Sociólogo - Escritor

"La Casa de la Magdalena" (1977), "Essays of Resistance" (1991), "El destino de Norte América", de José Carlos Mariátegui. En narrativa ha escrito la novela "Secreto de desamor", Rentería Editores, Lima 2007, "Mufida, La angolesa", Altazor Editores, Lima, 2011; "Mujeres malas Mujeres buenas", (2013) vicio perfecto vicio perpetuo, poesía. Algunos ensayos, notas periodísticas y cuentos del autor aparecen en diversos medios virtuales. Jorge Aliaga es peruano-escocés y vive entre el Perú y Escocia.

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5 de marzo de 2011

Terrorism in Peru

Jorge Aliaga en Arica

By Jorge Aliaga

Introduction Historical Background
The Turn of the Century
Mariátegui: founder of the Peruvian Communist Party
NewWave of Terror
Sendero's First Action
Sendero's First Military Action
The Parliamentary Left: 'La Izquierda Unida'
Change of Tactics
Red October


The horrific war in Peru has two main belligerent protagonists. On one side the Peruvian Communist Party-Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, as representatives of the insurgent forces, who fight to change the structure of Peruvian society; and on the other side  the military  and para-military forces of the state  who fight to defend the status quo. This cruel episode of war was initiated on May 17  1980  by five insurgents in the town of Chuschi, high up  in the Central Andes.  Since the beginning of this struggle over 30,000 people have lost their lives.  Thirteen  years of war has also produced   thousands of orphans and  widows.  Many thousands of Peruvian families are still suffering the terrible consequences of this tragedy.   Who is to blame?

According to Amnesty International,  Peru is at the top of the list of countries where human rights are violated.  The ethos of the human rights postulates have been ignored by the forces in the conflict,  and in particular  the Peruvian government,  which has not carried out  the principle of proportionality as specified in the Art. 51 of  Protocol I of The Geneva Agreement,  to which Peru is signatory.  According to this article, any aggression is prohibited if it is foreseen that  it would cause incidental deaths and wounded among the civil population, or damages to civil property which would be excessive compared to any military advantage.

It is clear that the Peruvian government has the responsibility of preserving the lives of the civilian population;  however this has not been the case, and many thousands of Peruvians, women, men and children, not directly involved in the conflict, have been killed, raped or abused by the forces of the state.   Today, the militarization of Peru continues with the transformation of the Rondas Campesinas, campesino armed patrols originally organised to combat rustlers, into another force dealing with problems related to drug trafficking and political terror.  In the following pages we shall try to recount the origins and development ot what is loosely called 'terrorism' in Peru.


Terrorism  in Peru was not initiated by capitalist society.   Terror in Peru is a continuum  through which the relations of oppressors and oppressed have been expressed throughout  the entire history of the country since the arrival of Europeans in America.   In Peru state terrorism is intiated with the massacre ordered by Pizarro against the Inca  Atahualpa's  unarmed forces  in Cajamarca, an episode which concluded with the capture and murder of the Inca king.  Although the Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca  empire, was itself despotic and imposed its own culture on other tribes, it represents for the majority of Peruvians the jewel in the crown   of Peruvian history, the zenith of a millenary civilization. After the first terrorist action against the Incas in Cajamarca, where the Inca was preparing for his coronation,  the tension between Western and Indian  culture became the heart  of Peru's post-conquest history.  Although Atahualpa was initially promised his freedom, in return for one room  full of gold and two of silver which the Inca provided , Pizarro feared that Atahualpa could lead his troops to rebellion.  Seven months later the Inca was publicly garrotted.  His execution symbolizes the foundation of the Peruvian state.  Further clashes between the beligerent forces, uprisings  and rebellions, found in the annals of Peruvian history, have been the consequence of this first unresolved dispute.  'The rape, pillage and murder which disarticulated the empire and decimated the Indian population - in Peru alone its numbers were reduced from above nine million to 600,000 by 1620 - began in the very moments that the Inca Atahualpa was treacherously captured in the Inca town of Cajamarca in northern Peru'.  (1)   

Immediately after  the   massacre of Cajamarca, in the late afternoon of 15 November 1532,  Inca resistance was organised.  My interpretation of the following passage from Guaman Poma de Ayala's "La Nueva Crónica y Buen Gobierno" suggests that the prompt revolt of Manco Inca  was a result  of the terrorist murder of  Cápac Apo Guamanchaua, successor  to the Inca throne, who was burned to death.  

'Manco Inca se sublevó para proclamarse como Rey Inca por mandato de los Capitanes del Consejo Real Quisquis Inga, Auapanti, Amaru Uanca Auqui Illa Topa, Collatopa Curinaui Yuto Inga y Yucra Uallpa capitanes  Incas de Huanancusco y Lurincuzco; del Colla y Aymara Chuquillanqui Supacuaman, Chuuiuaman Chambimallco, Apomallco Castilla Pari, Apomollo Condorchauua, Cullic Chaua Cucichaqui y Uayanay, quienes le aconsejaron sublevarse a consecuencia de la muerte de Cápac Apo Guamanchaua, segunda persona del Inca, antiguo señor del reino, quemado y muerto, como ya se ha indicado, por don Francisco Pizarro, don Diego de Almagro y demás españoles.' (2) 

 By 1565 the movement had spread widely under the leadership of Inca Tutu Cusi, son of Manco Inca, who was still running a pocket state in the region of Vilcabamba.  In 1558, Tutu Cusi made some concessions to the Spaniards, as his brother Sayri Tupac had done before him.  Tutu Cusi   converted to Christianity and permitted the entrance of missionaries to Vilcabamba.  Later,  when Tutu Cusi became ill and the missionaries were unable to cure him, the Inca people killed the missionaries and became again belligerents under the command of the last  of the Inca brothers, Tupac Amaru I, who was the fourth and last Inca of  the resistance in Vilcabamba.   Tupac Amaru I was decapitated by the Spaniards in 1572.  The use of unknown weapons and horses in the land of the Incas , the former Tahuantinsuyo empire,  terrorized the native population, which was further affected by the  spread of epidemics brought by the Europeans.  

'The kingdom had experienced a revolution of the most decisive kind.  Its ancient institutions were subverted.  Its heaven-descended aristocracy was levelled almost to the condition of the peasant.   The people became the serfs of the Conquerors.  Their dwellings in the capital - at least, after the arrival of Alvarado's officers - were seized and appropiated.  The temples were turned into stables; the royal residences into barracks for the troops.  The sancticity of the religious houses was violated. Thousands of matrons and maidens, who, however erroneous their faith, lived in chaste  seclusion in the conventual establishments, were now turned abroad, and became the prey of a licentious soldiery.'   (3)

From 1572 to 1663 a relative period of 'peace' and calm was experienced by the population of Peru, although we should note that the native population retained its traditions and cultural values,  defending them in stubborn silence.  In Churin, north of Lima, in 1663 another native insurrection, which was advocating the return to Inca rule, was   routed by Spanish mounted hordes.   

In 1742, José Santos Atahualpa led another rebellion against Spanish rule.  The efforts of the Spaniards to penetrate the mountains of Tarma and Jauja  in order to annihilate him ended in failure .  For fourteen years 'the rebel indian' was  supreme in the mountains.  This was the 'revolución montañesca', supported  by the natives from the Selva , and with the exception of the natives of Azangaro the natives from the Sierra did not take part in this struggle.  However,  it is believed that  the uprisings of Huarochiri, near Lima, were also part of Jose Santos Atahualpa's rebellion whcich   ended with his mysterious disappearance fourteen years later.   The historian Carlos A. Romero has written:
'....Astuto, de viva imaginación, el caudillo rebelde, comenzó por decirse descendiente de los Incas y adoptó por nombre el del último soberano Incaico, haciéndose llamar Juan Santos Atahuallpa.  Audaz y previsor, Juan Santos no buscó lugar poblado o centro de movimiento comercial o administrativo para centro de sus operaciones militares, sino que las estableció en donde sabía que no podían entrar facilmente las tropas virreinales, en la Montaña!  Desde allí, efectuó sus correrías, pensando hasta hacerse coronar Inca en Lima'. (4)

  In 1777 Tomás Catari accused Blas Bernal, collector of taxes,  of stealing money from the fiscal funds.   Blas Bernal  responded by whipping Catari,  who was detained for many months by order of the corregidor Don Joaquín de Alós.   At the end of 1778  Catari   denounced   the   case   in the Audience of Buenos Aires.  However , despite the  Vicerroy's assurances of justice,  this never came about.  This was the origin of the revolt in Chayanta,  as  Tomás Catari clearly stated when he wrote:
"Le confieso a V.E., y no lo puedo dudar, que los tiranos repartos de los corregidores es [sic] el origen principal de la ruina de todo el reino,  porque éstos no solamente el mismo corregidor nos saca el pellejo, si también sus teneientes, cajeros y parciales, como se ha visto en el corregidor D. Joaquín Ales, éste ha repartido cerca de 400,000 pesos.  Su teniente Luís Nuñez y su mujer crecida cantidad, su teniente don Lucas Billafan y su mujer igual cantidad, fuera de muchos animados del corregidor en la segura inteligencia de que cuando un corregidor y teniente salen ellos cargados de caudales y los pobres indios sin pellejo." (24) p.244
This is an illustration of the administrative irregularities which were commonly committed by the colonial administration  throughout   its dominions. The "repartos", motive of the protests of the natives,  was a system of commerce through which the natives were forced to buy products which bore no relation to their needs: e.g. "las obras de Feijóo, la Ciropedia de Jenofonte, la Vida devota de Sales, el Año Cristiano, las Dominicas, los Discursos Espirituales, la Instrucción de la Juventud, el Tesoro escondido, el Retiro espiritual, La luz de los desengaños. el Diccionario económico, la Virtud en el estrado y muchos otros títulos de la producción literatia hispánica". They were also forced to buy spectacles, playing cards, cosmetics, pins, silk socks,  fabrics from Rouan, velvets, laces, buckles and sewing needles from Cambray.  Commodities useful to the natives such as knives, cleaning rags, linen from Castilla, etc, were sold at extortionate prices.  Furthermore, the natives had to pay  ever increasing tax on these sales, 'impuesto de alcabala'.  This created a disarticulation in the economy affecting families of indians, mestizos, negros and criollos  alike.
Valcarcel asks himself: ¿What could the natives do with a library which would always be beyond their reach, given the Colonial opposition to their education?.  If the Spaniards   had  done something  to minimize the universal illiteracy among the natives perhaps those books would have been of some use.  However this was not the case. Furthermore,  the native population was unwilling to assimilate European culture.    The natives were forced to buy products which were of no use to them. The Spaniards were expecting the Indians to use them as gifts for priests and others  as Tomás Catari seems to suggests in the following statement :   
"todos los dichos   [corregidores] han repartido cuanto han querido y cuantos géneros que no son usados entre los indios, de suerte que hemos estado esperando cuanto estos ladrones (hablando con el más profundo respeto de V.E.) nos reparten breviarios, misales y casullas para decir misa y bonetes para ser doctores".
The Spaniards   as agents of the European transculturation process were a failure because after hundreds of years  in  America  millions of natives absorbed very few elements of  western culture.  Later, during the second half or the eighteenth century, a clandestine  transculturation process   took place which did not only 'benefit' the creoles but  also other social classes.  The natives then started a process of cultural fusion, mixing the old  pre-Colombian magic symbols with  the barroque which can be richly appreciated in the field of religion.  

