By David Ramos
Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi of Piura called Sunday on the president of Peru, Pedro Castillo, to rid his cabinet of people linked to the Shining Path, a communist rebel group.
The Shining Path was founded in the 1960s, and began armed conflict in 1980. Tens of thousands have died in the ensuing violence.
During a Sept. 12 Mass, Archbishop Eguren said that “We Peruvians should not forget, for an instant what this intrinsically perverse ideology embodies, as well as the immense suffering it has caused in the recent history of our country, much less allow it today to be able to seize total power.”
“Therefore: Mr. President, clean up your cabinet!” he urged.
Since being elected president of Peru, Castillo and his entourage have been accused of ties to the Shining Path.
Once Castillo took office, criticism increased because of the people he appointed to various posts in his administration.
In recent weeks, the president of the Council of Ministers, Guido Bellido, has been accused by the local press of subscribing to “Gonzalo Thought,” the ideology of Abimael Guzmán, the founder of the Shining Path, whose nom de guerre was Chairman Gonzalo.
Peruvian congresswoman Patricia Chirinos also charged that, during a conversation, Bellido told her, “you just need to be raped.”
In addition, the Peruvian daily El Comercio revealed Aug. 29 that a hitherto unpublished police report from 2004 shows that Iber Maraví, the current Minister of Labor and Employment Promotion, had been accused of belonging to the Shining Path.
Archbishop Eguren noted that on Sept. 12 “we also celebrated a very beautiful Marian feast. Nothing less than the feast of the ‘Holy or Sweet Name of Mary’” and that on that same feast day in 1992 “the leader of the Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán, who died yesterday, was captured.”
“Along with him fell the principal members of his communist, terrorist, genocidal, and murderous gang, which caused the massacres of entire communities of poor inhabitants of our Andes and jungle regions in the 1980s and 1990s,” he recalled.
The Shining Path’s violence, he continued, reached “people in the cities, including the elderly, pregnant women and children, who were cruelly murdered.”
Archbishop Eguren also pointed out that “the day Guzmán was captured was also one year after the start of the campaign ‘Peace in Peru is well worth a Rosary.’”
“This campaign was conceived and promoted by Bishop Ricardo Durand Flórez S.J., a great Peruvian bishop who, throughout his life and ministry, worked hard for the poor according to the Gospel,” he said.
The Archbishop of Piura said that “thanks to the powerful intercession of Holy Mary, whose sweet and holy name was invoked incessantly in those times of anxiety and fear, the beginning of the end of an era of terror, violence, destruction and death began.”
The prelate lamented that “twenty-nine years later, we see with indignation and great concern that the diabolical and insane terrorism of the Shining Path is walking around the palace of government with impunity.”
“Characters with a dark history of corruption and ties to terrorist movements occupy positions in the government and in Congress,” he warned, noting that “they also denigrate the dignity and respect due to women.”
“Therefore, we must invoke the ‘Most Holy and Sweet Name of Mary’, especially with the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary, so that the grace of God that emanates intensely from Our Most Holy Mother, dissipates the darkness of the danger and evil that the Shining Path-Modavef-Conare represents.”
This group, Archbishop Eguren charged, “using democracy, in which it does not believe, threatens to seize power, and impose its violent and totalitarian ideology on us to destroy the freedom and independence of Peru.”
With the capture of its founder in 1992, the Shining Path began to pull back and got involved in drug trafficking in inhospitable regions of Peru and to create a political arm called the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF).
In May 2021, Peru’s bishops condemned a mass killing of 16 people perpetrated by Shining Path about 180 miles north of Ayacucho.
The still existing cells of the Shining Path also reportedly extended their reach to a group of school teachers called CONARE, the National Reorientation Committee of the Unitary Union of Education Workers of Peru.
Since Castillo’s victory in the 2021 presidential election, there have been accusations of various links between his party, Free Peru, and MOVADEF.
In its platform, Free Peru states that “to say we’re on the Left while not recognizing ourselves as marxists, leninists or mariateguistas is simply to work for the those on the Right dressed up with the highest hypocrisy.”