Issue No. 4 October 1992
A monthly bulletin chronicling and assessing the ongoing struggle between the Government of Peru and Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path). Published by the Federation of American Scientists Fund's Project on Peru
On September 12, an elite unit of the National Directorate Against Terrorism (DINCOTE) raided a residence in the middle-class neighborhood of Surco, suspecting that the residence operating as a dance studio was really a SL safehouse. On the second floor, policemen found a bearded, casually dressed man with a distinct air of a university professor. It was Abimael Guzmán, 57, Sendero's supreme leader and the most wanted man in Peru for more than a decade.
In addition, DINCOTE captured nine people at the safehouse, including two well-known activists: Laura Zambrano, a prominent metropolitan Lima leader, and Elena Iparraguire, Guzmán's companion. DINCOTE units also fell on two other safehouses, arresting 30 more people. The raids obtained a cache of documents, notes and computer disks. In the following days, police units swept up the national coordinator responsible for liaisons with the regional committees and the coordinator of the northern Lima zone.
To guarantee the secrecy of the operation, not even President Fujimori was notified. Credit was due to DINCOTE, the most consistently effective counter- terrorist unit and its commander, General Antonio Vidal. Human rights activist Pablo Rojas said, "DINCOTE's performance was a sterling example of nuts-and-bolts intelligence and surveillance work, police professionalism, and respect for human rights."
Taking the initiative: The immediate impact of the capture was to strike a psychological blow against SL when the Peruvian government and civilian society desperately need it. In contrast to the entrenched pessimism following the July bombing offensive, Lima's middle and upper classes erupted into displays of euphoria and relief. "The psychological bubble was burst," said political scientist Cynthia McClintock.
The more far-reaching consequence was to force SL to roll back its urban network and plans for challenging the government on its own terrain. Over the past two years, Sendero has concentrated huge resources and veteran cadres in Lima and exposed its local organizations in increasingly brazen shows of strength. The current retreat will set back SL's timetable substantially.
Security forces moved to take advantage of this opening. From 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., almost daily operations employing more than 1,000 army and police troops combed SL hotbeds in Lima's shantytowns, like Huaycán and Pachacamac (a new section of Villa El Salvador), though most arrests were of people not carrying identification documents. During the late morning hours, security forces carried out civic action programs, providing breakfasts, primary health care and even haircuts. Shantytown residents also used the police presence to reap a dividend for neighborhood safety by turning in thugs and drug addicts. There were also reports of residents identifying local SL cadres.
The public enthusiasm about Guzmán's capture, so vocal and widespread in middle and upper class districts is, however, more muted and cautious in the shantytowns. There were also signs that SL had made an orderly withdrawal. Raids did not find caches of arms or explosives. Fresh graffiti saying "Save the life of Chairman Gonzalo" and "Long Live the People's War" appeared on slum walls. Fresh killings of police and community leaders have since occurred, with a scattering of small bombs. In Ayacucho, SL staged an armed strike on September 24.
The government has also tried to exploit the psychological blow by portraying Guzmán as a crazed psychopath and common criminal. The government is hoping that Guzmán's capture will result in massive desertions. It has promised that those SL rank and file who turn themselves in will get lenient treatment, including a period of special military service and then a return to civilian life. The Roman Catholic church has offered to serve as an intermediary. Police sources said that about 150 people have so far come forward.
Day in Court: Guzmán is facing a military tribunal which has until October 27 to try him. According to recently passed legislation, a two-week investigative period after arrest then switches to a summary trial not to last longer than 30 days. Following sentencing, an appeal may take no more than 20 days. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment, though Fujimori has stated that he would prefer capital punishment. On September 27, the Peruvian Navy took over Guzmán's custody and placed him on San Lorenzo Island submarine base, offshore from the port of Callao.
Guzmán is being represented by Alfredo Crespo, a lawyer belonging to the Asociación de Abogados Democráticos (Democratic Lawyers Association - AAD), a SL front organization. Crespo said that Guzmán considers himself a "prisoner of war."
Currently, about 42 percent of national territory and 47 percent of Peru's 22.6 million inhabitants are under emergency military control.
