Editors’ Note: The following is an updated and expanded version of our published editorial “Honor and Glory to Chairman Gonzalo, Greatest Son of the International Proletariat.” The latest version seeks to elaborate on important points, as well as improve upon the previous version as part of commemorating Chairman Gonzalo’s birthday, which is marked on December 3.
By the Editorial Board
Revolutionaries, workers, and the people around the world are honoring Chairman Gonzalo, who died on September 11 at the age of 86 after 29 years of imprisonment, culminating a prolonged assassination by the old Peruvian State, under the orders of US imperialism. Chairman Gonzalo is the celebrated leader of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP, Partido Comunista del Perú) and the Peruvian Revolution, which has mobilized the most oppressed and exploited masses of the country to fight for a new society. He is the greatest Communist of our current era, who defined the highest stage of the ideology of the proletariat, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Chairman Gonzalo lives on in his revolutionary ideas, his All-Powerful Gonzalo Thought, which contains universal ideas that are being realized and applied by revolutionaries across the world.
Through his leadership of the People’s War in Peru, which was initiated in 1980 and continues to this day, Chairman Gonzalo championed those people who have nothing, but have everything to gain. He led the Peruvian people to take up the fight to free themselves from the oppression of their reactionary rulers who serve US imperialism. Comrade Gonzalo gave his life in service to the people and the World Proletarian Revolution, and his death is heavier than the Andes mountains. Revolutionaries and progressives worldwide are deeply mourning Chairman Gonzalo’s physical death while committing themselves more fervently to fight for the new world for which he sacrificed his life.
Chairman Gonzalo, also known as Dr. Abimael Guzman Reynoso, was born on December 3, 1934, in the town of Mollendo, in the coastal region of Arequipa. He became a doctor of philosophy and took up Marxism, mastering it while teaching at the public university in Ayacucho. The Ayacucho region is in the foothills of the Andes, where the poorest peasants live in conditions of abject poverty. Chairman Gonzalo educated the people of the area in Communist ideology and practice, who began to see the possibility and necessity of taking up revolution to free the people of Peru from the misery of the old order, particularly the big landlords who rule the countryside. The landlords open the land to imperialist exploitation, such as mining operations which ravage the land and employ the people for starvation wages.
Under Chairman Gonzalo’s leadership, Ayacucho became a stronghold for the development of the Red Fraction of the PCP, which fought to wrest the Party away from decades of stagnation. Chairman Gonzalo led the Red Fraction to wage two-line struggle against revisionism, that is false Marxism, which infected the party and hindered the development of revolution in Peru.
In the 1960s, Chairman Gonzalo visited China in the years leading up to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). The GPCR was the greatest mobilization of the masses in history, led by Chairman Mao Zedong, as the people bombarded the bourgeois elements in society, struggling with and without arms to continue the revolution under socialism. Chairman Gonzalo returned to Peru to continue the process of fighting to put Mao’s ideas in command of the Party. His revolutionary line called for People’s War and defeated the positions of those who believed that armed struggle was not an option. This group of naysayers is referred to as the 1st Right Opportunist Line (ROL).
With the Party reconstituted under the revolutionary lines of Chairman Gonzalo, the PCP made their plans to initiate armed struggle, and carried out the first action of the People’s War on May 17, 1980, a date commemorated as ILA80 (Inicio de la Lucha Armada, 1980). In the town square of Chucshi, PCP militants burned ballot boxes and declared war against the old Peruvian State, attacking its farcical elections. From this initial action, the People’s War began to grow rapidly, as the peasants saw that it was possible to take on the old State and deliver blows to the enemy under the leadership of the Party, which commanded the People’s Guerrilla Army (EGP, Ejercito Guerilla Popular) and a united front of revolutionary and progressive forces.
Creatively Applying Marx, Lenin, and Mao to Peru
At the time of Chairman Gonzalo’s CIA-backed capture in 1992, the PCP controlled vast swaths of Peru and was on the verge of taking power throughout the entire country. The Party led waves of armed general strikes and plunged the cities into blackouts with the masses’ support to cripple the bourgeoisie’s ability to rule. In the countryside, peasants carried out massive land seizures with the PCP’s backing, cut roads off to the capital of Lima, and combatants launched guerrilla attacks on government forces that overwhelmed and expelled the enemy from large parts of the country. To cling to their power, the government put its armed forces in direct administration of many provinces. Remarkably, the PCP accomplished these feats without there being another socialist country in the world to assist them. Basing themselves in Maoism and their deep ties to the masses, who are the lifeblood of the People’s War, the PCP advanced like a tidal wave towards conquering power.
