The List etc...FOR A CHANGE OF DIRECTION IN THE DEBATE
hariette at easynet.co.uk
Wed Sep 25 18:06:31 MDT 1996
Louis Proyect says:
>I am much more interested in dialoging with folks like this over issues
>that we are much closer on, such as the state of the class struggle in
>1996. I find that these individuals have views much closer to my own than
>an apologist for capitalism like yourself.
And I propose a change of direction in the debate. Firstly because we have
already have enough fun, and who has not - better take a cold shower and
sober-up. Secondly, and most importantly, because I agree that it is vital
to put accross what Proyect says about the state of the class struggle in
our day and age.
And, finally, because it has come into my hands a most interesting book
which, in my opinion, can contribute REAL - as oppossed to illusory - data
on the class struggle for some unexpected quarters which cannot be
controverted in their appreciations by any kind of sectarianism or any sort
of pre-concieved and pre-packaged "marxism".
And this is because this input comes straight from uncontrovertible sources
of CLASS WARRIORS engaged in CONCRETE CLASS STRUGGLE - and, moreover, from
the standpoint of the most concrete and monolithic force of reaction (which
will spare this data from being attacked and controverted due to any kind of
inter-marxist rivalry (sectarian disputes).
I am referring here to the book "Peru - the possible paths" by Hernando
Calvo Ospina and Katlijn Declerq, journalists from Colombia and Belgium who
have managed a remarkable feat with this book which Marxists and
revolutionary minded people of any kind should not miss out on.
"Peru - the possible paths" is billed as follows:
"This book is raising important polemics there where it has been possible to
publish it. It is not surprising: The conflict in Peru is one of the
longest and most persistent wars of the moment, reflecting the violence and
injustice suffered by the Andean peoples since the arrival of the Spanish
"Is Shining Path a cause or a consequence of this? What is there of truth
in all that is said about them? Is the capture of Abimael Guzman going to
put the brakes on this insurgency?"
"The interesting thing about this book is that the answers do not come from
the Shining Path here. And it is the reader himself who can draw its
Indeed this book consists of direct interviews with all the protagonists of
the class struggle in Peru. These interviews with the leading spokespeople
of ALL sides participating in a LIVING HISTORICAL DRAMA give a pretty
complete and revealing picture that will help clarify and put in context
many of the things about which we have been at loggerheads in this list, and
by making the protagonists from ALL SIDES come alive and speak FOR
THEMSELVES many of the theoretical questions raised here will be clarified
and better understood.
Moreover, the data is not simply appicable to Peru and Latin-America in
general, but it has too universal validity and serves to understand IN A
LIVING EXAMPLE the fact that most people here are interested in
apprehending: that new, more advanced methods are now in practice in the
class struggle from both the side of the revolution AS WELL AS FROM THE SIDE
Hernando Clavo and Katlijn Declerq have managed to pack the following
research and transmitted it in hard hitting and candid interviews with the
following sectors of society:
The Human Rights organisations
People involved in the Cocaine business and specialists in the matter.
The Non-Government Organisations (Ngos)
The legal political parties (of "Right, "Left" and "Center")
The Communist Party of Peru (PCP)
I find that the chapter on the opinions of the military - in which the most
representative spokesmen for the anti-subversibe strategy (and
anti-communist reaction) speak directly and in an unprecedented fashion, is
the most important for this list. Therefore, I propose myself to begin to
translate it and publish it here in order to supply us with the concrete
thinking of the most clear-headed class warriors of all those in the camp of
the enemies of the proletariat.
The chapter is billed "The Military: Concrete people in the image of their
own power". I think it fully lives up to this billing, and that it will be
an eye opener for many in quite a few respects!.
As far as I know, there is no English version of this book, although it has
been published in Dutch and in Spanish.
I will also begin transcribing these interviews in randow order - so that
people can comment in the points that are raised and express what they think
about what is being said. Everything that appears in parenthesis are my
notes inserted for the sake of clarity and a better understanding of the
subject by the reader).
Here is the First:
"Shining Path (The Communist Party of Peru (PCP) is presenting a way to
transform society. That is all. It is not something they are doing with
their weapons (...) Only those who are able to understand a political war
can understand what is happening with Shining Path in Peru"
GENERAL (retired) SINECIO JARAMA
FORMER CHIEF OF THE POLITICAL MILITARY COMMAND IN AYACUCHO
FORMER CHIEF OF THE SECOND MILITARY REGION
SPECIALIST IN ANTI-INSURGENCY WARFARE
He lives very close to the "Little Pentagon", an imposing and modern
military construction which until a few years ago was still in the outskirts
of Lima. Today, it is surrounded by residencial neighbourhoods and avenues.
All around its perimeter signboards proclaim: "Forbidden to Stop. There is
Order to Shoot".