Tomás Catari and his troops rebelled in 1781,  in Chayanta,  Alto Perú.  He lived in Macha near Potosi  and  was was   esteemed by the  people for whom he acted as  adviser and advocate,  in which role he had to mitigate many cases of abuse committed against the natives.  He was intransigent  in his view on the  exclusively  Indian character of the revolution.  Catari's   hatred of criollos was intensified because of the treachery  of the priest  Borda and the soldier Mariano Murillo.  However we can say that Catari's overall similarities with the movement led by  the cacique   Tupac Amaru II, clearly shows that the first was an ally of the second as Catari's wife, while being held prisoner,  declared that the conspiracy had been initiated ten years before and added:

 'la sublevación creían algunos tener origen desde la expulsión de los jesuítas y que por falta de oportunidad no se había puesto en ejecución el proyecto.  Que estando alterado el Reino con los muchos impuestos de aduana, tabacos, catastro, le pareció buena ocasión para conseguir aliados, que aclamasen la libertad en beneficio común, sirviendo este pretexto de disimulo para no descubrir su envejecida y dañada intención'.(4)  

   It is also known that  Tupac Amaru's emissars were present in the preparatory action of Chayalta,  which is corroborated by Diego Cristobal and Andrés Tupac Amaru.   Catari's forces   were Indians and acted according to their particular interests.  However on 10 February 1781, in Oruro, creoles, mestizos and Indians rose together against the Peninsulares.   The following day  the rebels massacred  the Europeans and their black slaves   using their corpses to feed  the dogs.  The economic difficulties of the miners of creole origin made possible the forementioned alliance in spite of their usual animosity.   After thirty days of struggle and  the killing of most of the Europeans the creoles re-arranged their union with the few Peninsulares  who were left alive.  Valcarcel  thinks that it is evident that an alliance among these mutually hostile forces  was a difficult task.

Luis Valcarcel in the work refered to in the bibliography   states :

'Evidentemente que era muy difícil mantener una alianza circunstancial entre elementos disímiles y de intereses contrapuestos.  Pudo en cierta medida obtener éxito Tupac Amaru, caudillo prestigioso no sólo en el pueblo indio, sino entre los grupos criollos y mestizos; pero ni lo quiso, ni tuvo poder para imponerlo el jefe Catari, cuyo radicalismo indigenista contrasta con la política del "frente popular" del Inca.  Mas, como ya se insinuó, Tupac Amaru, por fuerza de las circunstancias, y por imposición de la mayoría india, no habría obtenido,  - y así fué - que criollos, mestizos y aborígenes hicieran causa común, logrado el triunfo sobre los españoles peninsulares.  Tanto como éstos, los criollos representaban la clase opresora.  Derivaba la revolución hacía una lucha racial de tremendas consecuencias'. (pag.259).  

When Tupac Amaru besieged Cusco many local leaders followed suit,  notably Tomás Catari, in Alto Perú, today Bolivia, who was at that time under attack by military forces sent from Buenos Aires by  the viceroy   Juan José de Vértiz  y Salcedo.   The killing of Tomás  Catari, at the time when Tupac Amaru was retreating from Cusco, produced a spiteful retalliation by his brothers Dámaso and Nicolás who, commanding four thousand men,  defeated  the government forces,  killed  Tomás Catari's captor and burned his property, later taking with them Tomás Catari's wife, as a symbol of retalliation, in order to continue their spiteful revenge in nearby Chuquisaca.  The Catari brothers were then defeated by the creole Ignacio Flores, who came from Buenos Aires.  After his defeat a group of Indians and mestizos, from Pocoata, in order to obtain pardon, handed over the Catari brothers to the creole commander.  When the Catari were asked to name their accomplices they very calmly replied that they were, "los mismos que los habían traído presos",  the ones who took them prisoner.  Witnesses were impressed by the dignity  of the brothers when  confronting the scaffold.  They walked chewing coca and annoyed by the priests' exhortations.

La Paz contained seven provinces and twenty thousand inhabitants at the  time of the Catari's immolation.  This period  is characterized by three main events: the breaking of the siege of Cusco by Tupac Amaru,  the killing of Tomás Catari,  and  the insurgence of a new leade figure: Tupac Catari.  His real name was Julian Apasa but he took the name Tupac Catari in homage to Tupac Amaru and Tomás Catari.  The new Catari,  appointed himself viceroy,  with his wife Doña Bartolina Sisa holding equal authority.  Tupac Catari rapidly advanced to La Paz which was held by the royalists  end besieged the city for  109 days.   A second siege of La Paz by the rebels took place on 4 August 1781. Tupac Catari then united his forces with Andrés Mendigure, nephew of Tupac Amaru, who after  his three months siege of Sorata (from 4 May 1781)   came to the aid of Tupac Catari.  But a loyalist army of five thousand men relieved the city on 17 October the same year.   After his capture Tupac Catari was punished, the same way that Tupac Amaru II, by attaching his body to four horses pulling in different directions.  The only difference on this occasion   was that , unlike his predecessor,  he was pulled apart  by the force of the horses.  Andrés Mendigure escaped.  Bartolina Sisa, and   Doña Gregoria Apasa, Tupac Catari's wife and sister respectively, were killed one year later.  In 1783 Tupac Catari's ten year old son was captured when in hiding with Tupac Amaru's family.

Another brutal terrorist action was that committed against Tupac Amaru II, his family and followers, in  the Revolution of 1780  which shook the basis of Spanish colonialism.  After his capture Tupac Amaru, his wife, Micaela Bastidas and members of their family were all brutally tortured.  Tupac Amaru's tongue was cut out and his body attached to four horses which were  spurred in different directions.  Tupac Amaru was beheaded, but not before he had been made to witness  the  execution of the sentences given to his wife, Micaela Bastidas, his two sons Hipólito and Fernando Tupac Amaru, his brother in law Antonio Bastidas and his captains.  Markhan, commenting on this sentence opined:  'Jamás se podrá encontrar en los anales de la barbarie un documento parecido a este, en su perversidad salvaje y torpeza absurda; sin embargo, es obra de un magistrado español hace sólo ochenta años!'
The sentence against Tupac Amaru is without  doubt    one of the worst terrorist acts committed in Peru:  'su cabeza se remitirá al pueblo de Tinta, para que, estando tres días en la horca, se ponga después en un palo, a la entrada más pública de él: uno de los brazos al de Tungasuca, en donde fue cacique, para lo mismo; y el otro para que se ponga y ejecute lo mismo en la capital de la provincia de Carabaya: enviándose igualmente, y para que se observe la referida demonstration, una pierna al pueblo de Livitaca, en la de Chumbivilcas, y la restante, al de Santa Rosa en la de Lampa.' (4)

A witness to this barbaric crime wrote: 'porque los caballos no fuesen muy fuertes o porque el indio fuese de fierro, no pudieron dividirlo, después que por un largo rato estuvieron tiroteando'. This is why his head was cut off, also his arms and legs.  The same kind of butchery was done with the bodies of his wife, son and captains.  His nine year old son, Fernando, was forced to witness his execution and that of his mother.  Clemente R. Markham has written that the unhappy child gave that day a  shout that deeply impressed the assistants at the square.  That shout was the death sentence to the Spanish domination in America. (5)

Tupac Amaru's revolution had the immediate effect  of holding back the abuses committed by the corregidores against the native Peruvians.  In the folowing years the creole elites would hijack  the real course of the revolution in Peru. Independence was supported by England financially and militarily in a bid for commercial expansion.  However, the Independence  proclaimed on the 28 July 1821 by José de San Martín ,  left Lima's white aristocracy in control.  During the battles for independence, which culminated with the victories of Junin and Ayacucho under the command of José Antonio de Sucre y Simón Bolívar, respectively, the criollo elite took advantage of the Inca tradition to win over Indian support.  The latter was significantly noted in harangues and speeches of the time and even in the symbolism used by criollo artists who used Inca images to design Peruvian bank notes.  However, the restitution of the Indian  never came to pass.  The first reformist years of the precursors of the 'independence' were promptly shadowed by caudillos and representatives of the old order which have subjugated Peru until the present day.   

José Carlos Mariátegui corroborates our last argument  when he writes in his "7 Essays...":
'Durante el periódo del caudillaje militar que siguió a la revolución de la independencia, no pudo logicamente desarrollarse, ni esbozarse siquiera, una política liberal sobre la propriedad agraria.  El caudillaje militar era el producto natural de un período revolucionario que no había podido crear una nueva clase dirigente.  El poder, dentro de esta situación, tenía que ser ejercido por los militares de la revolución que, de un modo gozaban del prestigio marcial de sus laureles de guerra y, de otro lado, estaban en grado de mantenerse en el gobierno por la fuerza de las armas.  Por supuesto, el caudillo no podía sustraerse al influjo de los intereses de clase o de las fuerzas históricas en contraste.  Se apoyaba en el liberalismo  inconsistente y    retórico del demos  urbano  o del conservatismo colonialista de la casta terrateniente.  Se inspiraba en la clientela de tribunos y abogados de la democracia citadina o de literatos y retores de la aristocracia latifundista.  Porque, en el conflicto de intereses entre liberales y conservadores, faltaba una directa y activa reivindicación campesina que obligase a los primeros a incluir en su programa la redistribución de la propriedad agraria.' (6)

'During the period of military caudillos that followed the War of Independence, a liberal policy on agricultural property obviously could not be developed or even be formulated.  The military caudillo was the natural product of a revolutionary period that had not been able to create a new governing class.  In this situation, power was taken over by the military leaders of the revolution, who, on the one hand, enjoyed the prestige of their wartime achievements and, on the other hand, were in a position to keep themselves in the government by means of armed force.  Of course, the caudillo could not remain aloof from the influence of class interests or of the opposing historical currents.  He was supported by the spinless liberalism and rethoric of the urban demos and by the colonial conservatism of the landowning class.  He was sanctionated by the city's lawmakers and jurists and by the writers and orators of the latifundium aristocracy.  In the contest between liberal and conservative interests, there was no direct and active campaign to vindicate the peasant, which would have compelled the liberals to include the redistribution of agricultural property in their program'. (6a).


