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Peru: Information on Augusta La Torre, wife of Abimael Guzmán

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 January 1993
Citation / Document Symbol PER12684
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Peru: Information on Augusta La Torre, wife of Abimael Guzmán, 1 January 1993, PER12684, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad9710.html [accessed 1 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to the available sources, Augusta la Torre was known within the Shining Path organization as comrade Nora or Norah and is presumed dead. She is thought to have played a crucial role in the leadership of the Shining Path since its inception, with some arguing that she may have encouraged Abimael Guzm n to put his theories into practice (NACLA Report on the Americas Dec. 1990-Jan. 1991, 22; Hertoghe and Labrousse 1989, 65).

Augusta La Torre reportedly encouraged her husband to found the Popular Women's Movement in 1965 in the city of Ayacucho (New York Times 22 Sept. 1992). This movement reportedly "produced the theoretical context for the role of women in the movement" (Ibid.), publishing booklets and a magazine in Quechua and Spanish (NACLA Report on the Americas Dec. 1990-Jan. 1991, 22).

Augusta La Torre reportedly headed the female branch of the Maoist group Bandera Roja (Red Flag) and was one of the founders of Socorro Popular (Popular Succour), a front organization of the Shining Path widely reported as having played a key role in the latter's logistical support (Hertoghe and Labrousse 1989, 66). In 1989 Augusta La Torre and Abimael Guzm n may have been separated, with her possibly being the person responsible for foreign activities of the Shining Path (Ibid.).

Relatives of Augusta La Torre who are also reported to be involved in the Shining Path have apparently been residing and carrying out political activity in Sweden (Caretas 15 Apr. 1991, 38). Javier Esparza M rquez, married to Augusta's sister Gisela, is a long-time militant of the Shining Path who is or has been the group's representative in that country (Ibid.).

Esparza reportedly deserted the Shining Path and went to France, from where he wrote to Abimael Guzm n apologizing for his abandonment of the group and requesting to continue working for the organization in Europe (Ibid.). After a positive answer from Guzm n, Esparza is believed to have returned to Sweden, where he met with a number of relatives of Guzm n who were settled there (Ibid.). Although it is not clear whether Augusta La Torre was in Sweden, her uncle Carlos La Torre C rdenas (known as "el tío" or "the uncle" within the Shining Path), her sister Gisela (with "Geraldine" as her `nom de guerre') and Gisela's husband (Javier Esparza, known as "Javier" or "José") were some of the relatives of Guzm n who reportedly lived and participated in Shining Path activities in Sweden (Ibid., 94).

One source states that Augusta La Torre died on 14 November 1989 ( 14 July 1991, 30). Based on documents found by the Peruvian police in a Shining Path safehouse that was raided in January 1991, another source states that Augusta La Torre may have been dead by 29 June 1989 (Caretas 25 Feb. 1991, 35). According to this source, a "congress" of the Shining Path leadership agreed to award comrade Nora on 29 June 1989 the "order of the hammer and sickle" (orden de la hoz y el martillo in Spanish), which, according to the source, is the highest tribute awarded by the Shining Path (Ibid.).

The same magazine reported earlier that the videotaped wake of a dead woman, whom Abimael Guzm n is seen kissing and giving a speech for, was that of Augusta La Torre (Caretas 11 Feb. 1991, 29). The wake may have taken place in early 1990, and the body may have been buried in the garden of a house in the Lima district of Comas (Ibid.). Based on information contained in the same videotape, another source reports that Augusta La Torre died at the age of 43, after 26 year of militancy in the Shining Path ( 14 July 1991, 30). The same source speculates on the possible death or suicide of Augusta La Torre, although no clear conclusion is reached in the article.

References

Caretas [Lima]. 15 April 1991. "Sendero en Cinco Continentes: La Conexión Internacional."

_____. 25 February 1991. "Secretos del Congreso."

_____. 11 February 1991. "Cómo se Llegó al Video."

Hertoghe, Alain and Alain Labrousse. 1989. Le Sentier lumineux du Pérou: un nouvel intégrisme dans le Tiers monde. Paris: éditions La Découverte.

         NACLA Report on the Americas. December 1990-January 1991. Carol Andreas. "Women at War." Washington, D.C.: North American Congress on Latin America.

The New York Times. 22 September 1992. Nathaniel C. Nash. "Shining Path Women: So Many and So Ferocious."

         Sí [Lima]. 14 July 1991. "La Leyenda del Beso."

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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