Peru and "Sendero"

Gonzalez, Francisco gonzalez at
Tue May 21 08:08:25 MDT 1996

Mr. Godena:

	First, I read with interest your take on my comments about the excessive
postings dealing with the Sendero Luminoso and Peru on the marxism list.
I just want to make a few points: to begin with, the condescending and
somewhat insulting tone of your message is exactly the type of actions

I find most unhelpful if we are trying to have an intelligent
conversation (not a debate). I can say that most of what I know about
"Sendero Luminoso" I learned from the various postings on the marxism
list: the paeans to Chairman Gonzalo, the accusations of "Fujimori
spies"against members of the list; the

long verbose transcriptions of The New Flag, etc... My question is: what
is the point of all of this? Do you want to convert people on this list
to your cause? I don't think that's necessary, I believe we all agree
that dictator Fujimori should go! Do you want to raise money or recruit
volunteers for your popular war? One thing that you are NOT doing is
trying to engage the members of this list in any meaningful conversation!

	Couple of other things: your historical recollection is obviously flawed
when you state that the Sendero Luminoso is prepared to fight for
decades, just like the Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese before they
achieved victory. For your information: in Russia it wasn't a popular
uprising that swept the Communists into power. The country was weakened
by the defeats suffered in World War One, complicated by the inefficient
and corrupt state apparatus. The Czar was deposed by the Kerensky  regime
(increasing the chaos in Russia). Lenin took advantage of this state of
affairs to achieve power

with relatively little fighting or bloodshed. The Civil War in Russia
began AFTER the Communist came to power! In China, the Communists had
suffered many defeats at the hands of the Kuomingtan (resulting in the
massive Communist retreat, the Long March, into the fringe of China). Mao
began to consolidate and expand his base of support during World War Two,
not by fighting Chian Kai Shek, but the invading Japanese. The Communists
restarted their campaign against Chiang at the end of the war (1945) and
achieved victory in 1949. Again, a combination of events from abroad
(Japanese invasion) and sound political decisions (collaboration with
Chiang during the war, cultivating support from the people) led to
ultimate victory in just a few years of active military operations.
Lastly, the Vietnamese faced three different wars: the independence war
against the French (1945-1954), the war against the US (1959-1972) and
the war of unification (1973-1975). Again, the struggle for independence
and unification was shaped by events from abroad more than by the
internal political/military situation.

	The current war in Peru must be viewed in it's proper Latin American
context, not comparing it to what happened in Europe or Asia. Unless
there is a dramatic shift in US policy toward Latin America, there is no
chance for a "Sendero Luminoso" regime to be able to rule in Peru. I am
NOT saying that is right, but is pragmatic and realist assessment of US
dominance in the Western Hemisphere. The military situation in Peru (I am
now speaking as a former officer candidate in the US Army,"before I saw
the light!") is clear: the Peruvian armed forces, despite their
corruption and lack of effective leadership (as seen during the jungle
fighting with Ecuador 2 years ago) still has an overwhelming numerical
and material superiority over Sendero. Moreover, the Peruvian military is
following the US advise and fielding 'Special Forces", trained in
counterinsurgency, to carry the war against Sendero in the countryside.
This frees the less capable regular military for garrison duty, etc.
Also, as you mentioned, the Peruvian military does not lack weapons or
equipment. "Sendero" lacks a source for the arms and equipment needed to
wage a modern war (shotguns won't do it!). You need night vision scopes,
anti-aircraft missiles, communication equipment, etc. What I am trying to
say is that the chances for a complete military victory by "Sendero" are
slim to none at this time. The FMLN in El Salvador came to the same
conclusion and decided to join the political process, not because they
believed in it, but because there was more to gain by "playing the
political game" that by continuing the insurrection.

	If "Sendero Luminoso" wants to become a major player in Peru, it has to
adapt to the realities of the country. Armed struggle will not lead to
victory: it just provides Fujimori with an excuse for the repressive and
corrupt nature of his regime. The people of Peru do want and deserve
economic justice and equality, clean water to drink, better schools, a
descent standard of living. The question is; os the armed struggle
carried by "Sendero" the right way of achieving those goals at this time?

Francisco J. Gonzalez

gonzalez at

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