Abimael Guzman, the leader of the Shining Path, will not be forgiven.
Residents of Santiago de Lucanamarca, a small community in the Peruvian Andes, say they cannot forgive the man responsible, Abimael Guzman, who died on Saturday, four decades after Shining Path guerillas slaughtered scores of their loved ones in the town square.
On April 3, 1983, Shining Path militants armed with machetes, axes, knives, and rifles slaughtered 69 villagers, including 22 children, in one of the group’s deadliest atrocities in its attempt to topple the government.
Some were hacked to death, while others were burned alive with kerosene as a warning to neighboring towns not to fight the Shining Path.
Orfelinda Quincho, a 64-year-old teacher who lost nine relatives in the massacre, including her mother and son, said, “This wound he left us cannot be healed.”
“Abimael will never be forgiven. May his body be burned and thrown into the sea if he is dead,” she said AFP after Guzman, 86, died in a maximum security prison where he was serving a life sentence.
Heraclides Misaico, 68, lost her husband Alberto Tacas and four children – Adela, 9, Haydee, 7, Abdon, 5, and Benilda, 4 – in a tragic accident.
She hid at home with her three other children and survived the massacre.
“Abimael Guzman has caused us a great deal of harm. To my children and my husband,” she said “We don’t want to think of that person. He was responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. Many children were orphaned.”
Residents claim that on that fatal day, armed Shining Path insurgents marched into Lucanamarca, forcing everyone into the main town square.
They chose men and women who they suspected of working with government forces and executed them without trial.
The hamlet had around 2,600 individuals at the time, all of whom spoke the Quecha indigenous language and lived in mud and brick homes, devoted to small-scale farming.
Family members only revealed the incident 18 years later, in 2001, in evidence to Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was examining atrocities committed during the country’s civil conflict from 1980 to 2000.
After being unearthed in 2002 from a mass grave where they had been surreptitiously interred by family under threat of death from the Shining Path if they told anybody about what happened, the remains of 64 of the victims were positively identified.
The bodies of those killed have been interred in a white mausoleum in the town cemetery, surrounded by pine and eucalyptus trees, since 2003.
On the Plaza de Armas village square, a pyramid-shaped monument bears. Brief News from Washington Newsday.