When the People’s War in Peru began in 1980, it was four years after China had fully taken the capitalist path following the death of Chairman Mao in 1976, and long after the Soviet Union had turned away from the socialist road since Nikita Khrushchev’s rise to power in the 1950s. The imperialists used these setbacks to claim that Communism had ‘failed’, but Chairman Gonzalo proved the reaction’s evaluation was bankrupt, as the PCP launched People’s War under these conditions, striking out on their own. The People’s War in Peru is a self-sustained revolution fighting the odds against the biggest imperialist in the world, the United States, which has constantly provided the old Peruvian State with weapons and resources, especially through its reactionary intelligence services.
To ideologically lead the People’s War, Chairman Gonzalo took the lessons of the international proletariat, beginning with Karl Marx and the workers’ struggles of the 1800s; from the Russian Revolution led by Lenin; and from the Chinese Revolution and GPCR led by Chairman Mao Zedong, and creatively applied these to the concrete reality of Peru. This process synthesized the ideology of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Gonzalo Thought, which was confirmed through the People’s War.
People’s War, based in the ideas developed by Mao, is a war of the masses, that can only advance based on the correct application of proletarian ideology and politics to the concrete reality of a country. From Chairman Gonzalo’s correct analysis and answers to the conditions that the people lived under, the People’s War in Peru quickly gained the support and participation of the masses, mobilizing the most exploited workers of the cities and the poorest people of the countryside–mostly indigenous peasants who live under a semi-feudal, racist order.
The reactionaries paint Chairman Gonzalo, the PCP, and the masses under the Party’s leadership as “terrorists,” however it is the backwards system of the big bourgeoisie which commits genocide and brings poverty and misery to the people of Peru. While the megacities of Latin America crawl into the capitalist epoch, the countryside of Peru is even more backwards, where the only solution to the misery sowed by the big landlords is an agrarian revolution that will give land to those who live and work on it, and tying this fight to the New Democratic Revolution.
The New Democratic Revolution is an alliance between the progressive classes—between the proletariat which leads the revolution and the peasantry which serves as its principal force. Their goal is to expel imperialism, principally the United States, overthrow semi-feudalism by seizing the land from the big landlords and redistributing it among the poor peasants, and taking control of capital to develop the national economy. Through Gonzalo’s immortal leadership, the people of Peru will maintain their path, and following his example, will never give up their arms until Communism.
A Defeat for the Reactionaries
When asked by the progressive Peruvian newspaper El Diario in 1988, “How does it feel to be the man most wanted by the repressive forces of the government?” Gonzalo responded:
“It feels like you are doing your job and working hard at it. What remains is to shoulder more responsibility for the revolution, the Party, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, for our class, the people and the masses. And to always understand that we carry our lives on our fingertips. If that weren’t so, we couldn’t be communists.”
The recently elected opportunist president of Peru, Pedro Castillo, who in a mockery of Marxism calls himself a ‘socialist’, carried out the final act of Gonzalo’s execution, which was 29 years in the making since his capture on September 12, 1992. For the duration of his imprisonment, Gonzalo was held in solitary confinement at the Callao Naval Base in a prison specially built for him, in a cell below sea level. He lived there in subhuman conditions, constituting physical and psychological torture. Over time, his jailers allowed for an easily treatable skin cancer to metastasize in order to kill him in a manner that they believed would strip him of his dignity and diminish his stature. On September 11, after weeks of the reactionary State’s intentional negligence, Chairman Gonzalo died.
In the reactionary media’s announcement of Gonzalo’s death, they called him a “terrorist” and spread anti-communist propaganda seeking to defame him and the People’s War in Peru. Opportunists and revisionists have joined in this, and dismiss Chairman Gonzalo’s leadership of the World Proletarian revolution. The ROL in Peru, headed by Elena Ipaguirre (‘Miriam’) and the organization of traitors known as Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef, Movimiento por la Amnistía y los Derechos Fundamentales) have worked with the CIA to defame Gonzalo and renounce his leadership of the People’s War. The former interior minister of Peru, Carlos Moran, said “We hope that with his death this macabre ideology ends.”
