Peru's newly sworn-in Humala will face remnants of Shining Path
It is unclear whether the two modern Shining Path factions are revolutionaries or simply drug runners, but President Humala, who was sworn in today, has promised to 'wipe out' the groups.
(Page 2 of 2)
A smaller group operates in the Upper Huallaga Valley, in the northern jungle. It is run by Florindo Flores, or “Comrade Artemio,” the only historic Shining Path leader still at large. The Huallaga Police Front reports that Mr. Flores’ group has killed five peasants since June, accusing them of being police informants.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Humala, a retired lieutenant colonel who headed an anti-subversive unit in the Upper Huallaga Valley in the early 1990s, has said that one of the first orders of business when he is president will be to sit down with military and police leadership to formulate a plan to “wipe out the scourge” of terrorism. But Fernando Rospigliosi, who served twice as interior minister during former President Alejandro Toledo’s government (2001-2006), said Humala will not have an easy time eliminating the remnants of Shining Path.
“The first thing needed is a complete review of the current strategy, which has not worked. The military in the VRAE has focused on conquering physical space, but this is not a war about territory. The terrorist forces are very fluid, which is why no major leader has been picked off,” Mr. Rospigliosi said.
While agreeing that there needs to be a new strategy, Jaime Antezana, who has studied the Shining Path for the past 20 years, maintains that there is nothing revolutionary about the armed factions. He said that they are simply armed bandits in the service of drug traffickers. “The VRAE group uses the Shining Path name as if it were a ‘franchise.’ They are not interested in political control, but in securing routes to move drugs out of the valley,” he said.
The Peruvian government believes that the Shining Path could be receiving around $15 million annually from drug funds to stay armed and maintain their clandestine networks. Peru is the world’s second largest producer of coca, from which cocaine is made, and the two armed factions operate in the regions containing Peru's principal coca fields.
Movadef, which has to tread a careful line because the Shining Path itself remains an outlawed party, rejects armed revolution as a means for political change, but it makes a distinction between the VRAE and Huallaga factions, calling the latter dogmatic and anti-historical.
The most recent issue of its newspaper, Vortice, included an open letter to Humala, calling on him to deal with the legacy of the war. “The great taboo in Peru is the internal war. And it is a trauma that lacerates and throws off balance national conscience.”