Skip to main content

Experimenting China in urbanised Peru? This Maoist wanted peasants to 'encircle' cities

By Harsh Thakor* 

Chairman Gonzalo or Abimael Guzman died on September 12 last year. A Peruvian Maoist revolutionary and guerrilla leader, considered a terrorist by various governments during his lifetime, his is said to be a mystious death on September 11, 2021 at the Maximum Safety Centre of the Callao Naval Base, at the age of 86.
His body was cremated on the dawn of September 24, 2021 and his ashes were dispersed in a secret location in order to prevent a shrine honouring him from being created. Exactly 29 years earlier, on September 12, he was captured by the Peruvian police and placed in the Callao prison.
In spite of a sustained worldwide campaign to demand his release and continuous spate of trials, the Peruvian state kept him entrenched within the jail walls. This testified that a leader like Gonzalo threatened the very backbone of the oppressive neo-colonial regimes.Gonzalo was infringed of rights promised in a democracy: He was denied the political prisoner status.
The dominant media in the country left no stone unturned in labelling Gonzalo, founder of the Communist Party of Peru – Shining Path (PCP-SL), a tyrant. This, when masses were enslaved by the trappings of the United States, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, which held Peru hostage to debt payments, mandating structural adjustment policies that further impoverished the Peruvians.
Gonzalo’s leadership planted the seeds to overthrow this repressive system. He may have gone but his spirit is not dead or buried. It still shimmers across the globe.
After the triumph of Deng Xiaoping, Gonzalo took upon himself the task of continuing with the Maoist protracted people's war concept in Latin America. He is relevant to India, which too is trapped by the yoke of semi-feudalism and imperialism with parliamentary democracy taking a backseat, and many genuine democrats incarcerated within prison walls.
From 1960s, Gonzalo knit components to build the breeding ground to launch the two line struggle within the party, insisting on the need to go ahead with armed struggle, even as chalking down a path to develop political work in the rural areas. He imitated a prolonged struggle against the established Communist Party leadership, alleging deviation.
In an interview in "El Diaro" in1988, Gonzalo encompassed different aspects of Marxism and world revolution, claiming, a new epoch was being written in history. Imitating Che Guevera, he illustrated the spiritual aspect of a Marxist revolutionary and how a new man needed to be created in order to reach the very core of the soul.
Critical of revisionism and defending Mao Zedong for "elevating" Leninism to a higher stage, thus making a universal contribution, he defended Stalin, attacked Gorbachev's perestroika.
Putting forward global perspective of Marxist revolution, Gonzalo analysed the distinguishing characteristics of fascism in Peru and how it had disguised itself. In the sphere of literature, he reflected upon the political lesson of sin, as reflected in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar".
Gonzalo's Shining Path movement sought to follow Che Guevarist's theory, as applied in Cuba and Nicaragua, on Peru. He favoured people's guerrilla army encircling urban areas, virtually besieging the administration. He combined self-defence and aggression to confront the "enemy". 
Ironically, he did this this in a country, which is principally urban. He showed his acumen penetrating the slum areas of Lima. Mass fronts of women, youth, intellectuals and peasants were set up, building link with his party link.
According to a blog in "Kites", which is a journal of communist theory and strategy focused on North America, “During the people’s war, Gonzalo’s leadership revealed potential of urban slums as base areas for revolution and forged strategy and tactics for bringing revolutionary warfare to the bourgeoisie’s centres of power. These innovations to the strategy of protracted people’s war are of tremendous importance to revolutionaries today given the massive growth of slums in Africa, Asia, and Latin America."
It said, “From its initiation in 1980 to the early 1990s, the people’s war in Peru continued to expand, develop local red political power, and inflict blows on the enemy in the face of harsh repression. Gonzalo’s leadership was pivotal to navigating the twists and turns of the revolution, building the communist vanguard and a revolutionary military under its leadership..."
The blog added, "After he was finally captured on September 12, 1992, Gonzalo stood firm, delivering a defiant speech from a cage before international media in which he insisted that his capture was merely a bend in the road and that the revolution could still prevail.”
Joshua Moufawad Paul, Canadian academic and writer, said, “The PCP-SP came so close to toppling the fascist regime in Peru due to the fact that it appealed not only to the most marginalized sectors of Peruvian society -- women, indigenous people, the peasantry, with its land reforms, attempts at gender equality, etc -- but in general broad sectors of the masses. The PCP had even infiltrated the armed forces."
Gonzalo's concepts of 'militarization of the party' sought to fuse the party and the military organization, deploying the people's guerrilla army to undertake mass work in the cities. Excesses were committed by the guerrilla army, and romanticism became its prominent feature. Gonzalo was unable to curb his personality cult from flowering, which is similar to the eulogisation of Stalin or Mao.
There have been protests condemning the death of Gonzalo in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia or even regions of America. However, there exists a predominant trend that eulogises 'Gonzalo thought’ and promotes him as the Greatest Marxist or a Fourth Sword of Marxism. 
Some adherents of 'Gonzalo thought' view him as the sixth leading communist theorist, continuing the legacies of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. Prof Joma Sison, Filipino writer and activist who founded the Communist Party of the Philippines, wrote, terming ‘Gonzalo Thought’ as the Marxism of the modern era and take Peruvian path as a model even for a first world country was an aberrations. 
Meanwhile, pro-Gonzoloite red guard groups in America and Canada continue their activities, upholding the his Mao-inspired people's war views.
---
*Freelance journalist based in Mumbai

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .