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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 October 2006, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Peru: The killings of Lucanamarca
By Liz Throssell
BBC News

Abimael Guzman seen shortly after his capture in 1992
Guzman's capture in 1992 dealt a severe blow to his group

The bitter and bloody struggle in the 1980s and early 90s between Peru's Shining Path Maoist guerrillas and the armed forces claimed many lives.

Many of the victims were civilians, caught between helping the rebels or helping the authorities.

At the retrial of Shining Path's founder Abimael Guzman, survivors of one of the worst atrocities gathered to make their voices heard and to call for the maximum sentence against a man whose followers terrorised swathes of the country.

On 3 April 1983, people living in and around the Andean village of Lucanamarca were getting up and getting ready for a normal day.

Hours later, 69 of them were dead, killed by Shining Path guerrillas.

According to Amnesty International, the massacre set the precedent for what was to become a regular pattern of gross human rights abuses, including mass killings, by the rebels.

Mock trials

The events in and around Santiago de Lucanamarca, in the province of Huancasancos, were detailed by the government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

They made us get down, saying 'you wretches wanted to escape, now you've got to be punished
Marcelino Casavilca, survivor
The killings began early in the morning when some 60 rebels captured and then killed a group of 29 men, women and children with axes, machetes and guns.

The commission heard from a witness who told how he had found the bodies, "with their hands and feet tied", burned and hacked, in his house.

The commission's report said the rebels then carried on their way, stopping at various hamlets to search out people suspected of collaborating with the security forces.

The rebels finally arrived in the central square of Lucanamarca, where men were separated from women and children, made to kneel down in front of the church, and killed.

"They made us get down, saying 'you wretches wanted to escape, now you've got to be punished...I was hit by a bullet and fainted, all this part of my arm was broken," one of the survivors, Marcelino Casavilca, told the commission.

In the face of the reactionary operations of the military we replied forcefully with our own operation: Lucanamarca, neither they nor we will forget it
Abimael Guzman in a 1988 interview
Amnesty International reported at the time that many of the victims had been captured, put on mock trial and then killed.

Guzman confirmed that the killings had been carried out on the orders of the movement's leaders in an interview in 1988 with El Diario, a newspaper which openly supported the rebels.

"In the face of the reactionary operations of the military we replied forcefully with our own operation: Lucanamarca, neither they nor we will forget it."

He went on: "More than 80 people were wiped out there, that is a fact, and we admit it there were excesses there...on some occasions, such as this, it was the Central Directorate which planned the operations and gave the orders...the main thing was to make them understand...that we were prepared for everything."

State response

Shining Path members entered the region in 1982 as part of the movement's avowed aim to overthrow the existing order and create a perfect communist state in Peru.


But, as elsewhere, the group quickly lost any sympathy among the wider population, with its often brutal enforcement of its rules and disrespect for indigenous culture, and anti-Shining Path patrols known as rondas began to form.

In March 1983, some Lucanamarca residents who had formed such a patrol captured a Shining Path commander, took him to the main square, and stoned, hacked and shot him.

For many of the witnesses who spoke to the commission, a desire to avenge his death was behind the attacks by the Shining Path the following month.

Killings such as those in Lucanamarca fuelled the violence as rebel brutality was met by state or state-sponsored repression.

Massacres and extra-judicial killings were also committed by government forces and vigilante groups they helped create.

Footage of Abimael Guzman in custody

Peru Shining Path head gets life
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New start for Shining Path trial
27 Sep 05 |  Americas
Peru suspends Shining Path trial
15 Nov 04 |  Americas
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09 Nov 04 |  Americas
Profile: Peru's Shining Path
05 Nov 04 |  Americas
Country profile: Peru
29 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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