Peru: Angélica Mendoza Almeida

Do not forget that the lives of our loved ones have no price. We have to fight for justice and bring down impunity.

— Angélica Mendoza Almeida

Angélica Mendoza Almeida is a native of Ayacucho, Peru. She has been looking for her son Arquímedes for the past 22 years. He was kidnapped by the military during a dark and bloody period in Peru's history. Through her fight for the disappeared, she formed an organization called Anfasep. Former president Alberto Fujimori accused her of being a terrorist. She had to live clandestinely for some time. She has traveled around the world denouncing what happened. Today, 77 years old, her greatest fear is to die not knowing Arquímedes' whereabouts.

Angélica Mendoza Almeida is a Quechua-speaking woman, born in Ayacucho, Peru. She has happy memories from her childhood: beautiful houses and tranquil landscapes. When she was 18, as is the custom, her mother arranged her marriage. Her husband was a teacher in the village. He was ten years older than she was. They had ten children, including Arquímedes, but Angélica has not seen him during the past 22 years, because he was kidnapped by the military. Ayacucho became a place besieged by the regular army and by the Sendero Luminoso. Arquímedes was 19 when he was taken against his will, in 1983. She looked for him at the military barracks. A piece of paper, written in his own handwriting, sent from the military barracks in Cabito, gave her hope: “Mother, I am here in the barracks, my case is becoming more complicated; please persist in asking about me at the barracks every day.” After that, she never heard from him again. Meeting other mothers, all of them experiencing the same situation, led her to found the National Association of the Relatives of Kidnapped, Imprisoned and Missing People of Peru (Anfasep). This organization has been, and still is, demanding answers about the whereabouts of the disappeared. In 1992, Former President Alberto Fujimori accused her of being a terrorist. She was persecuted because of it. She lived clandestinely, but she was captured two years later. She was liberated because they could never prove that she had committed any crime. When the Commission for Truth was installed in 2001, Angélica was there to give her testimony. She continues to look for her son knowing that she is not alone and that her fight is not a private one. She knows that truth and justice are necessary in order to achieve peace.

Asociación Nacional de Familiares de Secuestrados, Detenidos y Desaparecidos del Perú (Anfasep)