Peru: death in prison of Abimael Guzman, founder of the Shining Path

The founder of the Shining Path Abimael Guzman, on September 11, 2018, in prison (Image illustration).

REUTERS - Mariana Bazo

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The historic leader of the Peruvian Maoist Guerrilla Shining Path, Abimael Guzman, nicknamed the "Pol Pot of the Andes", died Saturday at the age of 86 in the high security prison where he was serving his life sentence.


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The former Maoist leader, incarcerated since 1992, was serving a life sentence following two convictions in 2006 and 2018. He was hospitalized in July.



Abimael Guzman

is dead.

His wife was informed and asked for his remains to the authorities

”, declared Me Alfredo Crespo, his lawyer to AFP.

In a statement, the Peruvian prison authorities specified that his death, linked to " 

an aggravation of his state of health

 ", occurred at 6:40 am local time (11:40 UT) at the high security penitentiary center of the Callao naval base, near Lima.

The guerrilla and his lieutenants were arrested in Lima in 1992 under the presidency of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), who launched a fierce repression against the movement.

Image of a ruthless revolutionary

Abimael Guzman had forged the image of a tough and ruthless revolutionary.

The former philosophy professor was responsible for one of the bloodiest conflicts in Latin America, which rocked Peru between 1980 and 2000, and which left more than 70,000 dead and missing, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission ( CVR).

The executions of peasants and the burning of villages refusing to support the guerrillas had brought him to be compared to Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader of Cambodia.

The guerrilla who called himself "Puka Inti" - "red sun" in the Quechua language - maintained a cult of personality among the supporters of his movement.

His followers called his ideas the “fourth sword” of Marxism, alongside those of Marx, Lenin and Mao.

"Coward, alcoholic and whiny"

Its movement had developed on the ground of the indigenous revolt, the forgotten ones of the agrarian reform of 1969 and the students leaving the university with unusable diplomas due to racial and linguistic segregation. His trial in 2006, however, revealed an unknown facet of his personality. His lieutenant Oscar Ramirez had described him as a " 

coward, alcoholic and whiny 

", unable to pull the trigger of a gun.

In 1979, he went underground with the project of carrying the revolution from the countryside to the cities and to overthrow the state through

armed struggle

. Very organized, the guerrillas were initially well received by the population to whom they distributed land. But the situation had degenerated with the assassinations of peasants and community leaders. The Maoist organization became more and more totalitarian, not hesitating to enlist children from the age of 5 in its militias or for the cultivation of coca, and to massacre the recalcitrant.

Among his bloodiest actions, there was the murder in 1984 of 117 peasants of Soras, in the region of Ayacucho, or the car bombing in an upscale district of Lima in 1992, which had caused 25 dead and over 150 injured.

Mobilized in 1982 to fight the Shining Path, the army has also been accused of crimes against civilians. 




►Also read: Peru: 18 dead during an armed attack attributed to the Shining Path


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