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Luehrmann June 3, 2010 Research Question What does it mean for an insurgency group to adopt the label of Maoist? What is Maoist about the Shining Path insurgency in Peru? Thesis Statement Maoist insurgencies across the globe contain many identical core ideological elements, while demonstrating a unique cultural manifestation of Marxism-LeninismMao Zedong Thought. The Maoist insurgency in Peru, Sendero Luminoso, is an excellent example of fundamental Maoist ideology combined with unique Peruvian Communism. Research Paper: The Shining Path A number of groups across the globe, particularly in Asia and Latin America, identify themselves as devoted followers of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. Precedent over those groups is the Sendero Luminoso, “the Shining Path,” of Peru. Sendero is a unique manifestation of Maoist insurgency and has been acknowledged as the leader of “the world revolution” within the international communist movement. The Shining Path, much like the Maoist movement in China, found its beginnings in one of the poorest, most backwards regions of the country. In 1959, San Cristóbal de Huamanga University (UNSCH) reopened in the Andean department of Ayachucho, Peru. A group of professors from the university signed up to serve on the regional committee of the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP),
Everly 2 which remained relatively ineffective for the next two years until Professor Abimael Guzmán Reynoso came to UNSCH to teach Philosophy. He would one day become known as Presidente Gonzalo, the supreme leader of Sendero Luminoso. It was under his guidance that the rise of that small regional committee would form the pro-Chinese Red Faction of the PCP. He used the university “to recruit, educate, organize, and subsidize the growth of Communist cadres” and subsequently used those recruits to “forge [relationships] with their towns and communities… to lay the groundwork for [his] revolutionary work” (155 Palmer). The Sino-Soviet split occurred in 1963 and had drastic repercussions in Peru. The PCP split into two factions: pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese. Guzmán emerged from the divisive chaos as the leader of the Maoist pro-Chinese faction with the unwavering support of his UNSCH faculty and student followers. This “Red Faction,” was also responsible for the establishment of an organization called “The People’s Defense Front,” which led a large movement in defense of free education. During these formative years of the Red Faction, Guzmán had the opportunity to go to China and learn at a cadre school where he gained a comprehensive understanding of People’s War doctrine. People’s War doctrine, as defined by leaders of Sendero, “is a political exploit that by means of overwhelming actions hammers ideas into the minds of men” (40 Palmer). This is the primary tool used by the Party to communicate to the masses that they needed the leadership of the Communist Party. This mentality is a remarkable manifestation of the same ideas behind Mao’s “thought reform” in China between 1942 and 1944 (50 Lieberthal). Keeping the population believing the principles of the ideology was key to achieving their goal of overthrowing the government.
Everly 3 1969 was an important year for the PCP. The main leaders of the People’s Defense Front (PDF) were arrested and so were some of the top leaders in the Red Faction, including Guzmán. This resulted in an enormous loss of power for the PDF, but also generated an atmosphere within the PCP necessary to create the Shining Path. It was during this time that Guzmán left the PCP along with all his Red Faction followers. Both Guzmán’s party and the remaining members of the opposite faction, led by party leader Saturnino Paredes, claimed to be “the only Communist Party of Peru” (158 Palmer). The two became identified through their respective newspapers: the Red Flag was the publication of Paredes and the Shining Path was Guzmán’s, by then Presidente Gonzalo. The military government in power was also passing a lot of diplomatic, education, and land reforms that the people had been asking for. These reforms, in effect, took Sendero Luminoso out of the country’s spotlight and in an attempt to regain the attention and power it lost, Sendero completely took over protests to the government’s reforms, especially educational reforms. This began a long and violent relationship between Sendero and the Peruvian government. The 1970’s were also extremely important for Sendero. This was a decade of development for the movement’s ideology. Guzmán’s party was in absolute control of UNSCH and used that power to organize and formulate doctrine while developing leadership within the party and gaining relationships with isolated peasant communities around the city of Ayacucho. This period was also very important on the national and international fronts as well. Nationally, the late 1970’s were a “time of great activism” and when the “left became a massive political force for the first time in Peru’s history” (36 Palmer). Internationally, the global Communist movement saw Mao Zedong’s
Everly 4 Cultural Revolution, Mao’s death, and the defeat of the Gang of Four. Yet, despite the obvious failures of Maoist policies in China, Sendero decided to mimic the Maoist devotion to the supreme leadership role of the Party. They rejected traditional politics and adopted policies of violence, since “violence is the essence of revolution [and] war is its principle task” (37 Palmer). In 1980, with the fall of Maoism in China, Guzmán dubbed himself and his movement “’the fourth sword of Marxism’ after Marx, Lenin, and Mao” (37 Palmer). Thus, the ideology of the Shining Path was solidified into MarxismLeninism-Maoism Gonzalo Thought. The theory of revolution that forms the foundation for Sendero Luminoso’s ideology is identical to the Chinese Maoism of the Cultural Revolution. Guzmán himself stated that “the principal contribution [of Sendero] is to establish Maoism as the third and superior stage of Marxism [and] to apply [faithfully]… the universal truths of MarxismLeninism-Maoism in our concrete reality” (229 Palmer). Because Guzmán and a number of key leaders in Sendero spent time in China during the Cultural Revolution, they acquired first-hand the knowledge and techniques necessary to recreate the revolution in Peru. The core components of this Peruvian Maoism are identical to those of Chinese Maoism. First, there is “a characterization of society as ‘semifuedal’ (229 Palmer). This characterization allows the Shining Path to identify the “peasantry” as the primary force of the revolution in the country. Second is the “fundamental role of political violence in the revolutionary process” (229 Palmer). The use of violent revolution and open war is the primary method used by Maoist insurgent groups, like the Shining Path, to get rid of the old foundations of society and formulate new ones in favor of the Communist Party.
