Sendero Luminoso

Peru: Uchuraccay massacre recalled

The Peruvian Press Association on Jan. 26 noted the 30th anniversary of the massacre of eight journalists and their local guide at the village of Uchurachay, Ayacucho department, where they themselves had been investigating reports of massacres. But a commentary in the left-leaning Lima daily El Popular decried that the violence against Uchurachay's campesinos was "more invisible." Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) found that in the months around the slaying of the journalists, 135 members of the community of 470 were killed—hanged, hacked or stoned to death, their bodies thrown into canyons to be eaten by dogs. Most of the killings seem to have been ordered by village authorities in an effort to purge sympathizers of the Shining Path guerillas. (La Republica, Feb. 1; La Republica, La Republica, Jan. 29; El Comercio, Jan. 26; El Popular, Jan. 21)

Peru's Congress marks Putis massacre

A ceremony was held on the floor of Peru's Congress Dec. 13 to commemorate the 1984 massacre of over 100 campesinos by army troops at the village of Putis, in south-central Ayacucho region. A full Congress honored the presence of Aurelio Condoray Curo, vice president of the Putis Political Violence Survivors Association, and families from the village. That same day, a Caravan for the Reconstruction of Putis left for the village with trucks of material aid from the Ayacucho city of Huamanga. The efforts were promoted by lawmaker María Soledad Pérez Tello, president of the Congressional Human Rights Commission. The local municipality of Huanta is still in the process of identifying bodies that have been unearthed from more than 40 mass graves in and around Putis.

Riots rock Lima —in footsteps of Hillary Clinton

Two were killed and over 100 injured—including 50 police officers—in riots that caused damage worth millions of dollars in the Peruvian capital Lima Oct. 25. The riots broke out when police blocked the entry of delivery trucks into the city's giant wholesale market, La Parada, which was ordered closed by the administration of Mayor Susana Villarán for not meeting safety and hygiene standards. Violence spread to the nearby industrial zone of Gamarra, where a police post was attacked with Molotov cocktails and ransacked, and shops and factories quickly closed their gates and halted operations. Some 5,000 police have flooded the district.

Peru: will land titling undercut Sendero?

Peru's President Ollanta Humala on Oct 25 announced the creation of a new multi-million dollar fund for development projects in the Upper Huallaga Valley and the Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE)—the last two remaining areas of the country where the Shining Path insurgency remains active. The initiative is aimed at undermining the insurgency and providing economic alternatives to coca cultivation. (La Republica, Oct. 25) The government's Organism for the Formalization of Informal Property (COFOPRI) also announced that land titles would be granted to 784 campesino families in San Martín region's provinces of Huallaga and Lamas, both in the Huallaga Valley. Since August 2011, a total of 3,513 land parcels have been titled to peasant families in San Martín, in a bid to pacify the restive region. (Andina, Oct. 25)

US to revise defense pact with Peru

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, meeting with President Ollanta Humala in Lima Oct. 6, secured an agreement to re-negotiate Washington's 60-year-old defense cooperation pact with Peru. Panetta said updating the 1952 accord would "improve our ability to conduct joint activities, to do training and other exchanges. Ultimately that will help us deal with shared security challenges in the future." On the eve of the visit, the Department of Defense issued a press release broadly outlining new measures called for in the 2012 Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement—including plans to invite Peru to participate in a US program of Ministry of Defense Advisers (MODA), currently being pioneered in Afghanistan. "If Peru accepts, MODA will embed a technical expert in the Ministry of Defense for up to two years," the DoD statement said. "The expert will provide consistent technical advice on issues like budgeting, acquisition, procurement, planning and strategic planning." (Reuters, Oct. 7; Peruvian Times, Oct. 6; DoD press release, Oct. 5)

Peru: jungle shoot-out as narco-flight intercepted

Peru's National Police Anti-Drug Directorate (DIRANDRO) claimed a blow against the resurgent Sendero Luminoso guerillas after intercepting a plane loaded with 350 kilograms (770 pounds) of cocaine in plastic-wrapped bricks when it landed at a clandestine airstrip in a jungle area of Oxapampa province, Pasco region, Sept. 18. The crew of the Bolivian-registered Cessna put up armed resistance before fleeing into the jungle. A manhunt to apprehend them is now underway. DIRANDRO said the cocaine  originated in the Apurímac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), a jungle zone just south of Oxapampa where the "narcosenderista" brothers Víctor, Jorge and Martín Quispe Palomino—known by the respective code-names  "José," "'Raúl" and "Gabriel"—are said to control coca production. The cocaine was believed to have been brought to Oxapampa by back-pack along jungle trails, and was to be flown to Bolivia for re-export to Brazil in an operation overseen by wanted Bolivian kingpin William Rosales. (RIA-Novosti, La Republica, InfoSur Hoy, Peruvian TimesReuters, Sept. 18)

Peru: protests as 'terrorism denial' law introduced

The administration of Peru's President Ollanta Humala last week introduced a bill to the country's congress that would criminalize "Denial of Terrorist Violence," imposing a prison term of up to eight years for publicly "approving, justifying, denying or minimizing" acts committed by "terrorist organizations." Interior Minister Wilfredo Pedraza said the "Law of Denialism" was necessary to "protect society," citing the threat of  "nuevo senderismo"—meaning the recent resurgence of activity by surviving factions of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, or SL) guerilla movement, with new civil front groups such as the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF) supposedly mobilizing in their support. He said the law would "avoid this process of justification of these behaviors, of this epoch of 20 years which was so hard for the country, which I reiterate has meant 70,000 deaths." (Radio Programas del Peru, RPP, Aug. 28)

Peru: Shining Path control outlaw gold operations?

Five soldiers were killed in an attack by presumed Shining Path guerrillas Aug. 15 on a military base in Mazangaro, Junin region, in Peru's Apurimac-Ene River Valley (VRAE). According to La Republica, the attack could be in response to the army's seizure three days prior to the assault of 800 kilos of precursor chemicals used in the production of cocaine. (InSight Crime, Aug. 16) Two days after the attack, Peru's special anti-terrorism prosecutor, Julio Galindo, asserted that the Shining Path column in the coca-growing region was financed not only by the narco traffic, but by illegal gold-mining and logging. He said the state is attempting to crack down on the guerilla column's money laundering networks, which he characterized as "very technical." He also referred to the area of guerilla operations as the VRAEM—including the Mantaro River in the acronym, a western tributary of the Apurimac-Ene, in an implicit acknowledgement that the insurgency is spreading. (Perú21, Aug. 18; El Comercio, Aug. 17)

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