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2011-07-01

Shining Path and Its Changing Threat

[Istock]

[Istock]

Brigadier General (Ret.) Andrés Acosta, Peruvian Army

Considering the basic definition of a threat, it could be said that the Shining Path (SL) continues to pose one. Its armed militants have the capacity to mobilize themselves and to harm government forces. The group has the intention to do so, and in fact, they do. SL receives funding from drug traffickers and illegal woodcutters, and they exercise control over a portion of Peruvian territory that, though small, represents a symbolic and psychological factor for its followers.

SL operations have varied substantially over the last 10 years. They no longer attack the civil population but instead concentrate solely on the police and Armed Forces. Their modus operandi ranges from ambushes to foot patrols to audacious helicopter attacks, and even harassment of the state’s combat bases. The group is estimated to have some 600 armed militants in and around the Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley (VRAE). Members are recruited from the cocagrowing rural population and include abducted children who are subsequently indoctrinated and trained to kill. The group even includes discharged soldiers of the Armed Forces, contracted on salaries much higher than those in the local labor market (no less than $500 per month).

The arms at their disposal are weapons of war, including machine guns and rocket launchers, which they use against helicopters. It is also very common for them to set traps in and around fields or mandatory routes of the rural territory of the VRAE. These handcrafted traps, made with great imagination and ingenuity, are difficult to discover by detection devices and specialized search teams.

While the VRAE is the main area of activity, the SL also continues to operate in the region of Alto Huallaga, where the group has nearly been defeated, but where complete victory has not been achieved. In the Alto Huallaga region, their armed legions are far fewer in number, consisting of no more than 150 militants. The problem is that SL as a threat has changed, and its members have become “[illegal] narco-lumber trafficking terrorists,” according to Brigadier General Leonardo Longa López, commandant-general of the 31st Infantry Brigade in charge of the VRAE, as noted in the December 2010 edition of the Peruvian Army’s magazine, Expresión Militar.

Gen. Longa calls narco-lumber terrorism “the result of changes among the remaining terrorists in the VRAE, who have become drug traffickers and beneficiaries of illegal logging.” This transformation has enabled them to influence the local population, largely poor and immigrant people from the Peruvian mountain region. With a lack of employment opportunities, this influence has transformed the local economy, which is now driven by these two illegal activities under the armed protection of the SL.

General Andrés Acosta has a master’s degree in national development and defense and a doctorate in political science and international relations.

Shining Path Continues to Recruit Children

The Shining path turns children into soldiers capable of murder

The narcoterrorist group shining path (SL) continues to recruit minors and even has an indoctrination school for them called “People’s School,” according to a report on peruvian television program Panorama that aired in November 2010.

This school is located in the Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley (Vrae). images from the report show children reciting Marxist, Leninist and Maoist slogans. the program also showed photographs of children in military-style formation carrying long-range weapons.

When they reach 15 years old, and are barely taller than a meter in height, these children are already considered war veterans, reported Mexico’s Noticieros Televisa.

The SL has among its ranks children who are turned into soldiers trained to kill, according to the same news report.

Corporal arí Zevallos, a survivor of an SL ambush in the Sarabamba jungle in ayacucho, revealed during the report that one of the attackers was an 11-year-old child, who was forced by a woman to fatally shoot a wounded soldier.

Ántero Flores aráoz, peru’s defense minister until late 2009, acknowledged in an interview with Noticieros Televisa that “shining path indoctrinates and perverts children in order to use them in its war against the state.”

A simple internet search using the key words “children” and “Shining Path” yields unsettling images of children recruited by the SL, heavily armed with weapons that include akM machine guns and light automatic rifles. Most dress as adults, with blue jackets and camouflage pants, and with expressions that have been stripped of the innocence of childhood. they have lost their childhood to become machines of war.

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5 Comments

  • Karla Palacios | 2011-10-16

    Clearly General Longa should command the VRAE. He has studied this phenomenon and he understands that what belongs to Caesar must be given to Caesar. This government wants changes and it has in its hands what it is looking for.

  • fernando melgar vargas | 2011-10-15

    Concrete, concise and accurate.

  • Nicolas | 2011-10-15

    I believe the Shining Path as a political organization is no longer a threat to the country's security. It was defeated politically and militarily with the capture of its leaders, Guzman in '92 and Feliciano in '99, and it was at that moment and under those circumstances that the narco-terrorist alliance was created and consolidated. The terrorist remnant is a violent and experienced tool used by the drug trade to carry out illegal activities, giving it an ideological whiff that confuses certain analysts and allows it to attract supposed militants, who are nothing more than coca farmers who benefit from this activity. The new strategy behind this narco-terrorist alliance could be called the "SHINING PATHIFICATION" OF DRUG TRAFFICKING, in which the drug trade, as an external and global threat, uses this criminal and violent remnant to achieve its goals.

  • victor velasquez | 2011-10-14

    EVERY NOTE OR ARTICLE ABOUT THIS LEAVES ME WITH THE SAD FEELING THAT THE GOVERNMENTS THAT CAME AFTER FUJIMORI AND THE ARMED FORCES IN EACH ADMINISTRATION WERE INCAPABLE OF SUCCESSFULLY FACING THIS THREAT OUT OF FEAR OF ANOTHER LEGAL CHALLENGE THAT WOULD PUT ALL THE ACTORS IN JAIL. THERE ARE TOO MANY VICTIMS TO MOURN AND TOO MANY FELLOW SOLDIERS TO CRY ABOUT FOR THE SHINING PATH AFTER GUZMAN TO CONTINUE TO BE PART OF PERU'S REALITY AND THE ARMED FORCES NOT TO GET COMMENDED FOR THEIR HISTORY.

  • EDUARDO GARCIA | 2011-10-14

    EXCELLENT ARTICLE. I HOPE THAT CONCEPTS LIKE THE ONES YOU HAVE SUPPLIED ARE USED AS THE BASIS FOR NEW STRATEGIES THE GOVERNMENT MUST ADOPT, PASSING LAWS THAT ALLOW FOR BETTER CONTROL OF THE REGION, ESSENTIALLY IN ORDER TO WEAKEN THE NEW APPROACH BY THE SHINING PATH, WHICH IS NOW TRAFFICKING IN WOOD WHEN IT HAD ONLY BEEN DOING IT WITH COCA BEFORE. IN TERMS OF THE INDOCTRINATION SCHOOLS, WHICH ARE WELL KNOWN AND TOWARD WHICH NO DEFINITIVE ACTION IS BEING TAKEN, IT WOULD BE GOOD TO CONTINUE WITH WHAT WAS ONCE DONE BEFORE, WHICH WAS TO FENCE IN THE WHOLE AREA, AND TO CONTROL DOWN THE THE MILLIMETER WHAT CAME OUT AND WHAT WENT IN. IT REALLY SHOWED RESULTS DURING THE SHORT TIME IT WAS ALLOWED TO BE DONE. GOOD WORK ON YOUR REPORT. WARM REGARDS, EDUARDO.