Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso)

November 2012
Activist Groups & Political Organizations;11/20/2012, p1
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso in Spanish) is a Maoist guerrilla group in Peru, notorious for brutal killings of civilians as well as police in the 1980s and 1990s. The group fell into decline after the arrest of leader Abimael Guzman in 1992 but made a comeback in the 2000s through control of coca-growing regions in the Andes. Government efforts to eradicate Shining Path have led to retaliation against a natural-gas project deemed vital to Peru's economic future. In its initial phase, Shining Path seized national attention and inspired terror through dramatic uses of violence, such as dog corpses hung from lamp posts and executions carried out with machetes or clubs. Its goal was to take power by an armed revolt of poor farmers, the mostly Quechua-speaking people in the mountains who did not share in the culture or prosperity of Peru's coastal regions. The 12 years of conflict took 70,000 lives and drove 600,000 from their homes. The government eventually captured most of the Shining Path leadership and imprisoned another 20,000. By 2008, Shining Path had splintered into two groups of fighters and a political group. One group of fighters, based in the Huallaga Valley, was effectively wiped out in February 2012. The southern group continues to operate in the Apurimac and Ene river valley (VRAE), along the route of the gas pipeline. The political group MOVADEF (Spanish acronym for Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights) works toward freeing Shining Path leaders from prison and creating conditions for a future revolution.


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