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Abimael Guzman

Born in the Peruvian province of Arequipa, Abimael Guzmán (1934 - ) developed two interests at an early age: academics and communism. He earned degrees in philosophy and law, and before he was thirty he was working as a professor of philosophy at the San Cristobal of Huamanga University in Ayacucho. While there, he became involved in various communist groups, and even visited China.

He became head of a communist group that followed the Chinese model: it was named the Peruvian Communist Party, but was commonly called “the Shining Path” after a phrase written by José Carlos Mariátegui, the group’s founder: “Marxism-Leninism will open the shining path to revolution.”

By 1980, Guzmán had adopted the alias President Gonzalo and had begun to initialize his projects underground. Soon the Shining Path was ready to begin its guerilla war against the Peruvian government.

In the 1980’s, the group controlled vast stretches of the country and even carried out brazen attacks on Lima. Its targets were government officials, other rebel groups, police, workers groups, and often times voting stations. The Shining Path was particularly ruthless, killing thousands in their effort to destabilize the Peruvian government. The strategy was to first topple the government, and then install its own leaders.

The resulting civil unrest is thought to have left more than 70,000 dead at the hands of the Peruvian Army as well as the Shining Path. Guzmán was captured in Lima in 1992 and subjected to a very public trial. Found guilty in three days, he was sentenced to a life locked behind bars.

Since his capture, the Shining Path has greatly decreased in activity. His public appearance on Peruvian TV in 1993 during which he announced a peace with the Peruvian government greatly weakened the Shining Path movement. He remains in a Peruvian naval prison.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Peru: History Of Moquegua, The Shining Path, Chan Chan: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom, Peru History, History Of Lake Titicaca, History Of The Pacific Coast South Of Lima, History Of Tacna, Colca Canyon History, The Holy Inquisition In Lima and Nasca History.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
13 Jun 2012

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