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Abimael Guzman is dead. The leader of the Shining Path was 86 years old

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Abimael Guzman, the founder of the Maoist guerrilla Shining Path, died at the age of 86. A former professor of philosophy, he was serving a life sentence for terrorism since 1992. The goal of the organization he headed was to carry out a coup in Peru and seize power.

Abimael Guzman was born on the southern coast of Peru near the city of Mollendo in December 1934 to the son of a wealthy merchant who raised him after his mother’s death. He attended a private Catholic school and then the University of Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru. There he dedicated one of his scientific works to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.

During his studies, he became interested in Marxism. In 1962 he was appointed professor of philosophy at San Cristobal of Huamanga University in Ayacucho. During his trip to China in 1965, Guzman was inspired by the communist leader Mao Zedong.


In 1969, along with eleven other people, he founded one of the most terrible Latin American guerrillas, the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso). The name was a nod to the Peruvian communist Jose Carlos Mariategui, who used to say that “Marxism-Leninism is the shining path of the future.”

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Abimael Guzman in November 2012PAP / EPA / Paolo Aguilar

The Shining Trail

Once a powerful Maoist guerrilla warfare Shining Trailled by Guzman throughout the 1980s, she waged a war with the Peruvian authorities to make a communist revolution there. About 70,000 people died in the conflict.

The bloodiest attack carried out by Shining Path was the bombing of Tarata Street in Lima in July 1992. 25 people were killed then and 155 were injured. The explosion destroyed over 180 houses and over 60 cars.

The coup was part of the organization’s efforts to move military action from the periphery to the country’s capital. The result, however, was a strengthening of the then President of Peru, Albert Fujimori, and an increase in support for his fight against the rebels.

Abimael Guzman was captured by the Peruvian police the same year. He was serving a life sentence for terrorism. His arrest contributed to the breakdown of the organization to a large extent, but its remnants still exist today in the form of a criminal organization. Their main activity is the production of cocaine.

In July, Guzman struggled with health problems and was transferred from a maximum security prison to a hospital.

Members of the Dawnly Trail, 1984Bettmann / Getty Images

Main photo source: PAP / EPA / Paolo Aguilar

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