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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
Shining Path leader to wed lover
By Dan Collyns
BBC News, Lima

Abimael Guzman (file)
Mr Guzman is serving a life sentence in prison
The founder of the Peruvian Shining Path rebel group, Abimael Guzman, has asked his former second-in-command and lover for her hand in marriage.

Elena Iparraguirre and Guzman, both serving life sentences, are blamed for instigating a brutal 20-year conflict.

News of the couple's nuptials has sparked lurid interest after a news magazine spoke to Iparraguirre.

Little was known about the lives of Peru's most reviled couple until the exclusive interview.

Incarcerated in a high-security women's prison, she has been virtually separated from her lover, Guzman, for around 15 years.

They were re-sentenced near the end of last year to life imprisonment.

It was during that procedure that Guzman used Iparraguirre's elderly mother to pass on his marriage proposal and the engagement ring.

Karl Marx quote

The former philosophy professor, who founded the radical splinter movement of the Peruvian Communist Party more than 30 years ago, quoted Karl Marx in his proposal, saying: "The relationship between a man and a woman is natural, discreet and necessary."

Iparraguirre, who abandoned her husband and children to join the armed movement in the 1980s, said there was no fixed date for the wedding.

Under Peruvian law, there is no legal impediment to the marriage and, once man and wife, they would be granted up to six conjugal visits a year.

The news has surprised many Peruvians, who regard Guzman - a severe-looking, bespectacled figure in his seventies - as someone with no time for matters of the heart.

Guzman, known to his followers as "Presidente Gonzalo", was the intellectual author of the brutal insurgency which began in 1980 and continued after his capture 15 years ago.

Iparraguirre, who fell in love with him and his aim of creating the perfect Communist State through bloody revolution, is still unrepentant.

Despite the massacres, bomb attacks and murder of suspected dissenters, she says it was worth it to end the inequality imposed by the Peruvian state.

A government commission found that around 70,000 people died in the insurgency between 1980 and 2000. More than half of them were killed by the Shining Path.

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Timeline: Peru
06 Jun 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Peru
25 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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