Large-scale Massacre of Prisoners in Peru, 1986 - ICG

Peruvian prison
Peruvian prison

Poorly written but still interesting article about a massacre of prisoners in Peru in 1986.

Submitted by libcom on January 12, 2006

From Communism #6

Social-democratic peace is nothing else but the peace of tombs.

The tombs of all the proletarians who struggle against the State.

International Solidarity with the Proletariat and its prisoners in Peru!

* * *

We are publishing here a translation of an article that was first published in our Spanish review "Comunismo" (No.22 - June 86).

Although the events that the article talks about are not of recent date, the article remains very "up to date" as this was shown, cynically, a few months ago when the very commander of the massacres of June 86 at the El Fronton prison, M. Agustin Mantilla, took office as the Home Secretary of the new Peru government. This is how the bourgeoisie celebrates the massacres of the proletariat and how it honours and promotes its bloodthirsty butchers! M. Agustin Mantilla, "homme de main" of Alan Noske Garcia (the Peruvian President belongs to the social-democratic APRA party) is also known to be one of the organisers of the different para-military death-squads!

The article remains up to date still today, because internationalist solidarity with proletarians locked up in the State prisons all over the world has always been and always will be at the very heart of our struggle. There can be no communist militants who remain indifferent towards the repression of our class, towards the tortures, the imprisonments and the killings of our class comrades.

We still want to inform our readers and sympathisers that this article has been used by different groups from the "revolutionary milieu" (1) to slander our group and its militants by qualifying us as "a leftist group supporting terrorism and the Stalinist guerrilla of Shining Path in Peru". While these groups of the "revolutionary milieu" remain locked up in their democratism and their social-pacifism,... remain locked up in their overall social-democratic vision of the class struggle... they actively reinforce (consciously or not, it hardly matters) the bourgeois campaign on "anti-terrorism", designating our group and other internationalists for prosecution by the international police-gangs.

We ask our contacts not to accept such lies and slanders and to denounce such campaigns from these groups.


"Patria mia dame un presidente como Alan Garcia" ("Motherland give me a president like Alan Garcia"), the posters implored, in several Latin-American countries.

Alan Garcia, the first president from the APRA - a party that had for decades represented Latin-American bourgeois anti-imperialism - had edged his way through international conferences with progressists and trotskyists from all sides - (let us not forget the flirt between Haya de la Torre and Trotsky himself), and thus appeared as the trump card of Great Motherland nationalism and social-democrat anti-imperialism in Latin-America.

But international social-democracy (as numerous facts of the workers' struggle have shown) can offer nothing to the proletarians but State terrorism, repression, torture, shootings, massacres,... And the same can be told of any anti-imperialist, nationalist project, of any variety of Great Motherland nationalism, which is always essentially bourgeois.

Mister Garcia could not be, and has never been any exception. Cheered up by international social democracy and all the progressist bourgeois, Mister Garcia, once he had taken over the presidency, could play the cynical part of deceitful, politicking duelling, typical of any anti-imperialist bourgeois and populist nationalist. He built his fame among his international partners upon one or two purges in the repressive apparatus (so as to perfect repression, of course), upon anti-imperialist boastings, like when he announced that he would not devote more than 10% of the country's foreign currency to the payment of the external debt. Some even talk of "Garcia doctrine" about the payment of the debt! It is obvious that all that idle talk never stopped his regime from being on very good terms with the main international financial circles or international institutions like the IMF, the World Bank or the Interamerican Bank for Development. In all these institutions, there existed a kind of unanimous obligingness towards that man who was doing his best to deceive Peru's and Latin America's proletarians with the myth of debt repayment; and when the tension grew between the creditors and those in debt, they all agreed that Alan Garcia should pay a much larger sum in bribes. At bottom, they were aware that the 10% story suited them very well, but first and foremost, the myth had to live on.

Since there was nothing else for them to do in front of a proletariat that was marching on, they did the same about repression. They went chattering, they sacrificed a few scapegoats among the civil servants, and of course, they went on repressing. The number of people tortured, imprisoned, murdered in prison (an impressive massacre took place on the 4th October 1985 in Lurigancho, where dozens of prisoners were shot and burnt alive), disappearing,... not only did not decrease, but actually increased.

