2.10 Peru. Peru is divided into 24 departments or states. It has a population of 23 million, 93% of whom are Catholic. Fifty-five percent of the population are Indians and thirty-seven percent are mestizos. [Rex Hudson (ed.), Peru: A Country Study (4th ed., Wash. DC: Library of Congress, GPO, 1993), p. xvi]. The Indians and mestizos are mainly landless farming people. They have been waging low-intensity and sometimes high-intensity warfare against colonialism, landlordism, and racism for 500 years. Among the rebellions against Spain which they celebrate are those of 1572 and 1781-1782, led by Tupac Amaru I and Jose Gabriel Tupac Amaru II. [Simon Strong, Shining Path: Terror and Revolution in Peru (New York: Random House, 1992), pp. 37, 41]. Between 1879 and 1965 there were 32 revolutionary movements aimed at land reform. (Hudson, Peru: A Country Study, pp. 124, 304). This included three armed movements in the 1960s, such as that of the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, ELN). The ELN, established in 1962, was inspired by the success in Cuba. It was led by Hector Bejar Rivera and defeated in 1966.
About 9 million of the Indians are Quechua-speaking (Inca) and live in the Sierra; another 4 million are Aymara-speaking and live in the Montana. Although a majority of the population, until the Constitution of 1979 the Indians were denied the vote because of a spanish-literacy requirement. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 53). In addition to military, economic and political measures, capitalism has tried to keep Indian and mestizo population down by tuberculosis, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, alcoholism and drug addiction. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 61, 103). Alberto Fujimori won the presidential election in 1990 because he was the only candidate who sought the Indian and mestizo vote. In office he had no interest in representing their interests. When the Indians were about to overthrow him two years after his election, he overthrew the constitutional government on April 5, 1979.
The Peruvian Communist Party (PCP) was initially called the Socialist Party (SP). It originated in 1928 from a split in the Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA), which had been established in 1924 in resistance to the military dictatorship then in power. The SP changed its name to PCP in 1930. [Jose Carlos Mariatequi, The Heroic and Creative Meaning of Socialism: Selected Essays of Jose Carlos Mariatequi, ed. Michael Pearlman, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1996), pp. xx, xxiii]. The bulk of the PCP membership was industrial and farm workers. Their goal was to overthrow the government via insurrection. Party members helped establish and dominate the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (Confederacion General de Trabajadores del Peru, CGTP), which has 1.1 million members. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 200). The mining of metals such as zinc, lead, silver and copper has been one of Peru's chief industries for hundreds of years. The PCP-led mineworkers union has fought the mine owners since the 1930s. One of the leaders in establishing the PCP was Jose Carlos Mariatequi (1894-April 16, 1930). He traced the history of Peruvian communism back to the Inca empire, which maintained a primitive form of communism, in which the emphasis was on production for consumption rather than for market and profit. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 46). Not long after the party was established, it was outlawed. It then operated underground for the next several decades.
Beginning in 1964 there was a split in the PCP along Sino-Soviet lines. The "Red Flag" (Maoist-China) supporters were originally concentrated in the Indian department of Ayacucho. By February 1970 they had established their own separate party, the Communist Party of Peru by the Shining Path of Jose Carlos Mariatequi (Partido Comunista Peruano de Sendero Luminoso, CPP). (Strong, Shining Path, p. 19). One of the leaders and later the chair of the CPP was Abimael "Gonzalo" Guzman Reynosa (b. 1934), the illegitimate son of a shopkeeper in the southern port of Mollendo. As a youth Guzman attended LaSalle College, a Jesuit school at Arequipa in the Sierra. At age 20 in the mid-1950s he joined the PCP while teaching in the philosophy department at the University of San Cristobal de Huamanga in Ayacucho. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 90). One of the things that later attracted Guzman and others to Mao was the strategy of making the countryside the chosen battlefield and encircling the towns from the countryside, but with military action in the towns, since the working people were so numerous in them. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 92).
