Abimael Guzmán, Messianic Leader of Ruthless Peruvian Insurgency, Dies at 86


LIMA, Peru—Abimael Guzmán, who turned Peru into one of the world’s most brutal Cold War battlegrounds as the messianic leader of a ruthless communist insurgency in the 1980s and early 1990s, has died. He was 86 years old.

Mr. Guzmán, a stocky former philosophy professor known to his zealous followers as Chairman Gonzalo, launched one of Latin America’s most violent civil wars in 1980 to install a totalitarian state just as Peru returned to democracy after military rule. His rigid ideology and brutal tactics once led a top U.S. State Department official to warn of a “third genocide of the 20th century.”


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