The capture of Abimael Guzmán raises as many questions about Sendero Luminoso's 12-year insurgency and the future of Peru as it provides answers about the short-term viability of the Lima government. Resolving these key questions are limited by many factors, among which are the lack of information about how many other national leaders the Peruvian security forces swept up and how seriously and for how long SL operations will be compromised. In addition, the lack of reliable, up-to-date information from Peru's interior makes it difficult to judge how the war is going in areas where SL has been working for years.
Nevertheless, Guzmán's capture is a huge setback for SL and comes when the organization was planning an unprecedented offensive to demonstrate the government's vulnerability. Guzmán himself has been laying the groundwork over the past eight years for SL to make a dramatic leap in striking power that was to be revealed in full in October this year.
For nearly 30 years, Guzmán has been the founder, ideologue and supreme strategist of Sendero Luminoso. He has shaped the party, its military apparatus and its organizational satellites in his image. He was the instigator of a personality cult and the arbitrator of internal disputes, playing a role which no other party member could fill. However, Guzmán was not a typical Latin American caudillo, a revolutionary adventurer like Ché Guevara or even a Mao Zedong, SL's paradigm for revolution.
The capture compromises Sendero's whole organization from the top down. Although Sendero cadres, especially national and regional leaders, will quickly change identities and erase their trails, its mere existence in government hands sets back Sendero's timetable and requires the party to reorganize completely under even stricter security requirements.
Guzmán's Legacy: Even so, with or without Guzmán, Sendero Luminoso is far removed from the tightly knit group that started its insurgency in Ayacucho in 1980, or the battle-hardened, but still isolated organization of 1986 or even the guerrilla force which began to expand into urban areas in 1990. In order to understand what remains of Sendero Luminoso in a post-Guzmán era, this organizational buildup and institutionalization must be taken into account.
* Guzmán has endowed the party with a systematic codification of its ideology (in the Guzmán interview, the party congress discussion documents and other materials published in El Diario, the SL mouthpiece). More than a philosophical dissertation meant to compete with other systems of thought, SL ideology is a compact, coherent piece of circular logic which can appeal in a fragmented, dysfunctional society. Guzmán does not have to be physically present to reproduce his thinking, though its application may open up dissent within the organization.
Because Senderistas are not made overnight, Guzmán has emphasized the need to forge "new prototype" men and women, and has invested huge resources in creating a "revolutionary pedagogy" that reaches the common man as well as intellectuals. This ideological message is packaged in easily digestible capsules which activists spread through SL recruitment, its "people's schools" and even the public education system. For instance, a team of human rights educators recently went to Puno to give a course at the state-run Pedagogical Institute. The educators found their audience, "from the director down to the pupils," shouting SL slogans.
* Guzmán has made the party, with its People's Guerrilla Army and satellite organizations, into a nationwide network with a decentralized command structure, tactical initiative and defined objectives. Guzmán oversaw the expansion of a guerrilla force which is aiming to put a standing army in the field to demonstrate what the party claims as "strategic parity" against government forces. Estimates of its fighting force range from 5,000 to 10,000. SL retains its military apparatus intact and operative. Perhaps, as many as 50,000 militants provide logistical support.
From Piura on the Ecuadorian border to Puno on the Bolivian border, SL holds the high ground in geopolitical and strategic terms. Though its urban activities have distracted public attention from its rural presence, it has not sacrificed its strongholds in the countryside. It has solid bases of operation in the northern Sierra above Trujillo (from Santiago de Chuco, La Libertad to Cajabamba, Cajamarca); a central Andean core which includes the Sierra of Ancash and the Huallaga valley; the traditional axis of Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Junín; a staging area in the remote provinces of Abancay; and a southern bridgehead in Puno. More than mere shadow government, SL is the only authority in these areas. It is impossible to surround, isolate and destroy these guerrilla strongholds in a single stroke.