During the 1970s the CPP set up people's schools for literacy and political education in the countryside and urban slums. In Lima alone it ran more than 500 such schools. It established a nation-wide student organization and campaigned for free public education to the high school level. It led landless farming people to seize the land they were working. It also worked in the trade union, women's and health care movements. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 22). Besides exercising influence in the CGTP, it established its own affiliated confederation of unions, the Class Movement of Workers and Laborers (Movimiento de Obreros y Trabajadores Clasistas, MOTC). (Hudson, Peru: A Country Study, p. 230). In 1979 the CPP had gained enough strength that it decided to militarize itself and make armed struggle the principle form of revolution. That is, it did what the capitalist class has always done against laboring people. The party's first military action was the burning of the ballot boxes in Chuschi on May 17, 1980. (Hudson, Peru: A Country Study, p. 305; Strong, Shining Path, pp. 22, 92). This symbolized the rejection of parliamentary democracy. The people in the Indian state of Ayacucho then went about expelling the police from their villages and establishing liberated zones. Conscripts from the army were encouraged to desert. The party's second step in armed struggle, taken between March 1983 and 1986 was to establish the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in response to the government's dirty war. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 93). By 1986 the guerrillas controlled the south-central Andes highland departments of Ayacucho, Apurimac and Huancavelica. They then took the third step in their military plan, the development of permanent support bases. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 94-95). The war was also extended beyond the Indian departments. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 139).
In February 1990 the party held its first congress. At that point, it had 5,000 members, 50,000 sympathizers and associates in groups like Popular Aid (Socorro Popular) and 6 million people under its rule. (Hudson, Peru: A Country Study, p. 306; Strong, Shining Path, pp. 10, 65, 215). It controlled 9 of Peru's 24 departments, including the central mountain departments of Pasco and Junin and the northern jungle departments of Huanuco, San Martin and Loreto. It also had a presence in the other departments, where it often governed along side the official government. The PLA by then had 24 support bases throughout the country. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 87). At the village level communist rule was established through people's committees. These village committees were composed of 5 people, headed by a secretary and a security officer, both of whom usually belonged to the CPP. The secretary was responsible for the political orientation and the security officer coordinated with the PLA. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 87). On the village committees was also a production officer who organized agriculture and trade and was responsible for widows' lands and the orphans of war.
During the 1980s El Diario, a newspaper in Lima, gradually became the spokesperson for the CPP. At the same time it remained independent of the party structure. It had a circulation of 25,000 per day and was a valued weapon against the government. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 79). In return, it was bombed by government-sponsored hit squads several times before being out-lawed in April 1992 because of its "defense of terrorism." (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 79, 265). Its editor, Luis Arce, went into foreign exile to avoid arrest. The newspaper then went underground and was published on an irregular, sometimes monthly basis. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 80).
Besides the CPP, a second Peruvian armed communist movement in recent years was the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, MRTA). (Hudson, Peru: A Country Study, pp. xxxix, 255, 310). MRTA was started in 1985 and is associated with the PCP, APRA (youth wings) and Cuba. In 1993 it had about 1000 armed troops and controlled the middle Huallaga Valley. The PLA controlled the upper and central Huallaga.
Catholics. The bulk of both the CPP's and PCP's leadership and its rank and file have been Catholics. In the leadership of the CPP, aside from Abimael Guzman, was Nelly Evans, a former member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who studied in Virginia in the 1960s. As a nun she had worked as a teacher in a Lima slum and became an activist in the communist-dominated national teachers' union. She dropped out of the convent, married a former priest, Carlos Alvarez Calderon, and in the 1980s worked as the party's accountant. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 163). She was arrested in January 1992 and given a lengthy jail term for being a revolutionary. It was in the Lima apartment of Evan's niece that Abimael Guzman was arrested on September 12, 1992. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 267). He was given a life sentence. Of the 19 CPP leaders in 1993, 8 were women. (Hudson, Peru: A Country Study, p. xliv).
