Reliable Security Information

Shining Path, Tupac Amaru (Peru, leftists)


The two main Peruvian rebel groups, both leftist, are the Maoist group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) and the Cuban-inspired Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru). Both organizations operated most forcefully in the 1980s and early 1990s, when Peru's government fought a costly war against both insurgencies, but disproportionately the Shining Path.The U.S. State Department identifies Shining Path as a terrorist organization, but Tupac Amaru hasn't been listed as such since 1999. Shining Path had a period of dormancy in the 1990s, but the organization has since resurged, along with the Peruvian cocaine trade. Analysts say the group is small in numbers, but it could gain support in rural areas that have been neglected by the Peruvian government.

Origins of Terrorism in Peru

The Shining Path began in the late 1960s as a small communist revolutionary group led by a philosophy professor named Abimael Guzmán. Guzmán opposed Peru's prevailing political elites. His followers drew on Marxism and the example of Cuba's Fidel Castro, and coalesced into a significant and violent guerrilla army which regularly used terrorist tactics in their effort to destabilize and overthrow the Peruvian government. At the height of its power, Shining Path's ranks numbered around ten thousand, according to a report from the Jamestown Foundation. A paper from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) says the main goal of Shining Path has always been to overthrow the existing Peruvian government and political institutions and replace them with a communist revolutionary command. Guzmán, adopting the nom de guerre Presidente Gonzalo, attempted to do all of this while resisting overt ties with foreign powers or other Latin American leftist groups, including the contemporary Peruvian group known as the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

Tupac Amaru, or MRTA,...

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