Sendero Luminoso

Peru: massacre victims exhumed in Ayacucho

Investigators from the Fiscalía, Peru's public prosecutor, exhumed 21 bodies from four mass graves in a remote area of Ayacucho region, the office announced Sept. 15. The find was made at the hamlet of Belen Chapi, in the Paccha area of Chungui district, in a zone of high jungle known as the Oreja de Perro which had been a stronghold of the Shining Path rebels in the 1980s. The victims were members of a peasant community who were summarily executed by security forces on July 14, 1984. The remains included those of nine children; a pregnant woman, whose fetus was counted among the 21 dead; four other women; and six men. Authorities will now begin the work of identifying the bodies, as well as naming the members of the army and National Police who were responsible for the massacre. The remains of nine other community members said to have been killed that day remain missing.

Peru: record coke bust points to Mexican cartels

A record-breaking cocaine bust on Peru's Pacific coast points not only to the country's booming production, but also the increasing role of the Mexican cartels in the Andean narco economy. Peru's Interior Ministry announced the haul in a Sept. 1 statement, saying National Police and DEA agents had uncovered an unprecedented 7.6 metric tons of coke hidden in a shipment of coal at a warehouse in the northern fishing port of Huanchaco, Trujillo region. "This is the largest drug seizure ever in Peru," said Interior Minister Daniel Urresti, speaking at a Lima press conference below a banner reading "Historic Blow to Illegal Drug Trafficking" at the hanger where the shipment had been flown for incineration. "It's historic."

Peru: new ops against 'narco-senderistas'

Peru's National Police force has stepped up operations against what the press in the South American nation calls narco-senderistas—surviving remnants of the Shining Path guerilla movement that control cocaine production in two remote pockets of jungle. On July 19, the special Anti-Terrorist Directorate (DIRCOTE) announced the arrest of four members of Shining Path's Huallaga Regional Committee, the command body for the guerilla column in the coca-producing Upper Huallaga Valley. They were arrested at a market stall in the town of Ventanilla (Huánuco region), operated by one of the four, María Bautista Rojas, but DIRCOTE said they were part of the "platoon" led by the guerilla commander Juan Laguna Domínguez AKA "Comrade Piero," with responsibility for several caseríos (hamlets) in the nearby jungle. (El Comercio, July 19)

Peru: interior minister linked to journalist's murder

Press reports in Peru that judicial authorities have opened an investigation into Interior Minister Daniel Urresti in connection with the murder of a journalist have sparked calls for his resignation. The former army general is reportedly suspected of being "intellectual author" of the slaying of Hugo Bustíos, a writer for Caretas magazine, who was attacked Nov. 24, 1988 by what is presumed to have been a group of soldiers in civilian dress at the hamlet of Quinrapa, Huanta district, Ayacucho, where he was covering the war against the Shining Path guerillas. Peru's Press and Society Institute issued a statement calling it "rudely offensive to the values of a democratic state" that Urresti remain at his post while facing a murder probe. The National Association of Journalists also called for Urresti to step down. The National Coordinator of Human Rights added that Urresti's continuation as interior minister, overseeing the country's National Police, "constitutes a grave risk for the security of family members and witnesses" that will be called in the investigation. Urresti, who took office in late June, denies any involvement in the slaying. President Ollanta Humala has stood by him.

Shining Path leaders indicted in US court

Three leaders of Peru's Shining Path guerrilla movement were indicted July 1 in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Those charged are Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, who was captured by Peruvian security forces in February 2012; and the brothers Victor and Jorge Quispe Palomino, who remain at large. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization; narco-terrorism conspiracy; and two counts of use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. (Newsweek, July 2)

Peru: 24 arrested on Shining Path links

Peru's President Ollanta Humala on April 10 announced that a special police operation has resulted in the arrest of 24 operatives of the Sendero Luminoso guerilla movement. Speaking from Canada, where he was on an official visit, Humala said the detained were leaders of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF), which advocates for prisoners held in connection with the guerilla movement. The operation, dubbed Perseo 2014, coordinated armed forces and National Police units, netting arrests in Lima and five other regions of the country. Among the detained are MOVADEF co-founders Alfredo Crespo and Manuel Fajardo, both attorneys who defended imprisoned Sendero leader Abimael Guzmán. Local media in Peru reported that also among the detained was Walter Humala, a popular folksinger and cousin of the president, who has declared himself an admirer of Guzmán. Authorities said they had proof that MOVADEF is an organ of the guerilla movement, with a police source saying that Crespo went by the code-name "Lucas" in his dealings with Sendero leaders, and Fajardo by the nom de guerre "Bartolo." (EFE, Perú21, April 10)

Peru: Sendero harass pipeline project

A worker was wounded Feb. 17, when presumed Sendero Luminoso guerillas fired on a camp of the Camisea pipeline consortium at the remote jungle settlement of Cigakiato, Echarate district, La Convención province, Cuzco region. (AP, InfoRegión, Feb. 17) In seemingly coordinated attacks three days later, presumed Senderistas opened fire on two military outposts in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM). The first attack at Counter-terrorist Base Unión Mantaro, Canaire district, Huanta province, Ayacucho region, apparently claimed no casualties or damage. In the second, at nearby Consorcio Vila Quinua, material damage to the outspot was reported. (La Voz de Huamangam, Feb. 20)

Peru: coup d'etat against Humala planned?

The Peruvian blogosphere is abuzz with rumors of an imminent coup d'etat against President Ollanta Humala, fomented by elements of the opposition APRA party. Humala has reportedly put off all travel abroad and is limiting his trips into the interior of the country, staying close to Lima for fear of a move against his government if he leaves the capital. The National Intelligence Directorate (DINI) has reportedly warned that elements of the National Police are discussing a strike over various greivances, actually aimed at causing an explosion of chaos and debilitating the government—following the model of the right-wing coup of Feb. 5, 1975, that brought Francisco Morales Bermúdez to power. Humala is said to have lost the confidence of the Armed Forces Joint Command, which is unhappy with his execution of the counter-insurgency program in Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE), where a remnant faction of the Sendero Luminoso guerillas remains active. (Raúl Weiner in La Mula, Dec. 23)

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