RW #867, August 4, 1996

Editorial on the Stakes of the Two-Line Struggle in Peru

The People's War in Peru is continuing in the face of great obstacles, and so is the crucial two-line struggle in the Communist Party of Peru (PCP)--over whether to fight to maintain this People's War or abandon it and pursue a Peace Accord. Some events during recent months have sharpened the responsibility of proletarian revolutionaries around the world to come to the aid of the correct line of continuing the People's War--and to do so in the fullest and firmest way. We are called on to recognize the full scope of our responsibilities, and to carry them out through whatever new and complex circumstances lie ahead.

In this editorial, and in the accompanying document by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM), we want to inform our readers and give our views on some of these important questions and developments.

As many people know, the waging of the Maoist People's War in Peru, and the winning of people's base areas in the countryside there, has been a heroically fought 16-year process. The PCP--which has led the People's War--has fought through twists and turns, most of all by relying on the masses of Peruvian people.

Since its beginning in 1980, this Maoist People's War has drawn the intense hatred of enemies of people's liberation around the world, including U.S. imperialism, which is the dominant power in Peru. The Peruvian state and the U.S. imperialists reacted to the successes of the People's War with new strategies and vicious new attacks on the masses and on the PCP. In September 1992 the enemy inflicted a particularly hard setback with the capture of Chairman Gonzalo and a number of other PCP leaders.

The PCP, led by its Central Committee, has carried on the War and has kept together the core of the People's Army and Base Areas. And it has struck further blows against the enemy--to the point that in the past few months, reactionary newspeople have had to talk about the vitality and "comeback" of the People's War. But the major challenges being faced and fought by the PCP come not only from the enemy's continuing military operations. The new leadership has had to fight against a line which calls on people to give up the People's War in favor of a Peace Accord. This right opportunist line has emerged from within the ranks of the PCP--especially, but not only, among some people in prison. This two-fold challenge facing the PCP remains sharp to this day and it is an important revolutionary duty of people all over the world to give full and firm support to the comrades in Peru in their struggle on both these fronts.

After the arrest of Chairman Gonzalo, the RIM and its Committee continued its firm support of the People's War and launched an international campaign to defend the life of Chairman Gonzalo. The RIM's responsibility entered a new and more crucial phase once the call for a Peace Accord came out. As the RIM Committee's "Call" of March 1995 summarizes "[I]t was incumbent upon RIM not only to continue its support for the People's War in Peru but also to join this two-line struggle: to undertake the necessary investigation, study, discussion and struggle to achieve a correct and comprehensive understanding of all the questions involved and on that basis render the most powerful support to the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line and the comrades carrying it forward in Peru."(1)

This process has been made all the more complex by the fact that the regime has claimed that the author of the call for a Peace Accord was Chairman Gonzalo himself. But the regime has continued to cut him off and has made it impossible to independently confirm his views. And it has been impossible for Chairman Gonzalo to have contact with the masses, through the chain of knowledge and command of the Party, while in the clutches of the enemy.

Documents have come out of the prison which supporters of this Peace Accord line claim to be the work of Chairman Gonzalo.(2) Other prisoners supporting this Peace Accord line, including some known as PCP leaders, have given interviews making this claim. In the most recent development along these lines, Margie Clavo--said to be one of the leaders of the Central Committee, which is opposed to the Peace Accord line--was captured and after some months announced her "conversion" to this opportunist Peace Accord line, claiming to have been convinced personally by Chairman Gonzalo. (See accompanying RIM document.)

With the regime controlling all access, it is still impossible to confirm with certainty that Chairman Gonzalo is in fact supporting the Peace Accord line, but this possibility has increased and revolutionaries have to face up to it--in order to really strengthen the correct political position of opposing this right opportunist line of ending the War.

There have been developments since the Peace Accord proposal was first announced that cannot be easily explained by the analysis that Chairman Gonzalo's role in this is a "hoax." This "hoax" explanation was the initial sense of many revolutionaries, and this was a position announced in a document released by the Central Committee of the PCP shortly after the Peace Accord proposal was first made public by the regime.

It is correct to be vigilant and suspicious about the role of the police and imperialists in this, and to have great respect for the whole history of contributions of Chairman Gonzalo. And it is certainly clear that, in any event, the reactionary Peruvian regime and the imperialists have used and manipulated this Peace Accord proposal to further attack, confuse, and weaken the revolution in Peru. But, while the final word is not in, the possibility is growing that Chairman Gonzalo has taken a wrong turn, away from the revolutionary direction he charted for the PCP before his capture.

