A sustained or protracted campaign has to be launched to save the life or Dr.Abimael Guzman or Chairman Gonzalo.He is on the verge of dying with continuous deterioration of health. The reactionary State cites untreated skin cancer which has now metastasized as the cause for Gonzalo’s admission to the hospital. Chairman Gonzalo’s condition is easily diagnosed and treatable at an early stage. As the most closely watched political prisoner on earth, there is no reason other than intentional homicide that the State would allow his disease to progress to this point. They want to murder Gonzalo, believing that by doing so they can crush the PCP and the People’s War in Peru. The fight for his release is not only an issue for the Maoist forces, but for all revolutionary democrats or humanitarians. It is part of the worldwide trend to challenge fascism, with India also glaring example. Like India, the Peruvian state is proto-fascist and not a genuine bourgeois democracy. Similar to Charu Mazumdar in 1972, the Peruvian government is attempting to assassinate Gonzalo.
Even Non Maoists or Marxists have to wage a crusade for his release as for decades he was the voice of the opressed.Whatever serious errors in mass line he should be recognized as one of the great Marxist leaders of our times. History can never absolve the achievements of the Peoples War in Peru after 1980 to the early1990’s.The Peruvian leaders have not given him the political asylum which any genuine bourgeois democratic state would. The life of chairman Gonzalo is that of one of the most outstanding Marxist political Revolutionaries whose evolution is a study for any Marxist Leninist cadre. No Marxist leader after the Chinese revolution crystallised a peoples war or challenged a dictatorial state in such depth as Chairman Gonzalo.Whatever aberrations the Collected works of the Peruvian Communist Party are a classic in their own right, applying Maoism at a scale unprecedented after the Chinese revolution. No leader dealt such a blow to revisionism as Gonzalo,with the depth of the Peruvian peoples war reaching region snot transcended since 1949 in China.
Even organizations outside the Maoist camp recognized the great achievements of the peoples war in Peru like the erstwhile Centre of Communist revolutionaries of India, erstwhile C.P.I.(M.L)Red Flag or erstwhile Chandra Pulla Reddy group. I can’t forget a statement in 1992 of the CCRI,praising the area encompassed by the Shining path movement and the depth in which it challenged the opressors in their very belly. The movement to release chairman Gonzalo turned from a spark into a prairie fire globally. No interview of a Marxist leader in the last 4 decades has been as inspiring as that of Gonzalo in 1988.Even European forces are reprinting the collected works of PCP in 4th Sword publications.
No doubt serious errors were made excesses commited,military line replacing massline in junctures, urban insurrections prematurely made etc,However to me it had much more positives, than negatives till 1992.
It is my serious view that the recent parliamentary movements in Peru or developments have no Marxist basis or offer genuine revolutionary democracy.
CONTRIBUTION OF CHAIRMAN GONZALO AND PEOPLES WAR
Since the 1949 Chinese revolution no movement came so close to toppling the state or took intensity or creativity in people’s war to such a height. After the fall of the last citadel of Socialism with the Dengist regime triumphant in China. The ‘Shining Path’ movement resurrected and shimmered its torch of Maoism like no movement worldwide, after it was dead and buried in China after 1978.Revolutionaries must dip their blood in memory of the thousands who laid down their lives and resurrect their spirit to enable new roses to bloom. For over a decade it was a virtual model for ‘people’s war’ in all third world countries. I can’t forget a Comrade in a public meeting in Mumbai summarising its developments on a blackboard accurately, giving vibrations that it would turn the world upside down. The PCP revealed the remarkable mastery of Chairman Mao in turning a spark into a prairie fire when extinguishing the flame of peoples War in 1980, after a prolonged period of preparation. Several reports of the bourgeois media also depicted the deep penetration the party had made into the very heart of the masses and the depth to which they challenged the state power. The first spark that triggered of the people’s war was ignited with the burning of ballot boxes in the town of Chuschi. The Party writes that the most outstanding actions out in the field, was the guerilla actions in Ayrabamba and Aysarca (areas in Ayacucho), and the arson of the Municipal Building in San Martín. (a district in Lima).
