Carlos Iván Degregori
Surviving the Flood: The Multiple Lives of Lurgio Gavilán
this is an excePtionaL book. more PreciseLY, this is the his-
tory of an exceptional life. Lurgio Gavilán was a child soldier in the
ranks of the Shining Path guerrillas. He was not recruited, nor was
he kidnapped or taken by force, a common practice in the years fol-
lowing those in which Gavilán joined the organization. At the age
of twelve, he decided to join to follow in his brother’s footsteps. He
wanted to see the world, to change the world— at least his world—
which was on the margins of, though not marginal to, the rest of the
It was the beginning of 1983. Shining Path, as he put it, “flooded
the countryside,” and for many of the rural poor, its totalitarian na-
ture wasn’t yet apparent. And so its authoritarian rigidity was ac-
cepted in many places as an expression of the “toughness” necessary
for restoring an order that seemed unjust or nonexistent. The army
had just arrived in Ayacucho.
With his Little Red Book, which he couldn’t read, under his arm,
the boy Lurgio, a guerrilla fighter now, wandered over peaks and
through valleys (more over peaks, to tell the truth, including Apu Ra-
zuhuillca, the highest mountain in the northern part of Ayacucho).1
He saw the burning of villages, witnessed more than a few deaths,
participated in combat, and took part in executions of adolescents
like himself whom Shining Path condemned for errors such as fall-
ing asleep on nightly guard duty or, like the young girl who cooked for
and deloused the troops, “because, they said, she had fallen in love
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