False flag operations are familiar tools of counter-insurgency strategy, undertaken by the state and its NGO allies, to discredit, disrupt and destroy progressive and radicals’ campaigns and movement. Even the accusations raised can have a disproportionate effect as seen in the aftermath of the arrest of the Peruvian leader Chairman Gonzalez, Abimael Guzmán. The fragmentation of the movement and its support base – domestically and internationally – were around political lines that coalesced on whether the call for a “Peace Accord” was seen as a state-sponsored hoax or a strategic call that was a rupture with the previous orientation of waging Protracted People’s War in Peru.
Figure 1 A defiant Elena Albertina Iparraguirre Revoredo, also known as Comrade Míriam, stands in prison stripes facing reporters and military in 1992
No doubt it was in the interest of the beleaguered Peruvian state to encourage the confusion and divisions within its revolutionary opponents, however that call could still be a genuine response to changed circumstances. There are well-rehearsed arguments from “brain-washing” to CIA manipulation, employed by those unwilling to accept that Guzman was the source for this strategic direction , however there did emerge those professing loyalty to the leadership of Chairman Gonzalez that mobilised politically in support of that alleged position. Less was heard of these forces in the non-Spanish speaking world as the line that it was a hoax received more support in the active international solidarity network, and rarely reported in the Left-wing media, in the absence of a solidarity network the silence descend with the desertion of the Avarkian-led supporters and disintegration of RIM. Political opponents argue they were inspired by the Right Opportunist Line within the PCP but still the campaign in support of the imprisoned Guzman, incarcerated in the maximum security prison of the naval base of Callao, on the island of San Lorenzo, off the coast of Lima, found expression within Peru through the activity of his defense team, a civil, peaceful successor movement overshadowing the PCP as its “political wing”, the Movimiento por Amnistía y Derechos Fundamentales (MOVADEF – The Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights), from its initials in Spanish.
Figure 2 Members of MOVADEF hold a poster of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman during a protest in front of the Justice Palace in Lima on, July 25, 2012
Movadef denies being the political arm of the Shining Path.
Led by lawyers and Movadef’s co-founders, Manuel Fajardo and Alfredo Crespo, works for the release of the imprisoned senderistas, including the leader Abimael Guzmán. Introducing his new movement at a conference, Crespo said that it was made up of “leaders of social organizations, intellectuals, the families of jailed subversives, and artists, amongst others.” Elsewhere, Crespo described the movement as 30 percent ex-convicts, and 70 percent “young people.” He said that their political causes included the fight for labour rights, the protection of children, and freedom of expression.
Authorities have identified two organizations they suspect of being legal extensions of the Shining Path: principally (MOVADEF), a group of families of imprisoned guerrillas, and Conare, a union committee of radical teachers.
They chant slogans in support of Guzmán, saying he is a political prisoner who should be freed. They deny that terrorism existed in Peru, of around 650 still detained Movadef says they are political prisoners who fought to liberate the poor, and complain that history books side with the winners of the war. Establish in 2008, local media claimed in 2011 MOVADEF received $179,000 from Shining Path’s Huallaga Valley cell to establish itself as a political movement by establishing 60 support committees across the country and, after organizing as a political party, obtaining registration to allow its participation in elections (El Comercio [Lima], April 11). MOVADEF filed papers with Peru’s Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE – National Jury of Elections) seeking registration as a legitimate political party and describing its ideology as “Marxism-Leninism-Gonzalo thought.” MOVADEF claimed to have mustered more than 350,000 signatures to support its political registration effort (Diario La Primera [Lima], January 23, 2012). The electoral authority denied the registration.
“What’s appropriate for today is a political fight without arms. We don’t think this is the right moment for an armed fight,” Alfredo Crespo, Guzman’s lawyer and a Movadef leader, arrested in the 2014 state crackdown that saw 28 leaders and other activist arrested and some charged with terrorist and drug offenses. Alfredo Crespo, also allegedly acted as Guzmán’s intermediary with Shining Path field commander Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala (a.k.a. Camarada Artemio) before his arrest in 2012. Asked if he had sworn off violence, Crespo said: “This (unarmed) moment could last for quite a while. Besides, violence has always existed in Peru. Look at who applies violence now – the state!”
“A key question is whether the group is in fact being used as a “front” by the Shining Path. One argument that supports this theory is a string of recent armed actions carried out by the guerrillas. On January 31, hours before Movadef renounced its effort to register as a political party, Shining Path guerrillas made an incursion into the town of Campanilla, in the region of San Martin. In an action reminiscent of the days of the conflict, although without hurting anyone, some 50 armed guerrillas arrived in trucks, rounded up the population and forced them to attend a political rally. This lasted about an hour and a half, while the guerrillas made speeches arguing for a “political solution” to the conflict.
They painted some 200 houses with the hammer and sickle, and distributed flyers around the area, calling for a ceasefire with the government and a general amnesty. Hours later, at 3:30 a.m. on February 1, armed guerrillas entered the town of Pucayacu, also in San Martin, and distributed more flyers. The next day, three more villages in the district of Campanilla were targeted, with guerrillas putting up banners calling for a general amnesty.
These actions, coinciding with the withdrawal of Movadef’s appeal, have been interpreted by some as propaganda work on behalf of the political movement. The Shining Path faction responsible is based in the Huallaga region of northern Peru, not far from where the attacks took place, and is considered to be the more ideological branch, and to be closer followers of Guzman. Peruvian analyst Jaime Antezana has argued that the incursions and the political party are both part of a new tack being taken by the guerrillas. He told RPP Noticias that the Shining Path’s new strategy was to strengthen the position of Movadef in order to promote Guzman’s “Gonzalo Thought” ideology, and try to bring about an amnesty to get him out of prison. For Antezana, the relationship between Movadef and the Shining Path is “straightforward, direct, and umbilical.” He presented documents to the Peruvian media which he said were issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru – Shining Path (PCP-SL) in 2009, ordering the creation of a party to take part in elections, saying that “since 1993 the party has been living a new and fourth stage of the political struggle, without arms.”
Tried for the third time since his arrest in1992, this time for the 1992 Tarata car bombing in Lima in which 25 people died, Guzman’s attorney, Alfredo Crespo, said before the sentencing that Guzman believes lower-level rebels carried it out without his knowledge. On 11 September 2018, Guzman was sentenced to a second life term in prison.
Condemnation issued in the name of the PCP, reflecting support for the strategic reorientation others labelled Right Opportunist Line, continues to find expression on internet sites. The authenticity and authorship remains uncertain but the coherence of the argumentation suggests a genuine commitment to what they regard as their Chairman’s politics.
BACKGROUND ARTICLE : The Chairman’s Trials
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