Two weeks before the second round of elections between Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori, an attack carried out by remnants of the Maoist armed group Sendero Luminoso left at least 14 dead.
The attack took place in the village of San Miguel, Vizcatán province, in the area known as El Vraem, a valley framed by the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro rivers. It is a remote mountainous region between the Andes and the Amazon, in the south-east of Peru, the main coca leaf production area, with a strong presence of drug trafficking. The last dissident column of the Shining Path operates there. Messages left on the site called for a boycott of the June 6 elections.
THE PAST OF THE LUMINOUS SENDERO
For the younger ones, the names Abimael Guzman, Elena Iparraguirre or Osman Morote and the nicknames Camarada Feliciano, Camarada Artemio or Presidente Gonzalo are totally unknown. These are some of the historic leaders of the Communist Party of Peru, Shining Path, of Marxist-Maoist ideology, who in the country have used practices similar to those of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.
Although they had all been imprisoned for many years, the organization they founded took its course under the command of new cadres who had taken refuge in the jungles and hills of the Peruvian interior. Over time, this revolutionary organization, according to its founding postulates, has become a criminal gang linked to drug trafficking, completely forgetting its ideas of seizing power and generating a new communist society.
In 2001, the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that the so-called people’s war promoted by the subversive organization Partido Comunista do Peru – Shining Path “was the root cause of the outbreak of the internal armed conflict”. This group was “the main perpetrator of crimes and human rights violations” in the country between the 1980s and 2000s, although the intensity of the war declined markedly after 1992, when leader Abimael Guzmán and several of his principal referees have been arrested.
This report, however, hardly mentions the numerous human rights violations and other abuses against the population committed by the armed forces and the police, as well as by the irregular groups that supported the government during the administration of Alberto. Fujimori and his main manager during these years. . , Vladimiro Montesinos.
THE REMAINS OF THE COMMUNIST MILITARY PARTY OF PERU
Two decades later, a remnant of the Shining Path continues to burst into villages, abandoning land and imposing justice in an area of the Peruvian jungle where it survives on drug trafficking. The absence of the state and an impenetrable geography allow the remnants of this armed group to establish a criminal order in a valley that covers five regions of Peru.
The group, now known as the militarized Communist Party of Peru, submits to its will the communities installed on the drug circuits in the heart of the valley of the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro (Vraem) rivers. It imposes its own justice on its inhabitants, obliges them to migrate or subjects them to its willingness to explore the cultures and other activities of the region.
According to the head of the Special Investigations Division of the Peruvian Anti-Drugs Directorate (Dirandro), this group monitors laboratories and the transit of cocaine in the area in exchange for large payments to drug trafficking networks. The latest report from the National Commission for Development and Drug Free Life (Devida) indicates that Peru is home to 54,655 hectares of coca leaves, 26,028 of which are in Vraem. It is the area with the most coca plantations and where the greatest amount of cocaine hydrochloride is produced in the country.
FAR FROM POPULAR INSURRECTIONS
Víctor Quispe Palomino, alias José, former member of the Main Regional Committee of the Shining Path, and his brother Jorge, alias Raúl, are responsible for this group. They understood that the extortion of drug gangs operating in the region would be lucrative business and began to pressure them to pay tribute in return for not interfering with their business.
Over time, these groups have formed an alliance through which the Shining Path offers protection to crops, laboratories and backpackers – those who carry the drugs – to avoid detection by authorities, as the region lacks resources. adequate roads so that production can move quickly and safely. Backpackers have a protection network along their routes thanks to armed elements who have an extensive and very effective intelligence network.
The Peruvian Counterterrorism Directorate estimates that around 400 men and women are under the command of the Quispe Palomino brothers in Vraem. The main force, made up of 30 members and columns of 10 to 12 members, remains in Vizcatán del Ene. For the authorities, they form an encapsulated group with no possibility of expansion.
The threat posed by this armed organization, however, increases with the rate of drug trafficking.
His livelihood is due to drug trafficking, through which he acts when he finds himself in risky situations. Indeed, its members, like the old paintings of forty years ago, are extremely suspicious to the point of spying, tracking down and even executing members of their own family. And the authorities offer very good monetary rewards to those who provide information that leads to the capture of their members or even the dismantling of a column.
The head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces points out that the replacement of the commanders of the remains of the Shining Path is very complicated, so that the dismantling of a column would ultimately lead to its extinction. Therefore, the group is not seen as a threat to the country on the scale of drug trafficking. Although the two operate in a perverse complicity.
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