Tribute to Chairman Gonzalo

Chairman Gonzalo

Chairman Gonzalo or Abimael Guzman is no more. His was not a natural death but an assassination by the Peruvian state. Exactly 29 years ago on September 12th he was captured by the Peruvian police and placed in the Callao prison.Inspite of a sustained worldwide campaign to demand his release, the Peruvian state kept him entrenched within the jail walls. This testified that a leader like Gonzalo threatened the very backbone of the neo-colonial regimes.

No movement in the world caused such tremors in the camp of the ruling dictatorial regimes in the last 4 decades as the Shining path led by Gonzalo and the PCP.Gonzalo was denied the rights promised within a bourgeoisie democracy, morally being denied political prisoner status.

Gonzalo may be gone but his spirit is not dead and buried, which still shimmers in every corner of the globe. I do not ascribe to ‘Gonzalo Thought’ as being Universal but I would still classify Abimael Guzman as one of the greatest Marxist-Leninist leaders and theoreticians after the death of Chairman Mao. No Marxist leader as methodically re-organised a Communist party or so clinically paved the path for undertaking armed struggle. Chairman Gonzalo turned the spark of Maoism into a Prairie fire in unparalleled proportions after the death of Mao, traversing regions unexplored. Since Mao no Marxist took creativity to such untraversed   regions or gave such a striking blow to revisionism. Every cadre should in detail study how Gonzalo confronted opportunist trends to knit the party together. In my lifetime no Marxist leader has inducted spiritual change within the oppressed masses at the magnitude of Gonzalo.He literally emblazoned the hearts of millions like red spark illuminating within ,taking the boiling point of indignation to a crescendo.Gonzalo revealed shades of genius when building the party schools to confront revisionism and in confronting all trends negating peoples War. No Comrade did as much justice to upholding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution or the military teachings of Mao. In the period of the Peruvian peoples War since Chairman Mao there was no leader who led a revolutionary struggle creating such tremors in the enemy camp at such magnitude or come so much within touching distance of overthrowing the oppressive rulers.Gonzalo exhibited touches of genius when penetrating the shanty tows or slum areas, and thus not mechanically copying the Chinese experience. Above all he prove that Marxism-Leninism was a creative ideology .Gonzalo gave a striking blow to revisionism of the Dengist and Khruschevite variety as no other leader and ignited the spark of Marxism-Leninism -Maoism in regions unparalleled in his lifetime.

Every Marxist cadre should meticulously study his writings, in Collected works of the Communist Party of Peru. from 1968-1987. The flow in the writings reminds me of the waves of an ocean, and the symmetry of a famous building constructed. They illustrate how the Peruvian people’s war expanded with the methodology of a surgeon and great justice was done to practice of massline. in creating peoples striking power through revolutionary commitees.Of great significance is the chapter on the Understanding of Marietuegi ,Developing people’ s power to sae the world revolution, ‘we are the Initiators.’ ,’To our heroic fighting people, ‘Long live the armed struggle of the people ‘,”On the National Question’,’ ‘To be a Marxist is to Adhere to Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought,; ‘The Peasant problem and the Revolution,’ ‘On the Construction of The Party,’ ’Let us develop Guerilla warfare’, ‘For the New Flag  and ‘On Marxism-Leninism-Maoism’. In most classical style it reflects the evolution of a Communist party, similar to child growing into a man. Few Marxist works ever took Leninist methodical or dialectical analysis to such depth. The cutting edge of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism was taken to untranscended regions, since the reversal in Socialist China.

What comes in to my mind most is his interview in El Diaro in1988, translated into English. I have never read a more heart evoking interview by a Marxist leader. It encompasses every sphere of Marxism and World Revolution and gives the sensation of anew epoch being written in history. Similar to Che Guevera,Gonzalo illustrates the spiritual aspect of a Marxist revolutionary and how a new man needs to be created, reaching the very core of the soul. Most analytically he dissects Marxism from revisionism and projects why Chairman Mao elevated Leninism to a higher stage, making a Universal Contribution. I admired his staunch defence of the role of Stalin and his striking attack on the Perestroika advocated by Gorbachev.In a most dialectical manner he addressed the strides of the Peoples War led by the Peruvian Communist Party and what distinguished Maoist protracted Peoples War from foco militia concept of Che Guevera.A fitting homage was given to Jose Carlos Marieuteigi ,highlighting how he laid the base for Peruvian  Marxism. In Marxist light the national question was also explored.Gonzalo put forward a global perspective of Marxist revolution. Gonzalo also analysed the distinguishing characteristics of fascism in Peru and how it disguised itself. In the sphere of literature he reflects the political lesson sin plays like Julius Caesar while he reflected his scientfic inclination when summarising how laws of physics taught him so much. Without fail every progressive person should read this interview. which to me would rank as amongst the best by any Marxist leader ever. I have never read an interview which is a greater manifestation of Marxism -Leninism –Maoism or elevated the soul of revolution to such unprecedented heights. Comrade Mohan Bose from Mumbai of United Labour Union endorsed my view.

