Tuesday, August 9

Peruvians divided on how to handle the remains of the Shining Path leader | Peru

Almost a week after the death of Abimael Guzmán, the messianic leader of Peru’s Shining Path insurgency that killed tens of thousands of people in the 1980s and 1990s, the country remains in a state of debate over what to do with his remains.

At least a local media He reported that the cabinet voted on Wednesday 13 to 5 to reject a proposal for a supreme decree that would establish the legal framework to incinerate the remains of the former guerrilla leader, who died on Saturday in a maximum security prison at the age of 86.

Guido Bellido, the chief of staff, denied the report, saying Thursday that the proposal of the Ministry of Justice to incinerate the body “had not been heeded.”

But the absence of a firm decision by Peru’s new left-wing government has cast doubt on the cabinet’s willingness to act, aggravated by the presence of at least two ministers who are allegedly sympathetic or directly linked to the terrorist group that Guzmán founded.

Bellido himself has been accused of defending the Shining Path and is being investigated for alleged “apology of terrorism”, while the Minister of Labor, Íber Maraví, allegedly was part of the terrorist group in its beginnings in Ayacucho, where Guzmán was a university professor .

By law, authorities must hand over Guzman’s body to immediate family members, the prosecution said earlier this week. But in this case, that is Elena Iparraguirre, Guzmán’s widow and second in command of the Maoist movement, who herself is serving a life sentence in prison.

Public officials and rights groups fear that handing over the remains to Iparraguire will lead to a cemetery that could become a sanctuary for supporters of the terrorist group, whose factions continue to carry out deadly attacks against Peruvians.

Guzmán, a former philosophy professor, wielded a powerful cult of personality over fanatical followers that sparked a savage civil conflict in May 1980 marked by massacres, bombings, kidnappings and assassinations, and which killed tens of thousands of Peruvians.

On Wednesday, a prosecutor denied Iparaguirre’s request for her husband’s remains, leaving them in the custody of the Prosecutor’s Office.

“In another government, this would not even be discussed,” said José Pérez Guadalupe, a former interior minister and criminologist.

“There is a law that establishes that families can recover the body of an inmate, but there is also the right of victims – thousands of victims in Peru – not to be revictimized.

“Elena [Iparraguirre] It is not only the widow, she is an accessory to the genocide, who is also sentenced to life imprisonment, ”he said.

“Bad people, cruel people should not be remembered,” said Lurgio Gavilán, 48, speaking on the phone from Huamanga, the regional capital of Ayacucho. The city was where Guzmán founded the Shining Path or Shining Path, and it became the center of bloodshed, which killed more than 69,000 Peruvians, according to a truth and reconciliation commission. Most of the savagery on both sides was borne by the Quechua-speaking peasant population.

Gavilán witnessed the violence unleashed by the terrorist group and the vicious response of the state security forces: at age 13 he was recruited as a Shining Path fighter, but later became a soldier and is now a professor of anthropology at the University San Cristóbal de Ayacucho. – where Guzmán taught philosophy.

“No one can deny that Sendero acted with such cruelty. There was a lot of suffering and the trauma of what happened still continues, ”he said.

“Who would go there to pay homage?” He asked incredulously when asked about the possibility of a grave for the terrorist leader. “Abimael Guzmán was disowned a long time ago.”

But he added: “We Peruvians are responsible, we believe it. Now we understand that we will never, ever be able to return to violence ”.

Lidia Flores, president of the National Association of Relatives of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared of Peru, known as Anfasep, based in Ayacucho, was incredulous at the idea that Guzmán’s remains could be buried.

“We should all agree to burn [the remains] And throw [them] away, ”he said.


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