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Sat, 11.29.1958

María Moyano Delgado, Activist born

María Moyano Delgado

*María Moyano Delgado was born on this date in 1958.  She was an Afro Peruvian community organizer and activist. María Elena Moyano was born in the Barranco district of Lima.  

Moyano’s mother laundered clothes for a living. She grew up with six siblings: Rodolfo, Raul, Carlos, Narda, Eduardo, and Martha. For many years Maria Elena wanted to be a secretary, but her mother insisted on her studying law. Gustavo, her husband, insisted she apply to Garcilaso de la Vega University so she could study sociology.  

Her activism began in her teens as a member of the Movimiento de Jóvenes Pobladores, a youth movement in Villa El Salvador, a vast shantytown on the outskirts of the capital, largely populated by indigenous migrants from the interior of the country.  In 1984, at age 25, she was elected president of the Federación Popular de Mujeres de Villa El Salvador (Fepomuves), a federation of women from Villa El Salvador. Under her leadership, it grew to encompass public kitchens, health committees, the Vaso de Leche program (which supplied children with milk), income-generating projects, and committees for basic education. In 1990, Moyano left her position in Fepomuves and shortly thereafter was elected deputy mayor of the municipality of Villa El Salvador. 

Vaso de Leche (Glass of Milk) was an organization Maria Elena Moyano supported. This organization’s goal was to deliver milk to Lima's poor neighborhoods so that children could have at least one cup of milk a day.  It is said in the movie about her that when studying poverty in Peru, she denied God and instead decided to believe in socialism. Moyano believed that soup kitchens were a form of expressing grievances.  After actively confronting Maria Elena Moyano, she began to contemplate her death. She had good reason since many women activists in Peru were murdered.

Maria Antenati Hilario, Juana Lopez, and Margarita Astride de la Cruz were murdered for their change attempts.  The Shining Path (a revolutionary organization) began to tell her to leave her post or she will die, and their guerrillas assassinated Maria Elena Moyano on February 15, 1992.  She was killed in front of her son: Gustavo, and her husband, David Pineki. 

Although only one of many atrocities committed during the most violent period of Peru's modern history, her death resulted in a public outcry.  Thousands of people attended her funeral. Later, in a plaza in the center of Villa El Salvador, a statue honoring Moyano was erected, and her autobiography was published.  The assassination of Moyano was one of the last significant atrocities carried out by Shining Path. In September 1992, Guzmán was arrested, and the organization's leadership fell shortly thereafter. Subsequently, Shining Path was largely eradicated. Moyano has been honored through the Alberto Durant film after her death: Coraje (Courage). 

Peru is a country filled with violence, inequality, and danger; Maria Elena Moyano proved to be a signal of hope when approximately 300,000 people accompanied her coffin. 

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