What distinguished the ‘Shining Path’ movement as it was known was it’s differentiation of the party with the guerrilla army unlike the focoist Che Guevarist theory applied in Cuba and Nicaragua.  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 its strongest point. that Peru is principally urban with a greater population in cities so it had to adopt Maoist strategy in accordance with its unique characteristics. 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. 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. With immense creativity it applied Maoism where a bourgeois democratic parliamentary system was firmly entrenched and a revisionist left.

he 1988 PCP published a document,  ‘Organization of the Masses’ part of ‘Re-affirmation of the principle that Masses make History’ It  revealed  great penetration of depth of mass line towards carrying 2-line struggle to combat left liquidation and rightist liquidation or legalism, balancing centralisation with de-centralisation, differentiating open and secret party work applying Lenin and Mao, building genuine mass organisations in cities and countryside keeping the party clandestinely, preparing for initiation of people’s war, combining mass and military work, building the people’s guerilla as the principal organisation as well as people’s war as the principal form of struggle and giving the cutting edge to the Communist Party.

Gonzalo’s writings on how fascism arrives and nature of Peruvian fascism should be studied. Most analytically he exposes how bourgeois democracies function morally as dictatorships. and how they evolve into fascist societies.

I can’t forget how in 1989 ‘The Comrade’ a journal of the CCRI quoted a newspaper report on how the Shining path penetrated the very heart of Peru causing shivers down the spine of the rulers and the December 1992 issue which when condemning Gonzalo’s arrest praised the manner the Peoples war had entrapped the countryside and encircle the towns. In the 1996 International resolution the CPRCI (ML) mentioned how the PCP had broken the backbone of the rulers. In Indian revolutionary circles no movement was held in such high esteem .In 1n September 1991 in Mumbai a democratic comrade of Lokshahi Hakk Sanghatana in a public meeting at Dadar,at the very root projected how the Peruvian Peoples War penetrated Peru so deeply, that revolution simply looked a step away. Most vividly he portrayed how the Peoples guerrilla army develop genuine base areas to hit the enemy in it’s very backbone. Without fail readers should refer to the 1990 issue of ‘A World to Win’ which at the very soul portrays how the PCP had almost built a new world. It is notable that the most impactful protests were stage in Indian in 1992 in Delhi and 1994 in Punjab during Mao’s Centenary. The erstwhile Lal Tara group or Revolutionary Communist Centre of India (Marxist-Leninist) made the biggest contribution.

Everyone should refer to the articles published by Nick Glais on Democracy and Class Struggle Blog on Gonzalo, who in my view although opposing ‘Gonzalo thought’ and ‘Militarisation of the Party “as un Marxist, upheld Gonzalo as a great Marxist Revolutionary.

I have unforgettable memories of how chairman Gonzalo inspired me in my early twenties and no leader instilled in me anywhere near the optimism of the success of Marxism and revolution. It gave me vibrations of a Lenin or Mao resurrected. In 2001 when attending an acting class of conventional bourgeois culture and when reciting a Gonzalo speech, a teacher not acquainted with any Marxist ideology felt it was a great one.

I would also love to get hold of Chairman Gonzalo’s doctoral thesis on the bourgeois state and on the Kantian theory of space.

I wish a major biography is written on the life of Chairman Gonzalo,which respects his contribution to humanity and does not demonize him in the manner of the Western media. It would be most fascinating to be narrated what moulded the revolutionary transformation within Gonzalo, or the different circumstances that crystallized the shape of his life. What would be of importance is illustrating the spiritual change within a revolutionary. I would propose that the book also reflects that in essence Gonzalo was not a terrorist. Whatever fatal errors he was responsible for, bourgeois propaganda should be refuted tooth and nail, Illustrating how the PCP won the hearts of the oppressed masses, a fitting knockout punch or blow should be given to writers who clubbed PCP work with terrorism. I hate to intrude into personal affairs but I would like a reflection on his relationship with his different wives or partners.

I congratulate Cristopher Kistler and Josef Hallqvist in re-printing the Collected Works of the Communist Party of Peru in Fourth Sword publications. It rekindled the spirit of PCP and Chairman Gonzalo.


