Declaration of Red Aid International Regarding the Death of Chairman Gonzalo

This is our translation of a statement by the Secretariat of Red Aid International, which can be found in German on the website of Red Aid Switzerland.



Abimael Guzmán, “Chairman Gonzalo,” died on Saturday, September 11th, in his 29th year in prison.

He was 86 years old. His health had deteriorated over the years he had been imprisoned under cruel conditions — in almost total isolation, with deprivations and restrictions, — in a prison created for him at the naval base of Callao.

The Peruvian state thus took revenge on the leader of the great revolutionary people’s war that shook Peru in the 1980s.

Since the early 1980s, the extent and development of this people’s war triggered a great interest in the theses on which this war was based.

These theses were forged in an intense ideological struggle, first within the Communist Party of Peru (CPP), then in the international communist movement.

Gonzalo’s ideas can and should be debated, but what is undeniable is that they represent a vivid and creative application of Maoism, and thus gave Maoism a new and important place in the world communist movement.

And Gonzalo’s contribution to the revolutionary cause goes far beyond the Maoist current.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the ideological offensive of the bourgeoisie was putting pressure on the struggles of communists, he not only dared to put the question of confrontation with the state back at the center of politics, but also showed that this confrontation could be victorious.

By that time, the CPP had already mobilized considerable masses of the proletariat and peasantry and reorganized social and economic life in large areas that it had liberated and defended with gun in hand. This long and hard people’s war, waged against a genocidal regime, allowed the CPP to reach the phase of “strategic stalemate” that was the threshold and precondition for a final offensive against the state and its armed forces.

These successes explain the influence of these ideas in countries that are historically, socially and economically very different from Peru.

These successes also explain the shameless smear and disinformation campaigns directed against this people’s war and Gonzalo, as well as the relentlessness of the prison sentence.

When Gonzalo and part of the CPP Central Committee were imprisoned in September 1992, the counterrevolution did not seek the liquidation of these leaders but pursued a long-term perspective. The counterrevolution managed to make some of them capitulate through cruel treatment in prisons, prevented those who resisted from communicating with the outside world, and developed an intensive propaganda and disinformation campaign to disorient and fragment the CPP.

Long afterward, the Peruvian regime allowed the sentences of military tribunals against CPP members to be overturned.

Thousands of Peruvians, including Gonzalo himself, had been convicted by these courts without due process.

The “real” trial of Abimael Guzmán began on November 5, 2004, with the international press seated in a special soundproof room. After the CPP leaders turned their backs to the judges and addressed the audience with a greeting and revolutionary slogans, the microphones in the courtroom were turned off so that the press could no longer hear anything. When the trial resumed on November 12, journalists were not allowed to observe the proceedings, and this ban was maintained in the aftermath.

Gonzalo and his thought certainly polarize.

Within the revolutionary movement in general, of course, but also within the communist current. And within that, in turn, within the Maoist current itself.

It is not the task of Red Aid International to take a stand in these debates, but it is our task to honor the memory of an activist who dedicated his entire life to the revolutionary cause in a determined and creative way.

September 16, 2021