Everly 5 In fact, a common phrase used in Shining Path propaganda is that “blood does not drown the revolution, it waters it” (4 Website of Red Sun Magazine). In reference to a statement made by Vladimir Lenin that in every era, a group of men arise who apply Marxism in its “purest form,” Guzmán said that this “’fistful of Communists’… would lead the masses across a ‘river of blood’ to the promised land of a classless utopia’” (408 Starn). Violence is by far the strongest tenant tying together Peruvian and Chinese Maoism and is valued above any other tenant of the Shining Path, because of its absolute vitality to the revolution. The third component is that “Maoism is an invariable truth” (229 Palmer). According to Chairman Guzmán, Sendero is the only true practitioner of Marxist truth and that all other sects of Marxism that are not in agreement with Sendero ideology are not true Marxist revolutionaries. This “’Andean Maoism’ of Shining Path is a hybrid, woven from Maoist authoritarianism and the most authoritarian aspects of Peruvian political tradition. Since its formation in 1963, Sendero Luminoso has been meticulously moving through a series of stages meant to overthrow the Peruvian government and begin the world communist revolution. From its early formational years until 1980, Sendero focused purely on organizing and developing leadership and community relationships. From 1980 to 1983, Sendero moved into an offensive stance and “began to attack the symbols of the bourgeois state” through bombings, assassinations and hanging dogs and cats “as warnings to functionaries and supporters of the illegitimate state” (161 Manwaring). Because of Sendero’s proclaiming itself as “the fourth sword of Marxism,” these warnings weren’t just for supporters of the “illegitimate” Peruvian state. They were also
Everly 6 direct protests to the newfound leadership of revisionist Deng Xiapoing in China. Some of the hanged dogs bore signs reading, “Deng Xiaoping, Son of a Bitch” (34 Palmer). Since 1983, Sendero has been consolidating and expanding political and logistical support bases in Peru. By the early 1990’s, the party had expanded itself into 114 provinces. This “left only the coastal departments and the large cities under central government control, [which gave] Sendero Luminoso a commanding position from which it [could] envelop the city of Lima” (162 Manwaring). From 1989 to 1992, Sendero began a campaign meant to bring about the total collapse of the state and was meant to be the last phase of the revolution. Fortunately, Guzmán and some influential leaders were arrested before they could bring the state to its knees. They were all sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court. However, Guzmán’s capture only allowed the Sendero more time to move into its current phase: “preparing for the total collapse of the state and for world revolution” (163 Manwaring). Through this phase, Sendero has gained, and continues to gain, a global support base from other Maoist insurgencies. It was even considered to be the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist leader by the now defunct Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. This final phase, however, has decreased the power of the Sendero Luminoso in Peru rather than bringing them the power required to undermine the government. Despite this obvious decrease in influence, Presidente Gonzalo has excused his capture as a “bend in a long road” and that “Maoism [is] ‘marching unstoppably forward to shape the new wave of proletarian world revolution.” Gonzalo was released in 2003 when Peru’s constitutional court overturned an anti-terror law that was imposed by former President
Everly 7 Alberto Fujimori. A year-long civilian trial commenced (since his military trial had been ruled unconstitutional) and he has once again been sentenced to life imprisonment. The movement has never fully regained the menacing power it once had, especially since even more prominent members have been arrested since 2004. The Shining Path continues to be a problem in Peru and there seems to be no end in sight. Although they are no longer a powerful threat to the government there, they continue to be a dangerous and violent nuisance. Over the past decade, the Shining Path has been involved in countless bombings, killings, and disappearances. They have also become a prominent drug trafficking organization in Peru since cocaine farming and distribution has been their main source of income and social influence since 1987. Many of the violent skirmishes between the government and members of the Shining Path are now related more to drugs than to politics. In 2009 alone, they were responsible for the deaths of 76 officers of the Peruvian state and an unknown number of civilians as well (2 United States of America). There are also sporadic attacks on military patrols and civilians, particularly in areas near to or directly involved in the production and trafficking of cocaine. Guerilla soldiers kill military officers in ambush attacks and kidnap, torture, and kill civilians associated with agencies or groups that are opposed to their ideology. In addition to the atrocities currently being committed by the Shining Path, the government is still dealing with the problems they caused during their 19802000 reign of terror. The government Council for Reparations still continues to issue assistance to people who were victims of that time period. Almost 63,000 individuals and 5,500 communities have been determined by the Council to be “eligible for reparations benefits” (8 United States of America).
