Notorious Peruvian communist fanatic Abimael Guzman dies aged 86

Abimael Guzmán, the leader of Peru’s Shining Path Marxist insurgency, dies in prison aged 86

  • Abimael Guzmán, the founder of Peruvian rebel group called the Shining Path, died aged 86 of poor health in his prison cell
  • Convicted as a terrorist in 1992, he passed away while serving a life sentence in a maximum-security prison
  • The communist traveled to China in the late 1960s and was awed by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution
  • At least 69,000 people were killed between 1980 and 2000 in the internal conflict launched by the terrorist group
  • The Shining Path slaughtered dogs and hung their lifeless bodies on lampposts throughout the capital for Lima residents to wake up to one December morning 

Abimael Guzmán, the founder of Peruvian communist group Shining Path, died aged 86 of poor health in his prison cell on Saturday while serving a life sentence after trying to overthrow the government.

Guzmán, who headed the communist-obsessed renegade group and terrorized Peru throughout the 1980s and 90s, was convicted as a terrorist in 1992 in Lima, Peru, and jailed for the rest of his life.

As the leader of the Shining Path, Guzmán sparked a conflict that resulted in the death of at least 69,000 Peruvians at the hands of guerillas. The terrorist group also slaughtered dogs and hung their lifeless bodies on lampposts throughout the capital for Lima residents to wake up to one December morning.

Each dog had a sign around its neck with a slogan referring to the Chinese Communist Party, and claimed the animals were symbols of capitalism. 

Guzmán died in a maximum-security prison in the Callao naval base in Peru. Prison officials said his health had been declining for several weeks leading up to his death and he was released from a hospital in early August.

Abimael Guzmán (pictured in 2017), the founder of Peruvian rebel group called the Shining Path, died aged 86 of poor health in his prison cell on Saturday while serving a life sentence after trying to overthrow the government

Guzmán (pictured after his capture on September 24, 1992), who headed the communist-obsessed renegade group and terrorized Peru throughout the 1980s and 90s, was convicted as a terrorist. When he was sentenced in 1992 in Lima, Peru, he was paraded in front of press in a striped white and black uniform not normally used for prisoners in the country

He passed away one day before the anniversary of his capture nearly 30 years ago, when he was paraded in front of press in a striped white and black uniform not normally used in Peru. 

The head of Peru’s prison system Susana Silva told Radio Programs del Peru (RPP) on Saturday that Guzmán’s health condition worsened in the past two days. 

She added that he was set to receive more medical attention but was pronounced dead in his cell around 6.40am local time. Silva declined to comment further on what had killed the famed communist. 

President Pedro Castillo tweeted: ‘The terrorist leader Abimael Guzmán has died, responsible for the loss of an uncountable number of lives. Our position condemning terrorism is firm and unwavering. Only in democracy will we build a just Peru.’

A former philosophy professor, Guzmán was a lifelong communist who traveled to China in the late 1960s and was awed by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. 

He had a vision of Peru without money, banks, industry or foreign trade and set out to bring Mao’s brand of communism to Peru through a class war he launched in 1980 – when Peru held its first democratic elections following over a decade of military dictatorship.

Guzman, pictured in 1993, died in a maximum-security prison in the Callao naval base in Peru. Prison officials said his health had been declining for several weeks leading up to his death and he was released from a hospital in early August

The Shining Path (whose leaders are pictured in 2004) sparked a conflict that resulted in the death of at least 69,000 Peruvians at the hands of guerillas. The terrorist group also slaughtered dogs and hung their lifeless bodies on lampposts throughout the capital for Lima residents to wake up to one December morning

The Shining Path’s bold and immaculately planned attacks, its networks of informants and spies and Guzmán’s uncanny ability to evade arrest gave him an almost legendary reputation for seeming to be in all places at once. He is pictured here in 2004 

Guzmán founded the Sendero Luminoso – the Shining Path – and transformed it from a ragtag band of peasants and radical students into Latin America’s most stubborn guerrilla force. 

An estimated 69,000 people, mostly in Peru’s poor interior and indigenous Andean communities, were killed between 1980 and 2000 in the internal conflict launched by the terrorist group. 

The Shining Path’s bold and immaculately planned attacks, its networks of informants and spies and Guzmán’s uncanny ability to evade arrest gave him an almost legendary reputation for seeming to be in all places at once. 

Guzmán was married to fellow Shining Path member Augusta La Torre, who died of mysterious circumstances in the late 1980s. 

He then married longtime girlfriend Elena Iparraguirre in 2010. Iparraguirre is also serving a life sentence for her role as a leader in the Shining Path.

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