1983 Lucanamarca massacre

Deaths 69
Location Lucanamarca, Peru
Died Unknown
Date 3 April 1983; 38 years ago (1983-04-03)
Criminal penalty Unknown


The Lucanamarca massacre was a massacre of 69 peasants in and around the town of Lucanamarca, Peru, that took place on 3 April 1983. The massacre was perpetrated by the Shining Path, the Maoist guerrilla organization that launched the internal conflict in Peru.


On 17 May 1980 the Shining Path went to war against the Peruvian state. The Shining Path was based in the Ayacucho Region. In March 1983, ronderos killed Olegario Curitomay, a Shining Path commander in Lucanamarca, a small town in the Huanca Sancos Province of Ayacucho. The ronderos took Curitomay to the town square, stoned him, stabbed him, set him on fire, and finally shot him.

The massacre

In April 1983 Shining Path militants responded to the death of Olegario Curitomay by entering the province of Huancasancos and the towns of Yanaccollpa, Ataccara, Llacchua, Muylacruz, and Lucanamarca, and killing 69 people. Of those killed by the Shining Path, eighteen were children, the youngest of whom was only six months old. Also killed were eleven women. Eight of the victims were between fifty and seventy years old. Most of the victims died by machete and axe hacks, and some were shot in the head at close range. This was the first massacre committed by the Shining Path against members of the peasant community. Abimael Guzmán, the founder and leader of the Shining Path, admitted that the Shining Path carried out the massacre and explained the rationale behind it in an interview with El Diario, a pro-Shining Path newspaper based in Lima. In the interview, he said:

In the face of reactionary military actions ... we responded with a devastating action: Lucanamarca. Neither they nor we have forgotten it, to be sure, because they got an answer that they did not imagine possible. More than 80 were annihilated, that is the truth. And we say openly that there were excesses, as was analyzed in 1983. But everything in life has two aspects. Our task was to deal a devastating blow in order to put them in check, to make them understand that it was not going to be so easy. On some occasions, like that one, it was the Central Leadership itself that planned the action and gave instructions. That is how it was. In that case, the principal thing is that we dealt them a devastating blow, and we checked them and they understood that they were dealing with a different kind of people's fighters, that we were not the same as those they had fought before. This is what they understood. The excesses are the negative aspect ... If we were to give the masses a lot of restrictions, requirements and prohibitions, it would mean that deep down we did not want the waters to overflow. And what we needed was for the waters to overflow, to let the flood rage, because we know that when a river floods its banks it causes devastation, but then it returns to its riverbed ... [T]he main point was to make them understand that we were a hard nut to crack, and that we were ready for anything, anything.

— Abimael Guzmán


Ultimately, the Shining Path's war against the Peruvian state faltered, and Abimael Guzmán and several other high-ranking Shining Path members were captured in Lima in 1992. On 10 September 2002, Abimael Guzmán told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission "We, doctors, reiterate that we will not avoid our responsibility [for the Lucanamarca massacre]. I have mine, I'm the first one responsible, and I will never renounce my responsibility, that wouldn't make any sense."

On 13 October 2006, Guzmán and Elena Iparraguirre were sentenced to life imprisonment on a number of charges that included ordering the Lucanamarca massacre. Guzmán was additionally ordered to pay S./250,000 to the victims. In January 2008, the Supreme Court of Peru confirmed that Guzmán had ordered the killings and upheld his life sentence.