From A World to Win News Service

Free Gonzalo and all political prisoners!
Peru: a criminal pardon for murder-in-chief Fujimori

January 11, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper |


A World to Win News Service, 8 January 2018. Ex-Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori has been pardoned after serving a decade of a 25-year sentence for corruption and murder—the massacres he personally ordered in a terror campaign against a revolutionary war aimed at liberating Peru from oppression. This decision produced widespread indignation and angry street protests. It not only brought more widespread hate on an already discredited government, but extended that discredit to the country’s so-called rule of law. What throws an even sharper light on the criminal injustice of this pardon is that Abimael Guzman (also known as Chairman Gonzalo), the head of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) who led that revolution, remains buried alive in a solitary cell after 25 years, condemned to die there even though a life sentence is not considered legal in Peru. The country continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, some still incarcerated even after having served their sentences.

This is a clear example of class justice, a system where what is deemed beneficial to the ruling class is considered just and the bloodiest crimes can be forgiven if they serve that rule, while revolt against that system can never be forgiven.

Fujimori was released by Peru’s current president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, in a deal in which Fujimori supporters, in exchange, saved Kuczynski from impeachment for corruption. This is a standard situation in a country where all of the heads of government over the last 37 years have been formally charged with accepting bribes and bribing each other, with several others imprisoned or in exile. Corruption is the normal mode of functioning of the Peruvian state, on every level. These revolving jail house doors have nothing to do with any change in the system and everything to do with constant infighting among the rulers and their political representatives.

As for the massacres for which Fujimori was convicted, they are far from the only ones for which he, other presidents and the state they headed are responsible. When the Communist Party of Peru began to mobilize poor peasants and others in a revolt against the system that started in 1980 and grew into a people’s war supported by millions of people, the police and armed forces responded with one mass murder after another, indiscriminately killing fighters and ordinary people alike. State terrorists rounded up and killed several tens of thousands. Some have been found in clandestine mass graves. Others disappeared to this day. Hundreds of revolutionary prisoners who took part in a 1986 uprising in three prisons were killed, many executed in cold blood after they surrendered. Barrios Altos and La Cantuta are two crimes Fujimori was found guilty of directing personally, by courts that also ruled that the victims were not guilty of anything even by the standards of the reactionary Peruvian justice system.

In the Lima working class neighbourhood of Barrios Altos in 1991, a half-dozen intelligence officers burst into a backyard barbecue, forced everyone to lie down and emptied their silencer-equipped automatic weapons into them, killing 15 people, including an 8-year-old year old boy, and seriously wounding four others. The victims were said to be rebel sympathizers. Afterwards Fujimori attended a celebration with the murderers at the headquarters of his intelligence service.

La Cantuta University is a teachers’ training school, many of whose students come from poor areas. The authorities had long feared its defiant students and repeatedly sent in security forces to attack them. In 1992 members of the same death squad dragged nine students from the dormitories and a professor from the teacher’s quarters, executed them and then secretly buried their corpses.

In 2000, after the people’s war died down and the ruling class (and the U.S. it depends on) that had supported Fujimori for a decade decided to get rid of him, the media suddenly “discovered” his corruption and he was forced to flee the country. Later, when he attempted a come-back, he ended up being convicted of directing the two massacres.

But Fujimori’s atrocities were not what led to his downfall—as evidenced by the willingness to forgive him for them today. Two years after his election in 1990, in what was called a “self-coup”, he sent tanks to close down congress and used the army to settle the infighting among Peru’s ruling class that impeded efforts to put down the rebellion. The barbarous acts against the people for which he was later convicted were well-known at the time but widely accepted or passed over at the top of society and by the U.S. imperialists. Those running Peru later discarded him both because their own bitter rivalries continued and in an attempt to restore the legitimacy of a state that had openly soaked its hands in blood.

The PCP leader was captured in 1992 and given a life sentence in a brief, secret trial conducted by hooded military officers. While isolated in a military-controlled island prison, Gonzalo called for the people’s war to be ended through a negotiated settlement. Even though this call was condemned by most of the party outside prisons, which refused to accept that the call had come from Gonzalo himself, and even though Fujimori rejected it, nevertheless this was a major factor in the decline of the people’s war. Gonzalo’s capture and the subsequent defeat of the people’s war was considered Fujimori’s greatest achievement. Later, when Fujimori fell into disgrace, Gonzalo was retried and his sentence reaffirmed by a civilian court under Fujimori’s successor, who himself ended up fleeing the country to avoid prison.

Guzman is 83 and ill, according to a recent statement by his lawyer, who argued that if Fujimori can go free, supposedly for medical reasons, there is no legal reason why his client should remain incarcerated. Other alleged PCP leaders sentenced to 25 year terms alongside Gonzalo are facing new trials for wartime events occurring decades ago to ensure that they never leave prison.

Fujimori’s political heirs and rivals may forgive him, but millions of Peruvians feel otherwise. Even a half-dozen cabinet members and other government officials felt compelled to resign to avoid sharing President Kuczynski’s discredit.

On Christmas Eve, when Fujimori’s pardon was announced, thousands of people flooded the narrow streets of central Lima near the presidential palace. The police demonstrated the essence of the Peruvian state by criminalizing their protest, surrounding them and then forcing them to disperse. Another large demonstration took place two days later. Again on 4 January, on the eve of Fujimori’s release, angry protesters tried to march on the current president’s home, only to be met with volleys of tear gas and massed security forces. Many carried portraits of Fujimori’s victims or banners inscribed with their names. The marchers included parents and other relatives of those murdered under Fujimori’s mandate, and youth unable to accept the new injustice represented by his pardon, which amounts to an official statement that his crimes against the people are not crimes in the eyes of the law and the system.


On March 17, 2017, A World to Win News Service (AWTWNS) announced its transformation into a more thorough-going tool for revolution based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Read its “Editorial: Introducing a transformed AWTWNS” here.


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