He wanted to realize his Maoist ideas in Peru. More than 70,000 people were killed in the 1979 People’s War he waged. Now Abimael Guzmán died in prison.
The founder of the Peruvian rebel organization Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán, died in Peru. According to the South American country’s law enforcement agency, Guzmán died on Saturday at the age of 86 in the maximum security prison in Callao. The only general cause of death named was “complications in his health”. Guzmán had been in prison since 1992 and was serving a life sentence.
The former philosophy professor Guzmán founded the Maoist guerrilla movement Shining Path (Sendero luminoso) in the 1960s. The impoverished Andean region of Ayacucho became the group’s central area of action. From there, in 1979 the Shining Path proclaimed the “People’s War” against the country’s political and economic elite. It is estimated that around 70,000 people died in the civil war that followed.
The Shining Path was feared for its extreme brutality. Under President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), the Peruvian security forces intensified the fight against the guerrilla group and used strongly repressive methods. Guzmán was caught in 1992 and imprisoned on a naval base in Callao, near the capital, Lima.
While in custody, the former guerrilla commander married his long-time colleague Elena Yparraguirre in 2010. She was the vice-chief of the Shining Path. She is also serving a life sentence in a prison in Lima.
Yparraguirre had been informed of the death of her husband by the Navy, said Guzmán’s lawyer Alfredo Crespo of the AFP news agency. She asked that her husband’s remains be handed over to her.