At the turn of the century Peru experienced a period of economic change and of political consolidation .  In the year 1915 Benavides proclaimed the slogan: 'soldiers to the barracks, civilians to government'.  The same year, at the end of his term of office,  Benavides transferred power to José Pardo.  However   changes  that   occurred in  the economic structure of the country were  determined by the fact that the  plutocracy had enriched its coffers    with the trade of guano, nitrate  and     fiscal income monopoly but were unable to administrate an economic system based on  industrial development,  a capitalist economy whose process was interrupted by the war with Chile in 1879.    After the First World War   (1914-18) English economic domination gave way to  United States' imperialist penetration. 

During the period of the government of President Augusto B.Leguía as much money circulated in Peru as during the time of the guano boom of  the   century before.
The difference was that during  the last century  the economic wealth was real because the sale of   guano  and saltpetre made   possible   the  growth of the money  supply .  However  during  Leguía's 'Oncenio',  (eleven years in power), 1919-1930, the money was borrowed ,  therefore the country was destined to  economic dependence on  United States' American imperialism.  However the beneficiaries of both economic 'booms'  were not the workers and marginalised sectors of Peruvian society.   The beneficiaries were the consignatories of guano and government officials in the  last century and among officials of the regime, contractors and business people during the twenties.  Leguía did not affect the interests of the aristocracy, from where he originated, on the contrary he allowed the aristocracy to become richer.  His only intention was to remove the aristocracy from political power,  not from the economic one. Leguías government never intended any serious program of development.  During the First World War,1914-1918, the volume of exports  increased and with the money coming in from the loans this  resulted in more revenues.  Mining exports, (an industry owned by foreigners), increased by 175% during the period 1919 to 1929.   Agricultural output, on the other hand, decreased by 44% during the same period.  The reason for this was that foreign owned mining companies were allowed to repatriate their profits so that their activities were funded by the ransack of  Peruvian mineral products.  Despite this,  fiscal taxes did not increase during this period. The national budget tripled from six and a half million Peruvian Libras in 1919, to nineteen million Peruvian Libras in 1929.  However that year, 1929, expenditure including credits reached around twenty six million Peruvian Libras.  The Public debt increased from eight million Peruvian Libras in 1919 to 31 miilion Peruvian Libras a decade later (288%).  The foreign debt   rose 780%.  During this period Leguia's government gave away the southern province of Arica to Chile and part of  Peruvian Amazonian territory to Colombia, the latter seemingly under pressure from the USA given that the Americans had divided Colombian territory in order to build the Pananma Canal, and the Peruvian territory would aliviate that Colombian loss.  This period also witnessed the giving away of the railways to the British and the concession to the International Petroleum Company, from the USA, to expolit the oil from the northern territory of Brea y Pariñas, both contracts were signed to the disadvantage of the Peruvian nation. 

The class struggle was initiated before Leguia's term in office.  In the middle of the nineteenth century,  under the auspices of the church, workers were allowed to join brotherhoods and cofradías of humanistic character, the seeds of gremial  organizations.  In 1859, the first workers uprising took place, when the government imported finished goods from Europe.  Workers waited in the port of Callao for the cargo to be unloaded and expressed their militant protest. This resulted in victory for the workers who set fire to the imported goods.  Presidente Castilla   rightly recognised the fair claim of the protesters and accordingly prohibited the importation of such products. Later will come the struggle of the anarchists and particularly the struggle for the 8 hours work.  In 1901 the bakers strike started the struggle of that century. In 1904 was the  turn of the workers of the port of la Dársena, in Callao.
This struggle rapidly developed in a general strike with violent clashes between workers and government troops.  Florencio Aliaga, a manual worker, was the first martir of the workers' struggle this century.  His death caused the radicalization of the struggle and, when the Callao workers  were preparing to strike jointly with their Limeñan counterparts,   the government decided to accept the demands of the working class.  The strike initiated May 4 concluded 22 May with the victory of the workers who gain 20% increase in wagesand renegociated conditions.  The struggles would continuo.  The year after the workers of the port of Mollendo.  In 1906 the urban rail workers.  The workers of Vitarte in 1908.  In 1910 the oil workers of Talara and the cocheros  of Lima.  In 1911 the workers of  Vitarte strike again this time they received solidarity from the students whose leader was Edilberto C. Boza from the Faculty of Law.  Since then workers and students would share the destiny of the social struggle.  The same year was the strike of the carreteros  and the taylors, the first would loss as a result part of their wages, the taylors on his part would gain a wages increased of twenty per cent..  In 1912, April 2,  was the turn for the worker of Chicama's valley, in  northern Perú.      There the workers of "Casa Grande" would demand the German land owners an increase in their salaries.  From Lima the government would send infantery troops, artillery and horseback soldiers to confront the workers protest.  The strikers  resisted the repression, particularly the ones from the Hacienda Laredo.  On 13 April a big number of workers marched to the capital city of Trujillo.  The day after the valley workers were massacred.  The troops fired indiscriminatedly to unarmed  workers in a place named,  "callejón de la Marina", navy's corridor. The killed were innumerable.   Since then the place would be known as "callejón de la muerte", death's corridor.  There, in Chicama, was the start of the martirium of the proletariat.  Their spilt blood would watered the seeds of further struggles.  In 1912, October 9, the textile workers of "Tejidos Santa Catalina", paralized the factory for thirty six days.   Later that month another strike of bakers demanded the reduction of hours work from fourteen to ten.  After nine days the bakers won their claim.  In December that year 300 workers, male and female, strike at the biskets factories, "Arturo Field" and "The Estrella".  On 3n January 1913 the workers of the port of Callao strike again.  This time demanding an eight hours work a day.  On January 10, 1913, after a succesful struggle the workers of Callao won that right.  Four months later, May 2, the textile workers at "El Inca" also demanded reduction in the hours of work from fourteen hours to ten respectively.  On 22 June the textile workers won their claim.  On 25 May 1913 the workers at Talara, Zorritos, Lobitos,  Lagunitas and other oil zones rose against the abuse of foreign capitalism.  Billinghurst government ordered in troops on board of the "cañonera", navy vessel, "Lima".  After confrontation and abuses by part  of the troops the oil workers won the strike on July 4.  Four months after the worker from Callao rebell again.  On February 4 Billinghurst was ousted of power and one of his generals killed, General Varela, killed in the barracks at Santa Catalina.  The military coup stop the labor reinvindications and the workers were calm for nearly a year.  However on December 2 a pay claim of 25% increase of wages was presented by the textile workers of Vitarte.  This time the worker Ricardo Vilela lost his life in the struggle.  Some days later the workers received an increase of 10%.  In 1915 the oil workers rose against its employers: "Standard Oil", "London Petroleum Company" and "Zorritos".  This time the workers defeated the troops and control the situation of the region respecting lifes and property.  Later when new reinforcements were received by the troops the workers were abused.  In 1916 was the turn of the workers of "Casapalca".  In May 1917 again the oil workers stike again in "Negritos", "Talara", "Zorritos" and "Lagunitas".  The strikers occupied the oil instalations.  The local guards did not match the power of the workers.  On May 25, five hundred soldiers arived from Piura reduced the workers and ended their occupation.  On March 18, was the turn of the miners of "Ticapampa".  The same month the workers of the port of Mollendo claimed  wages  increase of of 50%. This struggle had other worker martir killed by the government troops.  In  May 1919, visited Perú Alfredo Palacios, Argentinian socialist.  A multitude of Peruvians assisted to his talks on social revolution. Three manual workers: Nicolás Gutarra, Carlos Barba y Adalberto Fonken organized the , "Comité  Obrero de Lima", Lima Worker's Committee.  In 1920 went on strike the pinter workers.  In  1921 the workers of Chicama valley strike again.

Gonzáles Prada, ardent social critic,  would comment about this period:

'Dejamos la tiranía de la casaca para sufrir el despotismo del frac, y salimos del paisano sin conciencia para volver al soldado sin masa cerebral: como el perro de la Biblia, regresamos a nuestro vómito'.    

Gonzáles Prada attacked the colonial past and criticized society's mistreatment of the Indians.  As a positivist and believer in the primacy of the economic factor,  his ideas influenced younger  generations of Peruvians,  among them intellectuals such us Victor Raúl Haya de la Torre and José Carlos Mariategui.     Gonzáles Prada, the director of the National Library of Lima,  used to hold gatherings with many young intellectuals, in his back room study, at the library.   Later Gonzáles Prada was a frequent contributor to  the prestigious magazine which Mariátegui made famous all over Latin America , North America and Europe,  "Amauta".     Mariátegui would opine later that  Gonzáles Prada represented   'the first lucid instant of national  conciousness' .   The 'master' of vague philosophical anarchism.   Mariátegui would say that Gonzáles Prada  left to the youngsters  the more rethorical formulations to more modern programs of socialist action. (26)  Harry E. Vanden suggests  that the   feelings of Mariátegui  for his 'master' in his "7 Essays" (1928) differ  from the earlier ones.


 José Carlos Mariátegui went to Europe in 1919 .  In France he had his first contact with the 'concious proletariat' of whom some were survivals of  the Paris Commune.  It was an emotional experience that he would always remember.  In Paris he met   the author of "The Inferno",  Henri Barbusse.   Barbusse , like Mariategui, had also evolved  ideologically, from  supporter of 'rational republican socialism'  to become affiliated  to the Third International.     Mariátegui  was searching for new influences.  In France many other intelectuals influenced him: Romain Rolland, who also influenced  Haya de la Torre, Jean Jaures and particularly Georges Sorel.  In Italy he attended an  important meeting of the left wing organizations. In 1921 attended the Socialist Conference of Livorno which led to the formation of the Communist Party of Italy.   He also met Benedetto Croce through Ana Chaippe's family who was one of Italy's most prominent intellectuals.  Mariátegui also received the influence of  Piero Gobetti who presents many similarities to the first in his development: self-taught, founder of the journal 'L'Ordine Nuovo'.   Mariátegui was familiar with the communist group in Turin and its leaders  Antonio Gramsci and Terracini.   

