Rebellion Is Justified!: Shining Path and Abimael Guzman

Monday, April 17

Shining Path and Abimael Guzman

Prior to the 1992 capture of Abimael Guzman, known also as Presidente (Chairman) Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru (known as Shining Path in the media), the Peruvian revolutionaries were beginning to garner more and more support on the left. For years, most of the left shunned this group, characterizing its tactics as sectarian and accusing it of targeting the people instead of the enemy. But in 1992, Shining Path had seized power in many parts of the country and had developed a strong urban network among the poor masses in the sprawling shantytownsthe belts of steel that would strangle the enemy during a future insurrection. The old state was in a devastating crisis and indeed it appeared that its demise was imminent.

However, that is not what happened. Guzman, along with the main leadership of the party, was captured. Immediately, the focus of the Shining Path was entirely upon defending the life of Chairman Gonzalo. Now, I do not criticize this. But, when Guzman was presented to the media in a cage after his capture, he did not call for the defense of the leadership. He called for the party and army to form a broader national united front and to persevere in the strategic plans laid down.

One year later, the old Peruvian state presented Guzman in the form of video clips. In them, he praised the old state for resolving the crises of bureaucrat capitalism, and called for the party to fight for a peace accord. A document was attributed to him in which the clear call was made to dismantle the new revolutionary power in the countryside, and to disarm and dissolve the partys armed forces.

The Central Committee of the party rejected this call. Many Shining Path supporters either held the view that this was a hoax, or simply avoided expressing a view on that matter. What is clear is that a genuine political line emerged among Shining Path in favor of concluding armed struggle. However, only now does it appear generally accepted that indeed Guzman has articulated a political line for ending the partys military struggle. When he was presented for a re-trial in late 2005, he led his fellow imprisoned party leaders in chanting slogans in favor of the party and their ideology. This was captured on film. But he did not mention the peoples war. That alone is evidence of his position. If he favored a continuation of that form of struggle, he would have certainly indicated such with a slogan, as was always standard practice among Shining Path peoples war, give ones life for the party and the revolution, were key phrases.

But the international Maoist forces are silent on this issue of Guzman. And there is an argument for doing so. If his position indeed does not represent treachery, then this is an internal affair of the Peruvian party. On the other hand, if it is out-and-out capitulation, then it should be stated. And for that matter, if the latter is true, Gonzalo Thought must be cast aside as a term, and the specific ideological advanced made by Guzman and other leaders should be instead called "Guiding Thought," as it indeed was prior to the formulation of "Gonzalo Thought."