Thousands of families whose loved ones died or disappeared during Peru’s two-decades-long war with Maoist Shining Path guerrillas are one step closer to finding closure and compensation.

Justice Minister Marisol Pérez Tello announced in August that the national registry for the names of the dead and disappeared will reopen. This will allow at least 2,000 new victims to be included.

At the same time, the government apologized – for the first time – to relatives of the victims, and said it will work to promote the identification and restitution of the human remains of those still missing.

More than 69,000 people died in the years of violence between 1980 and 2000. Thousands more endured torture, sexual violence and large-scale displacement. The vast majority of victims were Quechua-speaking indigenous citizens, living in the Andean and Amazonian regions of the country.

The Shining Path was responsible for 54 per cent of deaths and dis­appearances, while state forces, para­militaries and self-defence committees perpetrated 37 per cent of the crimes, according to Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The government vowed to compen­sate the families of the disappeared 11 years ago. But it has, thus far, failed to fulfil its promise and closed the national registry of victims back in 2011.

‘Justice is a painful and slow process in Peru,’ reflects Angélica Mendoza de Azcarza, founder of the National Association of Relatives of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared (Anfasep).

She has been searching for her missing son for the last three decades. ‘I just want to know the truth of why the army took my son away and what they did with his body. I don’t want to die without putting flowers on his grave,’ she says.

Roxana Olivera