The taxi driver misses the street and we begin to cruise in circles. many
of these elegant residencies have high tension wires on top of their
protective walls, aiming to prevent any intruders. Some of these could be
regarded as veritable castles, patrolled by guards who march up and down the
compound with their dogs. In a corber, under a shady tree, there are four
men fingering their sub-machine guns. The taxi driver explains that these
are secret agents of the Army in charge of protecting certain residencies.
(This reminds us of the security systems we have seen in the factories along
the Central Highway in the distric of Ate Vitarte (working class industrial
quarter of Lima). The thick walls that surrounds these factories are
equipped with guard towers. The transnational companies also have, in
parallell to the walls, an electric fence of the same height).
We arrive nearly half an hour late to General Jarama's house. He is a man
of white hair, clear eyes and very amicable. He invites us to take a seat in
the dining room table while he opens a door-window leading to a small patio.
The decoration is simple but tasteful. The three of us are alone and during
the three hours our conversation lasted we would not see anyone else.
(However, in two occassions, we had to stop the tape recorder when the
general stood up (and left the room) when we heard a soft whistling: "When
the one's boss calls, one must obey" he expalins (the expression used in
Spanish translates as "boss-woman" - meaning the general's wife).
When we expressed our admiration for a beautiful jar, the General told us he
brought it in Peking, when he was in the staff of the Peruvian embassy
there: "We used to call this house "Villa Peking", but after Shining Path
made its entrance, I became convinced that this was not an appropiate name".
Jarama is the retired military officer more in demand by the national and
international press. We found out that he is considered the "progressive"
ideologue of the Armed Forces. He was the Chief of the Second Military
Region, and as such he had authority over the Political-Military Command of
the Ayacucho region (the birth place of the People's War). Having being
accussed of committing serious Human Rights violations, Alan Garcia (Apra
party president 1985-1990 - II International social-democracy) sent him into
retirement despite the fact that people insist that he was his closest man
in the army and a key leader in the anti-insurgency struggle.
The General is a man that coordinates well his words with his hand gestures.
GJ - Look here. Before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Eastern powers,
before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, before the situation in Cuba
became so precarious as it is today, and before we could visualise the
dialogues in Central America, before all that came to pass, the internal
situation in Peru was something very important for us and the stability of
But the USA - which was engaged in all those other issues - did not pay much
attention to Peru, seeing this country as just another element within the
totality of conflict areas in the world. Today, Peru has become instead an
island. It is no longer another element. Strategically, it is not. It is
a focus (of contradictions) in no way to be ignored.
Q- General: Where would you say that this political and military conflict
that the Peruvian state is facing has its roots?
GJ- It is a very complicated problem. I have always said something that may
synthesise your question: Shining Path has served to lay bare the evidence
that the political leaders have been unable to interpret the reality of Peru.
Here we have an accumulation of problems of such nature that I would have to
talk about the economical, social, political and cultural history of the
country. From the time of the arrival of the Spaniards, who were incapable
of laying down the foundations for a unitary and independent country. And
to relate all this is rather difficult. However, in synthesis, we can say
that peru has not been physically inter-communicated: here we have 25, 30,
45 Perus and each one moves to a different beat. And the political
leadership has been unable to implement a plan to achieve a processs of
identification, unable to march towards the formation of a nation state.
The political and economic interests compelled Peru to look only towards the
Pacific Ocean. And this lack of inter-communication with the hinterland has
established such widely different cultural strata that one can find in the
highlands zones that live 150 years behind the times. It is in this same
level that the current problems posit themselves. And that is the great
lesson of Shining Path: The Highland is re-conquering the coast. A process
of a reversal of domination is ocurring. If you do not believe me, see who
are those who make up the "pueblos jovenes" (shanty-towns) and the street
This is not something I say because I am a military man. Every political
analyst says the same: The only true shake-up, the only true attempt to
integrate this country was that carried out by (the dictatorship of) General
Velasco Alvarado (1968-75).
Q- Yes. None of the people we have interviewed has denied that. Could you
explain to us what was that led General Velazco to attempt those changes?
GJ- This is avery important point for contemporary Peru. Because if you look
at the armies and governments of the other Latin American countries, you
will understand that the Peruvian Army is the one which is able to attain a
much more complete, deep, and mature vision of what the social, political
and economic realities really are.
We, the Peruvian Army, have been the only ones who have made different
proposals in the meetings of the armies of the American continent. We put
across different views in relation to the counter-revolutionary strategy
against Marxism-Leninism. In these round table discussions the USA would
"See, this is the communist monster who wanst to devour us and this is the
strategy to fight it off. We must unite to defend our common interests".
