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9 December, 2016

The return of the pishtacos and sacaojos

An indigenous myth was the trigger of the confrontation between Huaycan inhabitants and the police.

Foto: Vidal Tarqui/ANDINA

An angry mob of more than 2,000 people attacked the Huaycán police station on Thursday as a result of rumors about an alleged kidnapping of children by Pishtacos. As a result there was one dead, 16 injured and 34 sentenced to nine months in custody.

Huaycán is one of the settlements of the indigenous migrant population and increased its population numbers considerably with those fleeing the internal armed conflict. For years it was stigmatized as a “liberated zone”, that is to say, an area with a terrorist presence, judged by the Andean origin of its inhabitants.

Until the mid-1970s, the nakaq (a cutthroat) or pishtaco, attacked the solitary peasents by cutting their heads, then amputating their limbs and, by fire, extracting the fat from them, which was sold to the industries to put in motion the machinery and the engines of the different means of transport.

The meaning of the Pishtacos in the Andean world and in the indigenous worldview can not be more terrifying. They are a foreign element that takes life to empower and put into operation a foreign system.

The anthropologist Juan Ansión studied this social phenomenon that was manifested in several peripheral areas of the city of Lima during the escalation of violence of Sendero when it transfer its actions from the countryside to the city. Ansión identified its origin in the fear of the population and its uncertainty about the future. The victims of the Pishtacos were no longer peasants but children, who represented the hope of continuity of all people. Hence the insanity of his attack will focus on the eyes, which are the means for learning and to be able to “look” at the future.

In stories about sacraments and organ traffickers, the beneficiaries are wealthy people who find themselves in exclusive clinics from abroad, that is, people with the capacity and power to break the order. In both cases, the metaphor is the same: the extraction of vitality to operate a foreign system.

The residents of Huaycán indicated in their testimonies the alleged finding of corpses with money and notes of “gratitude” for the organs provided. When asked about the reasons for not alerting the police, they all agreed to point out the fear and distrust of this authority, which they consider corrupt.

Citizen insecurity is one of the main problems facing the inhabitants of Huaycán. According to the INEI, Ate is one of the fifteen districts with the highest number of violent deaths associated with criminal acts. According to the municipality of this district, in Huaycán, robberies and cases of domestic violence increase every year.

It is not ignorance but fear that triggers the riots in Huaycán. Psychosocial campaigns designed to distract public opinion from the political and social problems of the country are no stranger to our history, plagued by weeping virgins and rapists who hide in the mountains surrounding the city. If this is the case in Huaycán, the instigators would have a well-structured knowledge of the behavior of the population of indigenous origin and the investigations would have to lead to discovering the interests behind this mass manipulation.