María Elena Moyano

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María Elena Moyano

On November 29th, 1958, Maria Elena Moyano was born to parents Dona Eugenia Delgado Cabrera and Don Hermógenes Moyano Lescano in the district of Barranco, Lima, Peru. As a teen she became a community activist and a member of a youth movement for freedom in Villa El Salador, Peru called Movimiento de Jóvenes Pobladores or Fepomuves. She was elected as president of the Federación Popular de Mujeres de Villa El Salador a women’s coalition located in the municipality of Villa El Salador, Peru. The programs Fepomuves offered their community rivaled those of the Original Black Panther Party; they offered public soup kitchens, health initiatives, programs that provided milk for the local children, education committees, and projects that helped to generate income. Moyano was a firm believer that the soup kitchens helped to support the community and expose their horrible conditions. She resigned as president of Fepomuves in 1990 and was next elected as deputy mayor of Villa El Salador; her huaband Gustavo encouraged her to study sociology at Garcilaso de la Vega University.

Abimael Guzman Reynoso became Moyano’s rival, Reynoso’s organization The Shining Path was attempting to gain control of the poor neighborhoods of Lima, Peru; they viewed the community organizations as enemies and sought to eliminate them. Members of The Shining Path blew up a distribution center and blamed Moyano for the bomb attempting to eliminate her. The Shining Path was on a mission to spark a revolution in Peru to destroy its government, they also disagreed with the social programs the community organizations provided to the poor people.  The Shining Path’s first strike against the Peruvian government resulted in over 30,000 casualties of innocent people who supported the Peruvian government or military. The people of Peru were living in fear because they were terrorized daily by The Shining Path. The women of Peru chose to take a stand and organize against The Shining Path, but they were attacked and raped, by both The Shining Path and the Peruvian military. The Shining Path’s goal was to shut down any thoughts of creating programs to help the poor people of Peru.

The founder of the Shining Path Abimael Guzman Reynoso was captured by the Peruvian military in 1992, the military was under the control of Alberto Fujimori who suspended the constitution of Peru and dissolved their congress. The Shining Path viewed Moyano as an enemy and a poor leader of the people; she labeled them as terrorist because of their maltreatment of their people.  She not only used her voice and resources to confront and expose The Shining Path but the local police also experienced her wrath because of the violence they inflicted upon the people. Moyano’s named was being slandered by The Shining Path via a pamphlet they used as propaganda, she countered them by stating that she would never turn her back on and destroy what she built to uplift the people.  February 15, 1992 Maria Moyano was assassinated by The Shining Path’s guerrilla forces, she was one of many women revolutionaries who was murdered by The Shining Path. Maria Antenati Hilario, Margarita Astride de la Cruz and Juana Lopez were three other important women murdered because of helping the people of Peru revolt against The Shining Path. A memorial was erected in honor of Moyano and shortly after her death Abimael Guzman Reynoso was arrested and The Shining Path fell as an organization. Moyano like many others are often seen as enemies of the state because they fight for the freedom of their people, often death may be their penalty, but they refused to become comfortable being oppressed. Moyano was a woman of Afro-Peruvian descent that recognized her people were devalued and often mistreated and murdered. She did not allow fear to cripple her; she and other women of Peru took action to preserve their human rights. Ms. Maria Elena Moyano, we proudly stand on your shoulders.


J.A. Ward.

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