The Undermining of Peru’s Democracy by the Shining Path Insurgency, from 1980 to 2000 (Part 4)

This is a paper I wrote for one of the two courses taken during the Journey to Peru program of summer 2016.


The Undermining of Peru’s Democracy by the Shining Path Insurgency, from 1980 to 2000 (Part 4)


As time passed, the ideology of the Shining Path changed a bit under the control of Guzmán, and it continued to fight against Peru’s largest guerrilla and defense groups. The very radical ideology of the Path was described in “Sobre las Dos Colinas.” It has been translated here:

We start by not ascribing to either the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Costa Rica [Convention of Human Rights], but we have used their legal devices to unmask and denounce the old Peruvian state… For us, human rights are contradictory to the rights of the people, because we base rights in man as a social product, not man as an abstract with innate rights. “Human rights” do not exist except for the bourgeois man, a position that was at the forefront of feudalism, like liberty, equality, and fraternity were advanced for the bourgeoisie of the past. But today, since the appearance of the proletariat as an organized class in the Communist Party, with the experience of triumphant revolutions, with the construction of socialism, new democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat, it has been proven that human rights serve the oppressor class and the exploiters who run the imperialist and landowner-bureaucratic states. Bourgeois states in general… Our position is very clear. We reject and condemn human rights because they are bourgeois, reactionary, counterrevolutionary rights, and are today a weapon of revisionists and imperialists, principally Yankee imperialists (Sobre las dos Colinas, 1991).

Based on the statement above, it is clear that the Shining Path’s agenda was one that so opposed the privileged man. Deeply rooted in the Path’s ideology was the notion that Peru’s government was the ultimate oppressor, as it was filled with people who did not truly understand the plights of the mass Peruvian population. Thus, the Path sought to radically change this.

Unfortunately for the Shining Path, its member base was not as strong as it could have been, as many Peruvians disapproved of the brutality and aggressiveness with which the Path attempted to push its agenda. With peasants in particular, the Shining Path was especially unpopular. For many Peruvian peasants, a steady income depended upon trading in markets, and since the Path rejected capitalism, it ordered many market closures and other restrictions, effectively ruining the means of income for the poorer people of Peru (Larsen 1992, 41).

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