By Mike Talavera
On June 19, 1986, revolutionaries of the Communist Party of Peru and the People’s Guerrilla Army fought to the bitter end against the genocidal Peruvian state in an attack on the prisons of El Fronton, Lurigancho, and Callao in the area of Lima. More than 250 died in a heroically defiant struggle against the forces of reaction and imperialism that lives on today as a symbol of resistance and rebellion.
In the years leading up to the Day of Heroism, the prisons had been transformed from annihilation zones into what Chairman Gonzalo described as “shining trenches of combat.”
El Fronton, which had been re-opened in 1982 specifically to incarcerate revolutionaries who were skilled jailbreakers, had been taken over by the prisoners. The inmates on the island by 1986 had stocked a library, held political education courses, raised the quality of life for all prisoners, produced items to sell for the revolution, and developed communal meals and work out regimen, constructed weapons, and built tunnels and other defenses. Guards did not dare to enter the cellblock known as the Blue Pavilion.
The Lurigancho and Callao prisons had likewise been turned into strongholds for the People’s War, where inmates no longer divided themselves into gangs but were united in their struggle against the state.
On June 18, 1986, the prisoners at El Fronton, Lurigancho, and Callao had taken hostages and issued a list of 26 demands, chief among them protesting the government’s plans to move many of them, charged with “terrorism,” to a new maximum-security prison known as Canto Grande.
Since the initiation of the People’s War in Peru on May 17, 1980, the decaying Peruvian state had intensified its repression against the Communist Party of Peru and the masses. By 1986, the government had become frustrated by the resilience of revolutionaries to the genocidal efforts to exterminate them and sought to deal a conclusive blow to the People’s War by massacring prisoners.
Not to be intimidated, the prisoners at each of the three prisons retaliated against the assault with knives, crossbows, captured assault rifles, and explosives, holding out for 24 hours. As they fought to their deaths, they sang The Internationale and other revolutionary songs, undefeated in their revolutionary optimism. They never surrendered to their oppressors.
Today, the battle to celebrate the Day of Heroism continues. Earlier this year, the Peruvian state demolished a mausoleum that had been erected for the Fallen Martyrs of El Fronton. The masses did their best to protect this sacred site, holding high banners that read, “Demolition is the continuation of genocide!”
Also this year, fascist Alan Garcia killed himself on April 17 to evade arrest from the same reactionary state that he had led against the People’s War as president. The last act of this class enemy sentences him to oblivion, whereas the courageous deaths of the revolutionary prisoners have made them the bravest, most enduring symbols of resistance.
In a speech a year after the Day of Heroism, Chairman Gonzalo hailed the prisoners and exalted their memory. “In this way, the prisoners of war, like the great masses of history, go on winning battles beyond the grave, because they live and fight within us, conquering new victories. We feel their vigorous and indelible presence shining and palpitating, teaching us today, tomorrow, and forever how to sacrifice our lives on behalf of the Party and the revolution.”
In 1983, the revolutionaries at El Fronton draped an enormous red banner over the wall of the prison, with a message to revolutionary prisoners in the US. “From here, comrades, from El Fronton,” the message read, “a filthy reactionary dungeon which we have converted into a frontline trench, we send our warmest greetings and support to the heroic revolutionary prisoners of the US, who right in the belly of the beast have dared and still dare to stand up in rebellion.”
Incendiary calls on all our readers to carry on daring to rebel in the belly of the beast and to honor these martyrs who live on in every revolutionary fighting against oppression in the world today. May each of us strive to give our lives as honestly and completely as they did in service of the International Communist Movement and the People’s War. Glory to the Day of Heroism!