From 1960’s itself Chairman Gonzalo knit the components to build the breeding ground to launch the 2 line struggle within the party to re-constitute armed struggle. With deep subtlety of political execution he chalked out a path to develop political work in the rural areas In the regional party Commitee of Ayacucho he imitated a prolonged struggle against the Central party leadership itself and various deviations in military work. The regional committee led by Gonzalo worked on areas of political, military and logistics His political genius enabled the PCP to penetrate the Peruvian University campuses in Ayacucho and create the breeding ground for the PCP to knit the mass movement. In May 1969 Chairman Gonzalo established the Party’s agrarian programme and in 1972 he establishes the strategical plan for the Regional Committee in Ayacucho. He defeated the right liquidationism in Ayacucho and the left liquidationism of the Bolsheviks that concluded that fascist conditions prevailed which made it impossible to organize struggle.
The Collected works of the Communist Party of Peru (from 1969-87) are a must for all cadres to study in deep depth. They illustrate the remarkable armed developments which proved mastery practice of massline by basing itself in the very heart of the masses and the extent to which shivers were sent down the spine of the ruling classes, hurting its very backbone..The reports reveal the great methodology of the Peruvian Communist Party. The peoples War had traversed four different phases since it began on 17th May1980, each featuring a distinct task by the PCP leadership. By 1982 the first seeds of people’s revolutionary power were sown in the form of peasant committees. The Collected works report summed up the 4 victories achieved as a consequence of its initial 2900 armed actions. These were firstly the tempering of the party leaders, cadres and militants into a unified force to consolidate the armed struggle. Secondly a building of a genuine red guerrilla army executing armed actions of mass character. Thirdly it led to the expansion of armed actions quantitatively and qualitatively. Fourthly it created building up of guerrilla zones to enforce the people’s war.
What was remarkable was the manner the Peoples Guerrilla army encircled the urban areas, virtually besieging the administration. It brilliantly combined self -defence and aggression to confront the enemy at it’s strongest point. It had strong similarities to the War of resistance led by Chairman Mao in China with carrying remarkable tactical counter offensives against the enemy. It demonstrated great ingenuity in the plan to make base areas from 1986 which was completed by 1989.With remarkable manoeuvrability it shimmered the spark of revolutionary resistance like wildfire, encompassing several regions of Peru and with ingenuity selected strategic areas to build revolutionary base areas.. It displayed deep creativity in applying Maoism in blending armed struggle and political agitation in the countryside and the towns. Since the Chinese revolution it carried out armed actions at a depth unequalled in the world by a revolutionary force, to enhance the striking power of the people. Red flags fluttered virtually engulfed the entire nation with the spirit of liberation. Even from the deepest depths of despair the PCP would spectacularly resurrect itself like a phoenix from the Ashes.
Unlike the Chinese Communist party the PCP combined urban armed insurrections and deployed a major guerrilla army force to carry out mass work in the Cities. The PCP implemented the strategy of ‘Unified Peoples War’ formulated by Chairman Gonzalo which incorporated combining armed actions in cities to supplement the ‘people’s war’ in the countryside. Touches of genius were revealed in the methods they deployed to penetrate the slum areas of Lima. With meticulous planning mass fronts of women, youth, intellectuals or peasants were also set up., who most systematically built the party link with the masses. With dialectical methodology the party or red army would connect with the mass work or mass movements.