'...De fines de 1919 a mediados de 1923 viajé por Europa.  Residí más de dos años en Italia, donde desposé una mujer y algunas ideas.  Anduve por Francia, Alemania, Austria y otros países.  Mi mujer y mi hijo me impidieron llegar a Rusia.  Desde Europa me concerté con algunos peruanos para la acción socialista'. (6)

In Rome, Florence and Genoa Mariátegui had personal contacts with men of letters like Papini and Martinetti, and with political theoreticians like Guglielmo Ferrero.(26)
However we must state clearly that Mariátegui had some knowledge of Marxism before his trip to Europe:  this is proved by looking at the contents of his first magazine 'La Razón' which had a increasingly classist focus . According to Guillermo Rouillón, quoted by Vanden p.15, Mariátegui was introduced to Marxist thought by Dr. Victor M. Maurtua in 1918 and his interest in socialism began even earlier.  His arrival in Europe was the opportunity to continue the search for marxist ideas. Between 1922 and 1923 Mariátegui spent six months in Germany.  There he was also in contact with left wing papers and magazines.   He was impressed by the drawings of George Grosz and would later reproduce many of his drawings in his magazines 'Amauta' and 'Labor'.  

Berlin in the early 1920s was filled with posters of Marx and Engels and   its plazas, cafes and theatres thronged  with people singing  'the international'.  He even studied German and developed some understanding of the language.  This experience in Germany was also important emotionally and intellectualy for the Peruvian marxist.  Naturally he understood  the effort of revolutionary marxist leaders like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht .  Mariátegui's experience in Germany in the early 1920s was similar to the experience of the young George Luckas whose work was also influenced early by Sorel's revolutionary syndicalism, Rosa Luxemburg and the period  of social expectation in Germany in 1922 when he completed his 'History and Class Conciousness'.  Like the German,  the Peruvian was influenced by the October Revolution in Russia.  Particularly in Italy Mariátegui became very interested in Lenin's ideas.  In Berlín Mariategui interviewed Maxim Gorki  of whom he had read in French 'Lenin et le payssan russe'.

Because of this wide intellectual and emotional experience to which Mariátegui 
 was exposed   we reject those assertions  which suggest that he fed his marxism solely through  Italian and French 'vulgarizers'.  I would like to stress that Mariátegui was strongly influenced by Marxism-Leninism 'as it was developing in Europe in the second decade of the twentieth century' to use Vanden's words.  But most of all Mariátegui marxist influence came about because his direct contact with the writing of Marx and Lenin.  But there were other influences in his thinking like Jose Vasconcelos, Leon Trotsky, José Ingenieros, Waldo Frank,  considered one of his closest friends, Nietzche, Freude, who wrote in the first number of 'Amauta',  Plekhanov, Marcuse, Lacleau.   Mariátegui corresponded with Miguel de Unamuno who also wrote many contributions for 'Amauta'.  Many other intellectuals influenced  his thinking, among them literary writers and artists :  Charles Chaplin, James George Frazer, James Joyce, Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Cesar Vallejo, Miguel Azuela, Ghandi, Garcilaso de la Vega, Valcarcel, Hildelbrando Castro Pozo, Magda Portal, Angela Ramos, Dora Mayer, María Wiesse, Jorge Basadre, José María Eguren and of course 'his master' Manuél Gonzáles Prada.  Mariátegui, a convinced and confessed marxist,  supporter of Lenin and the Third Internationa,l  admirer  also of socialists  like George Sorel is the Mariátegui - eclectic, creative  and revolutionary - who would reshape Peruvian politics at the turn of the century.At his return to Peru in 1923 
 Matiátegui  gave lectures at the popular university "Manuél Gonzáles Prada".  He will also found the Confederacion General de Trabajadores del Perú (Perú's TUC) and finally the Peruvian Socialist Party which later would be renamed Communist after its affiliation to the Third International.


By 1965 the Castro-like guerrilla was defeated in Peru. One hundred young Peruvians offerred their lives for the revolution.  Luís de la Puente Uceda, Hugo Lobatón, Javier Heraud, honoured young poet of Peru among others were victims of brutal extermination.  However, their rebellion left   the status quo shaken.  When the government of Belaunde,  in anti-nationalistic fashion,  was trying to hand over  Peruvian oil to  the International Petroleum Company of USA,  a group of military commanded by Juan Velasco Alvarado seized power to initiate a reformist process which would, as a first measure, nationalize the oil and also  implement a process of agrarian reform.

While the effervesence of  the 'Revolution' was at its climax and the threat of reprisals from  the Americans, (Hickenlooper plan,) was a possiblility,  ten thousand peasants took control of the central Andean province of Huanta on the 21 and 22 June 1969.  Despite the fact that a profound agrarian reform was about to take place, campesinos attacked the police and took over the city.  The newspaper "Expreso", on June the 24th ran the headline: "extremistas habrían desencadenado violencia".  Why was this social phenomenon occurring in Peru?  Many found an easy answer in stating that it was an action organized by big land owners and extremists trying to spoil the process of    agrarian  reform.  Was the latter the case?

The answer to this must be no, since for many weeks before Ayacucho had been the scene of demonstrations by secondary students   which had the objective of reinstate     free education,  which had been affected by Decreto Supremo 006   promulgated months before.  Parents Associations throughout the country rejected such a measure but nowhere did the protest  take such  a militant  and massive form of popular struggle as in Ayacucho and Huanta.  The latter action was the social phenomenon which gave birth to a new independent faction of the Peruvian left, the Partido Comunista Peruano - SL (Sendero Luminoso) .  PCP-SL would thus constitute  the last division of the Peruvian Communist Party founded by José Carlos Mariátegui in 1928, with the name of Partido Socialista.

The PCP-SL, whose seed was El Frente de Defensa del Pueblo de Ayacucho (Ayacucho's People Defense Front) in 1969-70, transformed itself  between 1976-78 and decided to take the road of armed struggle.  These stages of its organic development accord with the changes occurring in the   Peruvian government which was   regressing from a reformist government (1968-1975) to a  neo-fascist  type  regime  (1975-1980).

The secondary student  protagonists of the upheaval of 1969, the encounter of an elite of mestizo intellectuals with university students, of mestizo and provincial origin, and the regional problems of Ayacucho (a low technology, farming-based economy, with few public services and a low rate of literacy) were the laboratory which, including elements of campesino and urban extraction, showed the efficacy of education as a measure of social mobility  for the transformation of Peruvian society.  Applying the rigor of  social science to the social phenomena of 1969 would without doubt have delineated the future transformation of the Communist Party - Shining Path.  However, the lazy conclusions of many individuals did not help to understand the problem posed by Sendero Luminoso.  The feasible democratic and popular movement of the late 1960s in Ayacucho was transformed in the new wave of terror of Peruvian history.  In 1980 the first action of Shining Path marked the beginning of a war of terror which has cost the lives of more than 30 thousand Peruvians. 


On May 17, 1980 the first  action was carried out in Chuschi.  A group of five rebels broke into the town hall and took the ballot boxes and voting lists to be burned in the town  square.  This action symbolized the beginning of the armed struggle agreed by el Partido Comunista Peruano - SL, which from now on I will refer to as Sendero  in order to differentiate it from other communist organizations in Peru such us the orthodox Partido Comunista Peruano headed by Jorge del Prado, the most important organization of Peruvian left in Peru with great influence and control over the CGTP, Peruvian General Workers Confederation as it has over the ranks of the intellectuals grouped in the ANEA,  National Association of Writers and Artiststs and since 1979   of the General Confederation of Campesinos of Peru, CGCP.

In 1979 the orthodox Partido Comunista Peruano expressed  the view (8) that its organization favoured an alliance of all parties and fronts which represented the masses.  To that effect, the party proposed the formation of a popular, anti-imperialist, and anti-oligarchic coalition of the Communist, Socialist Revolutionary (PSR),  and Christian Democratic parties, together with the FOCEP and the UDP.  In 1980 the prospective transfer of political power made the orthodox Partido Comunista  consider     the unification of the left a necessity.  On 11 January an agreement was signed between the the PCP, PSR and FOCEP to select from a common list of candidates.  Two months later   FOCEP withdrew from the  coalition due to the electoral  aspirations of its leader, Genaro Ledesma.  El Partido Comunista Peruano and the PSR, in alliance with minor parties, contested the 1980 elections  as the UNITY OF THE LEFT front, obtaining the biggest electoral support of its political history.  The latter was also achieved by the other left wing organizations, trotskyists and maoists which also manifested divisions in their ranks.  By 1980 the Trotskyists presented at least three identifiable parties: the PRT headed by Hugo Blanco and affiliated with the United Secretariat of the Fourth International,  the Socialist Workers Party consisting of a group that split from the PRT in 1979, together with the FACCION BOLCHEVIQUE headed by the Argentine Nahuel Moreno, split from the United Secretariat.  The other group was the POMR, affiliated with an international faction headed by the Lutte Ouvriére group of France.  From their inception in the 1960s the Maoist parties had also suffered splits in their ranks.  In 1980 the recognisible Maoists parties were: The PCP-Marxista Leninist, headed by Antonio Frenández Arce, PCP-Bandera Roja  headed by Saturnino Paredes and the PCP- Patria Roja.
By a process of deduction we can infer that the first action of Sendero  was one directed against the electoral process and the alternative plan of government presented by the most varied  left wing organizations represented so far in a  quasi-legal Peruvian electoral contest.


Sendero's first military action in Lima occurred on June 16, 1980, when a group  of two hundred men and women attacked the town hall of the San Martín de Porres district with Molotov cocktails.  The attack on Ñaña's police station in July 1982 constituted its first major military action, confirming its influence in the Central Highway.  The attack against the Bayer plant in May 1983, and the blackout of Lima, showed that Sendero had intensified its actions against the government.  In December 1982 Belaunde's government ordered the armed forces to enter into action in Ayacucho and declared the region an emergency zone.  The intervention of the armed forces in the conflict resulted in a dramatic increase in the death toll. 

