Shining Path kidnaps children and forces them to fight Peruvian government
By Dialogo February 21, 2014
A teenage boy who was being held captive by the Shining Path recently escaped from a remote jungle area, where the Maoist terrorist group was indoctrinating him with its political ideas and training him to kill people.
Roger Guevara, 17, had been held captive by the Shining Path since he was six months old. He was conducting surveillance for the terrorist group in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro rivers (VRAEM) in December 2013 when he walked away, according to published reports.
Roger walked for two days until he got to Kepashiato. The teenager toiled as a farm worker for a month, saving his money. With the money he had saved, Guevara took a bus to Kiteni, and called the Army. Soldiers responded quickly and provided the teenager with protection, while Army investigators found his mother and reunited the two.
The teenager’s story is far from unique. In recent years, the Shining Path has abducted hundreds and perhaps thousands of children and teenagers to train them as operatives, said Rafael Martínez Baldeón, a columnist who writes often about security issues for El Vocero Nacional, a newspaper in Ecuador.
“This is one of the many cases of forced recruitment we have seen over the years by Shining Path, including an unknown number of children subjected to captivity in areas the terrorist organization calls ‘liberated zones,’” Martínez said.
A sad and complicated story
Roger is not the only member of his family who has been victimized by the Shining Path.
In the early 1990s, the Shining Path kidnapped his mother, Maria Robles, when she was just 8 years old. Shining Path operatives abducted her from the Emerald Valley region, where she was living with her parents.
The Shining Path killed her parents, according to published reports. The Shining Path kept Robles in captivity. When she was 15, a Shining Path operative raped Robles, according to published reports. Robles became pregnant, and gave birth to Roger.
Shining Path operatives separated Robles from Roger when the baby was only a few months old. Robles was forced to fight for the Shining Path, while members of the terrorist group raised Roger.
In 2005, when Roger was about 11, Army soldiers raided a Shining Path camp in San Martin de Pangoa, Satipo. Soldiers rescued Robles. She was grateful to be liberated, but feared she would never see her son again.
Raised by the Shining Path
During his years in captivity, Roger was raised primarily by his mother’s sister, who he knew as “Comrade Vilma.” She is married to a Shining Path leader who is known as “Comrade Jose.”
Shining Path operatives indoctrinated young Roger in communism and put him in training camps with other children, who are known as “apprentice fighters” and “little pioneers.”
Shining Path operatives taught the children how to use firearms. Shining Path operatives raised Roger in different camps. Roger occasionally saw Martin Jorge Quispe Palomino, a Shining Path leader who is known as “Comrade Gabriel.” He also sometimes saw Comrade Gabriel’s brother, Victor, another Shining Path leader who is known as “Comrade Joseph.”
Security forces killed Comrade Gabriel in August, 2013.
“The Quispe Palomino brothers have been afraid of infiltrations in their ranks so they have been known for carefully breeding their own future combatants,” Martínez said. “They have encouraged other male insurgents to impregnate young women they have previously kidnapped for that purpose.”
Comrade Joseph and Comrade Gabriel have been known for directing hit-and-run attacks. Before the killing of Comrade Gabriel, the two brothers commanded about 500 Shining Path fighters. In 2012, the two brothers directed the abduction of 36 construction workers who were toiling near natural gas fields.
Communities at risk of kidnappings
The Shining Path is kidnapping people throughout the VRAEM to force them to fight for the terrorist group, according to Martinez.
“This story is just the tip of the iceberg of a major situation where entire communities in the VRAEM are facing the threat of being abducted to be forced into the Shining Path ranks,” Martinez said.
The Shining Path is responsible for the killings of at least 10,000 indigenous Ashaninka people in the VRAEM, according to published reports.
The Ashaninka live in the rainforests of Peru and Brazil. The Asháninka are the second largest indigenous group in Peru, the Quechua being the largest.