The leader of the Maoist terrorist group Shining Path, which led a decades-long insurgency to overthrow the government of Peru, has died in prison.
Abimael Guzman, who was captured in 1992, died on Saturday in a military hospital from illness, the Peruvian government said.
The former philosophy professor, who founded the brutal rebel group in 1980, was 86 and suffered from an infection, Peruvian Justice Minister Anibal Torres said.
Inspired by Mao Zeodong’s Cultural Revolution in China, Guzman returned to his native Peru in 1980, determined to use violence to implement his vision of a Marxist society.
He led the Shining Path guerrillas for 12 years as they used bombings, assassinations and massacres of civilians in an attempt to defeat Peru’s democratically elected government and install a dictatorship of the proletariat.
Mainly active in the Andean highlands of Peru, the Shining Path has attracted support from poor peasants, particularly through vicious kangaroo courts known as “popular justice” which have imposed the death penalty on alleged enemies of the country. people during show trials.
At its peak in the early 1990s, the guerrilla group controlled the last parts of the countryside in central and southern Peru, and also carried out numerous deadly terrorist attacks in the country’s urban centers as well, targeting politicians, politicians, unions, other rival left groups and aid workers.
Some 10,000 activists are said to have fought for the Shining Path at the time, and two-thirds of Peruvian citizens were living under some kind of emergency martial law as the state battled the insurgency.
But in September 1992, an elite Peruvian police special forces unit tracked down Guzman to a comfortable house in the capital Lima and arrested him.
A year later, Guzman called for peace talks, but by then his 13-year insurgency had claimed the lives of tens of thousands of Peruvians – mostly the rural peasants the Shining Path claims to be fighting for – and displaced up to 600,000 people.
Although the Shining Path continued to wage a sporadic war against the state after Guzman’s arrest, the loss of the man known to his followers as Presidente Gonzalo emptied the rebels and the group was gradually defeated. region after region by Peruvian security forces.
Some of Guzman’s acolytes built a political movement calling for amnesty for all “political prisoners” held during Peru’s bloody internal conflict, but it received very limited public support.
Some armed remnants of the Shining Path persist to this day, occasionally attacking police or military units in remote areas of the jungle and working as security for the drug cartels.
Guzman was imprisoned for life in a special maximum security prison built for him on the shores of the Pacific Ocean. In 2010, he married his second wife, Elena Iparraguirre, who was the Shining Path’s second in command and imprisoned alongside him.
Few Peruvians are likely to mourn the man responsible for starting a brutal civil war that has claimed so many lives.
The Shining Path “has murdered thousands of innocent people and undermined the peace of the country. We do not forget the horror of those times, and his death will not erase his crimes,” said Economy Minister Pedro Francke, after the announcement of Guzman’s death.
The Independent Gt