Paper Says Shining Path Gets Funds From Robberies In Bolivia

By Dialogo
March 06, 2009

The Peruvian terrorist group Shining Path is carrying out armed robberies in Bolivia to finance its resurgence back home, this capital's La Razon daily reported. The morning paper quoted anonymous police sources talking about how easy it is for Shining Path to stage assaults in Bolivia. "A very easy way to get money, whether or not they have access to drug trafficking through Peru or Colombia, is from robberies in Bolivia because it's right next door. Don't doubt that they are here," a police chief told a reporter from the daily. Another police officer said that "the irregular groups have the idea that staging a holdup in Bolivia is child's play," because banks and gas stations are guarded by security agents from private companies that are incapable of standing up to the assaults. According to the daily, the police also admitted that Bolivia's official intelligence groups are not trained to deal with an overwhelming "threat" like Shining Path. This week, police commander Gen. Miguel Gemio said that a suspected ex-member of Shining Path took part in the robbery of an office of the Banco Bisa in the city of El Alto near La Paz. Meanwhile, the deputy minister of the interior, Marcos Farfan, told reporters that "we can't rule out anything until we finish the investigation" into the wave of robberies. In any case, on Wednesday Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera confirmed that President Evo Morales "called for a quick investigation" into the possible presence of Shining Path in Bolivia after the series of holdups committed in La Paz. The only precedent of a foreign terrorist group getting funds in this country to finance its operations was the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, also from Peru, that kidnapped Bolivian businessman Samuel Doria Medina in 1995. At the time, MRTA obtained $1.2 million in ransom money for Doria Medina which, according to various investigations, was used to finance the planning of the 1996 assault on the Japanese Embassy in Lima. A truth commission blamed the Maoist-inspired Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence in Peru between 1980 and 2000. "Sendero Luminoso," as the group is known in Spanish, was effectively defeated in 1992 with the capture of founder Abimael Guzman, but several hundred insurgents continue holding out in the jungle. Peruvian authorities say the rebels now support themselves by working as mercenaries for drug traffickers.