new internationalist
issue 197 - July 1989

Isidoro Nunja García is a member of Sendero Luminoso - a senderista.
His nom de guerre is Enrique. He was interviewed by Laura Puertas
of the Lima weekly magazine, Caretas.

LAURA PUERTAS: What were you arrested for?


For the attack on the Andahuasi co-operative?

Yes. I planted the explosives.

How and when was the attack planned?

A week in advance. Someone called 'Jose' came to my house and gave me the order. There were meetings of all involved. The action was explained. Each of us was given a task. In all 15 people took part.

You killed the caretaker, a man of humble extraction. Why?

Things don't always work out as planned.

And the director. Why did you kill him?

Because he represented the Government. He was applying its policy. He was given warnings which he didn't obey so we eliminated him.

How long have you been with Sendero Luminoso?

A year and a half.

How were you recruited?

By a highlander at a feast. What happens is you drink liquor and converse about politics. In that way you can be won over.

Were you a militant of the United Left before?

I was never a militant but I sympathized with the small parties of the United Left. At that time it seemed to me that the United Left was the most just and correct. With the passing of time I came to realize that this was not so. That it was part of revisionism and opportunism.

While with Sendero Luminoso did you take part in assassinations?

Anyone can take part in 'annihilations'. The leadership only has to give the order and one carries it out.

Did you attend 'popular schools'?'

A couple of times, no more. My ideology came from some time ago. Since the age of 13 1 have read Marxist texts, but in an anarchic, adventurist way. That was until I entered the Party and received orientation.

Now that you have been arrested do you think you will stay with Sendero Luminoso?

That is part of the work. There are successes and failures but you have to gather experience and move forward.

How does Sendero train people?

You learn warfare by warring and leadership by leading. Everything is practice.

Why are you a Senderista?

I think it is the only path by which all Peruvians will get what they need.

But you yourselves are those who destroy precisely the benefits that such development can bring. The Andahuasi cooperative was one of the few really efficient ones, run by its workers. You destroyed it.

The co-op was semi-feudal. It got funds from outside, from imperialism.

What then is the alternative that Sendero Luminoso offers?

There is a principle. Man destroys and creates at the same time. Destroys the decrepit, the senile, the worn out and constructs the new. At times this is difficult to understand.

Do you think you are going to reach power? And if so, when?

The current information is within the next two or three years.

Abimael Guzmán3 uses a version of Maoism. But what has Peru today got to do with China before Mao?

There are two distinct lines, yours and mine. The proletarian line and the bourgeois line. In Peru today there is no democracy. There is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. And the external enemy is imperialism.

But Peru has not been invaded by a foreign power. Sendero is confronting Peruvians with Peruvians, killing peasants and community leaders.

It is a question of viewpoint. It is part of the social cost that we have to face.

If you win what will you do with the bourgeoisie? Will you kill them too?

First we will give them political re-education. But if this does not work we will treat them in the same way as they treat us now. Dictatorship, imprisonment, death. The genocide that we are made to suffer they will have to suffer too.

Do you have a family?

A wife and a son. We are separated.

What is your work?

I'm in commerce. My brother and I are trying to get a small business in Lima.

What do you know about Sendero Luminoso's first Congress in 1988?

That it was chaired by Presidente Gonzalo (Abimael Guzmán).

What were the resolutions?

The first point is the total demolition of the old State. That is to say that in the next three years the State will no longer be standing. Secondly, to establish solid bases for taking power. And thirdly, to sweep away entirely the great danger that is revisionism and opportunism as presented by the United Left (tzquierd a Unida). Also that the MRTA (Revolutionary Movement Tupac Amaru)4 is the principal enemy of the revolution and there will ultimately have to be a confrontation with them. We cannot have the triumph of two revolutions.

Did the Congress resolve to assassinate Barrantes (the leader of the United Left party) or Del Prado (leader of the Communist Party) for example?

Probably. And all those who represent parties.

But aren't you aware that armed insurgence could degenerate into a civil war or a coup or both?

The Party has been on the look out for a coup, including the possibility that Alan Garcia is seeking a coup to save his own skin. This would be very beneficial to us because we would then have an open confrontation. The public would have to define its position more rapidly.

If Sendero Luminoso favours a kind of political-social purity why does it ally itself with drug-trafficking?

The Party allows peasants to cultivate coca because it is the most profitable crop. But it also insists that all of it is sold abroad. Who are the consumers of cocaine? Only elites, in the United States.

What about relationships between the sexes in Sendero Luminoso?

There are marriages.

Are you married?

With the war there is no time.

Is it true that the women within the organization are the hardest and most inflexible?

Yes. They have a stronger character. It's because women are more oppressed.

When will Abimael Guzmán show his face?

When there are more bases of support. Up to now he goes around with bodyguards. It is said that the best men guard him and they have ultra-modern weapons.

Where do the weapons come from?

From the alliance with the drug-traffickers. That is the deal.

1 A coalition of left-wing parties.
Sendero indoctrination centres.
Leader of Sendero Luminoso.
A more traditional Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group.

previous page choose a different magazine go to the contents page go to the NI home page next page

New Internationalist issue 197 magazine cover This article is from the July 1989 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial »

Subscribe   Ethical Shop