* Guzmán laid out a broad, multi-faceted and multifront strategy strikingly matched with an organization to carry it out. In a country where few organizations work efficiently, Sendero does, and this fact gives it appeal. Although its terrorist attacks and guerrilla tactics have grabbed headlines, SL has marshalled far more resources for other lines of action: propaganda; recruitment and training; education; infiltration, neutralization and seizure of competing organizations; logistical support and communication for its clandestine network, its operating units and its command structure; intelligence gathering and processing; and strategic planning at a national, regional and local level.
* The party has a reliable source of funding through its connections with the cocaine trade in the Huallaga valley and elsewhere along the eastern slopes of the Andes. Though this connection could compromise the integrity of its regional commands through corruption, it will provide resources for the foreseeable future. Simultaneously, SL can still prevent the Peruvian economy from working (through power blackouts, knocking out bridges, car bombings and other acts of sabotage which frighten off Peruvian and foreign investors), thus depriving the State of revenue.
* Guzmán oversaw a Senderista penetration in urban areas, a risky transition for any guerrilla movement, but a prerequisite for taking power. Although the outcome of this shift is still uncertain, SL today is engaged in urban activities which were unimaginable five years ago.
The Bottom Line: In other words, Guzmán has left his organization tangible assets that makes Sendero resilient and resistant. Indeed, as the organization has grown and diversified, Guzmán was becoming more of a chairman of the board than a hands-on field general, and had to rely on competent subordinates with tactical autonomy and command authority.
The Government's Status: The Peruvian government does not have the manpower, logistics or funds to exploit this windfall of intelligence and psychological initiative. The intelligence haul at the safehouses and any additional information that can be obtained from those captured is of a transitory nature, tactically speaking, but will have great usefulness in piecing together an understanding of how SL functioned. It will give the government the most comprehensive view of Sendero and its modus operandi ■ a vision from inside the organization ■ that it has ever had.
Perhaps, as much as 70 percent of the national territory lies outside the permanent reach of the State, and it will take years to reassert state authority there.
The Fujimori government is trying to exploit the psychological blow by ridiculing Guzmán and the party and planting seeds of doubt about the organization's invincibility and motives. Reports from Lima indicate a discernible risk in the tendency to equate Guzmán with all Sendero's destructive capacity and wiles, and downplaying Sendero's capacity to absorb the blow and continue its rebellion. The state of euphoria and relief among Peru's national elites and middle class, mainly confined to Lima, may lead to missing another golden opportunity to regain the initiative.
For the government, the crucial question is how to turn this SL setback into a tide change. It must put in place medium-term policies and programs that will extend the state's presence and legitimacy, rebuild durable social and political institutions, and jump start a limping economy. This effort requires a viable counterinsurgency strategy that goes beyond the last-ditch defenses, which the Fujimori government has mounted, based on military force, intelligence, self- defense committees pressed into service from the general population, and short-circuiting the legal defense of suspected terrorists, including Guzmán.
The underlying causes of the insurgency and the setting of social and political decay have not changed with Guzmán's capture. The historical motherlode of ethnic and class hatred is still there to be mined. The economic recession is still grinding up scores of companies and spewing out massive unemployment. Narco- trafficking and corruption are undermining institutions already weakened by the impact of 15 years of crisis. The government has failed to provide minimum public services, especially in the areas of health, education and justice. The political system is fragmented and in upheaval, facing a crisis which predates the April 5 coup and will continue for the foreseeable future.
"For an organization which has planned each step to the last detail, it is unimaginable that it has not planned for the possibility of Guzmán's capture," says Pablo Rojas, a Peruvian human rights leader. Since Guzmán could also have been incapacitated by illness, he himself probably drew up the contingency plans. However, the sudden, deep blow to SL's command structure makes smooth implementation of any plan extremely difficult.
Most analysts agree that SL will first take dramatic action to restore the "shield of fear" which protects its cadres from being fingered. SL can choose from many options: hostage taking, car bombs, massive sabotage or a spectacular attack. "We're telling our clients to act as if the capture had never taken place ■ error on the side of caution," says a Lima security company executive.
Second, the party will have to regroup and weigh how much effort it wants to invest in keeping Guzmán alive (or even rescuing him), and how important it is to stay as close to the time line for revolution. Guzmán himself has already told the party to proceed with current plans.
