Peru Tightens Noose Around Shining Path Offshoot Party MOVADEF
By Dialogo January 14, 2013
LIMA — The Peruvian government has stepped up efforts to prevent Shining Path guerrillas from trying to regroup under the auspices of Peru’s legal political system.
President Ollanta Humala is taking aim at the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights [Movimiento de Amnistía y Derechos Fundamentales, or MOVADEF], which was formed two years ago by former Shining Path inmates and lawyers for the outlawed party’s imprisoned leaders.
MOVADEF collected more than 300,000 signatures to register as a legal party, but was blocked by election authorities and withdrew its application last February. While the government was initially caught off guard by MOVADEF’s effort to register, it has used the past year to prepare a legal and political strategy to combat the organization.
On Jan. 2, Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza presented a criminal case against MOVADEF spokesman Alfredo Crespo, accusing him of violating anti-terrorism laws. The case revolves around MOVADEF’s political platform, which advocates an interpretation of Marxism espoused by Shining Path founder Abimael Guzmán and known in Peru as “Gonzalo Thought.”
“MOVADEF not only accepts Marxism, Leninism and Maoism, but the ideological route of ‘Gonzalo Thought’, which has translated in Peru since May 1980 as assassination, destruction and death,” Pedraza said at a news conference.
Pedraza dismisses Crespo claim as ‘semantics’
The Shining Path launched its war against Peru in May 1980, coinciding with the first democratic elections after 12 years of military rule. A truth commission that investigated 20 years of political violence between 1980 and 2000 concluded that the Shining Path was responsible for the deaths of most of the 69,000 people killed or disappeared during the internal conflict.
The commission also blamed it for inflicting nearly $25 billion in damages through sabotage. Guzmán and other top leaders were arrested in September 1992 and have been in prison ever since.
Crespo said that while his party shares the same ideology as Shining Path, it is not a militarized party and does not accept armed struggle as a means to gaining power. Yet Pedraza has dismissed Crespo’s distinction between the Shining Path and MOVADEF as pure semantics.
“There is no need for a military action [to be committed] to charge him with terrorism. His defense of Shining Path ideology, talk about armed struggle and clear association with Guzmán is enough,” he said.
Humala pushes for ‘denial law’
Crespo has already spent 12 years in prison on terrorism charges. He was released in 2005 and almost immediately resumed his defense of Guzmán and other Shining Path leaders serving life sentences. He faces another 20 years in prison if convicted in the case presented by Pedraza.
At the same time, the Humala administration has been working with Congress to close gaps in existing anti-terrorism legislation. On Dec. 13, the government published a law banning anyone convicted of terrorism from teaching in public or private schools, universities or technical institutes. The law requires the Education Ministry to review the criminal history of all teachers every school year.
This followed a law passed in late November increasing penalties for anyone convicted of direct and indirect financing of terrorist activities. The longest sentence is now 35 years and it would be applied to any public authorities — including teachers — convicted of supporting terrorism.
Lawmakers are expected to begin debate in January on legislation that would make it illegal to deny the impact terrorism had on the country. The congressional Justice and Constitution committees have already approved the bill.
Known as the “denial law” and modeled after German legislation concerning the country’s Nazi past, the Peruvian bill would make it a crime to “approve, justify, deny or minimize the crimes committed by the members of terrorist organizations.” If approved, the formation of parties like MOVADEF would also be illegal.
Intelligence agency DINI given additional powers
Humala has called on Congress to pass the denial law and continue strengthening anti-terrorism laws.
“The fight against subversion will continue … we need to use the mechanisms of rule of law to defend ourselves,” he said Jan. 3. “Democracy cannot be blind. We cannot give [MOVADEF] any opportunities.”
The administration has also beefed up the intelligence service, something Humala promised when he took office in July 2011. The administration issued a legislative decree in early December strengthening the National Intelligence System and National Intelligence Bureau (DINI), which Humala said must play a much greater role in eliminating “terrorist remnants” throughout Peru.
The decree elevates the DINI chief to the status of “presidential advisor on intelligence issues” and adds the post of executive director to make the agency more versatile. The most important change, however, is centralizing all intelligence activity in the DINI. The agency will now “direct, control and supervise the components of the National Intelligence Service,” with intelligence-gathering units in the National Police and three branches of the military, to coordinate information.
Military cracks down on two breakaway factions
In addition, the Humala administration has increased its 2013 budget for the intelligence system to improve its capacity to combat a breakaway Shining Path faction that operates in the south-central jungle in an area known as the VRAEM.
The Belgium-sized zone — under a state of emergency since June 2003 — is home to one-third of the coca grown in Peru for transformation into cocaine. The VRAEM faction is unrelated to MOVADEF and the Shining Path’s imprisoned leaders have labeled its fighters mercenaries. The government says the VRAEM group, led by the Quispe Palomino family clan, was responsible for killing more than 20 police officers and soldiers in 2012.
A second Shining Path faction, this one in the northern Upper Huallaga Valley, was been eliminated last year after the February 2012 arrest of its leader, Florindo Flores or “Comrade Artemio.” Flores’ trial began Dec. 19 and is expected to last four months; he is accused of terrorism, drug trafficking and direct responsibility in more than 100 assassinations.
The state has requested a life sentence and fines totaling more than $1 billion for Flores.
Julio Galindo, the anti-terrorism prosecutor, said his office would also present evidence linking Flores with MOVADEF. Flores doesn’t deny his role in the Shining Path — he’s led the Huallaga faction since the early 1990s — but has challenged the prosecution’s charge of terrorism, saying the trial is political.
Chief prosecutor Luís Landa has responded that there’s nothing political about the trial. He told the three-judge court that Flores is a member of “a bloody organization that caused death and provoked terror among the population.”