In 1980 the victims of the conflict were as follows:
Military                                                          1
Civilians                                                         2                                                                                                Presumed Senderistas                                    0
TOTAL                                                          3

In 1981 the figure was similar:

Military                                                            2
Civilians                                                           2
Presumed Senderistas                                      0
TOTAL                                                           4

The following year 1982 registered an increased in the death toll as follows:

Military                                                          39
Civilians                                                         87
Presumed Senderistas                                    44
TOTAL                                                         170

But in December 1982, when the army enter into the conflict,    the death toll rose dramatically.
For the year 1992 the figures are as follows:
Military                                                            92
Civilians                                                         749
Presumed Senderistas                                  1966
TOTAL                                                       2807

As a consequence, young people started to flee from the harassment of the repressive forces who tabbed them as suspected guerrillas.  Families fled to keep their teenagers from Sendero's clutches.  Others escaped from the economic disruption brought on by guerrilla warfare, counterinsurgency, natural disasters, and dislocated markets.  In 1985, the Peace Comission estimated there were fifty thousand forced migrants, mainly settled in Lima, Ica and Huancayo.
They arrived in a capital city in crisis which no longer offered jobs for unskilled workers, nor homes, nor educational prospects for children, not to mention the lack of health, transport and other  basic services.  
One of  Sendero's most brutal massacres  was  in 1983 when the guerrillas wreaked revenge on the villages of Santiago de Lucanamarca and Huancasancos, in Ayacucho, where the peasants had recently attacked and killed several senderistas.  The villagers, whose economy was being strangled by Sendero's virtual ban on outside commerce , had been encouraged by a succession  of clashes, or possibly slaughters, in which about sixty guerrillas died at the hands of the security forces after they had supposedly gained the help of neighbouring communities.  Sendero punished the two villages  by shooting and axing to death up to eighty of their inhabitants, who tried in vain to defend  themselves with stones.
One survivor said, 'They put us in the corner of the square.  Little by little they brought our brothers who had run away.  They put them up against the church and then made them lie down with their hands on the back of their necks.  They massacred every last one they brought there.  They started with axes and finished off with a FAL' (10).   (FAL, fusíl automatico ligero = automatic rifle).  The same year eight journalists were massacred in the village of Uchuraccay while carrying out their duties.  The author of this dissertation wrote a letter of response to the "Morning Star"(see appendix)

1983 was also the year when austerity measures were imposed on the Peruvian people.  The gross domestic product dropped by 12%; cumulative growth in gross domestic product for the five years of Belaunde's administration averaged only 0.3% a year.   By 1984, national industry was operating at forty per cent of capacity.  The textile industry and automobile assembly plants were particularly hard hit by import liberalisation.  'By 1984, many had been forced to close, leaving thousands of workers unemployed.  Nor was the government  successful in controlling inflation.  By 1985, the year Belaunde left office, inflation had risen to 158.3 per cent annually, as compared to 60.8% in the year he took office.  Over this period, real wages had lost forty per cent of their value.' (11)    In 1984   the insurrection of the armed group "Tupac Amaru" also began to which we will refer later.

1984 registered the folowing death toll:

Military                                                     99
Civilians                                                1758
PresumedSenderistas                            2462
TOTAL                                                4319

On 28 July 1985 APRA came to power.  Alan García took office in a climate of great expectation.  APRA was 'for the first time in power' since its founding as a front in 1924.  The social democrat president promised to tackle  Sendero's insurgency through social programmes, economic development and respect for human rights.  Most Peruvians thought that the dirty war could be ended.   'The government', said García, 'would not accept the use of death as an instrument of the democratic system.  The law will be severely applied to those who violate or who have violated human rights through death, extra-judicial executions, torture and abuse.'  He stated the latter in his inauguration speech.  But the military thought differently, because soon after the young president took office the extra-judicial executions started again.  A month after his assumption of power executions were carried out in the communities of Pucayacu and Accomarca.  In Pucayacu the army executed seven school teachers, hiding their bodies in two unmarked graves.  In Accomarca, 25 soldiers from the army outpost pulled peasants from their homes, tortured and beat men and children.  After raping the village's women, according to surviving witnesses, the soldiers then machined-gunned them and set them on fire.  Twenty three children and thirty nine adults were massacred.

The officer in charge said: 'I consider that the decision I took to be correct' .   The officer testified: 'You cannot trust a woman, an old person or a child because Sendero begins to indoctrinate them when they are just two or three years old.'  From the latter we can deduce that the APRA government was unable to stop the massacre of Peruvian people.  Furthermore, APRA was unable to create viable programmes for social change due to its links with local elites 'more interested in safeguarding their own hold on power than in implementing reform.' (12)

According to Poole and Reñique,  APRA's failure to link a debt repayment plan 'with complementary strategies for either increasing exports, reducing imports, or attracting new capital, led to a rapid depletion of Peru's already meagre international reserves'. Peruvian international reserves declined from  1.4 billion US dollars , when García took office, in 1985 to  60 million US dollars in 1987.  By 1988 , Peru's international reserves were 275 million dollars in the red.  García's intention  to promote economic recovery by limiting the debt repayment to ten per cent of export  earnings in his hope to increase the avalilability of hard currency, both to national industry and to his own government's social programmes, did not have the desired result.

On 18 June 1986  the 17th International Socialist Conference was celebrated in Lima,  Willy Brandt's presence helped to make   this event  high profile world news.  For Garcia it was an opportunity to use the international expectations of the socialist conference in order to promote his, "can't pay, won't pay", policy on external debt.  

During that day, the guards continued with their strike in protest over pay and conditions while political prisoners sized the opportunity to highlight their demands for compliance with a previous agreement concerning prison  conditions and a guarantee not to transfer them to the prison of Canto Grande.  After organizing riots in three prisons -El Fronton, Santa Barbara and Lurigancho- and the failure of the peace commission, which had no negotiating power, there followed an army massacre reminiscent of the slaughter of the agro-industrial workers in Trujillo in 1932.  124 prisoners were killed in Lurigancho.  In the women's prison of Santa Barbara the inmates resisted the police with home-made weapons and responded with gun fire.  Three prisoners died and several were badly injured.  The remaining prisoners were beaten up and transferred to another jail.  Witnesses at El Fronton reported that  the jail was bombed from the air; 'that inmates were hauled out , tortured and shot; that their bodies were tossed back into the rubble and blown up with grenades'.  Around 120 inmates were killed.

By 1986, the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA),  a guerrilla movement formed in 1984, had met  success with the incorporation of  the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria)  into its ranks..  Particularly important were the links gained with popular organizations with whom the MIR had built up links for many years.  MRTA members participated as equals in communal meetings of popular organizations.  Its forces  protected coca producers from abusive authorities and narcotraffickers.  In 1987, a column of 100 Tupac Amaru guerrillas tried in mid-March to occupy the 'cocaine capital' of Tocache in the Upper Huallaga Valley.  'On entering the town they were ambushed by a combined force of narcos and Sendero Luminoso.  Sendero's participation in the attack was motivated not only by its animosity towards the MRTA, whom it dismisses as 'armed revisionists' but also reflected the interests of the narcotrafickers and its taking sides  with Sendero in this particular struggle.  Sendero headquarters were housed in Tocache  home of , "El Vampiro", a notorious Colombian trafficker.  After five hours of shooting,  the MRTA was forced to retreat, losing fifty combatants in the struggle.  Following the state of emergency in the region of Huallaga, the ensuing police offensive pushed the narcos and senderistas out of their former strong-holds of Tocache and Uchiza, to an area near the town of Campanilla.  But not for long, because seven months later Tupac Amaru guerrillas re-took the initiative in the Huallaga region.  On the 20th anniversary of Che Guevara's execution, on 8 October 1987, MRTA  fighters took over a radio station in Lima and announced the opening of a guerilla front.  On the following  5 November Tupac Amaru guerrillas took the capital city of Juanjui, a city of over 20 thousand inhabitants.  In Juanjui they locked up the police in their barracks, convened community meetings and finally organised soccer games, parties and dances with the residents.  Following the Juanjui occupation, a  state of emergency was proclaimed in the region, and a military offensive followed which dealt severe blows to the Tupac Amaru guerrillas.

The death toll in 1985 was as follows

Military                                                        85
Civilians                                                     410
Presumed Terrorists                                   854
TOTAL                                                           1359

The following year,1986, the death toll was as follows:

                                                           Military                                                             136
                                                           Civilians                                                            510
                                                            Presumed  terrorists                                         622
                                                             TOTAL                                                         1268

In 1987 when the police and its special anti-terrorist branch  DIRCOTE were strengthened, there appeared a paramilitary death squad with direct links with the APRA.  The Rodrigo Franco Command, named after an APRA member allegedly killed by Sendero, initiated a national campaign of bombings, intimidation and assassinations in which human rights workers, trade unionists, journalists and left-wing politicians were among the targets. In one of its actions the Rodrigo Franco command tied two students back to back and and blew them up with plastic explosives.  The Rodriigo Franco Command announced that  'it was acting to defend Peru and for each mayor, soldier and policeman killed, a leader of Shining Path or those groups which support or protect it will die'. (13)

According to Gustavo Gorriti, Guzman's primary strategic objective was to create 'an axis of Shining Path-controlled or influenced areas up and down the Andes Mountains from north to south.   In Gorriti's opinion this objective was more or less achieved by the end of 1986.  Its activities also considerably increased in Lima and in the regions of the coast.  In 1987 Sendero presence was felt in the Huallaga valley, where Sendero wanted to carry out  'a war of national resistance' (14) against the violence of narcotic traffickers, the  police and U.S. funded staff.

In 1987 the death toll was as follows:

Military                                                          126
Civilians                                                         388
Presumed terrorists                                        622
TOTAL                                                         697

In 1988 the death toll suffered another dramatic increase (15):

Military                                                        286
Civilians                                                     1030
Presumed terrorists                                      667
TOTAL                                                     1986   


Jorge del Prado drew up a balance sheet of the work of the left in 1987.  The document was published in February 1988 by the  National Press Comission of the Peruvian Communist Party, a member  of the parliamentary coalition of the left.  In his report del Prado makes it clear that the creation of the ANP (Popular National Assambly) delivered the aspirations of the IX Congress of the PCP-Unidad:- "Por una alternativa revolucionaria de gobierno y de poder" (for a revolutionary alternative to government and power).  The formation of the ANP, according to del Prado, combined all the members of 'La Izquierda Unida' (United Left) and placed their parties closer to the organised popular struggle.  Only in this way, del Prado affirmed, would the united left   abandon caudillism and the electoral malpractices which have damaged the parliamentary leftwing front.  The views of del Prado clearly show  that there is another way of changing Peruvian society:  

'En la lucha política, tanto nuestro Partido como los otros partidos de izquierda, nos encontramos con un competidor muy peligroso, -Sendero Luminoso-, que se presentaba como la otra alternativa.  De no haberse encontrado una salida de masas a la actividad de la IU y de cada uno de los partidos a través de la concreción de la ANP, Sendero Luminoso habría aprovechado la creciente radicalización de las luchas populares para incrementar las acciones terroristas y atraer a sus filas nuevos contingentes de luchadores desorientados y desesperados.  De ahí que sea lícito sostener que uno de los principales derrotados con la realizacion de la ANP ha sido Sendero Luminoso, ya que en dicha Asamblea se ha demostrado, fehacientemente, que hay otro camino diferente al demencial terrorismo y que  es, precisamente, el de la acción de las masas organizadas'. (translation next).
'In the political struggle, our own party, and all other parties of the left,  find ourselves confronting a dangerous enemy in Sendero Luminoso -which presents itself as another alternative.  If they had not encountered a mass response to the activity of the IU and each of its parties through the creation of the ANP.  Sendero Luminoso would have taken advantage of the growing radicalisation of the popular struggle to increase its terrorist actions and attract new, disoriented and desperate, members to its  ranks.We can state that one of the principal losers of the creation of the ANP has been Sendero Luminoso, now that in the said assembly it has been shown that there is a route other than terrorism,  which is the action of the organised masses.