Beyond these short-term priorities, Sendero will have to fill the void in national leadership and unified command. The guerrilla expert Gustavo Gorriti believes that the remaining apparatus will seek a collective leadership, in part because Guzmán never designated a successor. The SL central committee has 18-22 members, and the heads of the six regional committees (Metropolitan Lima, Primary or Ayacucho, North, South, East and Central) are automatically members. Though the Lima and national leadership has been hard hit, regional and military commands have, for the most part, been unscathed.
A more thorough leadership shake-out will take place over the next 3-36 months and even longer if Guzmán remains alive. There will be a host of competing factions within the party, each trying to get the upper hand and playing out its position in both internal debate and armed actions. A first fault line will run through the regional committees: the Ayacucho regional committee which has historical preeminence within the party; the Huallaga command which controls the party's purse strings; and the Lima metropolitan committee which will have to take the blame for Guzmán's capture.
Other potential fissures are the strain between party politicos and guerrilla army; those who demand Maoist ideology purity (applying the universal laws of history) and those who emphasize the indigenous nature of the revolt; those who endorse stepping up the pace of the revolt by penetrating Lima and those who back a prolonged struggle in the countryside; Guzmán's favorites versus outsiders and ambitious middle-tier leaders ready to fill vacancies at the top.
Over the years, Guzmán has overseen internal tensions, instigated debates and channeled the friction into almost ritualistic purges of the upper tiers of the party, without permitting the organization to spin out of control. Without his firm hand and fiats, this power struggle may divide and weaken the party and its organizations. On the other hand, both the conditions of Guzmán's confinement and the remote chance of his freedom will serve to string out the conflicts.
Sendero will also be undergoing the strains of an institution passing from the founder's direct control to an institution in the hands of secondand third-generation militants. As Gorriti points out, Maoist guerrilla groups have generally fizzled after the loss of their founder, but fundamentalist movements, with which Sendero has strong similarities, have weathered the transition better ["Fortune Favors the Unworthy," Los Angeles Times, 9/18/92].
However, a Sendero Luminoso without Guzmán to dictate an ideological hardline does not guarantee the group's demise. SL might become more politically flexible and reach out to those who support the violent overthrow of the government but have been unwilling to accept its goals or methods. Grassroots leaders frequently say that a constraint on Sendero's appeal has been its rigid ideological stance and dogmatic refusal to enter into political alliances.
Nor does an eventual SL decline necessarily mean a reduction of violence in Peru. Peruvian society has been brutalized by Sendero, abusive security forces, government incompetence, the economic adjustment program, and crime. During the past decade, SL has claimed a monopoly on violence and kept other competitors off its turf. Instead of having political violence wielded by SL with almost surgical precision, Peru may degenerate into a slaughterhouse filled with scores of amateur butchers, as other equally violent, but less savvy, groups occupy both the political and social scenes. These could be SL factions, other insurgent groups, narco-traffickers, bandits, mafia-like organizations, rogue bands of police and military, and even the self-defense committees now being encouraged by the Fujimori government.
Riding on the back of popular relief about Guzmán's capture, President Fujimori is turning to the election campaign that will elect 80 members to a new Constituent Congress on November 22. According to a September 17 opinion poll by APOYO S.A. in the metropolitan Lima area, Fujimori's approval rating has shot up to 72 percent, an 18-point leap from his previous mark. Also, his disapproval rating also dropped from 30 percent to 15 percent.
"Fujimori has skillfully shifted public debate to a `with me or with Sendero' polarity and there is precious little habitable middle ground for more sophisticated discussion," says a veteran Peruvian analyst.
Fujimori has the luxury of backing two candidate lists, his own Cambio 90 (Change 90) party and a slate of independent candidates headed by the former minister of energy and mines, Jaime Yoshiyama, who resigned from his post in late August.
In September, Fujimori gave assurances that those elected to the Constituent Congress would have parliamentary immunity and that the Congress would have the autonomy to pass laws and review legislation approved by the Executive since the April 5 presidential coup.
