Troops dispatched in Peru to corral revived Shining Path guerrillas
SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — Troops have been dispatched to the central Andean valleys of Peru in recent weeks to counter renewed guerrilla activity by re-equipped leftist rebels oftheShiningPath,accordingtohigh level government officials.
“Wehavedeployed1,500troopsto makesurethatasmallgroupofguerrillasdon’tmoveoutofajunglezone,” Peruvian Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo told The Washington Times. Hesaidtheinsurgentsare“trapped” andthathighlytrainedspecialforces are in the area.
Twenty-three members of the grouphavebeenarrestedsinceShining Path resumed operations at the beginningoftheyearwitharoadambush that killed eight police officers. In a videotape released at the end of lastmonth,ahoodedleaderusingthe pseudonymofComandanteArtemio said the group would resume largescale attacks in three months.
TheMaoistmovement,responsible formorethan70,000deathsduringa guerrilla struggle in the 1980s, was largely dismantled after the capture of its founder, Abimael Guzman, in 1992.GuzmanandotherShiningPath leaders are serving life sentences in prison.
Comandante Artemio threatened to renew attacks unless the governmentgrantedanamnestyforimprisonedShiningPathmembers—ademand that was promptly rejected by President Alan Garcia.
“We are rising. We are starting to grow. We are working clandestinely for the future,” Comandante Artemio said from his hide-out in the Alto Huallaga Valley between theAndesMountainsandtheAmazon Basin. The video showed a columnofabout100insurgentsarmed with AK-47 rifles.
Peru’sInteriorMinistryestimates ShiningPath’scurrentstrengthatbetween 200 and 300 insurgents. Intelligence officers say the group has recently received new weapons as well as fresh uniforms and boots.
Army spokesmen said traces of a guerrilla camp were found near the spot where Comandante Artemio taped his interview. Police reported thearrestofahigh-levelShiningPath operativeinthenearbytownofTingo Maria two weeks ago.
ShiningPathpropagandaactivities havebeentakingplacethroughoutthe central valley region, according to local inhabitants quoted in the Peruvianpress.ThenewspaperElCorreo reported that insurgents have renewed efforts to recruit youngsters andcollectinformationinseveralvillages where they have threatened to attack police stations.
Mr. Castillo insisted that the guerrillasarejust“remnants”ofthemovement that once terrorized Peru. He said the Shining Path does not pose a seriousthreattothegovernmentand that it has survived mainly through narcotrafficking.
Former Interior Minister FernandoRospigliosiagreed,saying:“We can finish them off because they are notmany.Theyarenolongerfighting for political power because it’s out of their reach and have ended up allied with narcotrafficking, which is what gives them money.”
Shining Path provides security for coca plantations as well as cocaine production and transport routes, according to senior government officials in Peru, who say that the group charges a tax to narcotraffickers based on the volume of drugs produced.
Some analysts have warned that ShiningPathcouldbecopyingtactics used by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which grew into a major terrorist organization controlling large swaths of Peru’s northern neighbor by protecting narcotraffickers.