Little Pieces of My Life By Pilar Coll Torrente

Little Pieces of My Life By Pilar Coll Torrente
A lawyer by training, Pilar Coll was raised amidst the impacts of the Spanish Civil War on her own family. She came to Perú in 1967, following the inspiration of the Council Vatican II, when European and North American catholic priests and nuns felt compelled to live and work in this land, along with the poor and destitute.

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 In Peru, she was successively an advisor of the catholic student movement UNEC, member of CEAS (Comisión Episcopal de Acción Social) and a founder of the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos. During this period of time workers were deprived of their social benefits and fired en masse; union leaders, activists and politicians were jailed, and there was a fierce governmental repression in response to strikes and demonstrations. She participated in the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (CVR), and worked with the Instituto Bartolomé De las Casas in Lima.

 

 In the last three decades of the past century, Perú suffered unprecedented inflation and devaluations that crushed people’s salaries. Worst of all, the country was shaken by 20 years of violent struggle between the Armed Forces and the Shining Path, a terrorist Maoist-Polpotian guerilla, that caused the loss of 70,000 lives, mostly of Andean indigenous origin.

 

 Exerting her gift of great authority and sympathy, she was tireless, stubborn, firm, sincere, and tender in the defense of the victims, the families of disappeared citizens, threatened leaders, and humble people that were jailed and summarily condemned by masked military judges, many on false accusations. For years she fulfilled the evangelic call to visit the jailed, political prisoners that suffered mistreatment and even massive executions. She would always respect their personal choices.

 

Her selfless commitment helped Peruvians develop the strength to face the devastating effects of the internal warfare on people and institutions. To many of her friends and coworkers, her exemplary life continues to be of great inspiration.