In addition, the National Elections Board stiffened requirements for previously registered parties by dissolving electoral alliances from the 1990 general elections. This ruling hits especially hard at the left wing coalitions of Izquierda Unida (IU - United Left) and Izquierda Socialista (IS - Socialist Left) because the coalition members do not meet the minimum requirement ■ 5 percent of the general vote in 1990 balloting ■ to retain their status as national parties. They join 100 groups scrambling to get 100,000 signatures from voting-age citizens by October 8.
Three political parties, former president Fernando Belaúnde's Acción Popular, Mario Vargas Llosa's Libertad movement and former president Alán García's APRA (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance), have already announced that they will not participate in the elections. However, APRA has purged an anti-García group, marking the worst dissent in a decade while other election hold-outs are also facing desertions.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Peru signed a loan agreement for $222 million for the restructuring of Peru's financial system. The loan had been on hold since the April 5 presidential coup. This move does not reduce the international community's leverage on the Peruvian government because Fujimori still needs a steady inflow of resources to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic targets by the end of the year, a milestone for the complex debt work- out, and to qualify for further lending.
Four expert witnesses warned a Congressional hearing that the political violence undermining Peruvian government and civilian society will not end with the capture of Sendero's top leaders. A majority of the panelists called for a more assertive approach by the international community, including setting up an international group to assist Peru on counterinsurgency.
The House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, chaired by Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey), heard from four witnesses on the impact of Guzmán's capture and the implications for U.S. foreign policy: Gen. William Odom, former director of the National Security Council and author of a recent study on Peru for the U.S. Agency for International Development; Gustavo Gorriti, a Peruvian journalist and a leading authority on Sendero Luminoso; Cynthia McClintock, a professor of political science at George Washington University; and Jeremy J. Stone, FAS president.
Among the panelists, Odom took the harshest line towards Peru, saying, "There are no very promising strategies, but any that is to succeed must prevent the Peruvian government from regaining access to foreign credits before it has built a strong state, collects about 20 percent of its GDP in taxes, has privatized most of the 240 state companies, has given peasants clear titles of their land, and has brought the informal sectors into the formal legal system, disallowing the use of formal laws as a way of protecting privileged business circles and excluding the rest of society... We did not create their predicament, and I see no moral reason why we should spend one nickel in their rescue."
In short, according to cynical observer, only when Peru becomes a South American Switzerland, should the U.S. and other donors consider assistance to the government -- by which time Peru would probably not need it. Odom based his testimony on research on U.S. policy towards "client states" (El Salvador, Guatemala, and the Philippines).
McClintock proposed "the creation of an `international political community' to provide more professional, ongoing monitoring of key components of democracy ■ human rights, fair electoral rules, honest balloting, and the like." She said economic aid should be resumed, though military assistance should remain suspended due to the "dictatorial manner in which Fujimori established the regulations for the November elections."
Gorriti stated that it was premature to call Guzmán's capture a deathblow. "In this kind of war you can only measure substantial progress by the number of people and amount of territory that has been brought back to a viable democratic life." Gorriti recommended providing full assistance for national rebuilding while keeping steady pressure on the institutional process, but warned that road back from near-defeat "is not going to be a blitzkrieg.""
In presenting his proposal for a Counterinsurgency Support Group, Stone pointed out that previous witnesses at the Subcommittee's March 11-12 hearing had made comments suggesting they would support his proposal either by calling on Peru to learn the "lessons" from other similar insurgencies (Davidson College Professor Gabriela Tarazona-Sevillano) or by referring to the need for a "serious counterguerrilla strategy" (Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson).
Congressman Stephen Solarz, in his last appearance on the Subcommittee dias, called the proposal constructive, though not a "panacea," and commended Stone for presenting it. In further consultations, Professor David Scott Palmer (Boston University) said he was "very enthusiastic" about it.
Before the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, FAS president Jeremy J. Stone proposed that the Peruvian government consider inviting the creation of a counterinsurgency support group (CSG) composed of experts experienced at dealing with similar insurgencies.
This group could help "devise a strategy sustainable for periods longer than the short-term tenure of military commanders or even the five-year term of Peruvian presidents." Besides formulating plans and suggesting ideas, they would monitor the contest, and the plan's implementation, and give advice to President Fujimori and his successors.
