The Central Library of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos and Princeton University Library have partnered to make digitally available to researchers, students, and the general public, the Colección Documental sobre la violencia política en el Perú, an extensive collection documenting the tragic period of terrorism and political violence that plagued Peru in the late twentieth century.
The collection, compiled by Gustavo Gorriti Ellenbogen during his years as an investigative journalist during the period, consists of a vast array of documents including political brochures, flyers, reports from political organizations, periodical publications, newspaper clippings, personal documentation, books and literature of the time. It is probably the most complete and detailed documentary collection for the analysis of the terrorist phenomenon in Peru.
The collection was donated by Gorriti to Princeton in 1989, shortly before he had to leave Peru threatened and persecuted for his opposition to the coup perpetrated by Alberto Fujimori. Upon the journalist’s request, a significant portion of the documentation remained closed to the public until 2006.
Originally called Collection of ephemera from the Peruvian insurrection, the collection was digitized by Princeton in 2021 from a microfilm reproduction made years earlier. The Centro de Documentación del Perú Contemporáneo (CEDOC) at the UNMSM made all of the digitized content available through its Biblioteca Digital after greatly enhancing it with extensive curatorial and descriptive work.
Introduction to the collection by Carlos Iván Degregori
In 2005-2006, Carlos Iván Degregori, the distinguished Peruvian anthropologist and member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission responsible for elaborating a report on the decades of terrorism and political violence documented by the collection, came to Princeton as a Visiting Senior Research Scholar hosted by the Program in Latin American Studies and the School of Public and International Affairs. During his memorable visit, Degregori wrote an introduction to the collection which, though brief, provided valuable context for students and researchers:
“Between 1980 and 1993 Peru lived through the most violent armed conflict of its history. According to the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which worked in the country from 2001-03, the number of dead and missing approached 70,000 people.
Documenting the Peruvian Insurrection contains primary source materials that shed light on several important peculiarities of the Peruvian war. The most horrifying of these is that approximately half of those killed were the victims of the Shining Path-Communist Party of Peru (Partido Comunista del Peru-Sendero Luminoso, or PCP-SL), a small Maoist group largely unknown at the beginning of their armed struggle to the majority of Peruvians and the intelligence agencies of the state. Due to the sheer number of its victims, as well as the cruelty of its actions, the PCP-SL is a unique case in the study of internecine conflict in Latin America. Commonly the greatest perpetrators of violence in other internal armed conflicts that took place in the region were agents of the state or state-associated paramilitary groups. The intensity of senderista violence is even more surprising because its fire power was never comparable to that wielded by other subversive groups from the region, such as the FARC of Colombia or the Salvadoran FMLN.”