Chairman Gonzalo made serious errors in the sphere of theory and practice. His concepts of ‘Militarization of the party’ fused the party and military organization, terming Maoism as principal placed Leninism in the museum negating the era of Imperialism and upholding Universality of peoples war negated the concrete subjective condition sin 1st world countries.Gonzalo’s other fatal error was estimating the Peruvian revolution to be in that of strategic equilibrium and capping the peoples war in the countryside with armed insurrectionist actions in the Cities. Several excesses were committed by the party led Peoples Guerilla army, and romanticism became a prominent feature. Military approach often replaced massline.Most prematurely ‘Gonzalo Thought’ was formulated in 1988, and a self -rectification campaign was not undertaken adequately in 1988.Before the advent of revolution unlike the Chinese Communist Party, it proclaimed Gonzalo thought in 1988,that too as principal. Arguably bureaucratic capitalism was also overestimated. ‘Boycott of Election’ and abandoning of parliamentary struggles was propgated as a strategic path, which was counter to Leninism.Gonzalo’s patronising the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement paved the way for revisionism to infiltrate the World Communist movement and destroy it’s backbone.Gonzalo’s theory of Unified peoples war was deviation of the Chinese concept of protracted peoples war, combining peoples war in rural areas wit armed insurrection in cities. In my view in important ways, Gonzalo undermined how Maoism was an integral part of Leninism and failed to give due respect to the era. I refute those who portray that Gonzalo promoted his personality cult, which is similar to an attack on Stalin or Mao. However I defend those who critically expose the glaring loopholes in massline, particularly in regards to city work. It was ridiculous of the PCP to deploy the Peoples guerrilla army to undertake mass work in the cities. Intellectuals must also analyze what flaws led to the capture of Chairman Gonzalo from an underground base and why inspite of a protracted movement his release could not be secured.

Overall I would say Gonzalo was 70%correct and 30% wrong. His major pitfalls were in regards to massline.Still I would never award him the stature or club him with a Marx, Lenin, Stalin or Mao. His achievements may be categorized with Charu Mazumdar or T.Nagi Reddy in India, Chairman Joma Sison and close to a Che Guevera or a Ho Chi Minh or a Zhou En Lai.It  is most fitting and deserving that he still has many a fervent admire all around the globe.

I would suggest that Marxist-Leninist today prepare a document analysing the positive and negative aspects of the PCP documents or practices of PCP.


Sadly today we are plagued with extreme currents. One still eulogises ‘Gonzalo Thought’ and concept of peoples war as Universal, while others ridicule Gonzalo as an un Marxist or a capitulator. The most balanced view is by Chairman Joma Sison, and of writers like Steve Otto of ‘Otto’s War Room’ and the late Nicholas Glais,of Democracy and Class Struggle blog ,’Kites’ blog or the late Harbhajan Sohi in India. Today ‘Gonzaloites are progressive in confronting post-modernism and upholding Lenin and Stalin with an iron sword, but most eclectically uphold ‘Gonzalo Thought’ as the Maoism of today, making people’s war concept applicable even to developed countries. To a certain extent even Joshua Moufawad Paul’s views are progressive and insightful, particularly on the revolutionary democratic essence of the peoples war. His blog MLM mayhem also throws light on some important aberrations. Although analytical and Antonio Belesario in ‘Prism’ is over critical of Gonzalo,giving no credit to the glorious achievements. Wrongly he mocks PCP for deferring Peoples War, not respecting the circumstances faced.

Today we still have the influence of the “Shining Path” or the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) Probably they are defeated. But today we have the influence of that movement. They still have a lot of support from around the world. There still a lot of people who are taking their influence from Gonzalo thought. On the 40th anniversary of People’s War in Peru and the leadership of the Communist Party of Peru and its leader Chairman Gonzalo, we celebrated their accomplishments. We can study the People’s War in Peru and learn from their accomplishments.

It would be unfair to completely blame Gonzalo for the setback of the Peruvian revolution when you assess the mortal blow of Neo-fascist currents or globalization sponsored by imperialism on the Communist movement worldwide. Communist parties are simply unable to crystallize genuine mass movements, with post-modernism and revisionism plaguing them. Infiltration of the Central Intelligence Agency and Peru being just a doorstep away from superpower America also played a crucial factor. Today it is hardly conceivable for any effect self-rectification campaign to take place in Peru to resurrect the People s War.

