Aguchita's murder did not go unnoticed, and many official statements were released following her death and burial 31 years ago. Today, as we continue to reflect on Aguchita's life and legacy, we share the third of four of these, as follows:
Statement from the Amazonian Center for
Anthropology and Practical Application (CAAAP)
In the face of the extreme political violence suffered by the indigenous peoples of the jungle, the Amazonian Center for Anthropology and Practical Application, an Institute of the Catholic Church with sixteen years of service in the Amazon, publicly speaks out.
The central jungle of our country has become one of the main centers of bloody armed violence. The coffee and fruit-growing areas are home to indigenous peoples of different ethnic groups who have settled on the banks of the Pichis, Palcazu, Pangoa, Ene, Tambo, and Perené rivers, and who are organized into indigenous communities. There is also a large farming population, principally engaged in agricultural activities.
These two groups of the population, the indigenous peoples and poor rural workers, are the primary victims of this armed violence: murders and forced disappearances, torture, destruction of and forced expulsion from agricultural land, and the breakup of their organizations. You have already heard our view, as well as that of several leaders of indigenous organizations, victims of this insane armed violence.
In recent days, between September 27 and 29, in the town of La Florida, Chanchamayo, Junín, a subversive group carried out seven targeted murders, including that of a sister of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, Sr. Agustina Rivas, who was 70 years old.
The gratuitous death of so many Peruvians deeply hurts and worries us. Each day, it becomes more necessary and urgent to combine efforts that can be translated into concrete and effective action to stop the spiral of violence that this country is experiencing.
In spite of this violent conflict:
- We believe that the strength of faith that unites all Peruvians will give rise to energy, creativity, and hope to overcome what might seem impossible.
- We believe that we build the Kingdom of God by making Peru a place where every Peruvian is recognized as an individual with full rights and where we all have the opportunity to contribute to and create history.
When Aguchita was asked by her province leader to travel to La Florida, she was thrilled because she felt that she was fulfilling a lifelong dream to be a missionary and work in the jungle. Aware of the extreme political violence, she knew she would encounter difficulties, and so to gain a better understanding of what was happening and feel more prepared for the mission, she attended a national conference on non-violence. Also present were pastoral workers, theologians, sociologists, and representatives from institutions committed to working towards justice and peace, including the CAAAP. Aguchita could not have imagined that less than 3 years later, this institution would be releasing a statement about her bloody murder. As the oldest person in attendance, her presence there and her continued presence among the indigenous peoples of the jungle up to the moments of her death offer us an example of how it is possible to have the courage to overcome what might seem impossible. As reflected in CAAAP’s statement, Aguchita’s strength of faith gave rise to an energy, creativity, and hope within her which allowed her to risk everything for mission and contribute to and create history. Can her example inspire you to not be afraid and – energized by the Spirit – risk together for mission?