And of course, people like Willy Brandt, Mitterand, Guillermo Ungo, Felipe Gonzalez, Olof Palme,... participated and were accomplice in this. As a matter of fact, they were still welcoming and paying tribute to their fellowman Alan Garcia as being a true progressist and true anti-imperialist. Actually, Alan Garcia does embody international progressism, nationalist anti-imperialism and social-democratism: bloodthirsty against the fighting proletariat, one thousand times murderer of all the social struggles. The international press - that loathsome dissembler of all crimes committed by the State - was doing the rest: Alan was America's "Felipe Gonzales", the fairest and youngest of all the presidents of Latin-American democracy; he even was photogenic and his image could be sold as that of a "good family man". Welcome to the show! Meanwhile, repression was more sanguinary than ever; but, internationally, they mentioned it the least often possible, and when they did, the right or the left of the world bourgeoisie justified repression like this: "the point, actually, is to repress a tiny group of fanatics, of polpotians,...".

The impressive and sanguinary massacre of subversive prisoners that took place on the 18th of June 1986 in "El Fronton", "Lurigancho" and "Santa Barbara" in Peru, is a logical consequence of all this international preparation. It is the golden prize of anti-imperialist progressism. The fact that at the same time in Lima, the congress of the Socialist International was taking place, with peace as the major theme of it (as Willy Brandt even declared when he got to Lima: "We are ready to lend a helping hand for peace and for a solution to the economical problems that affect the world") might be interpreted by some as a mere coincidence, or as the result of Shining Path's revolt (Shining Path's appreciation that in those conditions the terrorist State repression against them, would be more difficult!). For us, beyond all these interpretations, there is an obvious link of unity between the social-democrat scheme of peace and the massacres of imprisoned proletarians. Since Reagan had several times emphasized that the Peruvian guerrilla was the most threatening of the world, the social democrats had to show once more that when the system is in danger, they can be more sanguinary than all the sanguinary ones in the world. The competition between the right and the left, beyond the different economic interests that they represent, reveals itself in the mechanism of control and of repression of the proletariat. What does it matter, that later they establish one or one thousand commissions of inquiry to charge those responsible for the "excesses" (!)... such cynical play is part of the natural mechanisms of bourgeois domination and oppression. Even though they plan and decide of the military operations, they always find alibis, and to preserve the credibility of the State, they sacrifice such and such of their colleagues whom they find "guilty" of these "excesses", of these "violations of the human rights". About Vietnam, for instance, the Yankee State, which considered napalm and chemical warfare as parts of the murdering game, nevertheless preferred to condemn a few scapegoats for these "excesses". And Mitterrand - about whom they forget cleverly that he was among the leaders of the massacres in Algeria - who affords himself the luxury of an inquiry to "seek out those who commanded bomb-layers for the "Rainbow Warrior" whereas he himself was the commander! And all the inquiries made by Alan Garcia from the Socialist International about the imposing massacre of prisoners in Peru have the same purpose: to yell over a few "excesses" in order to render daily terror commonplace.

The position of the international proletariat can be none other than one of international solidarity with the proletarians from Peru because, through this attack, these are its own interests that are being attacked, because the women, men, children, old people,... who belong to its own class and share the same interests are killed and terrorised - and this, whatever flag they were struggling beneath. Its attitude can be none other than that of increasing its action against all the fractions of capital that confront it, whatever they be - imperialist or anti-imperialist, conservative or progressist, populist or elitist, open accomplices or hiding (that is, all those who will mourn the dead in the name of the democratic rights of "man"); against all the bourgeoisie that we have in front of us in every part of the world. Yet this international solidarity must be organised and directed: it is the task of revolutionary militants, and it cannot on any account depend upon agreement with the ideology of a group like Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path"). In other words, those who, disagreeing with, or being opposed to the ideology of this group, remain unconcerned and do not admit this reality of a brutal attack against the struggle of the proletariat and act consequently... are neither internationalists nor revolutionaries. At bottom, they become more and more the accomplices of what is happening in Peru, of the police vision of history or of the more common version which likens everything that stands in opposition to the State in Peru to that group which is internationally renowned as "marxist-leninist-maoist". Against this position, we affirm that the proletarian resistance (urban and rural) against extreme poverty is very strong, that for dozens of years the proletariat of this country has been struggling fiercely against all the fractions of capital, especially during the Velasco era (who used to call in Fidel Castro to break the strikes that neither the left not the right of Peruvian bourgeoisie could break). We also affirm that, like in other identical situations on the continent, the sanguinary repression (there are more than 6000 disappeared) is organized accordingly, and accuses every proletarian of belonging to such or such military group designated as the Public Enemy No1. In this complex process, thousands of proletarians do not heed the Sendero Luminoso organisation. And even within this one political organisation that is a confused mosaic of several tendencies and positions, expressions of complete rejection of its official ideology are not lacking!

