The Iron Belts of Misery
One summer morning in early 1988, several hundred workers gathered in Lima’s Plaza Dos de Mayo to participate in a national strike called by Peru’s largest trade union federation, the CGTP, to protest government austerity programs and spiraling inflation.1 The political impact of the strike was minimal, especially in comparison to the dramatic national strikes that a decade ago helped bring down the military regime of General Francisco Morales Bermúdez; after several years of económic recession, factory closings and antilabor legislation, trade unionism in Peru had lost much of its political clout.2 It was the presence of several dozen members of the Maoist guerrilla organization, the Communist Party of Peru (PCP-SL), better known as Shining Path, at the CGTP strike, and their attempts to radicalize the protest, that made this strike remarkable. Shining Path activists disrupted the gathering with shouts of “Long live the popular war!” and “Long live President Gonzalo!” (President Gonzalo is the nom de guerre of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán). They launched harsh criticisms of the CGTP and their allies in the IU electoral coalition for their “revisionist” politics. Later in the day, they tossed a handful of dynamite sticks at the CGTP locale, creating panic amongst the protesters and causing the crowd to disperse.
KeywordsPolitical Violence Armed Attack Democratic Social Organization Strategic Equilibrium Land Invasion
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 1.Chapters five and six are drawn from “Political Violence and the Grassroots in Lima, Peru” by Jo-Marie Burt, from The New Politics of Inequality in Latin America: Rethinking Participation and Representation, edited by Douglas Chalmers et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997: 281–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar