Antonio from Jaime Miranda on Vimeo.


 “A man can be destroyed, but not defeated”

E. Hemingway


My name is Antonio Pareja Sulca.

I was born in Huancarucma in 1945.

I am a sculptor.

I have eight children.

I have thirty grandchildren.

Four great grandchildren.


I travelled to Ica in 1957.

And I have seen dogs there. Big dogs, hairy ones.

And there are vicuñas there too. The vicuñas are all standing in order, like in the army.


Also, closer to where we are, in Racachujandra they call it, they say there is a woman with her legs spread open, it is the mountain. That is where we have to throw rocks at. And if the rock stays there, then we stay in the city.

If the rock rebounds, then we won’t stay in the city, we will go back to our land.

See, there I saw cars for the first time, I had never seen them before.


Mi grandfather gave me advice. When we were walking around Otare, my grandfather talked to me all through that seven day hike, that’s where my grandfather told me.... I wasn’t called Antonio then, because in order to bring me to the city my father changed my name to Antonio, because my name was actually Epifanio. He changed my name then and I became Antonio Pareja.


And there it was that my grandfather told me, “look Epicha”, he would say in Quechua: “Epicha, you know what? I, we can’t give you an education, you can’t read, and we are poor, we don’t know nothing either, so we want that when you grow up, we don’t want you to be like us, we want you to be different, and always doing something for our town”. So that was his recommendation. And that is what I think and do. Because I am following my grandfather’s admonitions.


I was only 18 years old back then. And I was put in charge of the training of thirty soldiers. Why? Because I spoke two languages. And that’s why they could understand me. And I would tell them everything in Quechua: [speaks in Quechua]. And I would say in Spanish: “everything that you teach me I will learn, don’t mistreat me, I will do it”. And so it was, I would give them directions in Quechua and they did their exercises with no complaints, they did. Fuck, they were like lions. Why? Because I believe I am the only one from Ayacucho, Huancarucma. Pareja, no less.


I told my friends, the soldiers, “hey, we are not going to another country”. And because they were complaining, I told them: “this is not a boat nor a plane”. So, “I think they have fooled us” “What…?” “Only twenty or thirty dollars? Where are you going to pay that? I think we are going to Cerro de Pasco or La Oroya”.


I was 18 years old when I got to Jauja and there were already two dead soldiers on a truck, all blown up. That’s when I realized the country was in trouble. We were not aware because we were at the army base. And then the lieutenant said to me, I remember, he said: “I am a lieutenant only until today, I am your brother, you are my brother, you watch over me, you are my eyes”. And he stopped being the lieutenant.


We then went to fight in the countryside. So I said, ok, we have been told, and I took a bullet from my rifle, I took the bullet out and poured the gunpowder from the bullet into my coffee. I drank it with my lieutenant, and that is how we went into the countryside.


“Private Antonio Pareja Sulca, you transform those soldiers into tigers for me!”.


The river, the river flew with people, people’s heads; they looked like footballs.


I had to take care of myself, fuck, even if it was only to tell the story I had to live.


So I would sleep on the trees,

The idiot is the one that gets killed, the idiot.

Forewarned is forearmed


So, fuck, my shoe’s nail pierced my heel. I had a limp. Our lieutenant gave us new shoes, brand new. But the rain, fuck, ruined the brand new shoes. In a single day.

That’s the army, fuck, have I served the army.


I was handcuffed to Lobatón [the guerrilla leader], when the radio said Lobatón had been killed on a bridge, with a grenade. That’s a lie, because I have been sleeping handcuffed to Lobatón. So he says: “See? Who are you going to believe? The Gringo, or the radio, who can you believe in? Do you have a cow? A farm?”


“No”, I answered, “I don’t”.


“So who are you fighting for? For what? You are a pawn. You protect the gringos”.


Then I said: “Well I am following orders, but I am also serving the Fatherland”. And he thought I was going to let him go, or something, but no… We stayed handcuffed to each other until the patrol came. When our replacements came, he was handcuffed still, and General Velasco came on a helicopter and he said: “Hey Negro, what are you doing? What have you done?”. And he answered: “fuck, General, I had to do it, I have to fight, I have to, for my country.” That is what he said, so Velasco took out a pack of cigarettes, gave one to Lobatón, they smoked, and then the helicopter flew both of them away.


I’ve done my part. People have lied about me saying I am a terrorist. I have not been a terrorist. They said I had been training them. Also a lie.

But those guys ran away, they died, those same ones. And, shit, I had been hiding for no reason. They lied about me.


And this interview you’re making is very good, that’s the way it has to be. Shit, they gotta talk, they have to tell their story before they die.


There was a lot of suffering in the 70’s and 80’s, it was tremendous…

People did not want to live in the provinces any longer. They all came to Lima.


When I got here they were selling three hundred square meters of land for 150 soles [40 dollars].

There was no road. We have made the road with our own hands, with spades, with the help of Chamorro, the invader.


I founded San Benito with my sculptures. A lot of people came because of my sculptures. Now San Benito is a city, or it’s about to become a city.


The sculptor’s work is a very disciplined one. It is an education. Other towns have gangs, drug dealing… But not in San Benito! No!


So I have a duty, I must help somehow. I should at least leave something behind, so when I am gone I must leave a mark there, or something.


I was thinking… I had left the festivities at my village’s main square, I went down to the river to rest. Down there, I looked at the mountain and said to myself: “Fuck, I’ll make a sculpture here”. The entrance, that is the village’s entrance. The entrance, and I then look at the mountain and I think I’ll make my Saint Mark here, my town’s patron saint here. So I went back to Lima, gathered my money and borrowed some more from the bank.


Look, in order to sculpt, fuck, I have to leave many things unattended. I have been working close to two months on this. That sculpture cost me nine thousand dollars. My money is in that mountain.


You can send a message with a sculpture. You can be something through a sculpture. You can critique something with a sculpture.


I went to a plantation in Pisco. The hotel was full, so we slept on the street, on a sidewalk. A man passed by at three in the morning, and he passed by very fast so I told him: “Hey sir, come here, why are you running away? I am not a thief, I am like you, just a poor person”. So he understood me. and he came back to me and said: “You know there is a plantation here”. “I do”. “What are you looking for?” “I am looking for tree trunks”. “There are no tree trunks here”, he said, but then he turned around and added :“Oh yeah, actually there is one there, but it is huge”.


I discovered that tree, after wandering around for three weeks. It is the only tree I could find, four hundred years old. There it was, the trunk. Fuck, that is the one we found it. Why did they cut it down? It was huge and people used to say they couldn’t pass by it. There was a big shadow, and leprechauns would come out of it. Because it was so huge. And because people were afraid of the leprechauns they cut it down.


It’s haunted, the tree is haunted. Since it is so old, fuck, who knows who could have planted it, it has attracted the leprechauns. Although I have not seen them myself.


That tree almost killed one of my workers and it almost killed me as well.

That tree, that trunk, fuck, it has some history.

Four hundred years of history.


I walked from Huancarucma to Ica with my grandfather. Now that I am 74 I want to walk back the same road.

To Huancarucma.