"For the international community, the CSG could be helpful in its deliberations over whether or not to provide more or less intelligence assistance, military training, economic aid, loans, or technical advice relevant to the defeat of Sendero," Stone added.
The Peruvian government might be willing to accept this initiative, Stone said, if it felt that the international community considered it to be an important signal of the Peruvian government's readiness to maintain an internationally acceptable counterinsurgency campaign.
Sendero has begun political work in Ecuador, opening up a second international corridor to back up its toehold in Bolivia (See Sendero File No. 2). A Peruvian source says that Ayabaca, an impoverished mountainous province of Piura on the Ecuadorian border, has become the primary exit point for SL activists because the other corridor, in Bolivia, has become more strictly controlled, and anti-terrorist police are tracking their cadres.
After a concerted effort to build a strong base of operation in Piura, Sendero has quietly penetrated the rondas campesinas, community defense organizations long established in the region to prevent cattle-rustling. SL, however, failed repeatedly to gain a foothold in the lowland communities and urban areas of Piura. Sendero has found it hard to break into the northern Sierra. Its influence has stopped about 150 miles south in the sierra above Trujillo. The rondas themselves have kept SL activists out of the region.
On the Ecuador side of the border, SL has set up reception bases for incoming cadres to support them in changing identities, planning and travel. In addition, SL has begun open political work around Quito, distributing pamphlets and organizing. Ecuadorian authorities, while concerned, have not taken action: "Our peasants will never revolt," one is reported to have said, almost the exact words 12 years ago from Peruvians about an obscure uprising in Ayacucho.
* In Bolivia, the collaboration between Sendero and the Tupac Katari movement has led Tupac Katari rank and file to shift their loyalties directly to SL, leaving the Bolivian leaders stranded.
* The Peruvian government has begun an international campaign against pro-SL organizations abroad. The reaction was sparked by a British 40-minute documentary, "The People of Shining Path," shown on Channel 4's Dispatches program in August. The producers had SL's cooperation in filming sequences in guerrilla-controlled areas. The Peruvian foreign affairs ministry has distributed a list of pro-SL groups and individuals. However, the list contains errors, falsely identifying at least four Peruvians in Germany as SL sympathizers.
DESCO (the Centro de Estudios y Promoción del Desarrollo) is a Lima-based non-governmental organization which has studied and promoted urban and rural development for nearly three decades. It earned a niche in the study of Sendero's expansion almost by accident. The bimonthly Quehacer journal ($45 a year six-issue international subscription), the research center's flagship publication, found an untapped readership when it published its first feature article on Ayacucho in early 1982. It soon built a reputation on feature-length articles on Sendero, especially thanks to the reporting of sociologist-journalist Raúl Gonzalez, writer José María Salcedo and others.
As SL's activities grew, DESCO's weekly news summary Resumen Semanal (international subscription, $80 for six months, $140 a year), drawn from Lima newspaper and magazine reports, became clogged with incidents of political violence. The material was eventually made into a database. In 1989, DESCO brought out a complete systematization of this material, Violencia Política en el Perú 1980-1988 (two volumes, 1989). It provides a detailed recounting of the first nine years of the conflict.
However, the drawback of the DESCO approach is that it considers only printed news accounts. By using the Lima press, the DESCO database incorporates a series of distortions. First, Lima publications only report the most flagrant incidents in rural areas while counting every dynamite stick in Lima and other major cities. Second, provincial correspondents tend to misinform about, misinterpret or even invent incidents to fill their news quotas. A Cusco-based researcher investigating the DESCO database found that only one out of three reports were correctly reported. Third, most incident reports are devoid of the context within which the attacks took place. Finally, as SL grew and the military widened its area of authority, large sections of the country were no longer open for independent journalists to investigate.
A new series of Reportes Especiales (international subscription $150 for six months, $250 for a year), a monthly report which focuses on political violence, counterinsurgency and the response of government and society, seeks to correct these distortions by including more systematic analysis of trends, the breakdown of statistics into graphs and tables, and SL documents. For instance, the July issue (No. 15) focuses on the SL urban offensive and armed strike in Lima. This publication has "restricted circulation" while Resumen Semanal remains a timely, thorough way to keep abreast of Peruvian political affairs.
