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  HOME | Peru

Peruvians Mark 20th Anniversary of Guerrilla Leader’s Capture

LIMA – Hundreds of people dressed in white took to the streets of Lima’s Miraflores district to mark the 20th anniversary of the capture of Shining Path guerrilla leader Abimael Guzman by Peruvian security forces.

Saturday’s peace march went down Tarata street, where 20 people died when a car bomb was detonated by the guerrilla group in 1992.

President Ollanta Humala’s administration should improve efforts to fight guerrilla terrorism, Peace Council chairman Francisco Soberon said.

A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.

The guerrilla group, according to commission estimates, also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses.

One of the politicians who took part in the protest was Keiko Fujimori, whose father, Alberto Fujimori, was president when Guzman and the other top Shining Path leaders were arrested.

The march provided an opportunity to salute the officers of the defunct National Police Special Intelligence Group, or GEIN, which found and captured the rebel group’s top leaders, Keiko Fujimori told reporters.

“Peace is in danger” in Peru because the laws enacted by Alberto Fujimori, who governed the Andean nation from 1990 to 2000, were “softened” by Toledo, who served as president from 2001 to 2006, the former congresswoman said.

The legal measures implemented by the Toledo administration allowed “more than 4,500 people sentenced for terrorism to be on the streets,” reorganizing themselves under groups like the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights, or Movadef, Keiko Fujimori said.

“We’re seeing bad information and half truths being released,” the opposition leader said, referring to the recent killing of a girl in Junin region during a counterinsurgency operation.

The Humala administration does not have a clear strategy for fighting insurgents, Fujimori said.

Fujimori said her party’s members of Congress were still weighing whether to call for the censure of Defense Minister Pedro Cateriano and Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza over the explanations they provided about the operation and which omitted information about the girl’s killing and falsely reported the rescues of other minors.

The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.

Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman 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.

The guerrilla leader, who was a professor of philosophy at San Cristobal University before initiating his armed struggle in the Andean city of Ayacucho, once predicted that 1 million Peruvians would probably have to die in the ushering-in of the new state envisioned by Shining Path.

The group became notorious for some of its innovations, such as blowing apart with dynamite the bodies of community service workers its members killed, or hanging stray canines from lampposts as warnings to “capitalist dogs.”

The Shining Path’s remnants operate in the Upper Huallaga Valley and in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region, where they are involved in drug trafficking and stage attacks on the security forces.

The Shining Path’s remnants did not comply with Guzman’s order more than a decade ago to end the armed struggle, and he does not recognize them as members of the group.

The La Republica newspaper reported in May 2009 that Guzman, who is serving a life sentence for terrorism, called the remaining members of the guerrilla group operating in the VRAE region “mercenaries.”


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