Monday, November 7, 2011

The Shining Path: A Brief History, Part 3

Continued from Part 2

Flag of the Communist Party of Peru
(The Shining Path)
In response [to the execution of Curitomay by peasant militias in a defensive campaign], in April the Shining Path entered the province of Huanca Sancos and the towns of Yanaccollpa, Ataccara, Llacchua, Muylacruz and Lucanamarca, where they killed 69 people, in what became known as the Lucanamarca massacre. This was the first time the Shining Path massacred peasants. Similar events followed, such as the ones in Hauyllo, Tambo District. The guerrillas killed 47 peasants, including 14 children aged four to fifteen. Additional massacres by the Shining Path occurred, such as the one in Marcas on August 29, 1985. In addition to occasional massacres, the Shining Path established labor camps to punish those who betrayed the "forces of the people." Those imprisoned were forced to work the lands and the coca fields. Hunger and deprivation were commonplace, and attempting escape was punishable by immediate execution.
The Shining Path's attacks were not limited to the countryside. It mounted attacks against the infrastructure in Lima, killing civilians in the process. In 1983, it sabotaged several electrical transmission towers, causing a citywide blackout, and set fire and destroyed the Bayer industrial plant. That same year, it set off a powerful bomb in the offices of the governing party, Popular Action. Escalating its activities in Lima, in June 1985 it blew up electricity transmission towers in Lima, producing a blackout, and detonated car bombs near the government palace and the justice palace. It was believed to be responsible for bombing a shopping mall. At the time, President Fernando Belaúnde Terry was receiving the Argentine president Raúl Alfonsín. In one of its last attacks in Lima, on July 16, 1992, the group detonated a powerful bomb on Tarata Street in the Miraflores District, full of civilian people, adults and children, killing 25 people and injuring an additional 155.
During this period, the Shining Path assassinated specific individuals, notably leaders of other leftist groups, local political parties, labor unions, and peasant organizations, some of whom were anti-Shining Path Marxists. On April 24, 1985, in the midst of presidential elections, it tried to assassinate Domingo García Rada, the president of the Peruvian National Electoral Council, severely injuring him and mortally wounding his driver. In 1988, Constantin Gregory, an American citizen working for the United States Agency for International Development, was assassinated. Two French aid workers were killed on December 4 that same year. In August 1991, the group killed one Italian and two Polish priests in Ancash Region. The following February, it assassinated María Elena Moyano, a well-known community organizer in Villa El Salvador, a vast shantytown in Lima.
Flag of the MRTA, another Peruvian
Marxist guerrilla army and enemy of
the Shining Path
By 1991, the Shining Path had control of much of the countryside of the center and south of Peru and had a large presence in the outskirts of Lima. As the organization grew in power, a cult of personality grew around Guzmán. The official ideology of the Shining Path ceased to be 'Marxism–Leninism-Mao Tse-tung thought', and was instead referred to as 'Marxism–Leninism–Maoism-Gonzalo thought'. The Shining Path fought against Peru's other major Marxist guerrilla group, the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) and campesino (peasant) self-defense groups organized by the Peruvian armed forces.
Although the reliability of reports regarding the Shining Paths alleged atrocities remain a matter of controversy, the organization's use of violence is well documented. Lisa North, an expert on Peru at York University, noted that "the assassinations they carried out were absolutely ruthless . . . It was so extremist – absolutely, totally doctrinaire and absolutely, totally ruthless in pursuit of its aims."
The Shining Path brutally killed its victims and rejected the idea of human rights.
Continued in Part 4: The flat denial of human rights and loss of popularity
Both images property of "Huhsunqu" and used via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.

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