Everly 8 The absence of blatantly ideologically related violence is not grounds to dismiss the political aspirations of the Shining Path. In April of this year, Sendero held an international conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Some of the main speakers at the event were Maoist parties from Spain, France, and Finland. Each spoke words of encouragement to the People’s War of Peru and offered their support. There is another international conference to be held in Madrid, Spain on May 29 of this year as well. The delegations in attendance are not yet known, but it is an indication that Maoism is alive and well across the globe. However, the ideological solidarity of the Shining Path has not preserved what it once was. Although its followers still espouse the “invariable truth” of Maoism, the party has become a hired band of thugs for drug cartels and coca farmers. Sendero Luminoso is unlikely to become the political monster it once was. Since the capture of their supreme leader, Abimael Guzmán, and several other key figures within the party has left what remains of the group completely crippled. The group has splintered into different factions each supporting different goals. The larger faction has embraced the profits of drug trafficking in exchange for the practice and fulfillment of their ideology, while the smaller still aspires to trigger a world communist revolution. Guzmán himself condemns the former of these two factions as “’mercenaries’ who ‘tossed Marxism-Leninism-Maoism into the trash” (1 Mapstone). This division within the party may prove to be the killing blow to the Shining Path. In the immortal words of Christ, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand” (Mark 3:24). Sendero is no exception to the rule. With such a deep division in ideology within the party, it will most likely die out. There are those who believe that the party still maintains some of the old luster it had in its prime. Airing on the side of caution, the Peruvian
Everly 9 government declares a state of emergency every year on the anniversary of the Shining Path’s “first act of defiance.” However, the movement has remained small and is mostly contained in areas where coca is grown. The party may not be dead yet, but it is well on its way to the grave of failed Marxism. Conclusions The Maoist ideology of the Shining Path is identical to the ideology of Maoism used in China. In fact, they explicitly go out of their way to ensure that they does not stray from the rigid discourse of Mao Zedong. Most on the Marxist Peruvian left believe that those who follow the Shining Path are insane to try and define Peruvian society as “semifuedal.” In reality, “Peru is largely urban and literate and does not have large landowners due to the military government’s extensive land reforms from 1969 to 1975” (12 Palmer). It is a country in which democracy is widely practiced and accepted and is decades different from the revolutionary period of China when Maoism was applied. Despite these truths, the Shining Path continued to try and implement Mao’s strategy of forming support bases from the peasantry in order to try and overtake the urban areas. This is largely the reason they were able to gain and still maintain a tangible hold on the more rural departments of the country. The strategies and tactics implemented by Sendero demonstrate no unique cultural manifestation of Maoism in Peru. Every policy they have adopted from organization to warfare is a copy of Chinese Maoism. They did all they could to instigate a Cultural Revolution exactly like the one Mao began in China. They even “borrowed conventions, like the wall-poster, dunce cap, street theatre, and singing paeans to Mao (which they memorized in Mandarin)” (410 Starn). Although there are no obvious cultural differences between their ideologies, there
Everly 10 is a subtle difference between Guzmán and Mao Zedong. Mao hated intellectuals and did everything he could through the Cultural Revolution to prevent their participation in Chinese politics. Being a professor of Philosophy, Guzmán was appreciative of what intellectuals had to contribute to the movement and he had no suspicion of bureaucracy like Mao did. In fact, he had somewhat of a “preoccupation with written documents, elaborate greetings and official titles reflected [in] the Peruvian tradition of exuberant enchantment with legal protocol and formal ceremony” (410 Starn). This attitude toward the intellectual community and value in bureaucratic procedure is the only notably unique difference between Chinese and Peruvian manifestations of Maoism. Response to Thesis Statement My original thesis statement was partially incorrect. Through my research I have established that Maoist insurgencies, specifically the Sendero Luminoso of Peru, do contain identical core ideological elements, however there is hardly a measurable cultural difference in the manifestation of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. Maoism inherently requires stringent adherence to the teachings of Mao and the Shining Path honors that adherence as far as organizational structure and revolutionary tactics are involved. They differ only in the personal preferences of Chairman Mao Zedong and Presidente Gonzalo towards intellectuals and bureaucratic procedure. They share exactly the same elements that society is “semifuedal,” violence is required to trigger the revolution of Communism, and the ideology of Mao is an “invariable truth.”
