Peru may donate communist extremist's body to medical research

Peruvian government is considering donating body of communist revolutionary Abimael Guzmán to medical science over fears burying him would create shrine to renegade blamed for 69,000 deaths

  • The Peruvian government is weighing over whether it should cremate the late Abimael Guzmán or donate his body to science research
  • Guzmán, founder of the Shining Path communist cult, died Saturday in a military prison where he was serving a life sentence  
  • The government does not want to bury the 86-year-old over fears that his burial grounds would become a pilgrimage site for supporters 
  • Guzmán founded communist group Shining Path, which was embroiled in a war with security forces that left at least 69,000 people dead
  • At least 35,000 deaths were directly attributed to the Guzmán’s organization, known for its violent and extreme anti-capitalist views 

Peru government officials are debating whether to cremate the body of the late communist extremist Abimael Guzmán or even donate it to science after refusing to have him buried over fears his grave site would become a shrine.

Guzmán, who founded the Shining Path, died at Saturday at the age of 86 in a Calla naval base military prison where he was serving a life sentence for trying to overthrow the government. His group has been blamed for 69,000 deaths in Peru. 

In a letter to the Attorney General’s Office on Monday, the Ministry of Justice indicated that burying Guzmán in a cemetery ‘could lead to problems with public safety and the security of our entire society, putting the security of Peruvians at risk.’

Guzmán’s body was transferred to a morgue in the port city of El Callao.

The Attorney General’s Office could issue an order to cremate him or donate the body if the body is not claimed by a direct family member 36 hours after his death.

Abimael Guzmán (pictured in 2017), the founder of Peruvian rebel group Shining Path, died aged 86 of poor health in his prison cell on Saturday while serving a life sentence after trying to overthrow the government. The government is debating whether to cremate him or donate his body for science research. The Ministry of Justice said Monday that Guzmán in a cemetery ‘could lead to problems with public safety and the security of our entire society, putting the security of Peruvians at risk’

Guzman, pictured in 1993, died in a maximum-security prison in the Callao naval base in Peru. Prison officials said his health had been declining for several weeks leading up to his death and he was released from a hospital in early August

The only person who could claim the body is Guzmán’s wife, Elena Iparraguirre, but she is currently serving a life sentence in a jail in Lima for the murder of 69 peasants in 1983.

Guzmán and Iparraguirre married in 2010 and do not have any children.

A judge on Sunday denied an attempt by a woman identified as Iris Quiñónez to recover the body, although she alleged to have received written permission from Iparraguirre. 

The court ruled that Quiñónez needed a notarized document in order to remove Guzmán’s body from the morgue.

In 2018, the Peruvian government destroyed a mausoleum in a Lima cemetery that had been set aside to bury Guzmán.

The government wants to avoid burying Guzmán and turning the site into a place of pilgrimage or worship for Shining Path followers. 

Guzmán died of ‘bilateral pneumonia caused by a pathological agent’ in his cell in a military jail on the shores of the Pacific. His health had deteriorated in recent weeks, prison officials said.

He was a professor of philosophy at the San Cristóbal de Huamanga National University and traveled to China in the late 1960s and was awed by Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. 

He had a vision of Peru without money, banks, industry or foreign trade and set out to bring Mao’s brand of communism to Peru.

In 1980, Guzmán began an armed struggle to take power in Peru that left thousands of dead, most of them indigenous to the Andes and the Amazon. 

Guzmán’s terror group also slaughtered dogs and hung their lifeless bodies on street light poles throughout the capital for Lima residents to wake up to one December morning.

Each dog had a sign around its neck with a slogan referring to the Chinese Communist Party, and claimed the animals were symbols of capitalism.

Guzmán (pictured after his capture on September 24, 1992), who headed the communist-obsessed renegade group and terrorized Peru throughout the 1980s and 90s, was convicted as a terrorist. When he was sentenced in 1992 in Lima, Peru, he was paraded in front of press in a striped white and black uniform not normally used for prisoners in the country

The Shining Path leader was caught September 12, 1992 by a US-backed police intelligence group. He died in a cell with blast resistant walls in which he had been held since 1992. His body had his golden wedding ring on the fourth finger of his right hand.

A truth commission that studied the internal armed conflict indicated that the confrontation between Shining Path followers and the security forces left almost 70,000 dead. At least 35,000 deaths were attributed to Guzmán’s cult.

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