The revolutionary position of the Peruvian Communist Party-Unity is clear when Jorge del Prado argues: 'no rehuimos ninguna forma de lucha; que, por el contrario, creemos indispensable el dominio de todas ellas para conquistar el triunfo de la revolucion' (16).  Translation:  'We do not deny the validity of any form of struggle but, on the contrary, we believe that all are necessary to achieve the triumph of the revolution'.

The Peruvian Communist Party-Unity also makes a distinction between Sendero   Luminoso and the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA).  The first, according to the PCP-U,  has among other negative aspects the following:   militarism,  it despises both its innocent victims  and   the mass struggle and people's organization.  Sendero also condemns the Popular National Assambly (ANP).
The MRTA, in del Prado's opinion, has argued that the armed struggle should be linked with the organizations of the left,  the worker's and popular movement.  Contrary to the position of Sendero,  the MRTA manifested its respect for the line of the International Communist Movement and also expressed its open solidarity with Cuba, Nicaragua  and El Salvador.  In the view of the PCP-U, the most important member of the Izquierda Unida (United Left), the MRTA is not an enemy organization and its political line cannot be considered as contrary to the one held by the PCP-U and the Izquierda Unida.  However the PCP-U mantains some differences with the MRTA which have been discussed and published in the documents of its IX National Congress.  Basically differences of an ideological nature and political praxis.

After the prison massacres, where no less than 256 inmates lost their lives, Sendero opted for more visible action.    Using the sympathy it had gained, it started to compete directly with mass organizations controlled by Izquierda Unida  and with the MRTA.  On Labour Day in May 1988 a pro-Sendero demonstration  claimed to be "the march without fear".   However,  Sendero's success in competing for political support has been mixed.  In regions with strong organizations  Sendero has made little progress  but in areas with less extensive organizations their forces have met with less opposition and have asserted its influence.
In July 1988  Abimael Guzman, leader of Sendero, gave his famous interview to El Diario  in which he ruled out any cooperation with the politicians and targeted existing popular organizations as "obstacles to the revolution" (17).  Accordingly,  Sendero has incited repressive violence during otherwise peaceful demonstrations and protests.  Sendero has also created a network of popular organizations whose goal is to replace 'revisionist' demonstrations for wages and conditions with 'militant' strikes that priorize the class struggle.  In 1988 Sendero's national congress described the MRTA as "the principal enemy of the revolution....that must be confronted because there cannot be the triumph of two revolutions" (18)

1988 marked marked a  turning point for Sendero Luminoso's overall strategy and tactics.  Sendero's aim was still the destruction of the state and the creation of a new democracy based on the peasants and urban workers, but it exchanged its strategy of protracted rural war for that of a quicker, urban-based revolution. Thus, Sendero's activity became more visible in its efforts to attract the urban masses, stimulate social and economic conflict and precipitate a military coup.  Audacious actions by Sendero Luminoso were taken this year.   As one of Sendero's leaders stated in the theoretical journal "Que Hacer", No 55, Sendero was giving 'union and political demonstrations a new aspect, that of class and not  the opportunism of del Prado, Breña and Diez Canseco".  Protesters wearing masks appeared at meetings to shout down speakers and demand support for the armed struggle, and incited violence by throwing stones and dynamite during demonstrations.  On several occasions they provoked overreactions by the police that resulted in the injury and even death of protestors.  The 28 January was the day the CGTP (PCP and IU umbrella) called a general strike.  The same day "El Diario" reported that the MOTC (Sendero's umbrella) was calling for a "combative strike in which the masses express repudiation of the corporate, fascist, Aprista government and its revisionist accomplice, the IU".   On one occasion forty senderistas interrupted an IU rally , during the strike.  After shouting cheers to Comrade Gonzalo,  they exploded dynamite, wounding four workers, and assaulted many people including the  leader of the PCP, Jorge del Prado.

Sendero Luminoso , as a group, appeared for the first time in the streets of Lima when 250 activists and sympathizers marched through central Lima.  The demonstration went on for two hours before the police intervened.  Seven bombs were thrown into buildings and flags draped over trees along the streets.  The latter was the synthesis of  'the march  without fear'  that I was referring to previously.  For Sendero Luminoso, it is clear that the enemies were the government, the IU, the MRTA and other revolutionary groups in Peru.

The Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru (MRTA) also gained strength during 1988.  Its  links with the parliamentary left appeared to grow as the overall national situation deteriorated.  However in this year of economic hardship, the MRTA  turned to kidnapping.  In July they captured a General, a retired air-force leader and head of a battery factory.  MRTA held him for 108 days and negotiated a ransom that included the distribution of 7,000 bags of food to seven Lima neighbourhoods  and,  according to the news agency EFE,24 July, also included 3 million dollars.
The motto of MRTA is "For the cause of the poor; with the masses; up in arms." 

In August 1989 Amnesty International issued its second report critical of Peru's human rights violations, claiming that the security forces were responsible for the torture, disappearance and death of thusands of civilians.  From 1987 to 1989 Peru has had the highest number of forced disappearances of any nation in the world.  Amnesty International also condemned  Sendero Luminoso  for its campaign of assassination, sabotage and armed attacks.

At the beginning of 1989 , it  appeared that the IU was poised for electoral victory in the 1990 presidential elections,  but at the end of the year the left  suffered another irresponsible division.  From its gains in the Constitutional Assembly elections in 1978, when it took 28 per cent of the vote, the electoral results of the left have been as follows:  In the general elections of 1980 and 1985, it won 15 and 24 per cent respectively.  In the municipal elections of 1980, 1983 and 1986, it  won 24, 29 and 32 per cent respectively.  However these improvements in results were absent  in the 1989 municipal elections, where the smaller members of  Izquierda Unida broke away from the main core of the group.  The splinter group, Socialist Left (IS), was joined later by the former mayor of the former integral alliance,  Alfonso Barrantes Lingán.  The PCP-Unidad, PCP-Patria Roja, PUM and MAS, the larger ones, remained within the Izquierda Unida (United Left).   Despite considerable effort by the PCP,and its leader Jorge del Prado, to solve the dispute, the IU split in two groupings

The first national congress of Izquierda Unida , in 1989, before the split, was un-paralelled  with more than 3,500 participants including 2,500 delegates.  Jorge del Prado hailed it as "the most important and transcendental step in the history of the Peruvian left".  However, the truly united left never came about because of the sectarianism of some groups which frustrated the electorate which was  hoping too see a truly united left  at last.

 Alberto Flores Galindo, writing of this failure, stated: 'Some imagined that the leftist vote belonged to them' .......'But the popular classes think for themselves, even though some do not believe so.  They do not give blank cheques.'    The result was a significant drop in the share of vote for the left  wing in Peruvian politics.

For nine years,  with varying degrees of success, the members of Izquierda Unida: PCP,PCR,PSR,FOCEP,UNIR,PUM had retained the minimum necessary unity in order to offer an alternative form of government to the Peruvian people.  The division of IU caused the revival of the right wing parties which since 1980 had seen their electoral support decline  in inverse proportion to the rise in popularity of the Social Democracy and the left.  In 1985 the support for the right wing parties amounted to 7per cent for ACCION POPULAR (AP) and 11per cent for POPULAR CHRISTIAN PARTY (PPC).  However, after July 1987, when the Peruvian bourgeoisie protested at the announcement of a plan to nationalise the banks and,  fueled further by the 1989 division of the left, the right was again in the position to aspire to control  the political scene.  The resisitance of the right this time presented  itself in the form of Vargas Llosa, an admirer of Thatcher and advocate of neo-liberal policies. 

On the labour side 1989 was a difficult year for the CGTP, the main workers union, the contraction of the economy was about to place half a million workers on forced vacation,  and the part-time workers would soon be unemployed.  As we stated before, Sendero Luminoso took advantage of this situation by infiltrating the unions and inciting unrest.  However, in April the unions controlled by the Izquierda Unida defeated a Senderist offensive in the industrial zone of the Carretera Central in Lima.  
The General Secretariat of the 70,000 strong Federation of Miners and Metallurgic Workers suffered a major loss when its general secretary, Saúl Cantoral, was assassinated on 13 February.  A note on his body carried Sendero's motto "Thus die traitors".  However, the right wing terrorist group Comando Rodrigo Franco had threatened him before.   The CGTP accused the right wing organisation.  The government accused Sendero Luminoso.

The miners received threats from Sendero  to shut down the mines for the duration of the armed strike called by the guerrillas.  The miners' second walk-out was halted after two weeks of violence instigated by the MRTA and harassment from the government forces.  All these violent circumstances   and the desire to avoid bloodshed, made Valentin Pacho, CGTP leader, participate in the government's effort to reactivate the economy.  He met with representatives of the  Ministry of Economics and the Confederation of Private Enterprise Institutions (CONFIEP), and with other labour, university, and religious leaders to discuss an  'economic pact of national solidarity' with the intention of creating a  strategy to combat inflation and recession and to reactivate the economy.  The CGTP leader, Valentín Pacho, participated in these discussions, but refused to make any formal committment until labour problems had been dealt with  .  Pacho was later killed by the military.   Before he died Pacho had warned that Mario Vargas Llosa's anti-patriotic program  presented a danger to all the social, economic and political conquests that had been achieved with struggle, demonstrations and blood  in this century.  Since its formation the CITE,  the Intersectorial Confederation of State Employees, had received support from its industrial sister the CGTP which always pressed for its official recognition.  In   view of  the prospect of a neo-liberal government headed by Vargas Llosa , president Alan García, perhaps responding to this demand, and the magnificent struggle put on by the state employees,   officially recognized the CITE on 29 November as the most important  bargaining representative for the 500,000 strong confederation.  CITE's  General  Secretary, Luís Iparraquirre,   announced that CITE's first move would be to denounce candidate Mario Vargas Llosa before the judiciary for threatening the right to job stability for public servants.

According to the Andean Newsletter, 15 January  1990,  the Andean Commission of Justice claimed that unidentified paramilitary groups were responsible for 153 assassinations in 1989. The right wing Comando Rodrigo Franco  was blamed for 11 assassinations and hundreds of threats to union leaders, journalists, and left wing politicians.

