Shining Path and Ridgway

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Mon Sep 11 08:57:54 MDT 1995


On Sun, 10 Sep 1995, Maoist Internationalist Movement wrote:

> We have heard this story that the communists
> round up villagers by force and that is the
> only way they ever gain any support. We have
> heard this applied to entire countries such
> as China, where the revolutionaries supposedly
> did this all the way to state power.
>

Louis Proyect:

It was a few minutes before noon on April 8, 1987 when a Senderista
"annihilation commando" entered San Juan de Salinas, in the
department of Puno near the Bolivian border. Zenobio Huarsalla knew
who they were after. As a long-time campesino leader, founder of the
powerful Federacion Departmental de Campesinos de Puno, his
radicalism had led him to sympathize with Sendero. But at the end of
1986, when the townspeople asked him to run for mayor on the
Izquierda Unida ticket, Huarsalla agreed. Sendero considered him a
traitor, a servant of the "old state." Soon after his overwhelming
victory at the polls, the town hall was dynamited.

Now, as they drag him toward the center of the plaza he sees his wife
and his parents among the crowd that is gathering to watch the
"popular trial". The commando commits the error of asking the crowd
if Huarsalla should be executed. The response is an emphatic "No!"
The Senderistas argue with the crowd, and it finally falls silent. Then
Huarsalla, who has been kneeling under the muzzles of two rifles,
jumps to his feet.

"I have been jailed five times," he says looking at this executioners. "I
know who you are, but I have never given you away." Then he speaks
to the townspeople: "If you ask me to, I will resign." Cries of "No!"
again fills the plaza. The campesinos begin to close in on the
Senderistas. The commando is nervous. Then "La Gringa" jumps
forward. She is a white woman famous in Puno for the savagery of her
attacks. People say she has even gouged out the eyes and cut out the
tongues of her victims. La Gringa moves toward Huarsalla and with
one shot blows out his brains. Amid the cries and confusion, the
Senderistas retreat.

Since Zenobio Huarsalla was murdered, at least eight other Izquierida
Unida mayors have been assassinated by Sendero, including Ayacucho
mayor Fermin Zaparrent. Between 1987 and 1989, Sendero killed five
leaders of the mineworkers union. In April 1989, a dozen community
leaders who had opposed Sendero in the Cunas Valley of the Central
Andes were massacred; several of them were members of the leftist
Confederacion Campesina del Peru. In Lima, at the beginning of 1989,
the president of the textile workers union, Enrique Castilla was
murdered; a sign was left on his body: "This is how traitors who sell
out the workers die." Castilla was a member of the Partido Unificado
Mariatequista (PUM), the most radical of the legal Left. PUM leaders
maintain that twenty of their members have gunned down by Sendero
to date, most of them in the southern Andes.


(From "A Dwarf Star" by Carlos Ivan Degregori in "Report on the
Americas", Dec./Jan. 1990/1991. Anthropologist Carlos Ivan
Degregori is a researcher at the Lima-based Instituto de Estudios
Peruanos. He has written two books on Sendero Luminoso.)


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