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Monday, March 04, 2019

“Enemies of the Communist Party of Peru”- Part 2


Senderologists

An academic discipline in Latin American studies emerged in the 80s to late 90s that sought to grapple with factors that led to the launching of the People’s War in Peru. It was unfathomable for bourgeois ideologues to comprehend how a revolution gained steam after the ending of a military dictatorship. How could this happen? This was the key question that was asked by Senderologists. Carlos Ivan Degregori (who would come to head the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) in his book How Difficult It is to Be God peddled the myth that the PCP had practiced an authoritarian relationship as it related to the indigenous peoples, as an explanation for its continued existence for  decades.

How Difficult it Is To Be God itself stands in contradiction to other Senderologists who were forced to admit the popularity of the PCP in the countryside as well as Lima. Degregori posits the entrance of the PCP into the cities as a result of the growing ronda campesino death squads that were supposedly “pushing” the revolution out of the countryside. While Degregori rejects the attributed millenarianism that most senderologists such as Gustavo Gorritti, David Scott Palmer, Lewis Taylor and Cynthia McClintock attribute to the PCP he does so out of an accusation that the PCP was not popular with the indigenous communities of the Andes:
“Sendero’s principal potential social base in the countryside was the rural population of people who were no longer peasants and were de-Indianized while the more Indian and more peasant populations seemed less susceptible to Shining Path influences.” [15]

Degregori’s work in discrediting the popularity of the People’s War is not without debate even among senderologists much less Maoists.

It should also come as no small number of these bourgeois ideologues were explicit enemies of the PCP such as David Scott Palmer who was expelled for being an American imperialist when he taught at the University of San Cristobal de Huamanga along with Chairman Gonzalo in the 60s. Others such as Gabriela Tarazona-Sevillano who was an actual judicial prosecutor in the Peruvian judicial system from 1984 to 1986, are a glaring example of Senderologists in the strict service of reaction. Anyone who would claim that the Senderologists are truly “objective” narrators of the events that unfolded in Peru would be hard-pressed to reconcile their commitment to bourgeois “democracy” and their integration in the Old State with covering a revolutionary movement which would have inevitably put them to the fire.

Others such as Cynthia McClintock were forced to acknowledge the popularity of the PCP and that it enjoyed more support from the population than the FMLN did in El Salvador. In one poll conducted in Lima in 1991 47% of respondents believed that the PCP “punishes the corrupt”. [16] In a separate poll conducted a few weeks after the capture of Gonzalo 20% of respondents felt “compassion” for him. McClintock commented that polls were never conducted in rural areas where support for the PCP and Chairman Gonzalo was even “greater”.

The attempt to portray the PCP as an indiscriminate killing machine by comparing it to the Khmer Rouge comes from the likes of Ton de Wit and Vera Gianotten who lived in Ayacucho working in a rural development program sponsored by the Dutch government. It also comes from the American Senderologist Ronald H. Berg whose research was backed by the Organization of American States. These claims are contradicted by the polls cited by McClintock in which Lima residents perceived the movement as punishing only the corrupt. As well as David Scott Palmer who explicitly rejected the comparison to Khmer Rouge and the use of indiscriminate violence by the movement.

After the capture of Gonzalo and the establishment of the so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Degregori, much was spun to portray the PCP as a bloodthirsty organization that led to the deaths of 70,000 people, half of which are attributed to the PCP. What is not mentioned in these liberal humanitarian reports is the crimes for those “civilians” that ranged from collaborators with the police and Marines, cattle thieves, wife beaters or other rural tyrants. These nuances are left out of course as they serve the ideological justification that rebellion is wrong.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission monopolizes legitimate justice and violence to be only dished out by the bourgeois state, at no point in the commission was a representative of the revolution given equal place, in spite of the Commissions posturing condemnation for the Fujimori government.

Portrayals of the PCP

Portrayals of the PCP range from sympathetic (in an albeit liberal bourgeois way) such as the documentary People of the Shining Path, which showcases many cultural aspects of the movement in songs and cultural performances, testimonies from guerrillas in the Popular Guerrilla Army (EGP), testimonies from intellectuals and political prisoners. The documentary You Must Tell the World… similarly portrays a pro-People’s view of Chairman Gonzalo and the international support he garnered from all over the world including from Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal.

Others however portray PCP in a barbaric manner such as the film The Dancer Upstairs in which the movement is shown utilizing children as suicide bombers. The movie even portrays the revolutionary movement in the film putting up signs that quote the Nazi Herman Goering. The film Escape From L.A. is even more shameless. In this film a PCP leader brainwashes the President’s daughter and threatens to invade the United States with a third world army. The two portrayals here coincide with one another and are a glimpse at the polarization the PCP had on the world in much of the 80s and 90s. For the masses of the world the PCP was an inspiration to them. It proved that revolution was possible while phony communism was on the retreat in most of the world.

The influence of the PCP on Latin America sparked a red scare in the region with groups affiliated with the PCP popping up in countries like Colombia, Bolivia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Chile and Ecuador. In Chile the assassination of Jaime Guzman, Pinochet’s chief ideologue, was suspected by the Chilean police to have been carried out with the assistance of Peruvians affiliated with the People’s War. [17]

In Mexico according to Peruvian intelligence a Peru People’s Movement  (MPP) was formed in May 1988 to commemorate the memory of murdered prisoners from the PCP. Material aid to the People’s War came from sympathetic Mexican unions, universities and other institutions. Across the ocean in Europe support networks for the MPP were also formed in Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Greece, Switzerland, The Netherlands, The Canary Islands, Great Britain and even Soviet Estonia. [18]

To Defend the PCP is to Defend Maoism Itself

The People’s War in Peru led by the PCP and its Chairman Gonzalo constitute the most advanced revolutionary movement up to this point. It is a revolution which not only gave us synthesized Maoism but continues to light the world as an undying torch whose mantle is taken up by the very best comrades in Latin America especially Brazil and Mexico. The slanders and distortions of the positions of these comrades while simultaneously defending Gonzalo in mere words constitutes an attack on his brightest pupils and legitimate successors.

The Maoists of the world reject the abstract Maoism which fundamentally rejects Great Leadership, the universality of protracted people’s war, concentric construction of the three instruments, the militarization of the Party and the emergence of a guiding thought in the course of a revolution. These questions are fundamentally important to come to a concrete realization of Maoism that the PCP exhibited brilliantly. Maoists also reject the myth of the capitulation of Chairman Gonzalo and reject any discussions of peace talks with the Old State as a manifestation of a right opportunist line. The revolution must only accept the unconditional surrender of the Old State to the New Power.

There can be no centrism on this question, the laws of contradiction dictate that this question will inevitably come to fore in the International Communist movement and we are declaring ourselves partisans in representing the left line that must impose itself on revisionism and rightist deviation which compose a danger to the success of global revolution. Revisionism and rightist deviationism threaten to lead Communists down the road to bourgeois legalism and parliamentarism as well as to armed revisionism.

As a result we declare our unconditional support to the world proletarian revolution, the imposition of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, principally Maoism, the complete and utter destruction of imperialism and the establishment of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. All of these taught to us by our teachers the Communist Party of Peru and its Chairman Gonzalo, the world’s greatest living Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.

– Article by Agustín


[15] Degregori. p. 30.

[16] Cynthia McClintock. Revolutionary Movements in Latin America: El Salvador’s FMLN and Peru’s Shining Path. p.78.

[17] ibid. p. 38

[18] Simon Strong. Shining Path: Terror and Revolution in Peru. p. 234

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