Applying dialectical foresight it meticulously penetrated into the urban regions to develop a united front with the intellectuals like professors, journalists, doctors etc. and made inroads in the slums of the shanty towns. . In a document ‘Lima-90’ it sums up the spectacular progress it made towards expanding in the capital of Lima and building revolutionary political power in the capital itself. One of the best illustrations was the Strike organized by the Revolutionary Peoples Defence Movement in Lima from November 1989 to March 1990 mobilising 3000 families of prisoners of war. It was brutally attacked by the police, with three people killed. Mass clashes took place with the authorities and hated class informers or enemies were executed by the help of the guerrilla army. Other sensational actions took place like blowing car bombs in front of the US consulate, as well as the Soviet and Chinese embassies. In June 1990, 70 red flags fluttered simultaneously one morning at key intersections and other spots of Lima.
In the annals of revolutionary history the PCP political prisoners organized the most sensational protests in jails, threatening the survival of the ruling Alan Garcia regime at its very roots. They took revolutionary glory to metaphysical proportions. Memories of the rebellion in Canto Grande Prison are embedded in the hearts of revolutionaries forever when in a spectacular manner the political prisoners of war staged an uprising June 19th, 1986 in Callao jail a massacre was unleashed by the authorities. .Still no PCP supporter yielded with the red hammer and Sickle symbol painted on the side of the jail wall. Thus the event is described as the “Day of Heroism.” Later in Canto Grande prison the political prisoners of war staged an uprising from May 6-9th in 1992. It culminated on May 14th when they issued a pledge for the victory of the PCP, Maoism and Gonzalo thought.
In the 1988 first party Congress ‘Gonzalo thought “was proclaimed as the guiding thought for the first time. The PCP summarized its military and political gains in depth and concluded that the armed struggle was in the state of ‘Strategic Equilibrium.’ In it’s view base areas were firmly established in the countryside with bastions of support entrenched in cities. It countered revisionism at its very roots in no uncertain terms condemned Khrushchev’s criticism of Stalinist personality Cult .They upheld the role of ‘great leadership’ with reference to writings of even Lenin to justify ‘Gonzalo Thought’ as principal for Peru. It analysed that the world was on a ‘Strategic Offensive as proscribed in the period of 50-100 years by Chairman Mao. An analysis was made on the impact of bureaucratic capital which in its view played a much bigger role in Latin America than in other third world regions. It concluded that the strategy of ‘Unified people’s war’ adopted in 1979 which incorporated urban military work with the people’s war in the countryside was the correct practice of Maoism in Peruvian conditions.
Quoting Comrade Joshua Moufawad Pal refuting allegations of the Western media on PCP acting as murderers of innocent people “first of all, the Sendero initially had massive support in Peru (I’m sorry, quoting Wikipedia, like I tell my university students, doesn’t count) otherwise, logically speaking, how the hell were they able to nearly topple the state? You can’t do that with a small group of people. And even the wikipedia entry on the Shining Path, as bad as it is, admits that they nearly overthrew the government. The contradiction between that admission and saying they had “little support” is glaring.
Secondly, if you read what I was actually saying, I pointed out that I *agree* there were excesses and that the organization degenerated. And I’ve had this argument, where I pointed out instants precisely like the one you cite, with uncritical Sendero supporters as reasons to hold them up to criticism. My argument was that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which claims the SL was responsible for the vast majority of the massacres during the Emergency, is the worse possible source. So if you think I’m excusing the killing of civilians, you really have to read what I’m saying. (And by the way, the wiki source about the violence you cited comes from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an already dubious source to begin with.)
Finally, as I’ve argued so often (and even in this piece), civilians do get killed during revolutions and, though this should be criticized, to pretend that revolutions are peaceful affairs without any messiness, and to ignore the historical fact that when the most oppressed are armed and in a state of rebellion there are always excesses. Look at the Haitian Slave Revolution… because of the excesses there, and those excesses were far worse on an individual-to-individual level than anything practiced by the SL, do we suddenly say that the Haitian Slave Revolution was “bad”? These are the most simplistic and liberal moral judgments that are easy because they reify the normal state of violence. Yes, these excesses should be criticized–I would go so far as to say that the fact that the SL degenerated in the way it did spoke to a lack of revolutionary discipline around violence and that is, yes, a serious problem–but I am not going to critique the SL from the right.”
