The Vrae After the Arrest of “Comrade Artemio”
By Dialogo July 01, 2012
Who will fill the shoes left by “comrade Artemio” in the leadership of the
terrorist group Shining Path? Peruvian Army Brigadier General Leonardo José Longa
López analyzes several hypotheses and suggests what would be the best alternative
for the Peruvian people.
Brigadier General Leonardo José Longa López, Peruvian Army
The arrest of the terrorist criminal and drug trafficker Florindo Eleuterio
Flores Hala, aka “comrade Artemio,” has restored Peruvians’ hopes for a better
future. What awaits us after his 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, aka
“comrade José,” set themselves two political objectives in the Huallaga Valley. One
was to raise awareness among the masses; the other to annihilate “comrade Artemio”
in order to expand their power and control into the Huallaga region.
The mission of destroying Artemio was assigned to “comrade Roger” in the
Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley (VRAE). At the same time, “comrade William” was
designated to set up support bases in Uchubamba, Monobamba, and Cerro de Pasco
[districts located in central Peru], strategically valuable areas for expanding the
group’s area of influence. William coordinated actions with the drug traffickers who
worked with him and began to win over informants, leading to increased corruption
and social conflicts in those cities.
With these missions in place, José prepared to expand his influence and unite
the VRAE and Huallaga. His strategic objectives were to show the national and
international drug trafficking communities that the alliance between terrorism and
drug trafficking in Peru was growing under his faction and that the alliance 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.
But José wanted more. He wanted to become the lord of coca in Peru. From that
moment, the fate of Artemio was sealed. Roger did not succeed in carrying out the
assassination of Artemio. The resources and aid that he requested were not provided,
and the strategy designed by the Armed Forces Joint Command, in coordination with
the PN in August 2009 had succeeded in surrounding Artemio.
The capture of Artemio should have taken place in 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 had been created in the Huallaga
region. Who will take his place? We can establish three hypotheses:
The power vacuum will be occupied by a terrorist criminal from Artemio’s
faction, although unlikely. Artemio did not prepare a successor. At the same time,
the terrorist criminals who might fill that role have been arrested or killed by
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.
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
Brazil, Colombia and the United States, knowing that this is a national and
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 alliance.
Because José knows the procedures that security forces used to arrest Artemio, the
intelligence procedures used should be more ingenious, creative and bold. In the
same way, strategic intelligence should pay special attention to increasing social
conflicts in the Huallaga and VRAE areas, a clue that José is most likely
controlling the areas.
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 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,
improving their quality of life and introducing greater equity and social inclusion
are key to progress. Migration from the coast and the mountains to Huallaga should
also be promoted, especially involving retired Military personnel, who should be
made aware of the issues of security, defense and development. Rebuilding the middle
class is another point of overwhelming importance. 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 and terrorism.
Militarily, the support bases of Artemio and drug traffickers in the area are
in turmoil. 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 the three groups at the
national level. 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. These should not under any circumstances be negotiated asymmetrically. We
need to activate the immediate training of professional negotiators.
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
highest level. 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)
My respects, a solider like General Leonardo Longa may have an accurate vision of the case, he has worked in the area in several occasions and that's why he writes this way, he has many other articles and if we analyze the previous ones, the things he said are happening, so congratulations to the Peruvian army for having such a brilliant soldier like him. To be a commando is to be a man with bravery and courage much better in the VRAE Ayacucho Pichari zone the greatest of bitches years I served my country. I feel very proud, sincerely Sajami Commando Class July 2010 Hi, I am Wilian Taipe Sedano and I want to join the army