Contact: DESCO, Leon de la Fuente No. 110, Lima 17, PERU (Phone: 61-0984; fax: 61-7309).
Leaving War to the Generals: Philip Mauceri, "Military Politics and Counter-Insurgency in Peru," Journal of Interamerican and World Affairs 33, 4 (Winter 1991), 83-109. In a rare spotlight on the Peruvian military as an institution, political scientist Philip Mauceri follows its development over the past three decades and sees current tensions within the armed service and between the military and civilians as an outgrowth of past failures when the military ruled the country (1968-80) and a lack of definition of their role under a democratic regime besieged by insurgents.
Mauceri sums up Peru's approach as an abdication of civilian oversight of counterinsurgency policy: "Under the previous two elected governments and the current Fujimori administration, the military institution has largely designed and implemented counterinsurgency strategy, leaving civilian policy makers aside in the decision-making process. What is more important, military officials have remained largely unaccountable for their decisions due to the lack of any civilian oversight capacity or alternative strategies." [p. 83]
Double Vision: "Fatal Attraction: Peru's Shining Path," is the feature section in NACLA Report on the Americas of January 1991 (Vol. XXIV, No. 4). The Peruvian anthropologist Carlos Iván Degregori explains Sendero's thinking and why it has taken a radical course. U.S. sociologist Carol Andrea writes sympathetically about Sendero's appeal to women and why they play leading roles in the organization. Peruvian historian Nelson Manrique examines the Senderista offensive in the Central Sierra. Peruvian historian José Luis Renique narrates an encounter with an old friend incarcerated as a SL leader in Canto Grande prison. There is also an interview with Luis Arce Borja, the director of El Diario, the SL mouthpiece.
A previous special issue on Peru, "García's Peru: One Last Chance," came out in June, 1986. Back issues cost $4.00, plus $1.00 handling. Contact: NACLA, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10015.
In Guzmán's El Diario interview, he explained his exposure to Maoist military tactics, "In China, I had the possibility... to be in a school where politics was taught, starting from international affairs to Marxist philosophy. They were masterly lessons given by proven and highly competent revolutionaries, great teachers. Among them, I remember the teacher who taught us open and secret work, a man who devoted all his life to the party for many years, a living example, an extraordinary maestro..."
Guzmán went to China during the Cultural Revolution and met many of the battle-hardened cadres who fought against Japan and the Kuomintang. From their pragmatic lessons and from reading Mao's writings, he acquired the foundations of military thinking.
However, as Gabriel Marcella of the U.S. Army War College points out, there was another influence on Guzmán, Sun Tzu and his monumental text The Art of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963. Translated by Samuel B. Griffith). Sun Tzu, though he probably wrote more than 2,000 years ago, is on a par with the German strategist Clausewitz. Mao frequently paraphrased Sun Tzu in his writing and his instructions to his subordinates.
Guzmán has shows this influence in several ways. His disciples spent two decades studying the military tactics and strategies used in the Andes for four centuries, from the Incas to the civil wars of the early 1920s, just as Mao studied Chinese peasant revolts and classic texts on war. Although it made for poor Peruvian historiography, it provided the detailed knowledge of what was needed to win on the chosen terrain.
The real evidence lies in SL's practices, its reliance on intelligence gathering, assessing the enemy's strengths and weaknesses, studying and choosing adequate terrain and climate and exploiting the unexpected and deception. Even the latest urban tact comes out of Sun Tzu: "Thus, those skilled in war subdue the enemy's army without battle. They capture his cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations."
No. 3 September 1992
Established by former atomic scientists in 1945, the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is a non-profit civic organization concerned with issues of science and society, and international security issues. The Project on Peru seeks greater understanding of Sendero Luminoso's threat to Peru and other countries. FAS President Jeremy J. Stone directs the FAS Fund's Project on Peru. Michael L. Smith edits The Sendero File.
Created by John Pike
Maintained by John Pike