Quoting Joshua Moufawad Paul “The PCP 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. What happens when the oppressed realize its potential in transforming society is that they often go overboard (take note of Mao’s essay “Report on an Investigation of the…”.) Revolution aint no dinner party, right?
As for whether or not the PCP had support or not, well, ask yourself whether an organization can go so far without the support of the people? What organization has gone around massacring people and suddenly gained the trust, respect and participation of the masses?
If you’d like more concrete examples, Gary Leupp (Monthly Review, March 1993), quoting a Peruvian sociologist, notes that the PCP was the largest political Party in Peru with about 100,000 members. A PCP generated trade union, the MOTC, lead most of the strikes in Lima. Who knows how many participated in the mass organizations generated by the PCP — the womens, peasants and student organizations had mass participation. The PCP controlled huge swathes of the countryside as well.”
SETBACK IN PEOPLES WAR IN PERU
Sadly after the early 1990’s the people’s war took a negative turn.. A tendency existed to underestimate the enemy and proclaim that the war was in the stage of strategic equilibrium, prematurely. Urban insurrections were prematurely launched in the cities to cap the people’s war waged in rural areas with even the Peoples Guerrilla Army engaged in mass work. Military approach, putschism or romanticism vitiated the armed struggle and the movement depended too heavily now on the cult of Chairman Gonzalo. Important errors were committed in building the united front. In this respect Maoist practice of massline in ‘people’s war’ was violated .Excesses wee also committed on people in later periods. Powerful tendencies of overestimating strategic equilibrium was revealed in a document ‘About a New Power-1990”
Prematurely ‘Gonzalo’ thought was termed as principal and externally even ‘ Maoism’ which gave the overemphasis on the military line .The evaluation of Leninist era was replaced with analysis of Imperialism crashing within span of 50-100 years and thus defining a new epoch. The slogan of ‘Peoples War till Communism’ was raised which negated the concept of dictatorship of the proletariat and even linked peoples war path in a Socialist State or Cultural Revolution. To an extent Gonzalo’s interpretation of Maoism delinked it from Leninist roots.
‘Militarization’ of the party was propagated which promoted a tendency of fusing the red army and the party. Chairman Gonzalo felt that in Yenan itself the CCP militarized. No doubt the Chinese party under Chairman Mao did militarise itself from the 1930’s or even the Bolshevik party but the parties never gave a formal call and Mao emphasised on the important distinction between the party and the military organization.
Even if thought of Mao Tse Tung became a part of the Constitution of the Chinese Communist party in the seventh Congress held in 1945, it was never regarded as ‘principal’, as ‘Gonzalo thought’ was proclaimed in 1988.Whatever it’s spectacular victories the PCP in 1988 was nowhere so close to toppling the enemy as the CCP was in 1945.To me even if adopting Gonzalo thought it should never have been principal. I negate the evaluation of Gonzalo to be the ‘greatest Marxist’ after Mao as it then places his contribution on the same pedestal as a Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin or Mao and negates other great leaders like Chairman Joma Sison. He may be termed as the most ‘creative’ Maoist leader of the modern era, being a genius in his own right.
Too much emphasis was also placed on bureaucrat capitalism by the PCP in economic analysis, negating the essence of semi-colonialism.
In September 1992 Gonzalo was captured by the Peruvian forces which created a dramatic setback in the armed struggle. Strangely in prison Gonzalo advocated road of negotiation and the armed struggle completely lost its momentum. The OCML –VP group and The Movement for General Amnesty and National Reconciliation (MOVADEF) condemns Chairman Gonzalo for capitulationism in prison and claim that the PCP betrayed the revolution after 1993 by advocating peace talks.. They propagate that Gonzalo undertook a major shift in position. I do not agree with their analysis but give them some credibility in the understanding on the inherent flaws of the movement and do not dub them as mere ‘police agents’ as some Maoist forces do. The fact that the entire central committee of the PCP disintegrated after Gonzalo’s capture speaks for itself. The fact that 180 degree turn occurred like a total reversal of a plot in an epic movie depicts certain inherent weaknesses in the movement.
