LIMA, Peru – Abimael Guzmán, leader of the brutal Shining Path insurgency in Peru, who was captured in 1992, died Saturday at a military hospital after an illness. He was 86 years old.
Guzmán died at 6:40 a.m. after suffering from an infection, Justice Minister Aníbal Torres said.
Guzmán, a former professor of philosophy, launched a rebellion against the state in 1980 and presided over numerous bombings and assassinations of cars in the years that followed. Guzmán was caught in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison for terrorism and other crimes.
President Pedro Castillo tweeted that Guzmán was responsible for taking “countless” lives.
“Our position on condemning terrorism is firm and unwavering. Only in a democracy will we build a Peru of justice and development for our people, ”Castillo said.
Even in that case, Castillo faced criticism for the alleged ties of some of his cabinet ministers to the Great Path. Authorities investigated Guido Bellid’s primer for his alleged sympathy for the group. Last week, a media outlet published public police records from the 1980s describing Labor Minister Iber Maraví as a member of the Light Path and a fugitive.
“We do not forget the horror of that time, and his death will not erase his crimes,” said Economy Minister Pedro Francke.
Guzmán preached a messianic vision of a classless Maoist utopia based on pure communism, considering himself the “fourth sword of Marxism” after Karl Marx, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and Mao Zedong. He advocated a peasant revolution in which the rebels would first gain control of the village and then advance to the cities.
The Guzman movement declared armed struggle ahead of the May 1980 presidential election in Peru, the first democratic vote in 12 years of military rule.
During the 1980s, a man known to his followers as President Gonzalo built an organization that grew to 10,000 armed fighters before being captured in September 1992 in captivity in Lima by a special Peruvian police intelligence group backed by the United States. He has since been housed in a military prison on the Pacific coast that was built to hold him.
By the time Guzmán called for peace talks a year after his arrest, guerrilla violence had claimed tens of thousands of lives in Peru, displaced at least 600,000 people and caused $ 22 billion in damage.
“Unlike other left-wing rebel groups in the region, the (Great Way) targeted civilians and actively tried to terrorize them, both in cities and in the countryside,” said Noam Lupu, assistant director of the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University. ue -message on Shining Path. “The fear that this generated in Peru was extraordinary and has marked Peruvian politics and society ever since. The violence of Shining Path is a big part of the reason why Castillo is the first explicitly left-wing presidential administration in Peru since the 1980s. ”
In 2003, the Truth Commission blamed the Great Path for more than half of the nearly 70,000 estimated deaths and disappearances caused by various rebel groups and the brutal government efforts against the 1980-2000 insurgency.
Still, there was a political movement formed by Guzman’s followers that sought amnesty for all “political prisoners,” including the founder of Shining Path. The amnesty and fundamental rights movement, however, failed to register in 2012 as a political party faced with fierce opposition from Peruvians with bitter memories of the devastation brought by the Great Way.
In his songs and slogans, The Great Way celebrated bloodshed, describing death as necessary to “irrigate” the revolution.
Its militants bombed electric towers, bridges and factories in the countryside, killed mayors and massacred villagers. In later years of the uprising, civilians in Lima were targeted with indiscriminate bombings.
For 12 years the Peruvian authorities could not break through the ranks of the Light Path, organized into an almost impenetrable vertical cellular structure. Guzmán was almost caught in a safe house in Lima in June 1990, but escaped.
A police raid in Lima in January 1991 found a videotape showing Guzmán and other rebel leaders mourning the funeral of his wife Augusta La Torre, known as “Comrade Norah”. About 15 years younger than Guzman, La Torre was second in the command structure of the Great Trail before he died under mysterious circumstances in 1988.
Analysts believe she may have been killed or forced to commit suicide due to an internal political dispute.
The footage shows a large Guzman, who was wearing thick glasses and snapping his fingers as he danced drunkenly to music from the 1960s film “Greek Zorba”. It was the first image Peruvians saw of him from a shot taken during his 1978 arrest.
After La Torre died, she was replaced in second place by Elena Iparraguirre, alias “comrade Miriam”, who later became Guzman’s wife.
Guzmán married Iparraguirre in 2010 in the highest security prison at a naval base in Lima where he was serving a life sentence. Iparraguirre, also captured in 1992, was brought from the women’s prison to the ceremony.
Guzman was initially sentenced by a secret military court to life in prison, but the highest court in Peru ruled in 2003 that the original verdict was unconstitutional and ordered a new trial. He was also sentenced to life in prison at the retrial in 2006.
The glorious path was severely weakened after Guzman’s capture and his subsequent calls for peace talks. Small groups of rebels, however, remained active in remote valleys, producing cocaine and protecting drug traffickers.
Guzmán was born as the illegitimate son of a successful merchant in Tambu, Arequipa, in the southern Andes of Peru, on December 3, 1934.
He studied law and philosophy at the University of San Agustin in Arequipa, where he wrote two graduate theses: “The Theory of Space in Kant” and another on law entitled “The Democratic-Bourgeois State”.
“Sir. Guzmán was an extraordinarily brilliant man, very studious, very disciplined,” recalled Miguel Rodriguez Rivas, one of his professors.
In 1963, Guzmán took a job as a teacher at the State University of San Cristobal de Huamanga in Ayacuchu, the impoverished capital of the Andes that had been neglected for centuries by Peruvian power elites in coastal Lima.
In Ayacuch, he joined the pro-Chinese political party of Bandera Roy, or the “Red Flag,” heading its “military commission” and visiting China in 1965.
Later returning to Ayacucho, Guzmán discovered that he had been expelled from the party by political rivals and formed his own breakaway group.
A descendant of the white elite that has ruled Peru since the Spaniards destroyed the Inca Empire nearly 500 years earlier, Guzmán recruited sons and daughters of native Quechua-speaking peasants as he gradually took control of the university.
During the 1970s, his student followers dispersed to the countryside to conduct detailed community surveys that would be used years later to consolidate guerrilla control in the zone.
For more than 10 years, Guzmán patiently planned before starting a war against what he characterized as a “rotten and obsolete” state of Peru, much to the surprise of the government.
Peruvian officials discussed what to do with Guzman’s body.
Torres told state television he would study the possibility of cremation and warned that “paying tribute or mobilizing in memory of Abimael Guzman” would be considered an excuse for terrorism.
Sebastián Chávez, Guzman’s lawyer, said that by law the decision belongs to his wife Iparraguirre, who is in Lima prison.
“She will decide what steps to take,” he said.