We make all these assertions without ignoring that the Sendero Luminoso organisation enjoys a high reputation among the fighting proletarians, and that all the lies spread around about it (accomplices in the drug traffic, cutting of the hands of poor peasants,...) are believed in Peru only by those who are interested in maintaining the status quo. Contrary to other groups which took up with armed struggle in Peru or in other Latin American countries, like the Monteneros, the Tupamaros, the Chilian MIR, the Bolivian ELN, the Sandinists, etc... and which always had an ideology openly nationalist and, accordingly, a legalist and reformist practice (the Tupamaros uncovered swindles and brought the evidence to the judges!) of defence of the national institutions, etc., which have always been the armed wing of the big democratic, electoral carnivals and, what is more, stuck on all the popular myths like allendeism, peronism, sandinism, the Torres government in Bolivia, etc. the Sendero Luminoso has always had an uncompromising position, especially towards velasquism which was considered as something to support by nearly all the guerilleros of the continent, whereas the Sendero Luminoso defined it as the worst enemy, as a grand bourgeois, reactionary, fascist government. Whereas the other groups were the armed wing of the classical bourgeois left - which besides they never clashed with but always flattered and flirted with... so enabling them to become an even more consistent expression of old national populism - the Sendero Luminoso appeared as something completely different, confronting both the left and the right. All the populist (and more generally the left-wing) fractions, once they had taken over the government, or shared it, they still starved and repressed the proletariat - and the guerilleros had no alternative whatsoever to propose (though they be so militarist, their program is the same) and what happened is that the real proletarian struggles (that have lost their organical, organisational and theoretical unity with the classist expressions they had during the first decades of this century) didn't have their own direction, but were canalised by no matter what bourgeois fraction, even by the right-wing. In Peru, even when the great nationalist, populist myths prevailed, the Sendero Luminoso was never the accomplice of the government, even though this is obviously not a sufficient reason for us to consider this group as a proletarian vanguard organisation (which is, for us, impossible in the case of a "marxist-leninist-maoist" organisation), or, more humbly, as a mere proletarian organisation. The Sendero Luminoso just happened to be in tune with the main proletarian struggles in uncompromising opposition to the State.

There were two decisive moments in this story. The first under Velasco, when Sendero Luminoso had just appeared (2). The second after the fall of Morales Berinudez: that is when the process of democratisation began, culminating with the return of Belaunde Terry and then of Alan Garcia - and at that moment, the Sendero Luminoso, its nucleus consolidated, took to armed struggle.

The Velasco era is decisive because it expresses most strongly the attempt of the last decades to establish a radical bourgeois reformism (the real reforms of this progressive military government go much deeper than those of Allende), an attempt to which, in several ways, Stalinism, social-democracy and Trotskyism (Hugo Blanco himself) have submitted. Sendero Luminoso is at that time one of the only groups that denounce and struggle against the regime. After Velasco's death, the regime "turns to the right"; left-wing bonapartism turns into right-wing bonapartism, according to the well-known categorization Trotsky made himself. This is the beginning of an era during which the whole left passes into the opposition, so that it can regain a credibility and prepare the conditions required for another era of "democratisation". This era also marks the beginning of a general process of national unification. The electoral carnival is prepared and results in the constituent assembly in 1978 and the presidential elections in 1980. This was another attack, in a different form, against the proletariat - the same old lies in a different wrapper: the trotskyist and some other left-wing reformists form a coalition that wins a majority in the ballot. The orders of the left become a reality, the Constituent Assembly becomes effective, and the trotskyists present "red proposals" and other unheard-of clowneries (as if a change in the relation of forces could be realized through elections!). The electoral carnival was getting to its apogee while the situation of the proletariat was still worsening.

