Latin America

The Shining Path is long gone, but its specter continues to hover over Peruvian politics

Now little more than a bogeyman for the right, the history of the left-wing terrorist group shows how it may take longer for wounds to heal

shining path Relatives of Peru's thousands of "disappeared" citizens from the country's war with leftist guerrillas protest in front of the Government Palace in Lima. Photo: Mariana Bazo/Reuters via Alamy
Relatives of Peru’s thousands of “disappeared” citizens from the country’s war with leftist guerrillas protest in front of the Government Palace in Lima. Photo: Mariana Bazo/Reuters via Alamy

Abimael Guzmán was held in a maximum-security prison for three decades before his death last month, having had very little contact with the outside world. His Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path almost fully disbanded shortly after his arrest in 1992. Yet his name and organization are still constantly discussed in Peruvian society — especially so since the return of the left to government in Peru earlier this year.

“Debates in Congress have shown that the people who need the ghost of terrorism the most are the country’s right-wingers,” government ally Guillermo Bermejo argued recently, after the opposition...

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