Most of the Tupac Amaru guerrilla, MRTA, operations have been in Lima.    The kidnapping of wealthy businessmen, the hijacking of deliveries, and attacks on buildings,  were all actions which caused few casualties.  However, MRTA's  attempts to expand into the coca-production areas were not successful.  Sendero and the military confronted MRTA in these areas.  By  November of 1989 MRTA claimed 93 actions and 195 casualties.  MRTA's own casualties in confrontations with the police and with Sendero totalled 125 members.  Victor Polay Campos, its leader, was captured in February, in Huancayo, charged with 102 kidnappings and 200 terrorist attacks in Lima,  further 12 MRTA leaders were captured in the northern-Andes in October.

The endemic violence in Peru made IU congressmen press for government investigation and accountability for misconduct.  In 1989 a congressional commission was formed in order to investigate paramilitary groups.  In June the Minister of Interior, Agustín Mantilla, gave detailed accounts of the activities of the MRTA and Sendero Luminoso and claimed that the Comando Rodrigo Franco was simply several local groups without national cohesion.  However, information gathered by the congressional commission gave evidence that sophisticated Israeli weapons and security systems were being smuggled into Peru, ostensibly for the Central Bank.  APRA and its minister Mantilla was revealed to have been involved.  Also charges were made that Italian and Israeli combat trainers had connections with Comando Rodrigo Franco.  In protest several Aprista  members of the commission resigned.  Meanwhile, the portion of Peruvians which believes that Sendero will eventually be victorious has increased from 4 per cent in 1988 to 15 per cent in 1989.  In 1989  losses by government forces rose  from 286 to 339 and in 1990,  298 military and police officials were killed. including  the killing by the MRTA a former minister of defence, Enrique López Albujar, for his role in the assassination of MRTA members the year before.  In 1990 the judge César Ruíz Trigoso, was killed for supporting anti-labour policies.


Sendero Luminoso's  'red october' campaign had the principal aim of   undermining the democratic system by sabotaging the 1989 municipal elections in November and the 1990 general elections in April.  Failing to gain the wide support of the people to boycott the elections (which can be seen in the massive participation of the electorate in the electoral campaign).  Sendero Luminoso started a campaign of killings five weeks before the municipal election which resulted in: '360 persons killed including 28 government officials, 11 mayors and vice-mayors, 2 district lieutenant governors, and 1 governor'.(19).  At least 260 candidates withdrew from the electoral contest after the intimidation campaign of car bombs, fires, assault on political party premises and meeting halls.  Many of the candidates' homes and workplaces suffered attacks by senderistas.  Undoubtedly, this campaign affected the electoral process and particularly the Izquierda Unida campaign which limited its public appearances for security reasons, and had to compete with the  political propaganda of the neo-liberal parties.  Vargas Llosa's Fredemo, for instance, spent thirty times more than Izquierda Unida on its television adverts.
One of the characteristics of the electoral scrutiny in Peru is the use of indelible ink to signify those who have voted and to avoid fraud.  Sendero Luminoso was known to chop off tinted fingers.  President García ordered the cancellation of the use of ink and increased protection for the polling  places. The  municipal election was won by Vargas Llosa's Fredemo which attained 37 per cent of the vote, Apra won 21.5 per cent and the left IU and IS together polled 20.3 per cent.  Independents took nearly 30 per cent of the vote.

Alberto Fujimori came to power on 28 July 1990, on the day the country celebrated its independence from Spain.  Fujimori's win was a surprise.  Without the support of big names, indeed without much money, Fujimori's populist style won the sympathy of the Peruvian electorate, which identified more with Fujimori, the son of Japanase peasants who immigrated to Peru in 1934, than with his main opponent, the writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, admirer of Mrs Thatcher's policies.  Fujimori with his populist style seduced and won the vote of the poor, the 'indians' and mestizos, who today form the majority of the Peruvian population.

In the first round of the election Vargas Llosa, the favourite, only won 27.61 per  cent of the vote and Fujimori  was second with 24.62 per cent.  The Izquierda Unida, with Pease, won 6.69 percent and the Izquierda Socialista, with Barrantes, a poor 4.07 per cent. Fujimori's  victory , in the second round, symbolised the electorate's  rejection  of traditional parties in Peru.  It meant the rejection of Vargas Llosa's Fredemo and disillusionment by the failure and corruption of APRA and also the disapproval of the left's political in-fighting.   In some areas like Cusco, Puno, Tacna, Pasco, stronghold of the left, it was clear that Fujimori had the support of traditional  Izquierda Unida supporters.  Shining Path called for a boycott of the election.  Among the left,  the discussion was to choose between  spoiling the vote, and thus falling into the game of Sendero Luminoso, or campaigning to stop Vargas Llosa coming into power.

 Blank and spoiled  votes were quite high in  Ayacucho, Mantaro and Upper Huallaga, places of conflict between government forces and guerrilla fighters.  Absenteeism during the first round of the election in the emergency zones was also high:  Huanuco 50.1 per cent, Junin 49.5 per cent and Ayacucho 47.5 per cent.  Among the causes for absenteeism are threats, forced migration from these areas and failure to register.  Nationwide, invalid votes in the first round amounted to15.35 per cent compared with 9.55 per cent in the second round.  Fujimori also  won the vote of the independent and the Evangelical church.  The election result , which was suspposed to be a certain victory for Vargas Llosa, became a remarkable victory for Fujimori who attained 56 per cent of the vote against 34 per cent for Vargas Llosa.  Neither the traditional right wing opposition, nor the discontent of the Catholic church nor the disapproval of the navy officers, were able to stop Mr. Fujimori taking power.  However, irony was about to play its part in Peruvian politics, because those who were opposed to the neo-liberal plan of Vargas Llosa had to accept the  same economic austerity programme  from the hands of Mr. Fujimori.

Fujimori's bad temper and arrogance, in the view of some observers, have created marked tension  in his relations with congress.  As an independent candidate Fujimori has railed against Peru's 'professional politicians', corrupt institutions and the judiciary.  Tension and confrontation have dominated his relationship with congress.  However, despite this,   congress has   cooperated with him on many occasions.
The truth of the matter is that this politicians' 'circus'   has produced no fundamental change in the lives of the majority of Peruvians, the urban poor and campesinos.  The recommendations of the congressional commission on violence have not been followed, and despite the skills and activity of Senator Enrique Bernales, Presedent of the forementioned commission, the human rights abuses commited against Peruvians were not sufficiently discussed by committed candidates during the presidential campaign of 1990.   The media also did not pay much attention to the human rights issue until 1991.  

By the begining of 1991 Lima was among the most expensive cities in Latin America and  this was in  contrast with the exploitative conditions of its work force, which earned a minimum wage worth only $ 60 U.S. dollars a month.  Official statistics in 1989 put the under-employment level in Peru  at 73.9%,   Under Alan García from July 1989 to July 1990 the inflation rate reached 4,600%.  Millions of Peruvians live in houses which lack water, sewage or electricity.  Life expectancy and infant mortality rates are appalling.
The latter are also the faces of terror in Peru : a Peruvian of low income does not expect to live more than 50 years,  and 1 in 8 children died in their first year.

The policies of 'shock' introduced by Fujimori into the economy  further affected the poorer sector of the population, the majority of Peruvians.   Products like gasoline increased 3,000 % from one night to the following morning an the price of food  has also
increased accordingly.  Certainly  that inflation later came down  to 5.6% a month, but for those who already have nothing the cost has been too high .  Incipient social relief and deterioration of the weak infrastructure  -roads, transport, education and health service among others-  has been the sacrifice better known as the 'fujishock'.  Cholera,  a disease transmitted through human faeces, was part of the price paid by the Peruvian population.  In 1991 there were 5,000 hospitalizations caused by this illness and 23,000 were infected by it.

Meanwhile in 1991 the insurgency continued.  Early in that year the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru initiated a bombing campaign directed at government buildings and police barracks.  During January and February the MRTA protested at the Gulf War by dynamiting Lima's Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mormon churches and the U.S.-Peruvian Institute.  The U.S. embassy was also attacked with   rocket-propelled grenades.  On one occasion the embassy was sprayed with bullets at midday.  All these events produced not casualties.

In May 1991 the MRTA  entered the town of Rioja and attacked the police post there.  During the attack the two senior police officers abandoned their subordinates.  The police resisted for two hours but later they  were captured by the MRTA.  The rebels, according to Americas Watch, communicated to the International Committee of the Red Cross their willigness to turn over the captives, but the government rejected the intervention of the Red Cross  (20).  We can say that the 'misunderstanding' of the role of the Red Cross by the Peruvian government has contributed to the fact that in the war affecting Peru there are few wounded or prisoner but many killed.  In this case the MRTA released the nine police prisoners after a month and with no signs of mistreatment.

The Journal "Globo"    in its  issue number 9,   has published the number  of military killed in the war of terror from August 1990 to Julio 1992.

Military death toll:

       1990                                                                  1991                                             1992

August        112                                              January        120                             January          241
Sept            339                                              February     169                             February        212
October      224                                              March           94                             March            236
November  238                                              April             141                            April              124
December   104                                              May              147                           May               193
                                                                       June              560                           June               138
                                                                       July               152                           July                  96
                                                                       August           400                                                              
                                                                       September     260
                                                                       October         616
                                                                        November    246
                                                                        December     127
Total             1017                                                                        3032                                              1240

The same journal give figures of hundreds of crimes commited by the military against civilians.  Cases such as: assault and robbery, attempted murder, kidnapping and extortion, resisting political authorities, rape and drug trafficking (21).

According to La Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos,  from 1980  to 1992
28,809  persons have lost their lives in the war of terror.   The military is responsible for the death of  12,345  persons and  2,660  disappeared (53%).   Shining Path on its part is responsible for  45%  of the death toll  and  the Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru  for  1%  of the victims.    In 1992,  the number of victims reached the figure of  3.101,  60% of whom died in clashes between the belligerent parties and 30% of whom were assassinated in cold blood.

In 1992 Shining Path has been responsible for 44% of the victims.  The military took responsibility for 42% of the total.  The Committees of Self-defence, controlled by the politico-military commandants, were responsible for 0.25% of the death toll and the para-military were responsible for 0.90% of the killings.  The Security State Apparatus was responsible for 6.7% of assassinations.  During 1992 there were a total of 286  disappearances, surpassing the figure of the previous year which stood at 117.  The extra-judicial executions also increased.   In 1991 there were 114 extra-judicial executions. According to La Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos torture in Peru is currently employed against members of legal political parties and dissdent military.  
Fifty people out of 286 who disappeared  in 1992 were found dead.   Fifty eight were freed, the rest are still missing: 120 in Huanuco,  86 in Junin,  Ayacucho 76  and  San Martín  with  52 cases are the most affected zones.  In Lima there were 34 cases.  The same source states that the military is responsible for 90% of people who disappear .  In 1992 there were 114 extra-judicial executions, including 50 people abducted by the military and later found dead.  During July and September last year ten university students previously accounted for by the military were found dead.
Forty four peple were   killed and 31 injured while driving during  the evening curfew during the same year.

