt to Peruvian justice," Ninaquispe says. "I can't live with the injustice or be a silent accomplice in a society that turns the page like nothing ever happened."

Dr. Salomón Lerner Febres chaired Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and now heads the Institute of Democracy and Human Rights at Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. He wants to see Hurtado in Peru "to face a penalty that conforms to the magnitude of the crime, the number of victims, and the cruelty they faced.... This was a person who, instead of killing people, should have been taking care of them."

Teófila and Cirila — the survivors who have sued in U.S. court — vow to never give up fighting for justice for their families. From the home where she lives with her husband and three sons, Teófila says, "The truth can take awhile, but eventually it will come out."

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...