We could have thought that the ideology so obviously Stalinist of Sendero Luminoso would have led them to take part into that carnival. And yet they did not, for there are other reasons that must be taken into account (the material interests of the men and women belonging to Sendero Luminoso) - and neither in this case did Sendero Lumminoso become the accomplice of the government; on the contrary, it declared war to the elections: on the 17th May, Sendero Luminoso burns down the ballot-boxes in several places of the district of Avacucho. All these facts led the Sendero Luminoso not to agree with "the people" that opposes such or such repressive regime, as it was the case for the other guerrilla-groups, but to side with the proletariat at the important moments of national unity. That is perhaps why Reagan considers the guerrilla in Peru as the most threatening of the world.

In the process which leaves no choice to the proletariat but that of a still more violent struggle against the bourgeoisie and its State, when all the other left-wing groups are objectively united against the working-class' interests under the pretext of condemning terrorism in general and in defence of democracy, Sendero Luminoso is still in tune with important workers' struggles, and still incorporates the militants who break up with all the other organisations. And moreover, Sendero Luminoso appears more and more as the only structure capable of giving consistence to the ever-growing number of direct actions of the proletariat in the towns and on the countryside.

What we tell about Sendero Luminoso is not a subjective opinion, we do not think that we are mistaking objective reality for what we wish reality should be. We are not making an apology of Sendero Luminoso; on the contrary, we think that the emergence of a group like that endangers the classist autonomy, threatens the development of proletarian positions and the organisation of a true communist vanguard (to be sure, some comrades and groups have internationalist positions, but their social practice is not very consistent at the moment) and yet we must admit to it as an objective social reality.

We have no elements to consider Sendero Luminoso (or the CPP, as it defines itself) as a bourgeois organisation serving counter-revolution. From what we know of its practice within class struggles (and contrary to all the marxist-leninist-maoist groups in the whole world) we cannot tell whether it was ever directly on the other side of the barricades.

We nevertheless maintain that their conceptions are a danger to the struggle of the proletariat ant that, far from preparing the proletariat for the insurrection, it carries it away into a blind alley of "prolonged popular war", with no proletarian, revolutionary perspective. Everything that Sendero Luminoso has written is based upon the strictest stalino-maoism. We totally reject its "Mariateguist" ideology, its programmatic non-breaking with the old Communist Party of Peru, issuing directly from Mariategui (despite the numerous organisational splits) which speaks for itself, its description of the Peruvian society as "semi-feudal and semi-colonial",... We think that its ideology is absurd and only serves counter-revolutionary confusion. Its conception of social war as being popular and going from the countryside to the towns contradicts the interests of the proletarian revolution; its vision of the peasantry as a class distinct from the proletariat is openly counter-revolutionary and divides the proletariat. We also reject as counter-revolutionary the position that considers the struggle as a moment of a revolution which is "at the present stage anti-imperialist and anti-feudal", as well as its vision considering that the main contradiction lies within the "people", between "democracy" and "reaction"; also, the concept of "bureaucracy": all these positions are a falsification, a total negation of the actual opposition between capital and communism. We also reject its reformist project of a Republic of New Democracies... and we will stop this list here.

For those who think that this is not enough: on an international level, the CPP-Sendero Luminoso is part of the "Internationalist Revolutionary Movement", a mixture of several Stalinist and Maoist organisations from all continents, with a document which, from the first line to the last, is a gross falsification of the international communist movement, of what is happening and has happened in the whole world. Nonetheless, we must say that some militants in Peru, linked to the Sendero Luminoso, assert that this organisation does not acknowledge as militants those who live abroad, nor those who may have participated in international conferences with this bunch of counter-revolutionaries from the International Revolutionary Movement. But even about this, information are contradictory. By the way, this may be reflecting real differences existing within the Sendero Luminoso organisation. This seems to us the most plausible hypothesis, given the information that we have and that come from different sources, not so much about the internal differences pertaining to this group (3), but, rather, about the real heterogeneity of a social movement which does at all correspond neither to what Sendero Luminoso is telling about it, not to the frontiers that this organisation is trying to impose on it. In fact, we are sure that there are internationalist comrades who have never been Stalinist, or have broken away from Trotskyism and all other ideologies of the bourgeois left, and who continue to reject, like us, the ideology of Sendero Luminoso, but who find it awfully difficult to appear as a different alternative within the real social movement of struggle against capital and the State in Peru. The main reason for this is that the right, the left, the media, the means of repression, and also many proletarians amalgamate any violent action against the regime with Sendero Luminoso. In all these cases, and above all in actions like the struggle in the prisons (where there are many who do not belong to Sendero Luminoso - even the official press admits that (4)), there is always a risk that the coincidence between the action and the repression makes the revolutionary nucleus lose their organisational and programmatical autonomy. We have not enough information to assert clearly that in this process, a whole of struggles and actions are (or are not) directed by the central nucleus of Sendero Luminoso or preserve an organisative and programmatic autonomy towards this group (or towards others which have a similar ideology) or again, whether they are indirectly directed by Sendero Luminoso.

