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Who was María Elena Moyano?

Agnes Rivera

A quarter of a century since her assassination, the social activist was recently honored with a posthumous award. Are you familiar with her story, or is she an unsung hero?

Who was María Elena Moyano?

Maria Elena Moyano. (Photo: Peru21)

During the most violent years in Peru’s modern history, a young woman from Lima named Maria Elena Moyano took on one of the riskiest roles at the time: she became a social activist.

The terrorist group Shining Path was notoriously suspicious of social organizations, thus causing fear in the public to stand up and speak out.

Since her teenage years however, Maria Elena became a member of youth movements, and would later lead Federación Popular de Mujeres in Villa El Salvador, Lima. This group of brave women created projects to generate income for families, provide food to children, and improve basic education at a time when the country was being ripped apart. She was often referred to as Mother Courage.

For such actions, the Ministry of Justice recently referred to the leader as a “courageous woman and symbol of courage to face terrorism” (Peru21).

Following numerous death threats, Maria Elena was assassinated by members of the Shining Path on February 15, 1992. She was just 33 years old.

Yesterday, 25 years since her passing, Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (PPK) took a moment of silence for the Afro-Peruvian hero and granted her a posthumous award.

Joined by surviving relatives of Maria Elena, including her mother, PPK noted: “There are still people who kill, but thank God not for political reasons.”

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