Terrorism in Peru is a threat to national intelligence and national security, which threatens the country’s stability and development. This transnational problem, which evolved over time, began as a threat to the nation’s system of government. However, now terrorists have switched focus to illegal economic activity, strategically allying themselves with drug traffickers, and acquiring political, economic, social and military resources, with the goal of becoming a logical step for the country’s poorest inhabitants.
Terrorism, drug trafficking, and poverty share a symbiotic relationship and objective -to promote an illegal economy based on the production of cocaine hydrochloride, through smuggling, illegally cutting down trees, and informal mining practices.
The danger lies in the fact that it has proven effective in solving the problems of the majority of the poor population. Still, the fact that this is generating greater levels of corruption in Peruvian society is is going unnoticed. Similarly, in order to cover their modus operandi they are fostering the increase in social contradictions and what is more dangerous: consolidating the creation of a mixed economy, based on legal and illegal resources, mainly the offset of narcotrafficking through money laundering. It is in this context that established strategies to substitute coca leaf plantations with alternate crops don’t have a fruitful outlook.
Perú is still trying to decide which enemy to confront: drug trafficking?, terrorism?, or both combined? Perú established a comprehensive strategy, which encompasses political, economic, social, and military arenas, as well as a special body to coordinate actions between the country’s ministries. Their ultimate goal is to restore peace and establish sustainable development in the Huallaga and VRAEM (Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro) river valleys.
From my point of view, the enemy is the illegal economy, which resulted from drug trafficking and its allies. The aforementioned strategy cannot be formally integrated and established unless we recognize that we are facing threats that are not only political, economic, social and military in nature, but also have a transnational capability which exceeds the Peruvian state’s best intentions.
Keep in mind, there are different aspects that must be addressed with a single strategy (national and international); there are countries that produce cocaine hydrochloride (a social priority), trading countries (social and economic priority), and consumer countries (economic priority).
As previously stated, the beliefs and motivations behind terrorism and drug trafficking have evolved in Peru and in the world. They are quickly learning from our successes and our failures in order to protect themselves. The current reality requires a change in our perception that they only represent a threat to police forces, and that they are an easy to confront. We must learn to confront them with established legal frameworks in a multi-agency setting. These threats have begun to socialize, take control of the legal economy, and gain political control and military capabilities that should make us realize the danger they represent for our country, our region and our hemisphere.
It is necessary to think about these threats so we can get to work to defeat them with ingenuity, creativity and innovation to ensure that these threats do not adversely affect Peru’s sustainable development.