LIMA – Peru’s most heavily guarded prisoners – the founder of the Shining Path guerrilla group, Abimael Guzman, and the spy chief of former President Alberto Fujimori, Vladimiro Montesinos – were evacuated from the maximum-security prison at El Callao naval base under the threat of a possible tsunami.
The National Penitentiary Institute said on Saturday that both prisoners were moved Friday to the Piedras Gordas Prison at Ancon Bay north of Lima, also a maximum-security jail.
Moved along with them were other notorious prisoners, including the leader of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, Victor Polay, and other inmates and staff at the base, which was completely evacuated.
According to officials, the evacuation was carried out in complete normalcy and everyone, both inmates and staff, are safe and well.
As to when prisoners kept in maximum-security confinement will be able to return to the naval base, officials refused to disclose the date for security reasons.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province, and is blamed for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths a truth commission ascribed to politically motivated violence over the ensuing two decades.
Guzman, known to his fanatic followers as “President Gonzalo,” was captured with his top lieutenants on Sept. 12, 1992, an event that marked the “defeat” of the insurgency, although some Shining Path remnants still operate in parts of Peru.
Montesinos is serving long sentences for corruption and human rights abuses during Fujimori’s 1990-2000 tenure, while the former president himself is also behind bars.
As for the tsunami itself, on Friday night incoming Pacific Ocean swells flooded some Peruvian beaches while inundating homes and stores in several places on the coast, police and the local press reported Saturday.
The measures taken by the authorities, such as the evacuation of most seaside neighborhoods, the canceling of shows on the beach and a ban on commercial fishing, kept the effects of the tsunami waves to a minimum and no one has been hurt, police officials told Efe.
Places where tsunami flooding and currents have been particularly intense include San Andres Bay in Pisco province, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) south of Lima, and the popular beach town of Ancon, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Lima, as well as Lima itself, where waves swept over the capital’s coastline at Costa Verde.
In general, access to beaches is restricted in most of the country in case further tsunami waves and currents come ashore.