Still I tooth and nail refute those who blamed Gonzalo for capitulationism. The political state in the mid 1990’s warranted negotiation with such a setback in peoples war .Never forget that till late 1990’s remnants of the war remained .Maoist forces refute the OCLM allegations tooth and nail which is positive. However they are in a fool’s paradise to claim that the armed struggle is still on the road to victory or re-organizing.
Today the sections that support Gonzalo thought like Dem Volke Dienen in Norway, Struggle Sessions blog in America or Maoist party of Brazil etc. must be admired for shimmering the flame of Maoism with untold determination against the counter revolutionary imperialist and revisionist winds. With deep depth of dialectical precision they have defended Marx, Lenin and especially Stalin and Mao. However the ‘Pro-Gonzolaite sections are vitiated with the sectarian understanding that ‘Gonzalo Thought’ has universal significance and that subjective factors exist for carrying out peoples War of the Peruvian type in developed countries. Significant that Gonzolaite groups in recent times like Red Guards Austin and Red Guards Los Angeles have dissolved themselves.
It is still possible that the PCP could resurrect itself from being dead and buried today by making a strong self-criticism of past errors but still upholding the creative genius of the ‘Shining path’ movement. I feel a great analysis has to be made of the neo-colonial penetration. All revolutionaries should imbibe lessons from the great gains in earlier period and reasons for setbacks with particular emphasis on massline. Tears come down our eyes when we remember the cruel assassination of women comrade Edith Lagos in 1986 and the Ayacucho prison massacre. To me even if bounded within the prison walls Chairman Gonzalo is still a living legend whose spirit still shimmers the globe.
It is still possible that the PCP could resurrect itself from being dead and buried today bymaking a strong self-criticism of past errors but still upholding the creative genius of the Shining path movement. I feel a great analysis has to be made of the neo-colonial penetration. and influx of the rural people into urban shanty towns. All revolutionaries should imbibe lessons from the great gains in earlier period and reasons for setbacks with particular emphasis on massline. Tears come down our eyes when we remember the cruel assassination of women comrade Edith Lagos in 1986 and the Ayacucho prison massacre. To me even if bounded within the prison walls Chairman Gonzalo is still a living legend whose spirit still shimmers the globe.
POLITICAL CAMPAIGN SFOR RELEASE OF CHAIRMAN GONZALO
In recent weeks, the international campaign to defend the life and health of Chairman Gonzalo has surged. Chairman Gonzalo is the leader of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP, Partido Comunista del Perú). Also known as Dr. Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, he faces an imminent threat to his life at the hands of his jailers, the Peruvian State, who, with the backing of US imperialism, are carrying out an assassination 29 years in the making. Tribune has shared the calls and actions of revolutionaries around the world, who have denounced this sinister plan, and we join them to oppose this latest attempt to erase Chairman Gonzalo, the greatest living Communist on earth and the towering head of the International Communist Movement and World Proletarian Revolution.
The reactionary State cites untreated skin cancer which has now metastasized as the cause for Gonzalo’s admission to the hospital. Chairman Gonzalo’s condition is easily diagnosed and treatable at an early stage. As the most closely watched political prisoner on earth, there is no reason other than intentional homicide that the State would allow his disease to progress to this point. They want to murder Gonzalo, believing that by doing so they can crush the PCP and the People’s War in Peru.
The People’s War in Peru under Gonzalo’s leadership mobilized the oppressed masses of the country through the most heroic advance of the World Proletarian Revolution of our era. It was through the application of Chairman Mao’s lessons from the People’s War in China and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to Peruvian reality that Chairman Gonzalo synthesized Maoism as the new, third, and higher stage of the proletariat’s ideology, confirming it through People’s War.
