The VRAE after the Arrest of “Camarada Artemio”
By Dialogo April 30, 2012
The arrest of the terrorist criminal and drug trafficker Florindo Eleuterio
Flores Hala, better known as “camarada Artemio,” has restored Peruvians’ hopes for a
better future, for which reason it is indispensable to be prepared for final
victory. In this regard, several considerations have yet to be
What awaits us after this arrest? In order to answer this question, it is
necessary to understand the conditions that facilitated the arrest and explain why
it took so long.
In July 2009, the terrorist remnants of Shining Path, specifically those
commanded by the terrorist criminal and drug trafficker Víctor Quispe Palomino,
alias “camarada José,” set themselves two political objectives in the Huallaga
Valley. One was to raise awareness among the masses; the other to annihilate
“camarada Artemio” in order to expand their power and control into the Huallaga
The mission of destroying “camarada Artemio” was assigned in the Apurimac and
Ene River Valley (VRAE) to “camarada Roger.” At the same time, “camarada William”
was designated to set up support bases in the populated areas of Uchubamba,
Monobamba, and Cerro de Pasco [districts located in central Peru] (that are
strategically valuable areas for expanding the group’s area of influence),
coordinating these actions with the drug traffickers who worked with him, who also
began to win over informants, leading to increased corruption and social conflicts
in those populated centers.
In this way, “José” made preparations to expand his influence and unite the
VRAE and Huallaga, with the strategic objective of showing the national and
international drug-trafficking community that the alliance between terrorism and
drug trafficking in Peru was growing under his faction and that it had become a
threat in geographical areas where the state, the Armed Forces, and the National
Police (PN) had no domain whatsoever.
Let us remember the treacherous attacks at Tintaypunco and Sanbamba, where
they surprised Military patrols. These events puffed “José” up to such an extent
that he wanted to become the lord of coca in Peru.
From that moment, the fate of “Artemio” was sealed. “Camarada Roger” did not
succeed in carrying out the assassination of “camarada Artemio,” because the
resources and aid that he requested were not provided, and because the strategy
designed by the Armed Forces Joint Command, in coordination with the PN (August
2009), had succeeded in surrounding “Artemio,” on the understanding that it was
logical to first trap the weaker opponent and then move to neutralize the terrorist
The capture of “Artemio” should have taken place since September 2009 and not
two years later. What happened? This is a question which must be answered as soon as
possible; otherwise, the opportunity for this to happen again remains a possibility.
This time, nevertheless, it is important to remember that the corruption created by
drug trafficking is wide, and it is not precisely known what levels of the state it
may have reached.
With the arrest of “Artemio,” a power vacuum has been created in the Huallaga
region. Who will take his place? In this regard, we can establish three
That the power vacuum will be occupied by a terrorist criminal from the
faction led by “Artemio” is possible, although unlikely. “Artemio” did not prepare a
successor, and at the same time, the terrorist criminals who might fill that role
have been arrested or killed by security forces.
That the power vacuum will be occupied by the terrorist criminal “José.” This
is the worst thing that could happen to the country [Peru]. Nevertheless, as far as
I can tell, this hypothesis may be the most accurate one.
That the power vacuum will be occupied by the state. It is key to have
Government be the entity that assumes authority and economic, social, political, and
military control of the Huallaga region, imposes the will of Peru’s 30 million
people, and consolidates true and lasting peace and development. Along those lines,
we must keep in mind the aid that we can obtain from neighboring and partner
countries such as the United States, Colombia, and Brazil, knowing that this is a
national and international fight.
Can the terrorist criminal “José” occupy the power vacuum in Huallaga? With
support from drug traffickers, this could happen. If drug trafficking grows outside
the area of the VRAE, terrorism grows, if and when they maintain their
“José” knows the procedures that security forces used to arrest “Artemio,”
for which reason the intelligence procedures to be used should be more ingenious,
creative, and bold. In the same way, strategic intelligence should pay special
attention to the sharpening of social conflicts (aggravation of contradictions) in
the Huallaga and VRAE areas, because it will be a revelation that “José” is probably
controlling the area.
