FEATURE-Peru's Shining Path guerrillas refuse to die (fwd)
mluziett at shrike.depaul.edu
Mon Jun 10 16:00:36 MDT 1996
This is an interesting post, with a couple of problems. The main problem
is that one of its main sources is the Fujimori dictatorship, which lacks
credibility. The other problem I see is that it blames MRTA and Sendero
for the 30,000 deaths from the civil wars, when the VAST majority of those
killed were murdered by government forces. Nonetheless, it's still
Marc, "the Chegitz," Luzietti
personal homepage: http://shrike.depaul.edu/~mluziett
political homepage: http://shrike.depaul.edu/~mluziett/chegitz.html
---------- Forwarded message ----------
By Andrew Cawthorne
LIMA, Peru, May 15 (Reuter) - Julio Velasquez' slit throat and
Pascuala Rosado's dynamited body are grim testimony to the staying power
of one of Latin America's bloodiest guerrilla movements -- the Shining
Peru's Maoist rebels may be severely weakened since their violent
heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when they controlled large rural
areas, bombed and cut services in Lima at will and set the state
trembling. But on the eve of the 16th anniversary of Shining Path's May
17, 1980 uprising, Peruvians are frequently reminded that the movement is
by no means dead and buried.
Velasquez, a peasant militia member in the remote Andean village of
Anchihuay, was on night guard duty when scores of rebels attacked last
month and cut his throat before dragging the terrified population out to
listen to indoctrination speeches and witness mock trials. Two more
militia members were kidnapped and three were executed in the village
Rosada was a respected and popular community leader who had returned
to her beloved Lima shantytown after death threats that drove her to
Chile. Guerrillas shot her in the head in a marketplace in March before
blowing up her body and scattering pamphlets hailing the ``popular war.''
Such attacks are not isolated incidents. Shining Path has been
increasingly flexing its muscles in recent months, according to
anti-terrorist police investigators, witnesses and sources close to the
rebels. This comes despite the capture of the group's leader Abimael
Guzman in 1992 and the smashing of Shining Path's hold on much of the
Heavily armed guerrilla columns in the Upper Huallaga Valley, Peru's
drug-producing heartland, have carried out several ambushes this year,
killing dozens of soldiers. And a pattern of executions of local leaders,
indoctrination sessions and grass-roots recruiting has also been reported
in the Upper Huallaga Valley and the mountainous province of Ayacucho, the
rebels' former stronghold.
In the capital, a string of small attacks following the Rosado
assassination has led to speculation that Shining Path has re-established
its once-powerful Lima committee. While the rebels now have no serious
chance of bringing down President Alberto Fujimori's government, they
remain a constant thorn in the security forces' side.
``There is no possibility the movement can take power but there is
still plenty of indication that it is alive and kicking,'' said David
Scott Palmer, an author on Shining Path who teaches international affairs
at Boston University.
``Although substantially beaten back, Shining Path has gone back to an
earlier mode of conserving forces, trying to regroup and regather and
striking only at weak or exposed targets.''
Rebel informers and some anti-terrorist police sources put the number
of armed guerrillas at large in the thousands. ``In the Huallaga, there
are 1,000 active fighters in the central force and another 3,000 ready to
take up arms when required,'' one former Shining Path leader from the
Huallaga told Reuters.
This source, still in close contact with rebel activity throughout the
country, said the rump of Shining Path, led by Oscar Alberto Ramirez
Durand, ``Comrade Feliciano,'' was preparing for a new offensive. ``If
their wings aren't cut, something ugly is going to happen. Everyone in the
Huallaga knows that Sendero is there. Morale is high, they are ready for
combat. They practically have liberated zones in the Huallaga,'' the
former guerrilla warned.
Such talk runs counter to the official line that Shining Path is a
spent force with just a few hundred demoralised fighters still left in
jungle and highland hideouts. Having captured Guzman, jailed countless
guerrillas, virtually pacified the country and encouraged thousands of
rebels to lay down arms in return for an amnesty, Fujimori considers the
defeat of the insurgents one of his finest achievements.
``What has been achieved here in Peru is extraordinary. In less than
three years, we have decapitated, eliminated the presence of both
terrorist groups,'' he told Reuters recently, referring to Shining Path
and the smaller Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) guerrillas.
But many point out that the fight against the guerrillas, whose wars
on the state have brought at least 30,000 deaths and $25 billion in damage
since 1980, is by no means over. ``I am very disappointed in the
triumphalism of the government. It is very premature. I think we are going
to be surprised,'' said one Western diplomat who studies Peru's internal
``I think Sendero still represents a serious, long-term threat. They
do not have the potential to topple the state but they definitely retain
the capacity to carry out terrorist actions, to recruit, to grow in
The diplomat warned that conditions in which the uprisings fomented,
chiefly rural poverty and isolation, still exist. ``The conditions for
revolution have not changed,'' he said. ``The authorities have relied on
military and intelligence strategies but not addressed the underlying
All agree that the MRTA is a spent force, particularly after
November's spectacular capture of a unit planning to storm Congress. It is
Shining Path which remains the bogey-man, particular in the rural areas
worst hit during the 1980s, where bitter memories still run deep.
``I'm sure they are still out there,'' said widowed peasant Jesusa
Aguilar Quispe in the isolated Ayacucho village of Tincuy. Her husband
died in one of several rebel attacks on Tincuy that eventually forced the
villagers to flee. Now she and some of her neighbours have returned as
part of a refugees' repatriation programme.
``I have no food, no security, but this is my home,'' she said,
clenching a home-made wooden crucifix.
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