The reactionaries can hope, but they’ve already lost. The ideological weapon which they fear, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, with Gonzalo’s universally valid contributions, is being upheld and applied in more places to answer the questions of the masses and to develop revolution. Furthermore, the reactionaries could not make Chairman Gonzalo betray the People’s War in Peru, and concocted all types of lies and forgeries to this end. While the reactionaries of the world spit on his grave, Chairman Gonzalo died delivering a great defeat to the enemy.
Chairman Gonzalo held his post since his capture to defy the reaction’s dreams of crushing the revolution and annihilating Gonzalo Thought. On September 24, 1992, two weeks after his CIA-backed capture, the reaction sought to humiliate him, parading him in a cage, dressing him in a costume of prison stripes (which are not used in Peruvian prisons). Chairman Gonzalo turned this on its head, and instead gave the “The Transcendental Speech,” (sometimes referred to as the “Speech From the Cage”) which he addressed to the Party, its combatants, the people of Peru and the world, calling his capture “a bend in the road.” He unfurled revolutionary optimism and told the Peruvian people their necessary task: to persist on the path of the People’s War without surrender.
He told the masses of the world the necessity of applying Maoism to develop revolution across the world: “What do we need? We need Maoism to be incarnated, and it is being incarnated, and it shall guide and command this new great wave of the proletarian world revolution that is coming by means of generating Communist Parties.”
While the reactionaries were able to physically annihilate Chairman Gonzalo, they cannot contain the revolutionary ideas that Gonzalo developed through his study and application of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to Peru, which is known as Gonzalo Thought. Gonzalo Thought is called “all-powerful” because it is a philosophical and scientific basis for revolution which will liberate Peru, and contains universal ideas which give impulse to revolutions across the world, including in the US.
Communists Fear Nothing
The occasion of Chairman Gonzalo’s physical death is not the time to pause or slow down the fight for revolution. When comrades are martyred, the most fitting tribute is to take up a post in revolution, and to dedicate yourself to the study and practice of the ideology defined by Chairman Gonzalo: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Essential works for this study are The General Political Line of the Communist Party of Peru, For the New Flag, and the Interview with Chairman Gonzalo.
As instructed by Chairman Gonzalo, the task set for the proletariat and people of the world is to constitute or reconstitute militarized Communist Parties, based in Maoism, in order to launch People’s Wars against the old societies, whether in imperialist countries like the US, or in the countries oppressed by imperialism.
We cannot hesitate in taking up this mission; every day imperialism gnashes at the people and churns their blood as crises deepen. Revisionism and opportunism sow fear and can only offer a path into the swamps of elections and reformism–Maoism offers hope and the tools to sweep imperialism into its grave.
In his interview with El Diario, Chairman Gonzalo described courage as a unity of opposites, saying, “I believe that fear and lack of fear form a contradiction. The point is to take up our ideology, and unleash the courage within us.”
Chairman Gonzalo did not fear death, because he had faith in the masses of the world, who he knew would continue his work in their inevitable march towards Communism. This will take place through New Democratic Revolution in the Third World, uninterrupted towards socialism, while Socialist Revolution is necessary in the imperialist countries. Under socialism, society will require waves of Cultural Revolutions in order to reach the day that the state, money, and classes are obsolete. Only then, when this happens across the globe, will all of humanity enter Communism together. This process is what is meant by the slogan, People’s War Until Communism!
Tribune of the People joins the people of the world to salute Chairman Gonzalo as the greatest son of the Communist Party of Peru and the international proletariat. The people will continue his fight for a new world, and this is why they should have no fear. Chairman Gonzalo gave his life for the World Proletarian Revolution, never once dropping the red flag which represents the blood that he and many other sons and daughters of the masses have given and will continue to give—the red flag which leads us towards humanity’s Communist future.
In Chairman Gonzalo’s own words: “What remains is the satisfaction of contributing together with others to laying the foundation so that some day communism may shine and illuminate the entire earth.”
Long Live Chairman Gonzalo and his All-Powerful Thought!
Eternal Honor and Glory to Chairman Gonzalo!
Long Live the Communist Party of Peru!
Long Live the People’s War in Peru!
Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Down with Revisionism!
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