Ethnocacerista is a small ultra-nationalist and indigenous people's movement in Peru. It is led by Antauro Humala, a former military officer, and is inspired by the nativist ideas of his father, Isaac Humala. Antauro helped lead an uprising against then-Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori in October of 2000. His brother Ollanta was reportedly the senior figure in the rebellion, which had substantial support amongst the armed forces. The Humala brothers were briefly jailed for their role in the incident, but they received amnesties in 2001, after Fujimori was ousted and forced to flee Peru (late 2000). While the name Ethnocacerista did not appear as part of the rebellion, its ideas and membership seemed to have coalesced after the uprising.
Following his release from prison, Antauro Humala began building a cadre of nationalist former soldiers and army reservists. This became Ethnocacerista almost by default, as the self-styled name of Humala's ideology became pegged to the nebulous organization he led. Ollanta Humala also played some role in the group, though how much and when he ceased involvement is unclear.
The fledgling organization exploded into prominence with an insurrection in the remote town of Andahuaylas on January 1st, 2005. As many as 150 insurgents barricaded roads, shut off the power supply, and captured the local police station. Antauro Humala personally led the assault. Four police officers were killed in the raid and several more were taken hostage. Antauro and most of his band surrendered and were detained on January 4th, though a small number reportedly escaped. Humala was taken to Lima and jailed on terrorism charges. The group's major demand during their occupation of the police station was the resignation of Peru's president, Alejandro Toledo.
Ethnocacerista's name refers to a Peruvian general of old, Andres Avelino Caceres, who led a guerrilla army against Chile after that country occupied parts of Peru in 1879. Ethnocacerista reportedly opposes foreign investment, especially Chilean, and may be seeking to incite "Peruvians" (those of Indian or mixed blood) against "foreigners" -- Peruvians of European descent. The group also dreams of liberating the province of Arica, which has been a part of Chile since the 1879-1883 Pacific War between the two countries. Antauro Humala once called for a new nation of descendants of the Incan empire along the western coast of South America. Ethnocacerista allegedly opposes efforts to stem the growth and trade of coca.
Nationalism and indigenous rights have recently taken on a major role in Peruvian politics. This has created an opening for supporters of Ethnocacerista to increase their political profile on the far-right. Ollanta Humala (who is no longer affiliated with Ethnocacerista) is currently running for the Presidency of Peru as the candidate for the Union of Peru Party, a moderately nationalist and conservative outfit. Humala won the first-round elections on April 9th, 2006, taking 30% of the vote. It is uncertain who he will face in the run-off, as Lourdes Flores and Alan Garcia are currently disputing the election results. Some experts expect Humala to beat Garcia but not Flores.
Antauro Humala is also trying to enter politics. Though he is currently serving jail-time for his role in the January 2005 uprising, he is contending for a seat in Congress. Rather than run under his brother's party, Antauro is running as a candidate for a more extreme nationalist party, Avanza Pais. Antauro has threatened an armed uprising if his party does not win seats in the legislature. Seeking the center-right in order to win the Presidency, Ollanta Humala has distanced himself from his brother's brand of nationalism during the campaign. Since Ollanta Humala's victory in round one, Antauro has threatened the country with an armed uprising if his brother does not become president. He has also said that Ollanta is publicly playing down his extreme nationalism to advance his candidacy.
The current role of Ethnocacerista is unclear. The group has not been implicated in any terrorist attacks since the raid on Andahuaylas, though it has run small-scaled armed demonstrations. The group probably never had significant resources beyond the 150 militants who staged the raid. Furthermore, it is not clear what organizational structure Ethnocacerista maintains. In some senses, Ethnocacerista is an ideology associated with Antauro Humala and other nationalist extremists. The name may simply be a rallying point for radical nationalists rather than a structured terrorist organization. However, group members appear in military uniforms and rallies are adorned with Nazi-like symbols. Whatever its operational status, Ethnocacerista should be considered a nascent unit around which potentially violent Peruvian nationalism could coalesce. Depending upon the results of the upcoming election, Antauro Humala may turn again to insurrection. Though the group has always been small and its future remains uncertain, the potential for renewed violence is real.
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