Abimael Guzman, Shining Path’s leader died a year ago. The terror he unleashed on Peru lives on | Peru
, 2022-09-11 04:32:00,
A year has passed since Abimael Guzmán, the aging leader of the Shining Path terror group, died in prison, yet the trauma he inflicted on the Andean nation continues to haunt its people and his legacy still poisons Peru’s fraught politics.
The professor-turned-messianic leader, who died aged 86, unleashed an internecine conflict that killed tens of thousands of people in the 1980s and 1990s. Most victims were peasants trapped between fanatical fighters bent on creating a proletarian utopia and the Peruvian armed forces’ brutal counter-attack.
Between 1980 and 2000, nearly 70,000 people were killed in the intense conflict; Guzmán’s followers were responsible for about 54% of the deaths.
Since then, decades have passed, but for many thousands of Peruvians, the wounds are still open and bleeding.
Few, however, witnessed the horror and folly of the conflict as closely as Lurgio Gavilán, who was forcefully enlisted into the Shining Path aged 13, only to be captured by the military before rejoining the war as a soldier in the Peruvian army.
After a stint with the Catholic Franciscan Order, he is now neither a soldier nor a monk but an anthropology professor at the university where Guzmán once taught philosophy.
“Here, the people say [Guzmán] died for us a long time ago,” said Gavilán, 48. “Oblivion, being forgotten, is the worst punishment for us. We don’t remember him.”
Gavilán has lived many lives in half a century, but for him, the single most remarkable feat…
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