In Defense of the Health and Life of Chairman Gonzalo

By Kyle Rosse

This month, the Brazilian Center for Solidarity with the Peoples (CEBRASPO) and the Brazilian Association of People’s Lawyers (ABRAPO) joined the international call requesting that the Peruvian state grant Chairman Gonzalo (Abimael Guzman Reynoso) leave on house arrest from his imprisonment at the Callao naval base, based on his vulnerability to COVID-19.

Chairman Gonzalo, now 85, has been in his underground cell since his capture by the Peruvian state in 1992 and conviction by the fascist Fujimori government later that year. He is a prisoner of war who has had international support for decades, calling for his freedom. His lawyer (part of the Right Opportunist Line in Peru via MOVADEF) initiated the appeal to have Chairman Gonzalo put on house arrest so that social distancing could be assured and that his other medical ailments could be properly treated.

In their statement, CEBRASPO and ABRAPO highlight the unsanitary conditions in both Peruvian and Brazilian prisons and point out that Peruvian courts have already sent prisoners for non-political crimes back home under house arrest due to the epidemic.

“The notorious unhealthy condition of prisons in Peru recently resulted in rebellion, due to the lack of food and the deepening of the precariousness for people deprived of their liberty in the context of COVID-19,” the statement reads. “The rebellion in the prison of El Milagro [and] in Trujilo [were] also reported in communiqué 066 of the [Inter-American Commission on Human Rights].”

CEBRASPO and ABRAPO conclude by underlining how in Brazil no one can be incarcerated for more than 30 years, no matter what their sentence is. If Chairman Gonzalo had been imprisoned in Brazil, he would be out in only a couple years. Even in light of Chairman Gonzalo’s status as a political prisoner, it does not excuse, the statement reads, the observance of basic rights for prisoners. In this case, house arrest is fully justified.