Hugo Blanco became committed to socialist and revolutionary ideas while studying in La Plata, Argentina, under the leadership of Trotskyist leader Nahuel Moreno in the late 1950s, when he was no older than 25. In that same year, following party guidance, he returned to Cuzco, Peru, where he joined the struggle of rural workers living and working in deplorable conditions.
In Cuzco, Blanco quickly emerged as one of the most undisputed and recognized leaders in the agrarian and indigenous struggles in the early 1960s, a period when popular mobilizations reached a boiling point and the rallying cry of “Otac allpa otac huannuy!” (land or death) swept through the poorest Andean villages.
Blanco also accumulated numerous imprisonments, went on 14 hunger strikes, and experienced exiles. In 1969, after being imprisoned for 7 years in Peru, Blanco participated in the honorary board of the 9th Congress of the Fourth International, held in France.
One of the exiles he went through was in Chile, until 1973. There, Blanco published several letters warning the left and workers about the preparations for Pinochet’s coup. With the rapid victory of the coup, Blanco sought refuge at the Swedish embassy and later managed to relocate to Sweden.
Upon returning to Peru, Blanco became a deputy in the 1978 Constituent Assembly, elected alongside Ricardo Napurí and Henrique Fernández, all Trotskyists, who were affiliated with FOCEP (Workers’, Peasants’, Students’, and Popular Front) at that time. Despite fraud allegations, Blanco managed to secure a massive vote.
In the 1980 presidential elections, Blanco came in fourth place. He continued to serve as a deputy until 1985 when he lost his mandate after accusing General Clemente Noel of murder. Twenty years later, the torture and disappearance of 56 people at the Los Cabitos barracks, under the command of General Clemente, were confirmed.
Blanco lost his mandate but his prestige was still significant, allowing him to return to the political scene as a senator in 1990. However, he lost his mandate again in the wake of Alberto Fujimori’s coup.
He left the country once more and arrived in Mexico, where he came into contact with the Zapatista guerrilla movement. In 1994, the Zapatistas organized a peasant uprising that took control of the agrarian region of Chiapas in the southeast of the country.
In these past decades, even in his advanced age, Blanco continued to actively advocate for the ecosocialist and indigenous cause, even publishing a newspaper called “Lucha Indígena” [Indigenous Struggle] and the magazine “Sin Permiso.” [Without Permission].
Hugo Blanco was one of the great socialist fighters of Latin America in the 20th century. His memory lives on in the struggles of the oppressed, peasants, indigenous people and workers. Comrade Hugo Blanco, present, until socialism, always!