Another Catholic among the top party members was Edmundo Cox-Beuzeville, who served on Lima's metropolitan committee. Educated by Maryknoll priests, he was the nephew of the auxiliary bishop of Lima, Augusto Beuzeville. In March 1988 Cox-Beuzeville was sentenced to jail for 12 years for his revolutionary work. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 162). A third Catholic in leadership was Julio Cesar Mezzich in the department of Andahuaylas. He had helped to establish the Revolutionary Vanguard Party (Vanguardia Revolucionaria) in his area in mid-1970. It merged with the CPP. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 163). Numbered among the rank-and-file Catholic CPP members were those such as Edith Lagos, an Indian from Ayacucho. She was killed in a shoot-out with the police in September 1982. At her church funeral, a red hammer-and-sickle flag was on top of her coffin. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 166).
In addition to being party members, Catholics made up the bulk of the party's friends and supporters. These included priests who served in guerrilla-controlled areas. Rev. Felix Saiz, a Franciscan superior in Lima discussed these priests in 1992:
There are Catholic priests who are in favor of the movement, just like with other guerrilla movements in Latin America. Liberation theology has divided the church. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 178).One of those mentioned by Saiz who took the side of the CPP was an elderly priest, Fr. Jean-Marie Mondet, who eventually was forced into exile in 1983 by government's death squads. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 166).
The clergy supported the revolution in several ways. When the party called generally strikes, priests like Fr. Mondet gave their support by refusing to say mass on strike days. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 170). These priests opened their parish youth and confirmation groups to the PLA to make recruits. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 171, 174). They made their parish halls, churches and pulpits available for CPP educationals and support group meetings. When an area was taken over by the PLA, as in the San Juan de Lurigando valley with a population of one million, the clergy showed their support merely by staying with the people. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 172). The government priests abandoned or were expelled from their parishes. In a revolution it is not possible to sit on the fence. Abimael Guzman quoted several biblical verses, such as Mk. 9:40 and Lk 9:50, in this connection: "You are either for me or against me." (Strong, Shining Path, p. 68). Another verse from Mt. 7:16, 20, that he quoted was, "You will know them by their works." (Strong, Shining Path, p. 67).
Beliefs. Because Indian and mestizo Catholics made up the bulk of the CPP and PCP membership, their beliefs were reflected in party ideology as well as in its songs, marches, plays, skits and aesthetic life-style. Just as Mao Zedong went back in Chinese history to gain from the wisdom of the past, such as that of the 4th century BC revolutionary strategist, Sun Tzu, the Indians and mestizos went back to their past to gain wisdom. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 64). For example in the early Andean religion, there were five ages. By 1700 under Catholic influence this had been reduced to three. These were the age of the Father and Son, which were the pre-Hispanic and post-conquest eras, and the age of the Holy Ghost, which would be inaugurated with the end of the world and last judgment (pachacutec ). (Strong, Shining Path, p. 65). The Indians who joined the CPP maintained the revolution they were leading was the end of the world, the last judgment and the beginning of the age of the Holy Ghost, in which justice would finally be established. The apocalyptic belief in the imminent end of the world and second coming of Jesus has been throughout Catholic history a powerful force in the lives of those who believed it. The Peruvian revolutionary war is brutal. The government kills off the populations of whole villages; its uses U.S.-supplied napalm and saturation bombing on entire regions. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 48, 93). It takes strong beliefs such as that about the second coming to die or to fight back for entire lifetimes.
Another Catholic belief that gave power to the movement concerns sacrifice. The belief in sacrifice had been part of Indian religion long before they became Catholics. In order to maintain a household, it was normal for the parents, grandparents and children to sacrifice or offer something of themselves. Similarly in the agrarian cycle, the laborer sacrificed his time and sweat in return for which nature provides sustenance. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 69-70). At temples and in more recent centuries at Mass, the Indians and mestizos offered sacrifice. The Indian-mestizo thinking was that they joined the sacrifice required in the revolution with the sacrifice of the Mass.