Some comrades allege that Gonzalo surrendered in jail, calling of the armed struggle. There is every reason to doubt whether Gonzalo wrote the peace letters in Jail after 1992 when the other party central committee leaders wished to continue the armed struggle. Not that the entire party leadership immediately assumed that the peace-letters were correct. The statements that supposedly came from Gonzalo were eventually used in the way they were. It was rather telling that they were close to overthrowing the state and then suddenly, after the peace letters, the People’s War began to decline. The revolution in Peru did not fail because of its military strategy—indeed, as even the rightist Senderologists claim, it would have succeeded had it continued—but because the PCP splintered, with large parts of the organisation acceding to the call for peace talks, due to the arrest of the central committee.


Although there was little doubt that Guzmán was indeed the leader of the Shining Path, more than 5,000 individuals presented an appeal to Peru’s Constitutional Court in 2003 asking that the verdicts against more than 1,800 prisoners convicted of terrorism, including Guzmán, be voided. The court agreed, declaring that the military trials had been unconstitutional and ordering new trials before civilian courts. The new trials began in 2003. Since then, more than 400 prisoners who had been found guilty by military courts have been freed.

Guzmán’s re-trial began on 5 November 2004. The international press was held in a sound-proof chamber and all media was banned from observing the trial after the Shining Path cadre turned their backs on the judges and delivered a revolutionary salute to the media gallery. The only words Guzmán spoke in the presence of the international press were “Long live the Communist Party of Peru! Glory to Marxism–Leninism–Maoism! Glory to the Peruvian people! Long live the heroes of the people’s war!” After he made this statement, the courtroom microphones were silenced and the press was unable to hear any of the proceedings that followed. When the trial resumed on 12 November, no reporters were allowed to observe the proceedings. Eventually two of the judges recused themselves and the trial ended in chaos. Guzmán’s third trial began in September 2005 and was opened and closed amid a media blackout. No reporters were allowed to attend. On 13 October 2006, Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison on charges of aggravated terrorism[ and murder. At his sentencing, three judges read the charges in a verdict that lasted more than six hours.

In 2014, Guzmán and his wife Iparraguirre were tried again, for the 1992 Tarata bombing in Lima in which 25 people died. On 11 September 2018, he was sentenced to a second life term in prison.

Guzmán was incarcerated in the maximum security prison of the naval base of Callao, the port of Lima until his death in 2021.


Quoting an Excerpt from Collected Works of PCP-This classically illustrates the magnitude of dialectical approach and massline a peoples war. Military actions were coherent with building people’s striking power.

“In twenty-one months the Party has vigorously initiated and developed the only means for our people’s and nation’s emancipation: the armed struggle, the guerrilla war which blazes victoriously in the two thousand nine hundred armed actions that have swept the land in all but four departments that stirs the jungle, the coast, and the highlands most of all, that shakes the city and especially the countryside, whose struggle is served by the former. Thus, highlands and mountains, which made the country side are the powerful and natural support for any possible revolutionary war in our country. Therefore, this is a peasant war that is being led by the Party of the proletariat. It is converting the countryside into an armed bastion of the revolution, concentrated in base areas -in bases of the New State of workers and peasants, isolating the reactionaries and their imperialist masters in the cities, where the proletariat and the masses, by burning the soles of the enemy’s bloody paws mainly through armed actions that serve the struggle in the countryside, the center of the storm, prepare conditions for the final assault on the cities and the total, complete and thorough defeat of the reactionary order and the reactionary army that maintains it. This road, the only road to revolution, is now open; this is the road on which more and more of the proletariat and the masses, our people, are moving toward their own armed emancipation, by their own hands, since: “The people, and the people alone, is the motive force in the making of world history.” Two thousand nine hundred actions! These actions that began with the boycott of the general elections of 1980, carried in Chuschi and many other places, striking with agitation and armed propaganda through the seizure of radio stations, leaflets, and posters, and direct actions that sow panic between the reactionaries and arouse the enthusiasm of the people with our rallying cries of “Armed struggle,” “Government of workers and peasants,” and “Down with the reactionary government ” This showed a new world to win through the hammers and sickles that light the hills, and through the unfading red flags proudly waving on top of hills and heights proclaim “It’s right to rebel!”

‘These actions are armed mobilizations that arouse the peasants, teach the people, and alarm the reactionaries such as those in Miraflores and San Isidro. Sabotage weakens and undermines the social and economic system of the ruling exploiters, as in demolishing electrical towers and producing blackouts in wide areas in the center and north of the country, including in the capital itself. Fires have hit ENCI in Huacho, San Martin de Porres, Fiat, Toyota, Hindu-Hogar in Lima , and in the cane plantations of the north. Repeated actions have been taken against banks throughout the country, and against reactionary companies like Bata, Hartinger, Centromin, etc., or against renowned elitist colleges, which are concentrated and humiliating expressions of a fierce reactionary, pro-imperialist foreign education.’

