Orin Starn
we sometimes receive strange omens of what Lies ahead.
One gray dawn, almost forty years ago now, a dead dog was found
hung from a lamppost in downtown Lima. No one seemed to know
just who would have done such a thing, or why. Clearly, however,
those responsible wanted to send a message to the new Chinese prime
minister, Deng Xiaoping. They had picked a lamppost not far from the
Chinese embassy and left a crude sign around the dog’s neck. “Deng,”
it read, “you son of a bitch.” The police cut down the unfortunate ani-
mal, a few newspapers ran stories, and Peru’s sprawling, grimy capi-
tal went about its business.
The macabre canine mystery foretold a long and bloody war. It was
1980, and the American hostages were still captive in Iran, Margaret
Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were rising to power, and John Lennon
was soon to be murdered outside his Manhattan apartment build-
ing. The dog had been strung up by militants of a then largely ob-
scure Maoist faction called Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path (and
it was later learned they had left others with similar placards else-
where around the country).1 These hard- line revolutionaries detested
Publisher’s note: The original Spanish- language edition of this book included an
introduction by the Chilean anthropologist Yerko Castro Neira. (See note 21
below for more on his role in bringing When Rains Became Floods to publication.)
A translation of Castro Neira’s introduction, provided by the Universidad
Iberoamericana, is available on the Duke University Press website at www
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