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Digital National Security Archive (DNSA): Peru: Human Rights, Drugs and Democracy, 1980-2000

About this Collection

Peru: Human Rights, Drugs and Democracy, 1980-2000, is a uniquely detailed collection of records documenting U.S. foreign policy at work in Latin America, as well as a fascinating story of domestic politics in Peru. Incorporating the latest U.S. government releases, which significantly enrich the historical record, these documents, virtually all previously classified, provide a compelling primary-source portrait of Peru's civil war, internal repression, and growing authoritarianism during three successive Peruvian administrations, as witnessed by the U.S. embassy in Lima, U.S. military officials, and U.S. intelligence. Simply put, there is no available compilation of materials on the subject that comes close to the quality and extent of coverage provided by this collection.

Research Value of the Collection

The relationship between the United States and Peru has been both turbulent and ambiguous. Lacking the strategic and geographical proximity of Central America and Cuba, Peru has waxed and waned as an object of U.S. interest over time. The case of Peru presents an excellent example of how divergent and often conflicting initiatives are sometimes promoted by different segments of the U.S. government -- a circumstance that underscores one key fact: policy-making is never monolithic. The records in this set reveal how U.S. counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency objectives at times clashed with professed U.S. devotion to human rights and democracy promotion. The set includes a vast array of on-the-ground reporting from embassy officials, chronicling the daily grind of relations between the two countries. It also offers detailed reports, sometimes updated hourly, on crises including the 1986 prison riot and massacre under Alan García and the Japanese embassy crisis staged by the MRTA in 1997 during Fujimori's regime.

As a general rule, declassified U.S. documents can provide useful context and significant insight into the broader political processes at work in a country like Peru, the structure and activities of different institutions and geographical regions, and the private perspectives and positions of government and military officials. They provide as well illuminating details on specific events. Thus, the materials in this collection will prove valuable to a wide range of researchers, including those who focus on such topics as:

  • Human Rights
  • Counter-narcotics Policy
  • Authoritarian Political Regimes
  • Corruption
  • Electoral Politics
  • Foreign Relations
  • Military Relations
  • Latin American Studies
  • Intelligence Policy
  • Counterinsurgency and Guerrilla Warfare
  • Relations between Press and Policymakers

Coverage on some of these topics, such as human rights and military aspects of the war, is particularly broad and deep.