‘Overwhelming actions that rock the semi-feudal foundations of the state, unleashing armed vindicating actions against big land owners lords of the new and old type, like in Airabamba, Aisarca, Urpihuata, Palermo, Toxama, and Pincos, among others, truly rejoicing of the peasants witnessing a vibrant re-emergence of their hopes and combatively which has never languished. To this list could be added the very important takeovers of cities like Acosvinchos, Vinchos, Cayara, Pomatambo, and Occroro, which intensely and profoundly stir the countryside and promoting the participation of the masses in the armed struggle. Solid actions have hit directly the interests of Yankee imperialism, the principal imperialist power on our soil, such as the attack against Southern in the south of the country, the series of actions against U.S. companies or those connected with them in the capital, and, especially, the resounding blows against the U.S. embassy and the symbolic blasting of Kennedy’s statue in Miraflores, as well as the blows at the Chinese embassy, the sinister cave of the revisionist Deng Xiaoping and his lackeys, who is a notorious chum and accomplice of A Yankee imperialism, and vile traitor to the international communist movement and principally to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.’

‘In addition, powerful and important actions have been carried out against the state, its repressive apparatus and especially against the police forces. Many actions have been conducted against the courts, government offices, tax offices, voters’ registration offices, city halls and ministries, and a great number of the offices of Acción Popular in all over the country, including their central headquarters in Lima, and even the National Parliament and local offices of the police (GC), and the Republican Guard (GR), and PIP throughout the country, as well as the punishment against known agents of repression like those in Arequipa and Huaraz among others, and against certain arrogant landlords and petty landowners known to be enemies of the people and murderers of Maoist combatants. Above all, the very important and audacious assaults on police stations and outposts like those of Ocobamba, Luricocha, La Ramada, Quinua, Tápuc, Yauli, Tambo, Quicapata, Totos, Yanahorco, Acchi, and in Puno and Tacna, whose effectiveness was highly expressed in the recent assault on San Jos&eactute; de Secce; in the disarming of police in Lima and especially Ayacucho; and in the important raid on the naval air base at Callao which they have unsuccessfully tried to cover up. All these actions have hit powerfully at the reactionary armed forces, their personnel contingents who, as mere cannon fodder, are being used for interests other than their own; actions that have allowed us to capture arms from the enemy, the main source of our weapons and, what is most important, it has delivered powerful blows to the morale of the reactionary state apparatus and its support base. Also there has been a brilliant and successful application of the policy of jail breakouts, whose greatest expression was the March 2 [1982] assault on the Public Jail of Ayacucho. This was a heroic action that marks an historic milestone in our armed struggle and in the annals of the Peruvian revolution: freeing our comrades and fighters from the dungeons of the reactionary Peruvian state. With the courage, strength and blood of the people s soldiers, our guerrilla war has been strengthened and has taken a great leap in its development. ‘

‘The twenty-nine hundred actions clearly proved our combativeness and bellicosity of our emerging revolutionary armed forces, guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, led absolutely by the Party. The armed actions take place in the countryside and in the cities, mainly in the former, are an armed struggle that assumes diverse forms of action but whose axis is the guerrilla war, which is complemented by other forms of the struggle. These are the armed actions whose support and fuel are the class struggle of our people and thrive solely on the inexhaustible energy. The successful armed actions, offer a bright future and have so far achieved four great victories: First, the tempering of the Party, of leaders cadres, militants, and fighters together in the struggle, they become forged and steeled in the only definitive revolutionary crucible: the armed struggle. Although this is already a great victory, we must add another achievement of obvious and clear significance: the formation and construction of an armed force led by the Party which surges into flames of the guerrilla warfare that will never be extinguished, and is the principal instrument for completing the political tasks of the Peruvian revolution and which, under proletarian leadership, has established an armed force that is developing as an arm of the New State of workers and peasants. A third victory is to be found in the increasing quantity and growing quality achieved by our armed actions, actions that have been taken mass character both in their number and the ability of the sons and daughters of the people to carry them out, as well as the increasing quality shown by the higher level that has been achieved. Finally, a fourth victory, which is the most important and principal: the emergency and development of guerrilla zones within whose boundaries, the vigorous and growing advanced of the guerrilla warfare, we will build our future support bases, those advance revolutionary bastions that are the legacies of the military thought of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, base areas that are the very essence of the road of surrounding the cities from te countryside base areas that are the very essence surrounding the cities from the countryside, the very essence of the People’s War.’
In 1988 in the party Congress ideology of ‘Gonzalo thought “was proclaimed.

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

[email protected]

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