Party chair Abimael Guzman, following PCP founder Jose Carlos Mariatequi, was critical of those who tried to minimize beliefs such as those about sacrifice among the Indians who were the revolution's foundation. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 76, 168). In his view the church hierarchy had manipulated similar beliefs to trick working people into killing and dying for landlordism and capitalism. But this did not mean the beliefs were wrong. In the 1920s Mariatequi complained of the disservice to the revolutionary movement which the socialists of his day were doing who down-played the spirituality of the working class. Mariatequi, a Catholic, was friends with and had made a retreat in 1916 at Lima's Franciscan convent (Convento de los Descalzos). He wrote:
The defects and failures of the European proletariat have their origin in the mediocre positivism with which timid union bureaucracies and moderate parliamentary teams cultivated a Sancho Panzaesque mentality and a cowardly spirit among the masses. A proletariat with no greater ideals than a shorter working day and a few cents more in wages will never be capable of a greater historical enterprise. And this is why we must elevate ourselves above a vulgar positivism of the belly and above negative, destructive, and nihilist sentiments and interests. The revolutionary spirit is a constructive spirit. (Mariatequi, "Message to the Workers Congress," The Heroic and Creative Meaning of Socialism, p. xxv).
The Ten Commandments were another area of Catholic beliefs which were part of the CPP revolutionary struggle. In communist held territory the biblical commandments were the law: no stealing, no taking liberties with men or women, return what is lent, and be just, correct and honest. To the biblical commands the CPP added some items: serve the revolution according to the law of the party; do not be relaxed or opportunistic; do not cause street rows among the masses; and do not take the name of the party in vain without being a member of the party. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 82-83).
In living out the biblical morality, it was normal for the revolutionaries not to tolerate criminals who were involved in drug addiction, prostitution, thievery and swindling. The government let such criminals go free and used them as informers. From the guerrillas they received summary harshness and became the "fertilizer for revolutionary growth." (Strong, Shining Path, p. 109). According to Simon Strong's study, there was less common delinquency in the liberated departments. The people were protected in the justice of the revolution and were able to take charge of their lives. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 109). Where coca was grown, the party by uniting the growers in the mid-1980s defeated the Colombian drug barons along with their military and police protectors, the CIA and the U.S. banks. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 99-107). This increased the return to the growers. At the same time that the people eliminated the Colombians, the U.S.-Peruvian anti-drug program took on life. The U.S. Special Forces started training the paramilitary police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration started flying support helicopters. From the view of the Indians this was because the CPP had reduced U.S. capital's profit from the trafficking.
Besides beliefs about living in the last age, sacrifice and biblical commandments, a fourth Catholic-related doctrine incorporated by the revolution was the system of holydays and fiestas. In liberated territory, the normal holydays were celebrated, such as that of St. John the Baptist (June 24), who for the Indians is the god of the sun (Qullana), that of the Virgin of the Assumption (August 15), who is the goddess of water (Sawqu), and that of the other feasts associated with the agrarian production cycle. (Strong, Shining Path, pp. 74, 82-83). To these were added holydays such as the freeing of 200 prisoners of war from the Ayacucho jail on March 4, the birthday of Jose Carlos Mariatequi on June 14 and the Heroes day, which commemorated the genocide of 250 prisoners of war on June 19.
A similar belief incorporated by the revolution concerned saints and sacraments. To their regular litany of Catholic saints, the Indians and mestizos added those who had died in the struggle. Each village and family had its own martyrs and heroic deeds. (Strong, Shining Path, p. 94). At the funerals of the guerrillas who had fallen, the litany of saints was read. After each name was the response, "present in the armed struggle." (Strong, Shining Path, p. 82). To the sacraments such as marriage and confirmation the guerrillas added a revolutionary content. Partners in marriage took an oath of fidelity to each other and the revolution. They promised "to support, help and assist each other and thereby better serve the revolution." (Strong, Shining Path, p. 82). In the traditional marriage ceremony, the partners promised to support each other and thereby serve God's will. The party ceremony spelled out God's will. The sacrament of confirmation was traditionally conferred at adolescence. It signified that a youth had passed to adulthood. The sacrament also gave power to the confirmed to be a defender of the faith. Similar to confirmation was the ceremony for young graduates from the CPP's military schools. They were sworn in with the red-and-white, hammer-and-sickle flag and the biblical passage from Mt. 22:14, "many are called, few are chosen." (Strong, Shining Path, p. 67).
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