This disturbing possibility certainly underlines the importance of this struggle for the future of the PCP and the People's War. But whether or not Chairman Gonzalo is himself supporting the Peace Accord line, it must still be fought vigorously as a two-line struggle. Whether or not Chairman Gonzalo is among them, a section of people from the PCP, including some who have held leading positions, are rallying around and extensively arguing a right opportunist line for the future course of that Party. In short, there's a major line struggle, and for this fundamental reason the Committee of the RIM has based its position on a careful study of the political lines, analyzed them according to Maoist revolutionary principles, and has joined this struggle with its focus sharply centered on these issues of line.

Some people abroad, in the name of support for the People's War, have stubbornly insisted on an entirely different approach. These people have continued to proclaim that the Peace Accord problem is just a police plot and hoax--and have gone even further to deny that this is a two-line struggle over the direction of the People's War. And they have even sunk to viciously attacking the RIM for treating it as a serious political line matter.

The Committee of the RIM has, from the beginning, felt that it was important to investigate to determine the actual views of Chairman Gonzalo. Events since then have increased the concern that he might be involved in formulating the Peace Accord line. So it is a very wrong approach, especially now, to refuse to treat this as a two-line struggle over the whole strategy and direction of that Party. Especially now, to keep insisting this be treated as just--or at least in essence--a police plot does not make for a logical, helpful, revolutionary approach for those who want to give real support to the PCP Central Committee's leadership.

Revolutionaries abroad who want to support the People's War in Peru cannot seriously shoulder this responsibility, and their responsibility to the international proletariat, without seriously digging into the political issues of this two-line struggle and deeply refuting the opportunist Peace Accord line. Whatever their intent, those People's War "supporters" who are refusing to treat it in this way are doing a great disservice to the PCP and to our international movement. And they should change their approach.

As events have unfolded, the Central Committee of the PCP has further developed its initial position with the call to "elevate the struggle to the level of line."(3) This is very correct advice and all of us need to carry it out further and deeper.

Especially now, we must even more deeply take up the two-line struggle and firmly base our stand on line, not individuals--deeply grasping the issues and correct line for advancing the revolution now. We must be firm that there is correct and there is incorrect. Revolutionaries must develop their understanding of the crucial issues and, on that basis, stick to the correct line, no matter what. This means deepening the repudiation of the right opportunist Peace Accord line. As the RIM Committee's March 1995 "Call" put it on this point: "It is clear that the negotiations line runs contrary to the basic line of the PCP which has led the People's War forward and which was forged under the leadership of Chairman Gonzalo. It is important to continue to try to determine Chairman Gonzalo's current views. The key question, however, is the line, not its author."

To be clear, we still do not know for sure what Chairman Gonzalo's views are. And, for that reason and many others, it is very important to continue the struggle to defend his life and break his isolation. We would be overjoyed if it turns out that, in fact, he is not supporting this Peace Accord line. Or if he is supporting this line, we would welcome a change in his views. But we first and foremost have to deal with this line, and, as part of that, we have to be prepared for the possibility that Chairman Gonzalo is its main proponent.

We must be prepared for an intensifying two-line struggle, and for new questions and problems that will emerge. There are challenges facing the revolution in Peru today that further deepening the two-line struggle will help answer. It is clear, for instance, that some time before the arrest of Chairman Gonzalo, the imperialists and the reactionary Peruvian government had begun to make some important changes in their strategy for combatting the revolution, which the PCP, under Chairman Gonzalo, had begun to address. Then the capture of a section of the top leadership happened, posing further challenges for the Party to solve.

The Peace Accord forces have--in their own very wrong way--developed analysis and "answers" to these problems--"answers" which, if applied, can lead only to capitulation and defeat for that revolution. But, along with the task of defeating this right opportunist line and its influence, the process of examining it and subjecting it to MLM analysis and criticism is an important part of forging different--revolutionary--answers to these new problems and challenges facing the People's War. We are confident that the comrades of the Central Committee of the PCP are applying themselves to these problems and this task. But it is a responsibility of the international movement to engage in this struggle as well. And it is a very important positive factor for the People's War in Peru that there is an international movement, the RIM in particular, whose political experience brings further strength to the struggle.

