Abimael Guzmán, the leader of Peru’s Maoist rebel group Shining Path, has died aged 86. This is reported by the Peruvian government. Guzmán had been ill for some time.
The son of a lottery winner, the later communist grew up in a relatively wealthy family. At university he found himself in left-wing circles and fell under the spell of revolutionary thought. After studying philosophy and law, the academic joined the Communist Party of Peru, but after an internal conflict he started his own movement: Shining Path.
From 1970, he waged an armed struggle for years against the more conservative governments of Peru, including the authoritarian President Fujimori, whose daughter won the presidential elections last year. narrowly lost. Brutal and arbitrary violence was not shunned. For this reason, the European Union, among others, considers Guzmán’s movement to be a terrorist organisation.
The struggle of Shining Path cost the lives of tens of thousands of Peruvians, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. The targets were parliamentarians and trade union leaders, as well as ordinary farmers and the indigenous minority the Ashanika, who were also forced into slavery. Numerous bombings were also committed, including in the capital Lima.
Guzmán saw himself as “the fourth weapon” of communism, alongside Marx, Lenin and Mao, whom he admired. However, the vast majority of Peruvians will remember him as a ruthless terrorist.
In 1992, counter-terrorist units President Gonzola, as Guzmán was called by followers. A military court sentenced the rebel leader to life in prison. He was trapped for decades on an island off the coast of Peru, under a strict regime where he was hardly allowed to receive visitors. Later he was transferred to the mainland.