This article is a part of a series of articles that will be published this year, first online followed by print editions, that discuss the successes of the People’s War in Peru over the past forty years. Our intention is to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the initiation of the People’s War in Peru as well as to discuss the lessons the working-class in Canada can take from their struggle to incorporate into our own.
By: Charlie Nada, a supporter of MER-RSM Vancouver
As LGBT+ workers have gained revolutionary consciousness and the masses have increasingly supported LGBT+ liberation, the dying capitalist order has begun in the last few decades to feign concern about LGBT+ people in an effort to turn us into either liberals who present no threat to them or active foot soldiers of imperialism. This phenomenon can be observed everywhere from the infamous pink-washing of Israel to allegations of homophobia against any number of Communist leaders. The Communist Party of Peru (PCP), being one of the most advanced revolutionary organizations in the world, has not been immune to accusations of homophobia. Whenever these accusations are raised against enemies of imperialism, we must not dismiss them out of hand or immediately accept them as fact. Rather, we need to examine them critically and in context in order to ascertain the truth.
A key part of the context is the situation for LGBT+ Peruvians under the fascist and bureaucrat capitalist state, which is in keeping with regional norms. This means that, on the legal side, virtually all gains have occurred in the last decade, long after the bend in the road and strategic retreat of the People’s War. The more significant regional norm is that social attitudes towards LGBT+ people have been heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, which of course means that there has been a high degree of hostility that has only recently begun to subside. In evaluating whether or not the PCP is homophobic, it is essential to keep in mind that any degree of tolerance towards LGBT+ people would be revolutionary compared to the situation under the current fascist and bureaucrat capitalist state. Another important piece of context is the way that the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), the main competitors of the PCP (particularly in urban environments), treated LGBT+ people. Even TeleSur, a publication which, given its funding from the Cuban government (allies of the MRTA), one would expect would be fairly sympathetic to the MRTA, admitted that, “In particular, the MRTA had a homophobic policy that equated homosexuals with criminals and proudly announced their murders. The announcements and direct anti-LGBT attacks were published in their newspaper ‘Cambio’.”  As will become clear, the way that the MRTA imitated the worst impulses of their revisionist allies in dealing with LGBT+ people is a useful point of contrast with the PCP’s actions.
Unlike both the reactionary government and the revisionist MRTA, the PCP seems to be, at least as a matter of policy, entirely devoid of homophobia. The PCP stated in 1994, responding specifically to claims that they were killing LGBT+ people, “It is probable that the PCP has executed a homosexual, but rest assured that it was not done because of their sexual orientation but because of their position against the revolution. It is not difficult to see that in the bars and brothels of Peruvian cities frequented by elements of the police and army some homosexuals work as snitches and collaborators…when the party seizes that city it will settle accounts with those elements, regardless of their sexual orientation. What then happens is the government and reactionary media report that the Party killed gays” . The position that snitches and collaborators should be executed regardless of their sexual orientation is absolutely correct, and one that should be emulated. Nevertheless, one could question whether, despite this solid theoretical line, in practice the PCP may act differently. In fact, even Enrique Bossio, a notable member of the Homosexual Movement of Lima (MHOL), a group which is not at all sympathetic to the PCP, admitted that “the PCP has not made gays the focus of any attacks” , and noted that the MRTA’s track record is far worse. It is also worth noting that the PCP takes responsibility for its actions, even ones as brutal and controversial as the action in the village of Lucanamarca, which Chairman Gonzalo took personal responsibility for in his interview . If they are targeting LGBT+ people, it would be extremely out of character for them to deny it.
Given the fact that they were not targeting LGBT+ people like the MRTA, and given their statement that “party membership is open to all who support the cause of communist revolution and the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, Gonzalo Thought, regardless of what their sexual preferences may be” , which is in stark contrast with the attitudes of capitalist Peruvian society, it is clear that the PCP is the most progressive force in Peru for the liberation of LGBT+ people.
: “In the face of reactionary military actions and the use of mesnadas, we responded with a devastating action: Lucanamarca. Neither they nor we have forgotten it, to be sure, because they got an answer that they didn’t 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’s 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 weren’t the same as those they had fought before. This is what they understood. The excesses are the negative aspect. Understanding war, and basing ourselves on what Lenin said, taking Clausewitz into account, in war, the masses engaged in combat can go too far and express all their hatred, the deep feelings of class hatred, repudiation and condemnation that they have–that was the root of it. This has been explained by Lenin very clearly. Excesses can be committed. The problem is to go to a certain point and not beyond it, because if you go past that point you go off course. It’s like an angle; it can be opened up to a certain point and no further. If we were to give the masses a lot of restrictions, requirements and prohibitions, it would mean that deep down we didn’t 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. I repeat, this was explained clearly by Lenin, and this is how we understand those excesses. But, I insist, the main point was to make them understand that we were a hard nut to crack, and that we were ready for anything, anything.” http://library.redspark.nu/1988_-_Interview_with_Chairman_Gonzalo