Everly 11 Lieberthal, Kenneth. Governing China: from Revolution through Reform. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. Print. Mapstone, Naomi. "FT.com / UK - Shining Path Splinter Groups Swap Ideology for Cocaine." Financial Times. 17 May 2010. Web. 30 May 2010. <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/209585f4-614c-11df9bf0-00144feab49a.html>. Max, Manwaring G. "Peru's Sendero Luminoso: The Shining Path Beckons." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 541 (1995): 157-66. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/stable/1048282? &Search=yes&term=Luminoso&term=Sendero&term=Peru %27s&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DPeru %2527s%2BSendero%2BLuminoso%26gw%3Djtx%26prq%3DA%2BMaoist %2BCounterpoint%26Search%3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc %3Don&item=2&ttl=345&returnArticleService=showArticle>. Starn, Orin. "Maoism in the Andes: The Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and the Refusal of History." Journal of Latin American Studies 27.2 (1995): 399-421. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://222.jstor.org/stable/158120>. United States of America. U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2009 Human Rights Report: Peru. By U.S. Dept. of State. 11 Mar. 2010. Web. 30 May 2010. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136123.htm>.
Everly 12 "Website of Red Sun Magazine." The Website of Red Sun Magazine - Maoism, PCP, People's War, MPP. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.redsun.org>. ¸ Works Consulted Gorriti, Gustavo, and Robin Kirk. The Shining Path a History of the Millenarian War in Peru. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1999. Print. Harding, Colin. "Antonio Diaz Martinez and the Ideology of Sendero Luminoso." Bulletin of Latin American Research 7.1 (1988): 65-73. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/stable/3338440? &Search=yes&term=Antonio&term=Martinez&term=Diaz&list=hide&searchUri =/action/doBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DAntonio%2BDiaz%2BMartinez%26gw %3Djtx%26prq%3DPeru%2527s%2BSendero%2BLuminoso%26Search %3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc %3Don&item=4&ttl=3634&returnArticleService=showArticle>. Lawoti, Mahendra. "The Ethnic Dimension of the Maoist Insurgencies: Indigenous Groups' Participation and Insurgency Trajectories in Nepal, Peru, and India." Western Michigan University, Apr. 2007. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.hsrgroup.org/images/stories/Documents/MPSA/mpsa07_proceeding _198122.pdf>. Lieberthal, Kenneth. Governing China: from Revolution through Reform. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. Print. Mapstone, Naomi. "FT.com / UK - Shining Path Splinter Groups Swap Ideology for Cocaine." Financial Times. 17 May 2010. Web. 30
Everly 13 May 2010. <http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/209585f4-614c-11df9bf0-00144feab49a.html>. Max, Manwaring G. "Peru's Sendero Luminoso: The Shining Path Beckons." The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 541 (1995): 157-66. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/stable/1048282? &Search=yes&term=Luminoso&term=Sendero&term=Peru %27s&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3DPeru %2527s%2BSendero%2BLuminoso%26gw%3Djtx%26prq%3DA%2BMaoist %2BCounterpoint%26Search%3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc %3Don&item=2&ttl=345&returnArticleService=showArticle>. Raman, B. "ACTION PLAN TO DEAL WITH MAOIST INSURGENCY? SOME SUGGESTIONS ? Global Geopolitics & Political Economy." Global Geopolitics Net (GG Net). 8 Apr. 2010. Web. 13 May 2010. <http://globalgeopolitics.net/wordpress/2010/04/08/action-plan-to-deal-withmaoist-insurgency-some-suggestions/>. Shrestha-Schnipper, Satya, and Marloes Rozing. "Maoist Insurgency in Asia and Latin America: Comparative Perspectives." International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS). Feb. 2006. Web. 13 May 2010. <http://www.iias.nl/events/maoistinsurgency-asia-and-latin-america-comparative-perspectives>. Starn, Orin. "Maoism in the Andes: The Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and the Refusal of History." Journal of Latin American Studies 27.2 (1995): 399-421. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://222.jstor.org/stable/158120>.
Everly 14 United States of America. U.S. Department of State. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2009 Human Rights Report: Peru. By U.S. Dept. of State. 11 Mar. 2010. Web. 30 May 2010. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136123.htm>. "Website of Red Sun Magazine." The Website of Red Sun Magazine - Maoism, PCP, People's War, MPP. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.redsun.org>.
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