The international movement has an important role to play. This struggle deals with questions of revolutionary strategy, tactics and outlook that are relevant in other countries--not just Peru. And we must bring every bit of political understanding and experience from our international movement to fulfill our responsibility to the comrades in Peru. Part of this responsibility is expressed in the vote of the RIM parties and organizations, which has just been announced (see page 9). And it has been expressed in the political contributions already made by parties and organizations of the RIM.(4) But this process and responsibility is going to continue to develop.


This is a complex situation with high stakes. Our optimism emerges from our faith in the masses and their ability to dig into and learn from the struggle over line--the very life and direction of the revolution. We are confident in the ability of the broad ranks of the people and the revolutionaries to embrace the correct line and use it to change the world.

Maoists have this attitude toward two-line struggle: "Fighting against wrong ideas is like being vaccinated--one develops greater immunity from disease as a result of vaccination. Plants raised in hothouses are unlikely to be hardy."(5) Major two-line struggles like this one--life-and-death struggles over the strategy for the revolution--are a part of the ongoing class struggle, which is reflected inside the revolutionary party. A revolutionary party, and in fact the whole international communist movement, must be prepared to face many such struggles, which are bound to emerge again and again--especially at critical junctures of the revolution.

The emergence of this struggle in Peru is one example of this fact; there have been many others. For example, the Chinese Communist Party had more than ten major two-line struggles in the course of its revolutionary history--six of them before the revolution there seized nationwide power in 1949. These struggles and their correct resolution were a decisive part of the process through which the revolution in China, led by Mao, won power--and then maintained revolutionary power for over 25 years in the course of even more intense two-line struggles. Through this process, the Party and the masses were steeled and strengthened and the correct revolutionary line was further developed. In fact, this understanding of the two-line struggle--its role both before and after the seizure of power--was a central part of Mao's development of our revolutionary science to its new stage, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.

As the Committee of the RIM has said, it is up to the Maoists of the world today to take this understanding and apply it in the heat of this struggle in the PCP--fighting to turn a bad thing into a good thing, defeating a dangerously wrong line, forging answers to difficulties and new questions faced by the revolution in Peru at this juncture, winning over and uniting all who can be united on this basis, and deepening the collective understanding of the world's revolutionaries of important questions of revolutionary strategy.

As the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA said at the time the RIM's March 1995 "Call" was issued:

"In unity with the Committee of the RIM, we express our firm support for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Peru. We support them in their leadership of the continuing People's War and in carrying out this crucial two-line struggle. These comrades are struggling, with great heroism, on many fronts: They are in a war against a genocidal regime and its imperialist godfathers; and they are in a struggle against a political line which would stop this war and cause the gravest harm to the revolution in Peru. Their accomplishments on both these hard-fought fronts are a big inspiration--defending and developing the New Power of the masses and defending MLM and the basic line of their Party, forged under the leadership of Chairman Gonzalo. What the PCP has done is testimony to the immense power of a MLM line. Our warmest greetings to the Central Committee of the PCP and our fullest support for their continuing struggle."(6)


1. "Rally to the Defence of Our Red Flag Flying in Peru--A Call by the Committee of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement to Step Up Support for the Communist Party of Peru and the People's War".March 28, 1995. Printed in issue #21 of A World to Win magazine (AWTW).

2. See "Take Up and Fight for the New Decision and the New Definition!" ["Asumir..."]. An early version of this document was published for reference in issue #21 of AWTW magazine (along with a response.) Since then a longer version of "Asumir..." and a number of other documents have come out--all putting forward the basic line that the key struggle now is for a Peace Accord to end the war.

3. February 1994 document of the PCP Central Committee, "Reaffirm Our Party Basis of Unity and Build the Seizure of Power"; reprinted in issue #21 of AWTW.

4. Here we want to call special attention to the valuable in-depth polemic against the Peace Accord line ("Asumir...", etc.) written by the Union of Communists of Iran (Sarbedaran). It is titled "It Is Right To Rebel!" and is printed in issue #21 of AWTW.

5. "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People," Mao Tsetung, 1957. Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, Vol. 5, p. 410.

6. Central Committee, RCP, USA. April 7, 1995. Printed in RW No. 803.