Chairman Gonzalo, communist leader of the Shining Path, dies in prison

Abimael Guzman was a Peruvian Marxist who went to China in the 1960s and modeled himself after Chairman Mao. He became known as Chairman Gonzalo and created a terrorist group called the Shining Path which is believed to have killed tens of thousands of people over more than a decades in a war to bring communism to Peru. Guzman was captured and convicted in the early 90s and has been in prison ever since. Saturday he died at age 86. He started out in life as a philosophy professor but became a murderous psychopath:

Building a stronghold at a provincial university in Ayacucho in the Andes Mountains, Mr. Guzmán proved to be a charismatic leader whose followers — mostly students and small farmers — considered him a godlike figure. They called him the Fourth Sword of Marxism, after Karl Marx, Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and Mao. A U.S. State Department official once described him as “Charlie Manson with an army.”

Mr. Guzmán advocated a violent takeover of Peruvian society, maintaining that true revolution would come only after crossing a “river of blood.” To him, even the Cuban regime of Fidel Castro and the Chinese leaders who succeeded Mao were too soft. His vision of nationalism resembled that of Cambodia’s Pol Pot, whose regime killed nearly a quarter of the country’s population…

Kidnapping and murder were key parts of the Shining Path’s ruthless mode of operation, and bodies began to pile up around the country. The first large-scale massacre took place in 1983 in the town Lucanamarca, where 69 people — including the elderly and at least 18 children — were killed with machetes, axes and a vat of boiling water…

In 2003, a Peruvian truth and reconciliation commission determined that almost 70,000 people had been killed in the 1980s and 1990s — about half by Shining Path terrorists and the other half by the government’s police and military forces

Guzman was finally captured at a safe house in the city. The operation was aided by the CIA.

Throughout the 1980s, the man known to his followers as Presidente Gonzalo built up an organization that grew to 10,000 armed fighters before his capture inside a Lima safehouse in September 1992 by a special intelligence group of the Peruvian police backed by the United States. Since then, he was housed in a military prison on the shores of the Pacific that was built to hold him.

By the time Guzmán called for peace talks a year after his arrest, guerrilla violence had claimed tens of thousands of lives in Peru, displaced at least 600,000 people and caused an estimated $22 billion in damage.

Guzman had explicitly been against the concept of “human rights” but after his conviction for terrorism he changed his mind on that too. He was tried three times. The first trial in the 90s was eventually deemed unconstitutional. The second trial in 2004 was a mess:

His first trial, conducted by a military tribunal, was declared unconstitutional. A second trial in 2004 before a civilian court ended in chaos, with Mr. Guzmán and 15 co-defendants raising their fists and defiantly chanting, “Glory to Marxism, Leninism and Maoism” and “Long live the people’s heroes.”

Here’s that moment:

He was finally tried again in 2006 and convicted of terrorism. In 2010 he married his second in command, “Comrade Miriam” who had also been sentenced to life in prison. His previous wife, Comrade Norah, had died in 1988 under mysterious circumstances. The AP reports, “Analysts believe she may have been murdered or forced to commit suicide over an internal political dispute.”

Abimael Guzman was a truly evil communist ideologue and murderer. The world became a better place when he was put in prison decades ago and it’s even better now that he’s dead. Incredibly, you can find some morons on social media who are mourning his loss over the weekend. Here’s an Al Jazeera report on his history.

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