Peruvian security forces are defeating the Shining Path
By Dialogo April 03, 2014
Increased coca eradication and anti-drug trafficking efforts by Peruvian security forces have prompted a series of desperate but ineffectual attacks by Shining Path insurgents on military outposts and civilian workers.
On Feb. 16, 2014, Shining Path terrorists in the Cusco region attacked an Army outpost guarding a camp for gas pipeline workers. The insurgents shot and wounded one civilian worker. Over the next few days, Shining Path rebels staged harassment attacks against several army counterinsurgency bases in neighboring Ayacucho region, opening fire with machine guns but not killing or wounding any soldiers or civilians.
The attacks took place in the remote, rugged area known as the VRAEM, which encompasses the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys in southeast Peru. The VRAEM is Peru’s top coca-producing area. Remnants of the once-powerful Shining Path insurgent, now believed to number no more than a few hundred fighters, control coca cultivation and drug trafficking in the area.
The VRAEM is a key route for the shipment of cocaine into Bolivia and then to the growing Brazilian market, and well as a primary cocaine source for Mexican drug cartels, particularly the Sinaloa Cartel headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Mexican security forces captured El Chapo in February 2014.
Violent reaction to anti-drug initiative
The increasingly desperate attacks by Shining Path are a reaction by the insurgents to the government’s increased anti-drug efforts in the region, said Erubiel Tirado, program director of national security studies at the Iberoamericana University (UIA) in Mexico City.
Peruvian government forces have scored a number of significant victories against Shining Path in the VRAEM region in recent months. In August, 2013, Peruvian security forces killed Orlando Alejandro Borda Casafranca, also known as "Comrade Alipio," the number two leader of the Shining Path in VRAEM, and Marco Antonio Quispe Palomino, also known as "Comrade Gabriel," the number four leader, during an operation aided by a former drug trafficker who had turned against the insurgent group.
In December 2013, Special Forces troops used high explosives to destroy 20 secret landing strips in the VRAEM that were being used by narcotics traffickers to fly drug shipments to Bolivia and Brazil.
Security forces capture and kill Shining Path leaders
Government successes in the VRAEM region follow earlier successful government counter-insurgency efforts against Shining Path in other parts of the country. For example, a two-year government offensive in the Upper Huallaga Valley region in central Peru resulted in the 2012 wounding and arrest of Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, also known aa "Comrade Artemio," the leader of the northern faction of Shining Path. A judge later sentenced Comrade Artemio to life in prison for terrorism, drug trafficking, and money laundering.
Security forces further weakened the Shining Path’s northern faction in December, 2013 when members of Peru’s Special Intelligence Brigade, which includes elements of the Armed Forces and the National Police of Peru (PNP), arrested Alexander Dimas Fabian Huaman, also known as "Comrade Hector," who was the successor to Comrade Artemio.
And on March 13, 2014, Peruvian military and National Police forces captured Santiago Jairo Diaz Vega, also known as “Comrade Percy,” who was trying to rebuild the Shining Path forces in the Huallaga Valley, according to press reports.
Shining Path is weakened
As a result of those arrests and others, Shining Path is no longer considered a viable force in the Upper Huallaga Valley area. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala has declared Shining Path to be “extinct” in the region -- leaving VRAEM in southeast Peru as the insurgent group’s last significant area of operations.
The government’s goal for the year 2014 is to eradicate 75 percent of the coca crops and destroy illegal aircraft landing strips in the VRAEM region, according to Carmen Masias, head of the Peruvian anti-drug agency, the National Commission for Development and Life without Drugs (DEVIDA). By destroying the coca crops and drug-trafficking infrastructure in the region, the government hopes to deprive the insurgents of the drug-trafficking funds that finance their criminal enterprises.
The offensive in the VRAEM region is part of an overall effort by Peruvian authorities to eradicate a record-breaking national total of 30,000 hectares of coca crops in 2014. In 2013, Peruvian security forces destroyed 22,000 hectares of coca crops, a one-year record.
The Shining Path insurgent group began in 1980 as a communist-based anti-government force that was known for its brutality against both security forces and peasant communities and union groups that refused to follow its lead. Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission later estimated that Shining Path rebels killed more than 30,000 people between 1980 and 2000 through assassinations, car-bombings, massacres and other violent acts. In 1992, security forces captured Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, also known as “President Gonzalo.”
Anti-insurgency efforts by security forces have significantly weakened the Shining Path in recent years. The Shining Path has experienced internal dissension in recent years, and the organization split into a two factions, one northern, one southern.
Authorities estimate that a few hundred Shining Path fighters are still active. They have largely abandoned political objectives. The Shining Path engage in a number of criminal enterprises, including extortion, illegal logging and, most significantly, drug trafficking, according to government officials.
The Shining Path works with local drug traffickers, overseeing coca cultivation and harvesting, protecting drug processing laboratories and airstrips and providing transportation services. Drug traffickers. Drug traffickers pay Shining Path operatives $5,000 plus weapons and equipment for every ton of cocaine the insurgents help transport, according to published reports.
Security forces remain vigilant
Though the Shining Path is not as strong as it once was, the Peruvian government must remain vigilant in fighting the insurgent group, said Tirado, the security analyst.
Peruvian security forces must remain vigilant in fighting the Shining Path, Tirado said.
“The Peruvian government needs to further strengthen its intelligence capabilities in the fight against all criminal enterprises,” Tirado said. “Security forces have faced many complexities in the fight against transnational crime organizations. The authorities should focus its strategy and jointly confront these criminal organizations.”
Security forces will not be deterred by terrorist attacks, said Masias, the DEVIDA chief.
“We will go into the VRAEM region whether or not the Shining Path is there,” Masias said, according to published reports. “The social cost must always be assessed, but we cannot wait for terrorism to end before we take any action.”
Julieta Pelcastre contributed to this article.
When a group connected to international drug trafficking is annihilated, the effect in the drug market is devastating, and brings peace to people. Less lack of order, less violence, less criminality for all South American countries.
We have much to celebrate, even under a wave of violence in Brazil.
PCC and Black Blocks should be dismantled so the population could have more security and dignity.
The World Cup must be respected, and violence only increases Brazilian problems.
Who enjoy violence get out of Brazil!!!