Peru (Shining Path)


Conflict Summary

The communist Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso or SL) movement resurfaced in 2008 in the Andes, eight years after its war with the Peruvian government effectively ended. The original Maoist insurgency began fighting the Peruvian government in 1980 for socio-economic and political reform. The struggle cost nearly 70,000 lives, but after the 1992 arrest of Shining Path leader General Abimael Guzmán, a 1994 peace deal reintegrated most rebels into mainstream politics. Now, however, a low-level conflict has again escalated. Two factions – one operating in the Ene-Apurimac River Valley (VRAE) to the south, and the other in the Upper Huallaga valley to the north – have used profits from the cocaine trade to rebuild. Their activities have been nowhere near as brutal as the terrorist tactics employed by their predecessors in the 1980s and ’90s. However, they prompted the government to launch a series of military operations. The Huallaga faction was effectively decapitated with the arrest of its leader, ‘comrade Artemio’, in February 2012. The VRAE faction, however, was from the start more aggressive, and has been able to stage bold attacks against the security forces and the country’s infrastructure.