>From that arose a conception of the idea of a defense against an enemy from
outside the continent. But, what common interests could we have with the
USA, since there are dychotomies of skin colour, language, beliefs, and
world view? If there is a technological and scientific gap which is so wide
and grows wider every day?
We proposed that in the elaboration of a counter-revolutionary strategy of
national defence, internal social justice and development should be primary
in order to establish strong societies and true democracies. What is the
best weapon to face up to a plan of world conquest on the part of another
ideological system, such as Marxist-Leninist socialism is?
These ideas were hammered out at the CAEM - the Centre for Superior Military
Studies - and it was General Velasco who gave this impulse, something that
at the beginning of the 70s, brough about a chill in relations with the USA.
Q- General, it seems to us that you are talking in terms of "Once upon a
time there was a Peruvian Army"? Does the nationalist ideal still exists
today among the troops? Besides, it appears to us that the people do not
respect the army, that it feels terror in its presence, and this contrasts
with what you have been telling us.
GJ- This is a very important question. I believe that the Peruvian Army is
going through a generation which is very light in intellectual terms. I
think that we are living without an strategic vision, without professional
maturity and a sense of future. This makes it difficult for us to see the
effects of the processes unfolding and makes it difficult to undertake
better efforts to help Peru out of its present quagmire.
J- Quagmire? What do you mean by that?
This quagmire reflects itself in two fundamental aspects: The social
conflict and the economic crisis. In the framework of those two factors,
there grows common (criminal) violence, the drug trade, corruption,
immorality, etc. But the two central aspects complement each other. With
the economic crisis the social conflict becomes more acute. There is no
education, health, employment, and this gives banners of struggle for the
subversives. As the social conflict develops more, the more the economic
crisis deepens. There is that sort of feedback between one and the other.
But neither social conflict nor economic crisis were the result of the
Shining Path. The Shining Path has only contributed to make these two
phenomena more acute.
J- But, don't you believe that the state has a concrete proyect to find a
way out from economic crisis and to confront Shining Path? A plan to get
out of the quagmire?
GJ- I do not believe so. I believe that (the politicians) are more
preocupied with solving the problems day by day. This government, the
Fujimori government, has tried to look a little more ahead, but only a
little. The two previous governments began by making yearly plans but ended
by working things out at 15 days notice.
And the war against Shining Path cannot be improvised. You cannot be
looking for a new answer to the actions of our opponents every day. No.
The war against Shining Path must be planned in advance, in the same way
that they have planned theirs beforehand during 20 years, thus showing a
very well prepared level of performance.
J- From what you say, it seems to us that you hold firm to your views we
read in an interview you gave a few years ago in which you asserted that
Shining Path really had a concrete political proyect?
GJ - Do you think that Abimael Guzman (Chairman Gonzalo) and his Central
Committee have improvised what they do? They evaluate, measure, define
their objectives, the methods of action, and then begin to unfold their
forces. Then they go over and evaluate the results..... If ther is
something I wish for is that Guzman would die, because, although Shining
Path is a cadre organisation, he has a monumental strategic vision.
That is why be have committed to grave errors, specially the people in the
government. First. To have under estimated the true conceptual value of
what the planning of this war means for the Shining Path. Secondly, to have
lacked in interest in deepening our understanding of what the aims of this
war are. However, if we were not even looking to the first, how could be
look into the second? (We said) A war? What war?
But as time goes by, we all begin to worry. We begin to see that the other
side is developing a cogent and logical war. It does not matter whether it
is (morally) good or it is bad. Apart from all that, it is a cogent and
logical war effort.
That is why here (in Peru) already we can see the perfect definition of two
sides: Those who want to destroy the system and those - like us - who want
to mantain it. There is no middle ground. There is no neutralities,
formless and indefinite positions here. And these positions will have to
define themselves more and more sharply each day passing.
J- General, since you are a military expert in anti-insurgency warfare, what
are your reasons for saying that the Shining Path's war is a logical war.
Could you explain that to us?
Easy. Shining Path carries out its war with long term strategic and
political objectives and plans. It has a unified leadership and a power
structure which is the Party. They have an structure for action which are
the Regional Committees, North, South, East, West, Central Region. They
have both political and military commanders. Do you think that is not
enough? And what do we have on our side? Nothing!
We have not been able to organise ourselves as yet, even after 12 years, for
the kind of war that Guzman and his people are carrying out. Look, Guzman
and his people have been orthodox disciples of Mao. And, according to the
Maoists, to seize power you need three basic elements: The Party, the Army
and the (United) Front.
They consider that they have consolidated the Party to a 90% degree, having
a unified leadership and a very tight-knitted power structure. They also
have a process of renovation and enrolment which is very specific. They
have also established already their People's Guerilla Army.
And to all this, there is no one who has an answer. Not even the Left knows
what to do
To be continued.
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