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Storm in the Andes

A film by Mikael Wiström

Josefin grew up in Sweden with a family myth about how her Peruvian aunt Augusta died in armed struggle for the poor. Augusta and her husband Abimael Guzman created the communist movement Sendero Luminoso
and initiated a war that lasted twenty years. In Storm in the Andes Josefin travels to Peru to find out the truth. There she meets Flor who was born into the war. It changes her life forever.

Flor & Josefin

Josefin grew up in Sweden with a family myth about how her Peruvian aunt Augusta died in armed struggle for the poor. Augusta and her husband Abimael Guzman created communist Sendero Luminoso and initiated a war that lasted twenty years. Josefin travels to Peru to find out the truth. There she meets Flor who was born into the war. It changes her life forever.

Flor

Flor was born in a small village in the Andes in 1978. I first met her together with her parents in 2007 in the village of Osccollo. We were there to show an exhibition of photographs I took of the peasant rebellion organized by her father Samuel and other peasants back in 1974.

Samuel and his fellow villagers made a historical impact when they took back the land stolen by the Spanish invaders from their ancestors more than 400 years ago.
Flor's family escaped from the village and the war in the Andes when she was only four. They established a new home in one of the slums of the capital Lima. Flor soon forgot her childhood Quechua language for the Spanish spoken in the cities. But she did not forget her little sister Erlinda who died during the war from an untreated illness when she was just a few years old. Nor did she ever forget her oldest brother Claudio. He was killed by the military in a prison uprising during the war.
Penal colony Fronton outside Lima © Oscar Medrano

Claudio had been arrested at the university where he studied literature, accused of belonging to Sendero Luminoso.

Flor was the last family member to see Claudio. She was only eight years old and made one of the regular visits to the island penal colony Fronton outside Lima.

Her mother usually accompanied her, but this day she could not find her ID and was unable to go. She sent Flor with a relative and shortly after the visit the prisoners organized a mutiny that was brutally repressed by the military. Most of the prisoners were killed or disappeared. Claudio was one of them.

Flor works as a teacher, and is also studying to improve her life. She lives in the same house as her parents and several of her siblings but longs to find her own place.

Josefin

When I had already started shooting the film with Flor I received an unexpected email from Josefin, whom I did not know.

She told me that she had seen my other Peruvian films together with her part Peruvian family and decided to make contact with me.

Augusta and Abimael's wedding 1964 © Walter Alejos

The story of the family of her Peruvian father was nothing less than the story of the origins of the war I was already documenting with Flor.

Augusta la Torre, the aunt of Josefin, married Abimael Guzman at the home of Josefin’s grandparents in Ayacucho in 1964.

Together they created Sendero Luminoso and initiated the armed uprising in 1980.

A few years later Augusta's relatives escaped to Sweden and were granted political asylum. Josefin was born in 1988, the same year that Augusta died in Peru.

Augusta's wake, 1988
Josefin was given the second name Augusta. From very early in Josefine's life aunt Augusta became a myth and an enigma. After finishing school in Sweden Josefin went to study international relations and Chinese at a University in the UK.

After the first mail exchanges between me and Josefin we met back in Sweden. I asked her if she wanted to go to Peru with me and get to know Flor and search for the truth about her aunt Augusta and the war she initiated. It did not take long for Josefin to accept the challenge, but it took four years to finish the film and Josefin graduated from university in 2014, the same year that the film was finished.