Anyway, we think it means to be accomplice of the State and of the international press to identify with Sendero Luminoso and its ideology the proletariat that today is being bloodthirstily repressed in Peru. It means to be accomplice of the State not to show solidarity with and to dissociate oneself from the repressed proletarians in Peru under the pretext that they are Stalinists, Maoists or whatsoever.

Let's increase our social struggle against worldwide capital wherever we can; this is the expression of our solidarity with the proletariat in Peru.

Let's not forget that this effective solidarity also means the merciless critique of all blind alleys, of all bourgeois alternatives like popular war or peasants' war.

Once again, the facts tragically call for the constitution of a true revolutionary international, one and only organic force on a worldwide scale, against all the democratic, Marxist Leninist populist alternatives, for the communist revolution everywhere, for the destruction of the capitalist system in the whole world!


(1) The "solidarity" of a group like the ICC becomes clear when they can only analyse such State repression as "an expression of the decadence of capitalism", as "part of the barbaric nature of capitalism"... when they analyse State terrorism against our class, the torturing and disappearing of our class militants, as "a struggle between the left and right fractions of the bourgeoisie". Most other groups of the "revolutionary milieu", having a very similar analysis of class struggle anyway, just stupidly repeated what the ICC told and wrote everywhere on our account!

(2) This is not a text upon this group, nor a complete description of its contradictions; this would require a specific, serious study. Yet it seems important to us to explain in a few words the origins of this group. The classical Stalinist party of Peru splits in 1964 over the agrarian question. From then on, the pro-Russian faction will be known through its review Unidad and they'll be called CPP "Unidad", while the pro-Chinese faction will be known as the CPP "Bandera Roja". The latter will split into several currents. In 1965, two groups emerge: the Marxist Leninist CPP and the FALM. In 1968, there occurs a very important split, which will give birth to an important reformist mass organisation: the CPP "Red Motherland" (CPP "Patria Roja"). Meanwhile, the struggle within the CPP "Bandera Roja" continues, and leads, from the sector of Aji Prop Abimal Guzman (the present president of Sendero Luminoso, "Gonzalo") to the struggle against the direction of Paredes up until 1970, when the split formally occurred. The two fractions still publish a review called "Bandero Roja". If the sector of Guzman has begun to make itself known as Sendero Luminoso it is due to the fact that one of its important rank-and-file organisations was called the "Students' Revolutionary Front for the Shining Path of Mariategui". After nearly one decade of quasi-uniquely theoretical work - even if there were always references to a phase of reconstruction of the party" - the pro-"armed struggle" line was created in 1980. Let's add that this group has been joined by several groups or individuals that come from "Political-Military Vanguard", from "Red Motherland" and from the majority group "Communist Proletarian Vanguard".

(3) The non-formally Stalinist Maoism is the most official line, but there also exist more openly Stalinist positions, like for instance some pro-Enver Hoxha trends.

(4) For instance, the director of "Equis X" Juleo Cabrera Moreno, an infamous democratic journalist, states this in his own way: "It has been proved that, from the beginning, a large number happened to be there though they had nothing to do with the Communist Party of Peru (Sendero Luminoso). But in prison, driven by the tortures and the continuous abuses, they started upholding the dogmas of Sendero Luminoso".

"The proletariat claims only one war: the civil war against all bourgeoisies." - Communism - 1937 -