Angelica Mendoza Asczarza, popularly known as Mama Angelica, died at the age of 88 years on Monday in the city of Ayacucho, Peru.
The Quechua social leader who, along with two other women, founded the National Association of Relatives of the Abducted, Detained and Disappeared of Peru, ANFASEP, in 1983, was a tireless seeker of justice for the relatives of missing persons.
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo: Maldonado Victim of ‘State Violence’
Mama Angelica’s own son, Arquimedes Ascarza Mendoza, was taken into custody by Peruvian soldiers on July 2, 1983, according to Peru21. He was never seen again.
That same year she was pivotal in the formation of ANFASEP, an organization that advocated on behalf of relatives of missing persons amid Peru’s internal conflict which involved the Peruvian military and guerrilla groups, which included the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.
A Truth Commission was established in 2002 to shed light on country’s violent conflict that lasted, officially, from 1980 to 2000. Speaking in her native Quechua, Mama Angelica told the panel that the soldiers who detained her son informed her that he would serve as a witness the following day and would be available at Los Cabitos barracks after his testimony.
“At dawn I went to Los Cabitos barracks and was told at the entrance that he had not been taken there,” she said.
A final report would be delivered by the commission the following year. It confirmed that Mama Angelica’s son was one of the more than 100 victims detained at Los Cabitos barracks. It also revealed the existence of an oven used to incinerate the remains of those executed at the military installation, according to El Pais.
"You achieved the unity of the family, you managed to know the truth and condemned two of those responsible," said Gloria Cano, legal representative of Barracks Cabitos victims, upon learning of Mama Angelica’s passing.
"The love of my son gave me value, just as the pain of so many women who search for our missing family members," Mama Angelica once said.