In 2003, Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its Final Report concluding that 69,000 Peruvians were killed or disappeared during the internal armed conflict (1980-2000), The majority of the victims spoke Quechua or other indigenous languages as their mother tongue and lived in Andean provinces and the Amazon region. These demographic characteristics pointed to deep-rooted racism and inequality within Peruvian society against the indigenous peoples that played a part in the violence and the victimhood of indigenous populations. Despite successes in accountability and public recognition of indigenous peoples as core victims of the conflict, a decade and half after the TRC’s Final Report the situation of indigenous peoples’ rights in Peru today continues to be contested politically. This study examines Peru’s status of indigenous peoples’ rights. Specifically, it assesses the state’s respect towards indigenous rights through a case omitted by the TRC but one that continues to dominate political rhetoric: the forced sterilization of women of indigenous and poor economic backgrounds. Relying on interviews with prominent human rights practitioners and archival sources collected by domestic and international advocacy groups on forced sterilization, this study assesses how the case of forced sterilization offers a glimpse into the marginalization of indigenous peoples’ rights violations within Peru’s practiced transitional justice mechanisms. Specifically, the study focuses on memory initiatives within symbolic reparations and the TRC’s Final Report, and how these two processes have situated the case of forced sterilization within the broader context of the internal armed conflict. The findings, which include an analysis of memorials and sites of memory, and a discourse analysis of the TRC’s Final Report, demonstrate how the voluntary omission of this case represents an intersection of racism, sexism, and class-based discrimination directed at an economically marginalized population, perpetuated by the internal armed conflict and reinforced through transitional justice policies. This status of indigenous peoples’ rights reflects the structural inequality embedded in historical power relationships between dominant white society and the marginalized indigenous sectors and the domestic political interests that shape and condition transitional justice policies’ respect for indigenous peoples’ rights in Peru.
Ñusta Carranza Ko is an Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Department of History, Political Science, and Geography at Ohio Northern University. She received her PhD in Political Science from Purdue University and holds Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees from New York University, University of Windsor, and McGill University, respectively. Her research interests include cross-regional research on transitional justice processes in Latin America and East Asia, including policies of memorialization in Peru and South Korea and questions of indigenous peoples' rights in Peru. She has conducted survey research and elite interviews in Peru and South Korea, and held visiting research positions (Instituto de Democracia y Derechos Humanos, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) in Peru.