Peru rebels recruit kids to fight

By Dialogo
August 24, 2010

Peru’s leftist Shining Path guerrillas recruit children into their ranks, training them in armed combat and drug trafficking, an army general said on August 22.

“They recruit children by force to indoctrinate them in their Shining Path schools. And they call them pioneers,” counterinsurgency chief for the southern Apurimac Valley region, General Leonel Cabrera, told reporters.

He said a child fighter named Alcides was rescued recently during a military raid on a rebel camp in the area.

Cabrera said the Shining Path faction involved in child recruitment is headed by Victor Quispe Palomino and two of his brothers, who have turned the rebel unit into “a family clan that operates like an extension of drug trafficking” groups.

Peruvian human rights groups have been reporting the rebels’ child recruitment tactics to the United Nations since August 2009.

Blamed for more than 70,000 deaths between 1980-2000, the Shining Path was almost destroyed during former president Alberto Fujimori’s tenure (1990-2000).

In addition to their decades-long anti-government struggle, Cabrera told the Andina news agency, the remnants of the rebel group are now heavily involved in drug trafficking and illegal logging, especially along the Apurimac Valley region.