Some readers who attended Auckland University in the early ’90s, or Canterbury University in the mid ’90s may remember a Peruvian student, Edgardo Alarcón León.
According to a 1993 Amnesty International report held at the University of Minnesota Library;
At approximately 23:30 hours on June 16, 1986, subversives planted dynamite charges in the road at the place known as Pucallacu in the city of Cerro de Pasco, Department of Pasco. They detonated the dynamite charges as a vehicle transporting military troops was passing. Three soldiers and one civilian were killed, and another three soldiers were wounded.
From then until June 24, the Army made arrests in places near the site of the attack, and in the city of Cerro de Pasco itself. It apprehended a number of people who were accused of being the alleged authors. Among the townspeople arrested were Edgardo Alarcón León, a student leader with the Frente Unico de Comensales of the Universidad Nacional Daniel Alcides Carrión in Cerro de Pasco; Juan Santiago Atencio, a leader of the CENTROMIN-PERU union; Marcial Torres, Vice President of the Frente Unico de Comensales UNDAC-PASCO; Saturnino Rojas Rímac; Teófilo Rímac Capcha, a professor at the Universidad Nacional Daniel Alcides Carrión, Deputy Secretary of the Federation of Farm Communities of Pasco and a member of the FOCEP Political Party which was part of the “United Left” Alliance; and other individuals whose identify it has not been possible to ascertain.
Edgardo Alarcón León, a student leader from the Universidad Nacional Daniel Alcides Carrión in Cerro de Pasco, was one of those detained on June 23, 1986, but on January 26, 1989 was exonerated when no evidence against him could be found. Edgardo Alarcón was an eyewitness to what happened to the now disappeared Teófilo Rímac Capcha subsequent to June 23, 1986, as he maintains that he was held prisoner and tortured in the same detention facility as the victim. On March 2, 1989, Edgardo Alarcón León testified in the presence of Deputy Flavio Nuñez Izaga, at the time Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the House of Deputies.
According to Police Report No. 018 SE-JP, at approximately 2:00 a.m. on January 31, 1989, four subjects wearing ski masks appeared at the home of Domingo Alarcón Cano, located at Jirón Alfonso Ugarte No. 560, in Pampas, Department of Junín, searching for his son, Edgardo Alarcón León. Domingo Alarcón Cano, however, strenuously objected to these men entering his home, and told them that Edgardo was not at home.
7.3 The Police Report also states that at around 1:00 a.m. on February 20, 1989, four subjects entered his home while he, his wife and children were sleeping. The subjects were heavily armed and their faces were covered by ski masks. Two of them were wearing black boots. The subjects forced Edgardo’s father to open all closets and compartments in the house and kept asking him for his son. When they did not find him, they left.
What happened to Edgardo Alarcon Leon? He fills in some details himself, in an interview with the Christchurch Press of 12.10.1996
According to Leon, in 1986 he was a 24 year old Geology and Engineering student in his final year at Cerro de Pasco uni, Pasco, central Peru.,
He was student president and was involved in demonstrations for better conditions for miners, improved education etc. There was high Sendero Luminoso activity in the area and the army beleived that the Maoists had penetrated the campus.
After the bombing Leon was arrested, tortured for 17 days and incarcerated for 31 months. He witnessed the death of a peasant leader under torture and testified about it at his trial.
Leon was acquitted for lack of proof, but three days after his release the army came to arrest him. He fled to to Lima and hid for seven months. He was put in contact with Amnesty International and with the help of AI, Red Cross and an escort of sympathetic parliamentarians, he escaped into Ecuador.
After 9 months Leon was told to leave the country, but AI, contacted its NZ branch and he was accepted as a refugee by this country.
In 1990 Leon arrived in Auckland with one other. He did a course in English at AIT, went to Auckland University and completed a BSc in Geology.
Auckland University was a hotbed of radicalism at that time. Maoism was popular and several student activists and politicians had links with overseas radical/terrorist oganisations including the Communist Party of Philippines and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
When visiting Auckland that year, I was told by a university contact that two Sendero Luminoso supporters had been greeted at Auckland Airport by a student official, alleged to have had ties with the the Basque seperatist group ETA.
Whether Leon was one of this pair, I am unsure.
The Maoist leaning and pro-Sendero Luminoso “Radical Society” was founded in 1991. It was closely linked to the Ray Nunes/Daphna Whitmore led, “Workers Party”. I believe that Leon was actively involved in Radsoc at Auckland University.
Certainly, after 1995, when Leon came to Canterbury to study environmental sciences he was a Radical Society supporter.
I remember picking up a copy of Radsoc’s “Outburst” at Canterbury at the beginning of 1996 and seeing “Edgardo” listed as Radsoc’s local contact. He lived in Ilam Flats.
As far as I know, Canterbury had no Radsoc presence until Leon arrived. Likewise, I believe it had no Radsoc presence after he left.
After Canterbury, Leon studied further in Western Australia.
By 2000 he was in Peru from where he posted this criticism of Sendero Luminoso’s arch-enemy, President Fujimori on the BBC’s “Talking Point” website.
If the international community do not support a tyrant regime, things will improve around the globe. Unfortunately there is not the political will to do that. This is why dictators such as Fujimori is openly challenging the basic principles of democracy.
He is currently back in Australia, working as an environmental scientist.