Abimael Guzmán, chief of the “Shining Path” rebellion in Peru, dies on the age of 86: NPR

In this September 1992 file photo, Abimael Guzmán, the founder and leader of the Shining Path guerrilla movement, screams in a prison cell after he was captured in Lima, Peru. Guzman died after illness, the Peruvian government announced on Saturday. Hide AP caption

Toggle caption

AP

In this September 1992 file photo, Abimael Guzmán, the founder and leader of the Shining Path guerrilla movement, screams in a prison cell after he was captured in Lima, Peru. Guzman died after illness, the Peruvian government announced on Saturday.

AP

LIMA, Peru – Abimael Guzmán, the leader of the brutal Shining Path uprising in Peru who was arrested in 1992, died Saturday in a military hospital after illness, the Peruvian government said.

Guzmán, 86, died of an infection at 6:40 a.m., Justice Minister Aníbal Torres said.

Guzmán, a former philosophy professor, started an uprising against the state in 1980 and led numerous car bomb attacks and assassinations in the years that followed. Guzmán was arrested in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment for terrorism and other crimes.

The Shining Path “has murdered thousands of innocent people and undermined the peace of the country. We do not forget the horrors of this time, and his death will not obliterate his crimes,” said Economics Minister Pedro Francke.

Guzmán preached a messianic vision of a classless Maoist utopia based on pure communism and saw himself as the “fourth sword of Marxism” after Karl Marx, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Mao Zedong.

He advocated a peasant revolution in which the rebels first gain control of the land and then advance into the cities.

Guzmán’s movement declared armed struggle on the eve of the Peruvian presidential election in May 1980, the first democratic vote in 12 years of military rule.

In the 1980s, the man known to his supporters as President Gonzalo built an organization that grew to 10,000 armed fighters before he was captured in hiding in Lima in September 1992 by a special intelligence group of the Peruvian police with the support of the United States. He has since been housed in a Pacific military prison built to hold him.

When Guzmán called for peace talks a year after his arrest, guerrilla violence in Peru had claimed tens of thousands of lives, displaced at least 600,000 people and caused estimated damage of $ 22 billion.

In this file photo dated February 28, 2017, Abimael Guzman, founder and leader of the guerrilla movement Shining Path, center, enters a courtroom at the naval base in Callao, Peru. Martin Mejia / AP Hide caption

Toggle caption

Martin Mejia / AP

In this file photo dated February 28, 2017, Abimael Guzman, founder and leader of the guerrilla movement Shining Path, center, enters a courtroom at the naval base in Callao, Peru.

Martin Mejia / AP

In 2003, a truth commission blamed the Shining Path for more than half of the estimated 70,000 deaths and disappearances caused by various rebel groups and brutal government counterinsurgency efforts between 1980 and 2000.

Nevertheless, she lived on in a political movement of Guzmán’s supporters, which demanded an amnesty for all “political prisoners”, including the founder of the Shining Path. However, the movement for amnesty and fundamental rights failed in 2012 amid fierce resistance from Peruvians with bitter memories of the destruction caused by the Shining Path as a political party.

In its songs and slogans, the Shining Path celebrated bloodletting and described death as necessary to “water” the revolution.

Their militants bombed power poles, bridges and factories in the countryside, murdered mayors and massacred villagers. In the later years of the uprising, they targeted civilians in Lima with indiscriminate bombings.

For twelve years, the Peruvian authorities could not crack the ranks of the Shining Path, which is organized in an almost impenetrable vertical cell structure. Guzman was almost arrested in hiding in Lima in June 1990, but escaped.

During a police raid in Lima in January 1991, a videotape was found showing Guzman and other rebel leaders at the funeral of his wife Augusta La Torre, known as “Comrade Norah”. About 15 years younger than Guzman, La Torre was number 2 on the Shining Path command structure before she died under mysterious circumstances in 1988.

Analysts believe she was murdered or forced to commit suicide as a result of a domestic political dispute.

The video showed a stout Guzmán wearing thick glasses and snapping his fingers while drunk and dancing to music from the 1960s film Zorba the Greek. It was the first picture Peruvians had seen of him since a mug shot during an arrest in 1978.

After La Torres death she was replaced as number 2 by Elena Iparraguirre alias “Comrade Miriam”, who later also became Guzmán’s wife.

Guzmán married Iparraguirre in 2010 in the maximum security prison at the Naval Base in Lima, where he was serving a life sentence. Iparraguirre, also arrested in 1992, was removed from the women’s prison for the ceremony.

Guzmán was initially sentenced to life imprisonment by a secret military tribunal, but in 2003 the Peruvian Supreme Court ruled that the original conviction was unconstitutional and ordered a new trial. He also received a life sentence on retrial in 2006.

The Shining Path was severely weakened after Guzmán’s capture and his later calls for peace talks. Small rebel groups have remained active in remote valleys, producing cocaine and protecting drug traffickers.

Guzmán was born on December 3, 1934, the illegitimate son of a wealthy trader in Tambo, Arequipa, in the southern Andes of Peru.

He studied law and philosophy at the University of San Agustin in Arequipa, where he wrote two diploma theses: “The theory of space in Kant” and another on law with the title “The democratic-bourgeois state”.

“Mr. Guzmán was an extremely brilliant man, very hardworking, very disciplined,” remembers Miguel Rodriguez Rivas, one of his professors.

In 1963, Guzmán took up a teaching position at the state university of San Cristobal de Huamanga in Ayacucho, an impoverished capital of the Andes that had been neglected for centuries by Peru’s traditional power elite in the coastal area of ​​Lima.

In Ayacucho he joined the pro-Chinese political party Bandera Roja or “Red Flag”, became head of its “military commission” and visited China in 1965.

When Guzmán later returned to Ayacucho, he discovered that political rivals had expelled him from the party and formed his own faction.

A descendant of the white elite who had ruled Peru since the Spanish destroyed the Inca Empire nearly 500 years earlier, Guzmán was recruiting the sons and daughters of Quechua-speaking indigenous farmers as he gradually took control of the university.

In the 1970s, his student followers moved to the countryside to conduct detailed studies of communities that years later would be used to consolidate guerrilla control in the zone.

For over 10 years, Guzmán patiently planned before starting his war against what he considered to be the “lazy and antiquated” state of Peru, and surprised the government.

Comments are closed.