Leer en Español
Peruvian society seems to be about to revive the monster of Abimael Guzmán, one of the greatest criminals in the history of Peru, and vote to install the communist regime that a couple of decades ago he tried to impose through force and terrorism; the historical cycles of nations far from being linear are cyclical, and in Peru, a member of the Fujimori family is once again against the threat of communism.
During the ’70s, ’80s, and early ’90s of the previous century, President Gonzalo, as Abimael Guzmán’s followers called him, started a revolution in Peru that promised to end inequality and the rich, and to achieve their goal they murdered hundreds of thousands of peasants, planted bombs in downtown Lima, indoctrinated and armed children to turn them into a militia, and even hung dogs on poles with protest messages.
Peru experienced one of the worst years in its history due to the war initiated by extreme leftist terrorist groups, since not only Abimael Guzman’s Shining Path had initiated a war against the Peruvian State, but also the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) launched an asymmetrical war against the forces of law and order.
The last quarter of the last century was extremely painful for Peruvians, the people of Lima comment with much regret that at that time it was impossible to leave the houses after mid-afternoon, and they lived constantly with the uncertainty that they could explode into a thousand pieces at any time by a bomb placed by terrorist groups; all this political instability brought to power a man remembered in Peru by many as a hero, and by others as a villain, it is Alberto Fujimori.
The Fujimori government and the hunt for Abimael Guzmán
Fujimori came to power by defeating writer and Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa in the presidential elections. His triumph at that time bears many similarities with the process that Peru is going through today; at the beginning of 1990 nobody would have bet on Fujimori’s victory. In fact, in the first electoral round about half of the population did not know him. However, he managed to take second place and move on to the final round with Vargas Llosa. Fujimori, a man who became popular by riding around the countryside on a tractor with populist messages and a mediocre speech, would win the presidency months later.
Fujimori’s government really surprised, not only Peruvian society, but also the whole world; far from governing like the peasant who rode on a tractor and dictated poor and populist speeches, he took on the role of an authoritarian leader to fight terrorism in Peru.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined that the armed conflict in the country resulted in the death of at least 77,000 people, with Chairman Gonzalo’s Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) as the main perpetrator of the massacres.
With an army demoralized by the war with terrorist groups and a divided Congress, Fujimori took the authoritarian decision to dissolve the legislative body. From there he made decisions in many cases cruel and undemocratic, undoubtedly one of the worst was to carry out a process of forced sterilization of Peruvian women -mostly from the highlands- to prevent their reproduction, among other inhumane determinations.
In 1992, after decades of terrorizing the country, Abimael Guzman was arrested in Lima, in the neighborhood of Surquillo, and little by little the extreme leftist criminal movements were dismantled in the country, which meant that for the first time in decades Peruvians could return to the streets without the threat of terrorism.
There is no doubt that Fujimori was a dictator who committed aberrations and crimes, but a good part of Peruvians consider him a hero, another part a necessary evil, and some consider him a vile criminal.
Pedro Castillo and his links with terrorism
Currently, Keiko Fujimori, the former president’s daughter, is up against Pedro Castillo, a man who identifies himself, and so does his party “Peru Libre”, as Marxist-Leninists, practically the same denomination that the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso had, but without the “Maoism,” since Abimael Guzman was a fan of Mao Zedong and the cultural revolution or the “Great Leap Forward” of China that led to the death of approximately 40 million people in a period of ten years.
Pedro Castillo, like Alberto Fujimori in 1990, never had the chips or the media presence to become the next president of Peru, however, leveraged by the rural communities of the country and with a vengeful discourse that penetrates the poorest population of Peru, has managed to reach the final round with a wide margin of double-digit advantage over his opponent, embracing the same discourse of the terrorist Abimael Guzman and Shining Path.
In fact, Castillo has as political allies people who actively served as members of Movadef, the political arm of the terrorist group “Sendero Luminoso”, with characters such as Oswaldo Esquivel Caycho, press secretary of said organization; Efrain Condori, one of the great defenders of the Gonzalo thought, that is, of Abimael Guzman’s terrorist actions, among others.
