“Keep sharing the story of what is happening in Peru”Teri Mattson, Latin America Coordinator of CODEPINK
Logan Williams of Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America interviews US Latin American solidarity activist Teri Mattson on her recent human rights and solidarity delegation to Peru.
When I spoke to her last week, Teri Mattson from Codepink in the USA began by outlining the reasons why she participated in an international delegation to Peru alongside 18 Argentinian human rights and solidarity activists under the banner of Misión de Solidaridad Internacional y Derechos Humanos; an Argentinian human rights organisation.
The purpose of their delegation Teri explained was “to survey the situation of human rights violations in the context of the political and social crisis taking place in Peru since [the coup in] December 2022”. The group achieved this through the undertaking of personal testimonies in key regions across Peru including the capital city of Lima, including from numerous people and organisations bravely taking part in the ongoing mass mobilisations for democracy taking place in the country.
As well as documenting the situation of human rights violations from the coup regime, the delegation was also within the country to “contribute to the international articulation in defence, promotion and protection of human rights throughout the region in order to mitigate the repressive actions of the current regime”.
The Delegation worked to identify trends across the personal testimonies around the “repressive actions of the armed and security forces principally the Peruvian National Police”. These trends demonstrated the systemic way in which these government forces are seeking to halt the spread of the recently emerging combative protest wave since the coup government took power.
Teri would go on to highlight how this ongoing protest wave “began in the peripheries particularly through the use of road blocks which caused a supply crisis across Peru”. These protestors were initially from the indigenous and peasant communities in particular, but the movement had now mushroomed across the country in many different forms.
As a result of these protests, Teri argues that people were repressed by state forces for a variety of reasons including “being present at a mobilisation… for participating in political and trade union activities and, for simply being a social or political activist”.
The delegation successfully surveyed one hundred and forty-seven cases across the five cities they went to, whilst interviewing many others. Teri would go on to state that of those one hundred and forty seven cases, tragically “nineteen plus percent are dead and sixteen plus percent are under threat or coercion by either the state or right wing political forces.”
Teri would be sent to the city of Cuzco to undertake two days of information gathering alongside another delegate. Both delegates’ itinerary would be organised by the local congresswoman who had invited the delegation to come to Peru and has since been “brought up on ethics charges by the congress for organising the delegation and working with leftists”. They would find that most of the interviewees were repressed by the recently militarised national police at a local level.
One of the key barriers facing both Peruvians and the delegation was the restrictions placed on travel. Teri and her fellow delegate “were unable to access the city centre without proof of id, car registration and, a police interrogation”. These restrictions were predominately in areas which could see public rallies but would also include the regional airports.
Teri then went on to share a series of extremely moving photographs of both day-to-day life under the coup regime and the repression of a large regional protest by state security forces. Whilst sharing the photos Teri shared how she and fellow delegates had worked to form a human shield between the National Police and the protestors. These photos were taken by photographers such as Manu Ortiz and Marcos Sierras.
Teri ended the interview by repeating the main ask of activists across the south of Peru that internationally people must ”keep sharing the story of what is happening in Peru…. As the President of Mexico (AMLO) said we are not talking about this enough”.
- You can look at the photo galleries Teri mentions in her interview here and here. Please note some of the images contain violence that some readers may find disturbing. You can see more from photo journalists Marcos Sierras and Manuel Ortiz here.
- Teri Mattson is the Latin America Coordinator of CODEPINK Women for Peace you can follow CODEPINK on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Follow Labour Friends of Progressive Latin America on Facebook and on Twitter.
- Sign the solidarity statement with the struggle for democracy in Peru here.