By the Editorial Board
Marked every June 19, the Day of Heroism celebrates the resistance of revolutionary prisoners in Peru who fought back against the genocidal plans of the Old Peruvian State to eradicate them in the Lurigancho, El Fronton, and Callao prisons. Their resistance and sacrifices are not only an inspiration to the people of Peru, but a heroic example to revolutionaries all across the world who fight each day for a new society and do not relent in the face of imprisonment and severe repression.
On June 19, 1986, Peruvian president Alan Garcia ordered the massacre of the prisoners, many of them militants of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP, Partido Comunista del Peru) and combatants of its People’s Guerrilla Army (EGP, Ejército Guerrillero Popular), in addition to revolutionaries of the Peruvian masses. Six years earlier, in 1980, the PCP had initiated the People’s War, which sent the rulers of the Old Peruvian State into panic. The genocidal actions of the fascist Garcia in 1986 were a vain attempt to extinguish the People’s War—it has marched forward ever since, proving the universal law that repression only breeds more resistance.
From the moment he took office in 1985, Garcia had been making preparations for his act of genocide. He wasted no time in annulling an agreement between the prisoners and the previous Belaunde government, which had been conquered through the prisoners’ hard struggle. On October 4, 1985, Garcia launched an assault on Lurigancho Prison, in which the military murdered 30 prisoners who rebelled against the planned genocide.
The next year, on June 18, prisoners at El Fronton, Lurigancho, and Callao launched uprisings during the “Socialist International,” a gathering of false socialist organizations taking place in Lima, which Garcia and the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA, Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana), his political party, attended. The prisoners took guards hostage and made 26 demands, including for the release of political prisoners. The government feigned interest in negotiations while planning the prisoners’ extermination.
The next morning, Garcia ordered an all-out assault, mobilizing the army, navy, air force, and police forces, knowing that the steeled Communists and masses under their leadership would not be eliminated easily. The hundreds of revolutionaries in the prisons fought back with homemade weapons, dynamite, and guns they stole from the enemy. They never capitulated, and as they fought to their deaths, many sang the hymn of the proletariat, the Internationale. Many who did not fall in the battle were extrajudicially executed by Peruvian armed forces, and others disappeared. A small few survived and related their stories.
All those who died and fought were not defeated, regardless of Garcia’s blackest wishes, and instead the genocide stained Garcia’s government, and the People’s War grew stronger. Chairman Gonzalo, the leadership of the PCP, said in a speech the year following the massacre, “The would-be devastating and decisive blow wound up falling on the heads of those who engendered it, resulting in a serious political crisis and the enormous loss of prestige from which they cannot yet escape. The rebellion of the prisoners of war at the cost of their own lives for the Party and the revolution is a great moral, political, and military triumph.”
Prior to their great rebellions now honored by the Day of Heroism, the prisoners had already triumphed in converting the dungeons of the State into vibrant strongholds of the revolution, bringing Communist discipline and order to their cell blocks, with political education, cultural activities, physical training, and more. This work and their heroic acts are why Chairman Gonzalo says that the prisoners transformed the prisons into “shining trenches of combat.”
Today, the Peruvian ruling class continues to stumble from crisis to crisis, attempting to preserve their dying State, which they maintain through serving it up to imperialism, mainly US imperialism. Most recently, they held a presidential runoff election between the two competing factions of the bourgeoisie. After the first round of elections, two-thirds of the eligible voting population abstained or voted blank in a country where voting is mandatory, underlining the Old State’s crisis of legitimacy. The Peru People’s Movement (MPP, Movimiento Popular Peru), which conducts the work of the PCP abroad, has issued statements on this year’s electoral farce and the reactionary State’s attempts to preserve its rule:
“The elections are a means of domination of the landowners and big bourgeoisie; they are neither an instrument of transformation for the people nor a means to overthrow the power of the rulers. Thus, within this function of the elections in Peru, similar to those in other countries, and within their condition of being crucial for reaction, the general elections of 2021, as they should be, have been presented and developed as a defense of the existing outdated order and evolution of Peruvian society.”
The backwards nature of bourgeois elections holds true worldwide. Imperialist and capitalist societies can go no further. This is why every day, more people rise up and more revolutionaries are made, ready to make the necessary sacrifices, whether that means imprisonment or death, on the path towards conquering power for the proletariat and the people.
The Day of Heroism not only recognizes the sacrifice and bravery of revolutionary prisoners, but also the necessity for all those outside of the prisons to vigorously support them, with all the forms of legal, political, financial, and moral support possible. Those who have been imprisoned for their beliefs and commitment to fighting for a new world deserve the fullest efforts to stand with them, and this should be at the forefront of the minds of all revolutionaries. Those inside the State’s dungeons should never be forgotten.
In 1992, the People’s War in Peru experienced a setback when Chairman Gonzalo was captured and imprisoned at the Callao naval base, where he has been held ever since, in total isolation. He is the world’s foremost political prisoner, leader of the PCP and the Peruvian Revolution, and the world’s greatest living Communist. This Day of Heroism is yet another moment to raise the call to defend the life and health of Chairman Gonzalo, and stand with all political prisoners around the world.
The reactionary old societies can try to stop revolution with their crimes of genocide or by jailing the leaders of our class, but their defeat is inevitable. The people only march forward towards victory. The Day of Heroism celebrates the triumphs of the heroes of the Peruvian people, their People’s War, and the inevitable triumph of the World Proletarian Revolution.
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