The same source reveals that in 1993 Peru is placed top  of the list  of  countries 
accused of  being responsible for detainees and disappeared .   The statistics of The United Nations Working Group on disappeared people has confirmed this claim.  We also notice that the majority of disappeared in 1992 correspond to people who live in regions of the interior of the country.    Ironically, as our last paragraph shows, the most   punished targets are those who  descend  from peoples who fought in Junin and Ayacucho to seal  in bloody battles 'the independence' of the Spanish colonies in America.  These people are among the poorest in Peru,  with a population that is predominantly Quechua.  They are the native population of Peru, heir of high Pre-Columbian Civilizations: the undernourished, the illiterate, the abused and historically ignored by all Peruvian governments.  It is true that the initiators of the present violent 'revolution'   were students from the Andean University of Huamanga in Ayacucho who, led by Abimael Guzman, continued the struggle of their ancestors, but were students in a decade when Indian peasants gained significant increased access to secondary and higher education as the university registers of those years can confirm.  Social and ethnic desires were the motives for the rise of The Partido Comunista Peruano-Shining Path.  

When this revolutionary  party advocates the complete demolition of the state, and its replacement with a qualitatively new society,  we can clearly see the  icon which represents the undivided rejection of the foreign state by the Incas of Vilcabamba and José Carlos Mariátegui's claim of 'Un Peru nuevo dentro de un mundo nuevo'.

Violence  in Peru is found in the conditions of exploitation and abuse of  native Peruvians.   Violent and non-violent forms of struggle are the  natural response  to the political, economic, social and cultural domination in the region.  Peruvians have the universal right to rebel against tyranny.  What is lamentable in this new wave of struggle is that the common forces for change fail to recognise each other as partners in the revolutionary struggle.  Parliamentary and non-parliamentary struggle combined is  the real   path to Peruvian liberation.  Peruvians are crying out for a solution which is    500 hundred years overdue.  

If the forces for change in Peruvian society are not able to correct 'lines',  recognise our common enemy, and learn from forces which are not necessarily hegemonised by our political tenet we would be contributing to the 'terrorist malaise'.  A new approach free of sectarianism and hegemonism  would take us closer to   triumph, the beginning of a new chapter in our history, the construction of socialism in Peru, as our  Amauta  said: 'Una revolucion sin calco ni copia sino creación heroica'.

An even so we must be clear that the conquest of power  in Peruvian society is only    the initial step of the revolution.   Brinton's book "La Anatomía de la Revolucíon" argues that the immediate stage before the revolution is characterized by the following: 

a)    Difficulty in the government finances
b)    Desertion of intellectuals to the sector of the proletariat.
c)    Class antagonism.

According to Brinton, an academic at Harward, the latter are the objective conditions which will allow the completion of the revolution's first stage. (22)

Nicholas Bukharin on his classic work "Historic Materialism" also claims the need of four stages to achieve a revolution:

a)   An ideological revolution among the exploited classes.
b)   A political revolution (taking power).
c)   An economic revolution.
d)   A technical revolution.

Karl Marx on his part states that a revolution is possible when the equilibium between the productive forces of society and the base of its economic structure breaks up, bringing about the transition from one form of society to another, qualitatively new, which will replace the first.  As we can see, Crane Brinton, Nicholas Bukharin and Karl Marx established the genesis of revolutions in two if not antagonistic at least different theories.  However,  what it  is clear is  that all of them have    recognised different stages in the road to revolution.  We would like to suggest that the revolutionary struggles in Peru,  mistakenly named 'terrosist' actions, is one form of struggle, a violent, non-rational, reaction to the reality of state terrorism.  As our empirical data has shown,  it is the government forces which are to blame for most of the killings and crimes committed against defenceless Peruvians.


When writing on the struggle of Peruvian people, indeed on the struggle of people in any part of the world,  it is essential to define our position.  Many publications  have inundated the shelves  of bookshops discribing the activity of  'Shining Path', and 'Tupac Amarú' movements, as terrorist.  Less emphasis has been placed on the terrorist activity of the army, police and paramilitary forces of the Peruvian state.  These writers forget that  this violent form of struggle is a consequence of the brutality of the  Peruvian state.  Their  works  seem  to play with the sensationalism  offered by the spilt  blood  of the Peruvian people.  In Peru. as we stated in our initial chapter, terror  has been present since its genesis as a state.   With political will, I am sure that the  state has the power to stop cruelty.   A peaceful solution to  the war   requires  the understanding, on the part of all belligerent forces in the conflict,  that change in Peruvian society   is inevitable. 
The consciousness of the people is rising.  Despite 500 years of western oppression there is still a Peruvian spirit,  recognisible  wherever they go:   the rough Andes, the warm land of the Yungas or the streets of   inhospitable Europe.  They are patient, right until the end, but if there is no  solution  they are ready to sacrifice themselves.  

The Peruvian sociologist Roberto Mac Lean y Estenós wrote that The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was integrated in all political programmes of Peru in 1956.  According to Mac Lean,  its aim was to allow Peruvians a life of dignity  and freedom, without fear of oppression or misery. (23)  
We can say that the Peruvian state has failed to implement those postulates.  Perhaps with the sole exception of the timid reforms of Juan Velasco Alvarado, there have been no attempts to introduce changes to Peruvian society.  

Mac Lean in a visionary spirit wrote the following:  'No reneguemos del Pasado.  Allí están las raíces profundas de la nacionalidad.  Allí su aleccionadora experiencia de infortunios y errores.  Allí, sus glorias y sus desastres.  Pero no nos pasemos la vida mirando atrás.  Los pueblos que así lo hacen -reencarnaciones del bíblico Lot- corren el riesgo de petrificarse, convertidos en estatuas de sal.  Sintámonos deudores de nuestros antepasados con la convicción de que la mejor manera de pagar esa deuda es superar su obra.  El pasado debe ser el arco tenso que dispara la flecha hacia el provenir.   Sepultemos definitivamente en el pasado, sin espernzas de resurrección, a las tiranías que envilecen a todos, a unos con la prebenda y a otros con el látigo, a unos con la dádiva y a otros con el miedo, a unos ensillándolos con la librea de los lacayos y a otros reduciéndolos a la condición de ilotas.  No permitamos que los ricos se sigan enriqueciéndose, en tanto que los pobres se sigan muriendo de hambre.  Que no subsista, por más tiempo, la ignominia feudal de los latifundios si no queremos mañana lamentar la reacción iracunda de los campesinos, hartos ya de esperar inútilmente y resueltos, al fin, a hacerse justicia con mano propia'.

It is difficult to belieive that Mac Lean,  a non-communist  sociologist , was wrong:
 'si no queremos mañana lamentar la reacción iracunda de los campesinos, hartos ya de esperar inútilmente y resueltos, al fin, a hacerse justicia con  mano propia' .  José Carlos Mariátegui's "7 Essays"  are  awaiting the political will to solve Peru's problems.  Mariátegui's eclectic interpretation of Peruvian society, I can assure you, can help us to follow a better path.  The Peruvian Left, the democratic forces, the church and the military must take  Amauta's path, perhaps not very shining but also revolutionary, 'Por un Perú nuevo dentro de un mundo nuevo'.

Jorge Aliaga Cacho, Edinburgh, October 1993.


(1)     Simon Strong,  "Shining Path", p.49, Harper Collins, 1992, London.
(2)     Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala, "Nueva Crómica y Buen Gobierno", Vol.2, p.31, Gráfica  
          Industrial, Lima, 1966.                             
(3)   Contemporary writer quoted by William  Prescott  in his 'History of the Conquest of Peru',  
         p. 341, JM Dent & sons, London, 1911. 
(4)    Jorge Cornejo Bouroncle, "Tupac Amaru", pp.340-41, Universidad del Cuzco, 1963, Cuzco.
(5)     Idem, p.351
(6)    José Carlos Mariátegui, "7 Ensayos de Interpretación de la Realidad Peruana", 
          pp.69-70, Amauta, 1978, Lima.
(6a)   Mariátegui, José Carlos, "Seven Interpretative Essays on Peruvian Reality",
         translated by Marjory Urquidi, p.49, Texas Panamerican Press, Austin,1971.
(7)     Rogger Mercado, "El Apra, el PCP y Sendero", p.34, Fondo de Cultura PopularLima, 1985.
(8)   "Unidad",  15 June 1979.
(9)      Fernando Tuesta Soldevilla, "Perú Político en Cifras",p.223, Fundación Friedrich Ebert,
           Lima, 1987.
(10)    Simon Strong, "Shining Path", pp.149-50, Harper/Collins,1992, London.
(11)     D.Poole & G.Réñique, "Time of Fear", p.125, Latin America Bureau, 1992,London.
(12)     Idem pp.8-9
(13)     Simon Strong, "Shinning Path", pp.162-63, Harper, 1992, London.
(14)     Gustavo Gorriti, 'The Shining Path of Peru', p.168,edited by David Scott Palmer, St 
             Martin's.    Martin's Press, 1992, Newyork.
(15)      Data of death toll from 1980 to 1988 kindly send  from Peru by Jorge Aliaga Merino 
             former Director of the CGTP's Escuela Sindical. 
(16)     Jorge del Prado, "Balance de la Asamblea Nacional Popular", Militante No 20,pp.8-9,
(17)     Andean Focus, August 3, p.3, 1988
(18)     Sandra Woy Hazleton and William A. Hazleton, "Shining Path of Peru",p.217, Edited by
             David Scott Palmer, St Martin's Press, 1992, London.
(19)     Sandra Woy-Hazleton and William A. Hazleton, 'The Shining Path of Peru', p.218,edited
             by David Scott Palmer, St Martin's Press, New York, 1992.
(20)      Americas Watch, "Peru under Fire', page 74, Yale University Press, N.Y.and London.
(21)     Globo, No 9, Lima, Setiembre 1993.
(22)     Hernandez Urbina,  Alfredo, "Compendio de Sociologia Peruana",pp.156-57,
            Amauta, 1966, Lima.
(23)     Mac Lean y Estenós, Roberto, "Sociología del Perú", pp. 656-57, Universidad 
             Nacional Autónoma de México, 1959, México.
(24)     Valcarcel, Daniel,  "Ruta Cultural del Perú", Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico, 1945.
(25)     Valcarcel, Daniel, "La Rebelión de Tupac Amaru", Fondo de Cultura Económica, Mexico,
(26)      Vanden, Harry E., "National Marxism in Latin América", p.7, Lynne Rienner Publishers,
              Colorado, 1986.