On June 20, 1997, over 5,000 prisoners in Lurigancho prison in Peru took over the prison during the course of a riot. According to Peruvian congressman Daniel Espichán Tumay, the riot was triggered by overcrowding, outcry over illegal transfers, and bad food. Espichán, president of the Congressional Human Rights Commission, said that: "These riots are constantly repeated. I believe that their motives are understandible, they can be solved, and I have promised to continue visiting the prison."
Some prisoners attempted to escape over a wall and were meet with gunfire that resulted in the death of prisoner Marcos Malca Toledo and the wounding of 6 others.
Overcrowding was the most serious issue; the prison was designed to hold 1,400 prisoners and in fact holds 6,010. Prisoners were also angry over the recent legislation, Supreme Decree 003 which facilitates transfers of prisoners far away from their families, and the delays of the courts in sentencing, which is supposed to take 30 to 60 days, but which now takes six months.
Prison conditions in Peru are notorious, including overcrowding and a desperate lack of food, water, light, heat and clothing. For example, in Yanamayo prison water freezes on the floor due to the frigid temperatures. Prisoners sleep on cement slabs. Most cells have no windows -- others have had the glass broken out. A hole in the floor serves as a toilet. Most prisoners suffer chronic illnesses and none are allowed out of their cell for more than one half-hour a day
The date of the uprising was significant, because June 19th marked the 11th anniversary of the Day of Heroism, when political prisoners and prisoners of war, supporters and militants of the Communist Party of Peru, rose up in the prisons of Lurigancho, Callao, and El Fronton [PLN, June 1996.]. The uprising was a response to Peruvian government and military plans to destroy the organization of the revolutionary prisoners, which had turned the prisons into "shining trenches of combat", in their own words.
For more information about Peru, you can write to:
US/PRP Friendship Association
304 Main Ave. Box 185
Norwalk, CT 06851
Study Circle Red Sun
2620 Albertslund Denmark
email: Study_Circle_Red_Sun@dk- online.dk
website: http://www2.dk- online.dk/users/srs/
Five Years of Solitary Confinement for Peruvian Revolutionary
September 24, 1997, marked the fifth anniversary of a speech by Dr. Abimael Guzmán, know by his nom de guerre Chairman Gonzalo, from a cage in a Peruvian prison. Dr. Guzmán, leader of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP), had been captured in a raid on a safe house in Lima two days earlier. Despite the efforts of the Peruvian government to intimidate and humiliate Dr. Guzmán by parading him in a tiger cage before a pack of shouting journalists, the tables were turned when Dr. Guzmán made a short, sharp speech describing his own capture as a "bend in the road."
Dr. Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison for "treason to the fatherland" by a secret military tribunal of hooded judges, without the benefit of a legal defense. His lawyer, Dr. Alfredo Crespo, was later sentenced to life in prison for the "crime" of trying to defend his client.
Since his arrest, Dr. Guzmán has been kept in an underground cell in a special military prison, receiving no visitors for the last five years. He has also been denied medical treatment and visits by the Red Cross. Peru's dictator, Alberto Fujimori, has openly boasted that Dr. Guzmán will die in a few years.
The PCP has called for a celebration of the fifth anniversary of this speech. Due to lack of space, we can't print the entire speech, which can be found at the sources indicated above. Here are some excerpts:
"We are here as children of the people and we are fighting in these trenches, they are also trenches of combat, and we do it because we are Communists! Because here we are defending the interests of the people, the principles of the Party, and the People's War. That is what we do, we are doing it and will continue to do so!
"We are here in these circumstances. Some think this is a great defeat. They are dreaming! We tell them to keep on dreaming. It is simply a bend, nothing more, a bend in the road! The road is long and we shall arrive. We shall triumph! You shall see it! You shall see it!
"Finally now, listen to this. As we see in the world, Maoism is marching unstoppably to lead the new wave of world proletarian revolution. Listen well and understand! Those who have ears, use them. Those who have understanding -- and we all have it use it! Enough of this nonsense. Enough of these obscurities! Let us understand that! What is unfolding in the world? What do we need? We need Maoism to be incarnated, and it is being incarnated, and by generating Communist Parties to drive and lead this new great wave of the world proletarian revolution that is coming.
"Everything they told us, the empty and silly chatter of the famous "new age of peace." Where is it now? What about Yugoslavia? What about other places? That is a lie; everything became politicized. Today there is one reality; the same contenders of the First and Second World War are preparing a new Third World War. We should know this and we, as the children of an oppressed nation, are part of the booty. We cannot consent to this! Enough imperialist exploitation! We must finish with them! We are of the third world and the third world is the base of the world proletarian revolution, with one condition, that the Communist Parties brandish and lead! That is what we must do!
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