Sixteen men, women and children were slain in the mountains of Peru on Sunday evening in an attack that authorities are blaming on the Shining Path, a Marxist terror group that was previously believed to have been almost completely defunct.
The attack comes just weeks ahead of a tight runoff election in which the same ideologies behind the country’s decades-long civil war at the end of the 20th Century are facing off at the ballot box.
The massacre — which The New York Times noted was one of the country’s worse in the decades since former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori restored order with less-than-liberal means in the late 1990s — took place in the mountain town of San Miguel del Ene.
Spanish newspaper El País noted that while 18 bodies were originally reported to authorities, that number was later confirmed to be 14 with the total deaths rising to 16 on Monday night according to Peruvian Defense Minister Nuria Esparch.
Pamphlets for the Shining Path were found on the bodies and confirmed to be authentic, according to The Times, leading authorities to blame the group for what appears to be a chilling revival of a painful history of violence from which the nation is still struggling to recover.
The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso in Spanish) is a Maoist insurgent group that is said to have contributed to the deaths of an estimated 69,000 people in a bloody campaign against the Peruvian government between the 1980s and 1990s, according to El País.
The group was founded by Maoist academic Abimael Guzmán, who was finally captured and even famously humiliated by the authoritarian Fujimori. After Guzmán was arrested and told his rebels to lay down their weapons, the Shining Path largely dissipated save for a few small cells in forested regions, “where their revolutionary ideology was gradually supplanted by drug trafficking and occasional attacks on security forces,” as The Times noted.
“We are returning to something that we thought we had overcome,” said Peruvian security consultant Pedro Yaranga, who viewed copies of and verified the political pamphlets left with the victims of this week’s massacre. “Most in Peru have thought the Shining Path no longer existed. This tragedy shows that this is not the case.”
Fujimori, for his part, would go on to be ousted from office amid accusations of corruption and human rights abuses during his campaign against the Shining Path rebels. He and Guzmán, both in their 80’s, are currently serving time in prison for their respective offenses against their fellow man.
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Meanwhile, Fujimori’s daughter, Keiko Fujimori, is facing off against communist teachers’ union organizer and accused Shining Path sympathizer, Pedro Castillo, in a tight runoff election in two weeks.
The Times noted, “People on both sides have sought to portray the election as the repeat of the ideological battles of the turbulent 1990s, when Mr. Fujimori’s hard-line policies brought the nation peace at the cost of suppressing democracy and civil rights.”
Castillo has denied any support for the Shining Path and has tried to tame his party’s Marxist economic policy proposals since he emerged as the leading candidate in April. His spokesperson in Congress, Betssy Chavez, condemned his political opponents for linking the murders to his political agenda.
“We condemn the political use that Fujimorism is making of this tragedy,” she wrote on Twitter.
Although Castillo has been leading the polls, Ms. Fujimori has managed to close the gap in recent weeks giving her what appears to be a good shot at beating out her left-wing rival in most national surveys, according to The Times.
The pamphlets found on the victims of Sunday’s massacre reportedly urged residents to boycott the vote altogether and branded Fujimori supporters as traitors.
In other words, Marxists and a government trying to stave off a violent Marxist insurgency yet again may have to face off in the previously war-torn nation.
It does not take a lot of brainpower to put it together that, thanks to the full canon of 20th and 21st Century Marxist history, Marxist ideology is violent at its core no matter who stands up against it.
Marxists like the Shining Path believe in waging class warfare and in using violence as a means to further their agenda, and they will continue to do so as long as they have the resources and the cause to do so.
There is simply no other way to impose their ideology without violence, as state-governed collectivism can only be enforced at the end of a gun, ultimately. The Shining Path rebels were not innocent, principled freedom fighters; they were violent terrorists who blew up buildings, slaughtered innocents and openly waged war on a sovereign government to carry out their ideological agenda.
Whether suppressed by a leader with his own immoral governance or not, in a vacuum, the Shining Path would have still been violent — and clearly still is, if they are indeed responsible for this attack. We have seen millions upon millions of deaths at the hand of Marxist regimes since the founder of the ideology penned his first manifesto just to see the natural result of such an ideology, and it will never change.
And yet Marxism continues to appeal to lost, angry, confused and downright evil people everywhere all the same. This is not just happening in Peru, of course, but across the globe, as China continues to rise to power with millions of souls under its heel and pop progressive Marxism is dramatically changing culture and intimidating dissidents into silence or obscurity in the developed Western world.
For all the weapons Marxists have wielded over the years, it is their ideas that are the most dangerous, and it is their ideas that the lovers of freedom are up against if they wish to defeat this global scourge, once and for all.