The favorite candidate to win the Peruvian elections on June 6 is also a follower of Chavismo, that political movement that has led to the expulsion of more than 5 million Venezuelans from their lands and has generated the most tragic political and economic crisis in the history of the oil-producing country.
Coincidentally, more than one million of those Venezuelans have arrived to Peruvian lands seeking refuge from the socialist tyranny of Nicolás Maduro, and Peruvians, who have constantly complained about the presence of immigrants in their country, are about to elect a government equally or more radical than the one that forced Venezuelans to arrive to Peru.
Surely, if Pedro Castillo is elected in Peru, there will be a strong institutional struggle, since the Armed Forces have been fighting for years against extreme left-wing terrorists in the country, and the arrival of a man akin to those movements will generate a great resistance in the military bodies. In that sense, the communist will surely have to quickly form their armed paramilitary groups to contain any civilian or military insurrection, as Chavism has done in Venezuela, while carrying out a purge of officers opposed to Marxism. This could turn Peru in the short or medium term into the new exporting paradise of terrorism in the region.
The present and future of Peru
Despite the aberrations committed by Fujimori in the past, thanks to the fight against terrorism and the economic policies promoted by his government, Peru achieved remarkable progress starting in the 1990s, exports increased from $3 billion in 1990 to $36 billion in 2010, and poverty was also reduced by more than 50% in just 10 years, as from 2005 to 2015 it decreased from 55% to 22%.
Following the economic opening promoted by Fujimori, and the free trade agreements, Peru managed to reduce public debt, control inflation and boost economic growth and the number of jobs. All this allowed the country to have its golden years in the last decades, enjoying years of peace and prosperity, however, it seems that the history of growth and development is about to end.
The election of Castillo would reverse all the progress achieved by the Peruvian society until today, in fact, if the communist wins, the Venezuelan mirror would be too generous for Peru, since its fall would probably be much sharper and more pronounced than in the northern country of South America.
Unlike Venezuela, Peru does not have unlimited oil resources, the margin of maneuver of public spending is much more limited, and all this would mean that Castillo would have to suffocate business people and corporations more quickly in order to carry out his political plans, which would also come at the worst moment, since after the pandemic the Peruvian economy, as in the rest of the world, is deeply affected.
Supporters of “Peru Libre” have already said in the past that if they come to power they do not intend to hand it over, they have indicated that they have to look at themselves in the mirror of Chavismo and never give up power again; surely if Castillo’s plans materialize and he becomes president, in less than a decade Peruvians will begin to migrate by the millions to Ecuador and Chile, fleeing hunger, trying to survive, and seeking the refuge that many denied to Venezuelans, repeating the chain of political mistakes in Latin America, giving power to a man notably incapable of administering public resources.
In the cyclical history of our nations, today Peru’s hope to defeat communism is once again placed in a Japanese descendant with the last name of Fujimori, even Vargas Llosa himself, who lost against Keiko’s father, and who for decades has been fervently anti-Fujimori, has called to vote for the daughter of his great enemy, because he knows that with Castillo his country would be reduced to poverty, ashes and desert.
If I were a Peruvian I would vote for Keiko without hesitation, not so much for what I think she could do for Peru, but for what she could prevent her adversary from doing. To vote for Pedro Castillo is to vote for the terrorism that plagued the country for decades, it is to vote for Abimael Guzman, it is to mock the thousands of victims executed by extreme leftist movements in the past, in short, to vote for Castillo is the equivalent of firing an atomic bomb in the country to extinguish Peruvian society.
Emmanuel Rincón is a lawyer, writer, novelist and essayist. He has won several international literary awards. He is Editor-at-large at El American // Emmanuel Rincón es abogado, escritor, novelista y ensayista. Ganador de diversos premios literarios internacionales. Es editor-at-large en El American