Little Progress Has Been Made In Fight Against Drug Trafficking In Peru

By Dialogo
July 28, 2010

Peruvian president Alan García affirmed that little progress has been made in the fight against drug trafficking and that he is not satisfied with the actions taken to eliminate the remnants of the Maoist group Shining Path.

“Little progress has been made, not like we would wish (in the fight against drugs),” the president said in an interview published by the daily El Comercio, the Peruvian paper of record.

What conspires against this objective is the geography of the jungle where the traffickers operate, which makes every maneuver by a military unit “always a very high risk,” he indicated.

With regard to the Shining Path groups, he said that “they haven’t made progress,” although he admitted that “I’m not satisfied,” due to the fact that “a great deal of coordination is lacking, and there are still a great many professional jealousies” among the security forces that combat them.

“They are not a threat; they are a few dozen armed individuals with a few hundred unarmed supporters,” García specified.

The objective is to put an end to the Shining Path remnants, but the president noted that putting an end to a Shining Path stronghold requires tenfold numerical superiority on the military side.

In the last year, “for the first time unmanned aircraft have been put to use in the jungle areas where they operate; this impedes them a great deal, but I’m not satisfied,” he remarked.

García considered “very successful” a U.S. offer of four million dollars for information leading to the capture of either of the Shining Path leaders “José” and “Artemio,” included by Washington on a list of drug traffickers.

“The United States wants to help; they can’t help directly by sending troops, but they can by attacking these drug traffickers, in the knowledge that in truth, they are also terrorists,” he maintained.

“José,” who operates in the southeastern jungle, and “Artemio,” in the central jungle, are considered “narco-terrorists” by the government, which accuses them of being allied with drug traffickers.

According to the UN, Peru is the leading producer of coca leaf, the raw material for cocaine, and Peru and Colombia are the largest producers of cocaine in the world.

Shining Path was defeated during the last decade, after starting a conflict in 1980 that in two decades left 70,000 dead or missing.