By Felipe Vera
On the evening of June 19, Communists in Los Angeles held a commemoration for the Day of Heroism at 812 E. 28th St., an apartment complex in South Central that is led by the 28th St. Barrio Committee of Serve the People-Los Angeles.
At the beginning of the event, revolutionary songs by Victor Campos Bullon were played as well as “Songs of the Shining Trenches of Combat,” recordings of revolutionary songs by political prisoners in Peru. Children in attendance colored in images of Peruvian combatants.
After about thirty minutes, supporters of the People’s Revolutionary Defense Units, in Spanish known as Unidades de Defensa Populares Revolucionarias (UDPR), introduced the Day of Heroism and spoke on its historical and international significance to the crowd. After the speech, the organizers commenced a cultural performance for the crowd.
Combatant actors dressed in military attire and red bandanas represented the heroic martyrs of the Day of Heroism, while those dressed in all black and ski masks carrying cut-out assault rifles played the role of the reactionary Peruvian state forces. In one scene, combatants were preparing for an assault on the enemy forces, sharpening their knives and assembling Molotov cocktails made out of plastic bottles with red and yellow cloth at the top. The combatants made a courageous attack on the state forces eliminating one soldier, although one combatant was fatally injured.
With his last minutes, he wrote a letter and read it out loud. This was a real letter from a combatant who was martyred and is entitled “Nothing and Nobody Can Defeat Us!” Once he passed away, his comrades beside him took up their weapons and made an attack on the last enemy soldier, this time with the participation of the tenants throwing Molotov cocktails at him as well.
After the performance ended, a UDPR supporter read the Spanish version of the letter. He told Incendiary that “many emotions have been felt [when] learning about this day, about how the people were massacred, and learning about how the combatants were able to organize within the prisons. But specifically reading the letter of the martyr of the Day of Heroism, it… I don’t know the right word, but it brought tears.”
“I put myself in the shoes of what this person was experiencing and still stubbornly putting up his fist saying ‘I uphold the Communist Party of Peru and Chairman Gonzalo!'” the supporter said.
From there, organizers of the event introduced an altar that was made in commemoration of the Day of Heroism. The altar had several images placed on it, candles, flowers, a hammer and sickle, as well as the names of all the fallen martyrs.
Afterward, organizers showed a video clip of the combatants as well as several clips from the documentary “People of the Shining Path.” The scenes highlighted the immense repression that combatants were facing years later, such as an assault on a prison killing over a hundred people, the militancy and selflessness of the imprisoned women, and the distinction between reactionary and revolutionary violence.
Before the night ended, some tenants saw lyric sheets on laminated cards and asked if people were going to sing. One organizer had taken the time to transcribe the song as well as translate it into English. The masses, activists, combatant actors, and the UDPR supporters all gathered around in a half circle and sang the song “Ni La Muerte Ha Podido Vencerte” by Victor Campos Bullon.
A tenant from the Barrio Committee mentioned in Spanish, “The event was beautiful and I learned a lot about another culture and something that I did not know that happened over there [in Peru]. It was really intense and almost made me cry. And I learned, just how they fought and united, we too can do the same here.”