Shining Path: Immediate Consequences after the Blow
By Dialogo August 16, 2013
The defeat of two prominent Shining Path leaders on August 11 shows the strategic consequences and great importance in the dynamics of challenges towards national security that Peru faces. In this sense, the generalized criticism about the lack of leadership of the Peruvian government in the field of security, Shining Path’s control of coca areas in the VRAEM, as well as the deterioration of conditions for the continuity of operations and new investments in the areas of energy, mining, and oil in Sierra Sur, will face a new and challenging scenario.
In regards to government measures, the operations conducted by the Armed Forces Joint Command (CCFFAA) are proof of the development of major intelligence capabilities and special operations to perform precise actions against the Shining Path’s leadership, which is being given space to recover their initiative after thirteen years in which this guerrilla group had the opportunity to regain their military capacity and control the VRAEM areas with little difficulty.
Today, the CCFFAA capitalizes on their hard work to confront the remnants of the Shining Path since 2007. The value of lessons learned, the application of international standards to support, equipm, train, and manage, as well as the morale of the Joint Special Forces and Intelligence personnel are the basis for success that gives President Humala not only a relief regarding his questioned security administration, but also a valuable space for initiative in the fight against Shining Path and drug trafficking that cannot be overlooked.
For Shining Path, the loss of three senior leaders of its armed groups is a strategic blow that limits its communication and mobilization capabilities to control drug trafficking, conduct armed actions and extort companies that operate in the area, control self-defense committees, farming families and local politicians.
Time is ticking against Shining Path, because if it does not demonstrate with short-term concrete actions that they can continue to be in control of drug trafficking and instead continue to lose capabilities it will make them more vulnerable. At the same time, other locals will take over those spaces that Shining Path will not be able to cover, producing significant changes in the dynamics of violence and illegality in the area.
It is inevitable to relate the blow that the Shining Path is suffering, from the attack perpetrated against the Consorcio Vial Quinua facilities, in Huanta province (Ayacucho) on July 24, where (comrade) ‘Alipio’ conducted the destruction of important machinery and equipment used for road maintenance in that sector.
The level of business insecurity and distrust regarding the government’s capabilities in order to confront Shining Path were accentuated to the maximum: workers resigned and work stopped, there was risk of abandoning the project, as well as serious assessments on the continuity of business and important investment projects for the infrastructure within the area are facts that nowadays are being reconsidered.
Shining Path in the VRAEM has not yet been defeated, but it has been seriously wounded. This makes it necessary to consider two immediate aspects: 1) Will the Shining Path be capable of perpetrating an act of armed violence in the short term with international media repercussion? If so, when, where, and how? Special attention is needed on transnational company operations in the fields of energy, oil and mining in the area. 2) Will a different Shining Path leadership emerge for the control or drug trafficking areas in the VRAEM, like when Artemio was defeated in the Huallaga? In this respect, there must be special attention on coca leaf grower organizations and illegal operators in the area.
Today, the challenges for the government are higher than before ‘Alipio’ and ‘Gabriel’ were defeated; on one hand, managing the success of the operation by rescuing the fundamental aspects that made it possible entails, in terms of National Defense, recognizing the advantages and boosting the development of joint operations under one command that projects over the whole dynamics of the fight against Shining Path in the VRAEM and against drug trafficking. This will constitute the basis for the progressive recovery of trust against insecurity, not only of investors and enterprises, but also from the population in general. On the other hand, the demands for addressing citizen security issues will be greatly increased.
Shining Path will have to speed up its pace, which makes it dangerous and, at the same time, vulnerable. Stakeholders associated with its dynamics of hatred, violence, and drugs will be pragmatic, generating new scenarios of risks and threats in the VRAEM areas, that are necessary to foresee with effectiveness and anticipation.
The continuity of businesses, operations and infrastructure projects in the VRAEM has an important space to aim its security standards and protocols in a scenario where “cohabiting” with Shining Path in their own terms is not a viable option.