Home News Abimael Guzmán, Chief of Guerrilla Group That Terrorized Peru, Dies at 86

Abimael Guzmán, Chief of Guerrilla Group That Terrorized Peru, Dies at 86


Abimael Guzmán, the founder and chief of the Shining Path guerrilla motion, which unfold terror throughout a lot of Peru within the Eighties and ’90s, died on Saturday in Peru. He was 86.

Mr. Guzmán died in a maximum-security jail within the Callao naval base in Peru, the place he was serving a life sentence, jail officers mentioned. They mentioned he died of well being issues however didn’t specify a precise trigger.

An estimated 70,000 Peruvians have been killed throughout the decade-long peak of the Shining Path insurgency, at the least one-third by the hands of guerrillas. Shining Path advocated a violent reordering of society away from the vices of city life. Its leaders echoed Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge with warnings that “rivers of blood” would movement after their victory, and that as many as a million Peruvians is likely to be put to loss of life.

Shining Path was virtually fully Mr. Guzmán’s conception, and for a time he appeared poised to grab energy in one among Latin America’s most vital international locations. His avowedly Maoist motion was one of the crucial violently radical within the hemisphere’s trendy historical past, and his fertile thoughts and extraordinary powers of persuasion laid the idea for an intense persona cult.

Like lots of his era in Latin America, Mr. Guzmán was thrilled with Fidel Castro’s revolutionary victory in Cuba in 1959. Later, nonetheless, he got here to scorn Castro, the Soviet Union and even reasonable factions in China.

Mr. Guzmán visited China a number of occasions. He got here away with the imaginative and prescient of a Peru with out cash, banks, trade or international commerce, the place everybody can be a landholder and dwell from barter.

Each of Peru’s primary Communist events expelled him, however he developed a faithful coterie of scholars and professors.

“He was a really charismatic trainer, with a florid rhetorical type that basically attracted college students,” the political scientist David Scott Palmer mentioned in 2013. “He grew to become so robust partly due to 17 years of preparation, and partly as a result of authorities missteps created circumstances favorable to revolution.”

(Professor Palmer was a Peace Corps volunteer within the Nineteen Sixties and shared an workplace at San Cristóbal of Huamanga Nationwide College in Ayacucho, Peru, with Mr. Guzmán, who was then a college member. Professor Palmer died in 2018.)

Shining Path carried out its first violent actions in 1980, together with the bombing of polling locations and the takeover of city halls in distant villages. One morning in December, individuals in Lima, the capital, awoke to the sight of useless canine hanging from dozens of lampposts. Across the neck of every was a placard with a slogan referring to factional battle inside the Chinese language Communist Occasion.

This was the primary signal of the phantasmagorical savagery that was about to descend on Peru. Mr. Guzmán, calling himself President Gonzalo, proclaimed himself the “Fourth Sword of Communism,” after Marx, Lenin and Mao. He preached “Gonzalo Thought,” which he mentioned would deliver the world to a “increased stage of Marxism.”

“When the Shining Path took up arms, the try appeared a doomed effort to graft the Chinese language expertise onto the fully completely different Peruvian tradition,” the Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti wrote. “To most individuals in Peru, together with the authorized left, the motion gave the impression to be a loopy sect, hopelessly divorced from actuality.”

However Mr. Guzmán’s fighters waged a spectacularly profitable army marketing campaign that introduced massive elements of the nation below their management. Terror and assassination have been favored techniques. The battle unfold from rural areas to Lima, the place provides of water, electrical energy and meals grew to become unreliable.

Bombs exploded in film theaters, eating places and police stations. Kidnappings have been rampant. Notices appeared on partitions warning civilians to flee. 1000’s did. The financial system, already in dire form due to poor political management, plunged towards chaos.

Shining Path tried to discover a base amongst Indigenous individuals whose wants had lengthy been ignored by Peru’s elite, although many Indigenous individuals have been additionally victims of the insurgency. A part of Mr. Guzmán’s technique was to attract the nation’s military into bloody reprisals, revealing its “fascist entrails.”

Navy repression was certainly fierce. Troopers killed many civilians and terrorized Indigenous areas, driving many to help the rebels.

After a number of years, the federal government modified course. It withdrew some abusive items, gave troopers rudimentary human rights coaching and commenced civic motion applications.

Two figures related to the marketing campaign towards Shining Path, President Alberto Fujimori and his intelligence director, Vladimiro Montesinos, have been later given lengthy jail sentences after being convicted of participating in corruption and sponsoring loss of life squads.

On Sept. 12, 1992, members of a particular police unit devoted to monitoring Shining Path leaders closed in on a house in a well-to-do Lima neighborhood and captured Mr. Guzmán. He appeared in a army court docket sporting a black-and-white striped prisoner’s uniform. Hooded judges discovered him responsible of terror crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

In 1993, Mr. Guzmán appeared a number of occasions on Peruvian tv and referred to as on Shining Path fighters to surrender their arms. Most did, and the riot light.

Manuel Rubén Abimael Guzmán Reynoso was born on Dec. 3, 1934, within the city of Mollendo, on Peru’s southern coast. His father, who had six youngsters with three ladies, received a prize within the nationwide lottery and despatched him to a Roman Catholic highschool and to varsity.

After incomes levels in legislation and philosophy, Mr. Guzmán joined the college at San Agustín Nationwide College within the mountain city of Arequipa. He grew to become director of its trainer coaching program, which attracted college students from Indigenous villages.

Mr. Guzmán is just not identified to have had youngsters. As a younger man, he married Augusta La Torre, daughter of a Communist Occasion chief in Ayacucho. Generally known as “Comrade Norah,” she grew to become the second in charge of Shining Path. She died in 1988 below mysterious circumstances.

In 2010, when Mr. Guzmán was 75, the authorities gave him permission to marry Elena Iparraguirre, who had changed Comrade Norah because the No. 2 Shining Path chief and was additionally serving a life sentence on terrorism costs. They continued to be held in separate prisons.

Mr. Guzmán was given a second trial, earlier than a civilian court docket, after his army trial was discovered unconstitutional. In 2006 it discovered him responsible of aggravated terrorism and homicide, and affirmed his life sentence. On the trial, he shouted what might need been his final public phrases.

“Lengthy dwell the Communist Occasion of Peru!” he cried, waving a fist above his head. “Glory to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism! Glory to the Peruvian individuals! Lengthy dwell the heroes of the individuals’s conflict!”

Julie Turkewitz, Elda Cantú and Mitra Taj contributed reporting.