Karl Marx taught that the international working class has a right to defend itself from the capitalist excesses of the bourgeois class. These ‘capitalist’ excesses involve the slow or quick despatch of sections of the vulnerable (and impoverished) working class through drought, famine, medical neglect, homelessness, unemployment, poverty, natural disaster, and military action, etc. When the working class develops an understanding of its own situation, it invariably embraces Socialism and organises for its own self-defence. However, the capitalist system, default set as it is on retaining and maintaining its political social and cultural dominance, views all attempts by the working class to defend itself, as a manifestation of ‘unprovoked’ violence against a benevolent social order. This is the basis of the Western (i.e. ‘US’) Cold War strategy against the former Soviet Union, and contemporary Communist China, and it is the attitude adopted by the rightwing Peruvian government against the Maoist Shining Path movement which suffered severe set-backs in 1992, that effectively ended its Revolutionary capabilities. The Shining Path was founded by Abimael Guzman (b. 1934), who was originally influenced by the leader of the Communist Party of Peru – José Carlos Mariategi – but during the 1960’s, broke-away from mainstream Peruvian Communism. (The English Wikipedia page incorrectly suggests that the Communist Party of Peru is the same as the breakaway ‘Shining Path’, when they are two separate entities).
Abimael Guzman was of the opinion that the Soviet Union and Communist China had entered phases of ‘revisionism’ and had diverted away from the correct paths of Marxist-Leninism and Maoism. Between the late 1960’s and 1980, the Shining Path followed a path of primarily ideological agitation against this revisionism, but in 1980, Abimael Guzman changed the operating stance of the Shining Path to one of Revolutionary armed struggle. This was in response to the ever growing influence of the United States in Peru, and the intensification of government-led massacres carried-out against the ordinary Peruvian people (the majority of which were comprised of masses of peasantry, as was the case with pre-Revolutionary China). As Peru’s peasant population resembled that of China, Abimael Guzman took the decision to apply a ‘pure’ Maoist ideology as the prime-mover in Peru’s Revolutionary uprising. Although this phase of the Shining Path in Peru lasted only 12 years, and given that the movement – although popular amongst the Peruvian masses – was never well-armed or financially supported by the international Communist Bloc, the alleged inflated casualty figures supposedly inflicted by the Shining Path against Peruvian government forces (and its middle class supporters) do not stand-up to logical scrutiny.
There is a (British) book authored by Simon Strong, entitled ‘Shining Path – The World’s Deadliest Revolutionary Force’ (1992), which in typical bourgeois fashion, misinforms as it informs, carefully and faithfully applying the US anti-Socialist Cold War rhetoric to Peru, and its revolutionary, Communist left. As the Judeo-Christian theological view of the world is a central mainstay of Western Cold War rhetoric, the ‘Maoist’ Shining Path, its leadership and its revolutionary activities, are relentlessly presented as ‘evil’, juxtaposed with every act of capitalism as being a priori unquestionably ‘good’. Of course, this state of arrested psychological development is of no use in creating a reliable and objective view of historical events. In 1992, the Founder of the Maoist Shining Path Revolutionary Movement – Abimael Guzman – was captured by the government forces of the incumbent President of Peru – Alberto Fujimori – who, following his belief that all Socialists were animals, ordered that Abimael Guzman be placed in a cage and exhibited to the Peruvian general public (as a warning to the down-trodden peasants of Peru not to attempt a Socialist Revolution), and to the world press a year after the Collapse of the Soviet Union, proving that predatory capitalism was as strong as ever in Peru, as it was in its Western allies in Europe and the USA.
It is this image, and variants of it, that the the US government propagates in the West and throughout the Americas. This distorted image is accompanied by an interpretation of the Shining Path that states that it routinely participated in the detainment, torture and murder of the very Peruvian people it claimed to be ‘freeing’ from the grasp of oppressive capitalism. Within contemporary Russian language academic sources, it is recorded how the West views the Shining Path – but it is also made clear that for many of these claims of atrocities against the Peruvian people – there exists absolutely no objective evidence. Like the anti-China and anti-Soviet propaganda fabricated by the United States and its allies, these false stories are passed-on without question by amateur and professional commentators alike, apparently unable or unwilling to check academic sources, and to define their terms in a logical and historical manner. Shortly after his arrest, Abimael Guzman was tried by a military court presided over by a number of judges who hid their identities. In a three-day trial, Abimael Guzman was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole – to be served in a military prison. This was not so much a trial with disclosure, cross-examination, defence lawyers, prosecutors and a jury of his peers, but was rather a summary Court Martial (of a ‘civilian’), convened merely to ‘pass’ sentence. The judges wore hoods so that ordinary Peruvians could not recognise their faces on the streets, and attempt retaliatory assassinations.
