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  HOME | Peru

Peruvian Rebel Leader’s Wife Sent to New Prison Over Interview

LIMA – The wife of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman has been transferred to another prison over security concerns, with the move coming soon after she granted an interview to a foreign magazine, Peruvian National Penitentiary Institute director Jose Luis Perez Guadalupe said.

Elena Iparraguirre was moved from the maximum-security prison in Chorrillos to the Virgen de Fatima prison in the same Lima district last Thursday along with 24 other inmates, Perez Guadalupe said.

Iparraguirre and the other inmates had been mixed in with common criminals and officials had decided back in March to move them, Perez Guadalupe said.

“If we see that there is a security failure, we are not going to wait for it to repeat itself,” the National Penitentiary Institute director said.

Britain’s The Economist magazine published an interview with Iparraguirre, the Shining Path’s former No. 2 leader, this month.

Iparraguirre, who was convicted of terrorism, told the prestigious publication that the Shining Path was defeated militarily but not politically.

The former rebel leader, however, did not recognize the leaders of the remnants of the Shining Path operating in the Upper Huallaga Valley and in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers, or VRAEM, region.

Iparraguirre, who was known as “Comrade Miriam,” was transferred to a new prison because “no inmate can give statements to the media or give any information,” Council of Ministers chairman Juan Jimenez said.

“We’ll see later what the penalty will be for violating the prison rules,” Jimenez said, adding that an investigation would be conducted.

Between 79 percent and 89 percent of respondents in a poll published Sunday by the Apoyo firm said the Shining Path should not have the right to participate in upcoming elections as a political party and should be barred from expressing its ideas supporting armed conflict in public.

Over the weekend, hundreds of people dressed in white took to the streets of Lima’s Miraflores district to mark the 20th anniversary of Guzman’s capture by the 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.

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.

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

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 VRAEM region, where they are involved in drug trafficking and stage attacks on the security forces. EFE


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