How should the Peruvian state occupy this power vacuum?
From the economic point of view, the state apparatus should prepare to assume
control of Huallaga with a sustainable legal economy that can show the inhabitants
that they can make economic progress without the need for coca.
Socially, education should be emphasized, especially for the poorest
inhabitants, so that they can participate actively in the legal economy that the
state is proposing. Likewise, it is key to improve their quality of life and
introduce greater equity and social inclusion. Processes of migration from the coast
and the mountains to Huallaga should also be promoted, especially involving retired
Military personnel, who should previously be made aware of the issues of security,
defense, and development. Rebuilding the middle class is another point of
Politically, over the short term, social leaders who can lead these great
changes need to be trained and designated. It is necessary to investigate our
democratically elected authorities to establish if they supported narcotrafficking
Militarily, the support bases of “camarada Artemio” and drug traffickers in
the area are disoriented. There are terrorist criminals who want to turn in their
weapons and switch sides; their surrender and the handover of their weapons needs to
be facilitated. It should be understood that the Armed Forces need to confront drug
trafficking and that the terrorist criminals in the Huallaga and VRAE areas have
lost all their ideology and have become an armed instrument in the service of drug
At the national level, authorities must take into account that there are
three kinds of drug traffickers: those who have a strategic alliance with terrorism
(VRAE, Huallaga), those who have a strategic alliance with the FARC (Iquitos,
Putumayo), and those who are allied directly with international enterprises and
cartels. It is highly possible that “José” intends to unify them at the national
Internationally, the arrest of “Artemio” has restored and increased the
confidence of neighboring and partner countries in our stability. Let us not make
decisions in situations of uncertainty; let us propose scenarios of risk and, why
not, of certainty .
Peruvian society should understand that security is inherent to development
and that the professionalization and modernization of the Armed Forces is not an
expense but an investment; one that is going to give the country the ability to
negotiate in a globalized world in which pacts, accords, and agreements are our
daily bread and these should not under any circumstances be negotiated
asymmetrically. We need to activate the immediate training of professional
The need to strengthen the national intelligence system is urgent so that it
not only reports on the activities of drug traffickers and terrorists, but also
recommends possible political, social, economic, security, environmental, and
international solutions; in this way, it will contribute to decision-making at the
Likewise, we need to establish a national strategic planning system for
development, in such a way that it is the state that invests and directs development
in places where private investment does not exist.
It must be understood that in front of terrorism lies drug trafficking, which
is going to finance an economic (increasing corruption), political (inappropriate
legal framework), social (sharpening of contradictions), and military (use of
terrorism) strategy .
excellent writing, congratulations...Â¡Â¡Â¡ This article is very important and with first class information written by a connoisseur and scholar of this phenomenon, is a privilege that Gral. LONGA writes for this important journal. A very interesting article that highlights the real threat that our soldiers are fighting in the VRAE, without awareness of the Peruvian society; Our armed forces should be given the necessary means to achieve the success. GENERAL LONGA, I congratulate you with all uppercase letters. Algo muy importante de este articulo que hay que resaltar, el terrorista crece siempre y cuando los intereses del narcotrÃ¡fico se lo permitan; actualmente el terrorismo en el Vraem estÃ¡ creciendo hacia Cuzco, que hay del Huallaga? Si no necesitan a las fuerzas del orden en la zona porque poner en Jaque al Estado con el oleoducto; esta es una acciÃ³n netamente polÃtica que responde a intereses econÃ³micos. PolÃtica del avestruz o del cangrejo? From what I see, gaps of power are beginning to be filled by the narco and not by the Peruvian State. Terrorism and drug trafficking have a lot of power and they do not want to realize this. It must not be possible that economic growth in the country to be broken by these criminals. It is necessary to give appropriate capacity to the armed forces and the police.