It was reported in Russian language news sources in 2010, that Elena Iparragirre and Abimael Guzman had gone on hunger strike as a protest against the Peruvian government refusing to allow them to marry. Elena Iparragirre – a former member of the Shining Path and also imprisoned for life – is the life-long partner of Abimael Guzman (who is handcuffed in this 2010 photograph to prevent him giving the Socialist raised right-fist salute). Predictably, the Western (capitalist) countries remained ‘silent’ on this obvious breach of Human Rights propagated by the rightwing Peruvian government. So popular had this couple become, that their lawyer Alfredo Crespo stated that entire prison populations throughout Peru had stated their support to stop eating food, and to drink only water – as an act of Socialist solidarity with the pair. Although the couple remain Socialist Revolutionaries, they have both stated that their ‘armed struggle’ ended with their capture in 1992, and that they would like to marry and have access to marital visitations. Elena Iparragirre used to live in the same prison as Abimael Guzman – but as a further act as punishment – the Peruvian authorities decided to move Elena Iparragirre to another prison in 2006, and refuse any visitations between the two. Without any objective evidence, the Peruvian government states that the Shining Path killed 70,000 people. The problem with this kind of disinformation is that the Shining Path has remained incredibly popular amongst the very people it has supposed to have killed, and such claims do not stand-up to logical scrutiny. In reality, it has been the Shining Path that has suffered decades of brutality, murder and assassination at the hands of the rightwing military and police establishments of Peru that appear to be operating out of control amongst the ordinary Peruvian people. As matters transpired, Elena Iparragirre and Abimael Guzman were allowed to be finally married, but are not allowed regular visits. However, the Peruvian government continuously enacts regular ‘show trials’ where the two are brought continuously in-front of hooded judges to be ‘convicted’ anew in ever more imaginative cases involving murder and mayhem (with the latest ‘trial’ taking place in 2014 – and the inevitable conferring of more ‘life sentences’). At their continuous ‘re-trials’, members of the Shining Path always state that they were responding to the Peruvian Army (which was acting under US guidance), which would encircle entire areas containing a peasant population, and systematically sweep through these areas, indiscriminately murdering men, women and children who were suspected of being sympathetic to the Shining Path. In this regard, the Shining Path was acting in Revolutionary ‘self-defence’, when it attacked government targets. As the Peruvian Revolution ultimately failed to usurp the Western-backed bourgeois authorities, the bourgeois authorities are now wreaking endless revenge upon the Socialist Revolutionaries that once organised an armed resistance against its tyranny.
Abimael Guzman (also known as ‘Chairman Gonzalo’) was an academic professor who embraced Marxist-Leninist ideology, before moving in the direction of Maoism. He founded the ‘Communist Party of Peru Shining Path’ in the late 1960’s, as a means to move the Peruvian Communist Movement toward Maoist Thought. However, in so doing, his interpretation of contemporary political events and trends, came to be known as ‘Gonzalo Thought’ – being a modern Peruvian interpretation of the Works of Mao Zedong. The ‘Shining Path’ organization developed as a branch of the Communist Party of Peru (Red flag), which had broken-away in 1964 from the original Communist Party of Peru, (founded by Jose Carlos Mariategi). Its support grew-out of Peru’s university student population, who as cadres to the movement, took its revolutionary ideology into the countryside and made it available to the Peruvian peasantry. This was the beginnings of an armed insurgency that effectively declared the Shining Path to be a separate and distinct political body from 1980 onwards. Its armed insurgency was short-lived and never achieved the intended full mobilisation of the peasantry before being viciously crushed by the Peruvian authorities.
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