Today, the PCP continues its general reorganization through the People’s War. To defend Chairman Gonzalo means to defend the People’s War in Peru, his all-powerful thought, and the military line of the proletariat established by Maoism.
After his CIA-backed capture on September 12, 1992, the Peruvian State held a so-called hearing, putting Chairman Gonzalo on display in a cage and seeking to make a mockery of him. However, their attempt to gloat over Gonzalo backfired, as he proceeded to deliver a speech that serves as a directive for revolutionaries the world over:
On August 17, the Orlando Tribune Support Committee held a screening of the documentary “You Must Tell The World,” which documents the campaign to defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo soon after his arrest on 1992. The event began with an introduction of the movie and a brief explanation of who Gonzalo is along with the efforts of the old State to assassinate him.
After the film, the Orlando Support Committee explained Gonzalo’s current status and the threats he’s currently facing from the old Peruvian State. Attendees and hosts discussed the movie and the treatment of Chairman Gonzalo in the past and present, debunked the claim that the People’s War in Peru was defeated, and condemned libel thrown at Chairman Gonzalo and the Communist Party of Peru. Those in attendance were further inspired to take up the essential campaign to defend Chairman Gonzalo in the wake of recent threats to his life, taking a photo together while holding a banner that read, “Move heaven and earth to defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo!”
The Front for the Defense of the People’s Struggles – Ecuador (FLDP-EC, Frente de Defensa de las Luchas del Pueblo del Ecuador) posted a statement “Protect the Health and life of Chairman Gonzalo.”
“Today, at 86 years of age and in prison conditions, he suffers from serious health problems, therefore, the proletariat and people of Ecuador demand that the State and government of Peru arrange for all his health, physical, and psychological requirements to be met; in addition, they must proceed with his immediate release.”
The International Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML) issued a statement titled “Let u sdefend the life of Chairman Gonzalo“
The comrades write:
“Today, we believe that Gonzalo’s People’s War line is the only way of salvation for the revolutionary struggle of the Peruvian people. In the spirit of internationalism we support the Peruvian People’s War under the leadership of the Party.”
Revolutionary organizations and people worldwide have mobilized over recent weeks to strengthen the campaign to defend the life and health of Chairman Gonzalo (Dr. Abimael Guzman Reynoso), the leader of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP, Partido Comunista del Perú) and Peruvian Revolution. Chairman Gonzalo has been held in total isolation for 29 years in a maximum security prison at the Callao Naval Base. Through this inhuman treatment, the Peruvian State, with the backing of US imperialism, hopes to kill him, using his advanced age and medical conditions as a cover for their protracted assassination.
Actions for the campaign have taken place in Latin America, North America, and Europe. Peoples organizations and revolutionary formations have issued statements as part of the campaign.
The Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the People (CEBRASPO, Centro Brasileño de Solidaridad con los Pueblos), which raises awareness of political struggles in Brazil and worldwide, published a statement in defense of the life of Chairman Gonzalo.
Resistência Camponesa (Peasant Resistance), a journal covering struggle of Brazilian peasants published a video from the National Commission of the League of Poor Peasants (LCP, Liga dos Camponeses Pobres) titled “Salute to the glorious Peruvian Revolution! Defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo and his all-powerful Thought!” The video shows footage and photos from the Brazilian peasants movement as the Internationale is sung. Images of solidarity actions carried out by the peasants for Chairman Gonzalo are shown, concluding with a group of peasants chanting, “Long live the People’s War in Peru!” and to defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo.
Also in Germany Norway and Finland, protests were undertaken.
Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist. Toured India, particularly Punjab .Written on Mass movements ,,Massline,Maoism on blogs like Democracy and Class Struggle and frontierweekly .An avid cricket lover too who has posted writings on blogs like Pakpassion Indian Cricket Fans and Sulekha.com.