Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Abimael Guzmán, leader of Peru's Shining Path, dies at 86

Abimael Guzmán, the historic leader of the Shining Path, died on Saturday at the age of 86 in Peru while serving a life sentence in the maximum security prison of the Callao Naval Base.

Also known by the name "comrade Gonzalo," Guzmán died due to a generalized infection at the Naval Hospital, where he was being treated for deterioration in his health.

A former philosophy professor, he had been serving a life sentence for terrorism and treason since 1992. In 1969 Abimael Guzmán and 11 others founded the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso in Spanish), a guerrilla group of Maoist influences which tried to lead a "people's war" to overthrow Peru's bourgeois democracy. 

The Shining Path began its armed guerrilla activity in the beginning of the 1980s. Throughout the 1980s, Guzmán's group and Peru's bourgeois state were involved in a deadly war which costed thousands of human lives, including innocent villagers and trade unionists. 

The insurgency effectively came to an end in September 1992, when Peruvian intelligence finally captured Guzmán above a dance studio in Lima.

His imprisonment in conditions of solitary confinement provoked widespread condemnation by human rights organizations, groups and parties throughout the world.

Guzmán underwent another, longer trial in 2004 that subsequently led to a court decision in October 2006 that convicted him of aggravated terrorism and murder, thus receiving again a life sentence.