The disappearance of Jaime Ayala has become a cause celebre in the saga over bringing to justice those responsible for the atrocities that took place in Huanta, Ayacucho, during the counter-insurgency war against Sendero Luminoso. It is now 35 years since the reporter for the La República newspaper entered the stadium in Huanta, the base for the detachment of marines there, never to reappear. He had gone there to denounce an incursion by the marines into his family’s home. There were numerous witnesses to this. Huanta was one of the epicentres of counterinsurgency violence in the 1980s.

The case has gone to and fro within the legal system, repeatedly put forward and repeatedly rejected. It has even gone as far as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights where the Peruvian state promised to see justice done. But nothing has happened, despite the constant efforts of Ayala’s immediate family and the assistance they have received from the Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL). Boris, Ayala’s son who was four months old when he disappeared, is quoted as saying “these are 35 years of impunity”.