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Shining Path (SL) Narrative


Shining Path (SL)

Last Update

June 2015

Aliases

Sendero Luminoso

History

Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso (SL), was founded in 1970 by Abimeal Guzman, a philosophy professor at the National University of San Cristobal de Huamanga.[1] Heavily influenced by leftist ideology, Guzman adhered most steadfastly to Maoist ideas and the methods of the Chinese Revolution.[2] Throughout the 1970s the group was relatively dormant, slowly increasing membership to over 500 leading up to April 1980, when the Shining Path announced a declaration of war against the Peruvian government.[3] One month later, four members of the group burned ballots, marking the beginning of violent clashes between Shining Path and the government.[4]

The lack of a formidable military presence in the areas in which Shining Path operated allowed the group to perpetrate attacks virtually unopposed.[5] Initially, their main targets were local authorities, but this expanded overtime to encompass infrastructure and civilians.[6] The 1980s in Peru were marked by significant violence with the death toll rising to roughly 20,000 by the end of the decade.[7] In 1992, Abimeal Guzman was captured and imprisoned.[8] His arrest caused a sharp decline in the fighting power of the group. A year after his 1992 arrest and conviction to a life sentence, Guzman advocated for a peace deal, which split Shining Path into two camps, those that wished to continue fighting and those who wanted to pursue negotiations.[9]

Despite a resurgence in the 2000s,[10] Shining Path does not present the same threat to Peru as it once did, although it does continue to harass the state through various means. Primary activities for Shining Path revolve around drug trafficking, through which the organization is able to generate significant income from escorting and protecting drug traffickers.[11]

Home Base

Peru

Founding Year

1970

Ideology

  • Leftist-Maoist[12]
    • The group used the Chinese Cultural Revolution as their inspiration, adding elements of ideology from the Soviet Union and Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.[13]

Specific Goals

  • Shining Path fought to take down the existing Peruvian regime in order to replace it with a Communist revolutionary regime.[14]

Political Activity

  • Suspected that they controlled the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF), an organization that sought to gain political party status in order to obtain amnesty for members of SL.[15]
    • Many MOVADEF activists are former SL members and one of the founders of MOVADEF, Alfredo Crespo, is the lawyer of SL’s imprisoned founder Abimael Guzmán.[16]
    • MOVADEF has reportedly cancelled its appeal for party status.[17]

Financing

  • Drug Trafficking: Currently about 95% of SL funding is from drug trafficking[18]
  • Extortion: SL has used protection and extortion rackets ("revolutionary taxes") for funding.[19]
  • Kidnapping[20]
  • Robbery: Bank robberies have been a significant source of funding for SL.[21]

Leadership and Structure over Time

  • 1992-Present: One of Shining Path’s leaders and founder Abimeal Guzman is imprisoned but continues to run the organization from prison with his co-leader Victor Quispe Palomino (AKA Comrade Jose).[22]  
  • 2013: two high ranking members of Shining Path, Orlando Alejandro Borda Casafranca and Marco Antonio Quispe Palomino, were killed in a military operation.[23]
    • Replaced by Comrade Raul, a brother of the current field commander Victor Quispe Palomino, and Tarcela Loya Vilchez, known as Camarada Olga, who is now the military commander of Shining Path.[24]

Strength

  • 1992: 5,000-10,000[25]
  • 2008: 400-700[26]

Allies and Suspected Allies

No known allies

Rivals and Enemies

  • The Peruvian Government (target)
    • SL's central goal is the overthrow of Peru's current government, to be replaced by a peasant revolutionary (communist) regime.[27]
    • Since 1979, 40 percent of SL attacks have been government, police or military targets.[28]
  • United States of America (target)
    • In 2002, SL exploded a car bomb near the U.S. Embassy in Lima; the attack was intended to coincide with a visit by President Bush.[29]

Counterterrorism Efforts

  • Domestic Military: The administration of Alberto Fujimori, after consolidating its power, launched a brutal campaign including kidnappings and extrajudicial executions, greatly disrupting the Shining Path.[30]
  • Domestic Law Enforcement: The Peruvian government also used arrests, including of Guzman, to counter the Shining Path.[31]

United States Government Designations

  • Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), October 8, 1997.[32]

Other Governments’ Designations

  • Canada (February 2003): Listed Terrorist Organization.[33]
 

[1] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.

[2] “Shining Path: Peruvian Revolutionary Organization,” Online Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, (June 2, 2014), http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/540794/Shining-Path.

[3] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.; Orin Starn, “Maoism in the Andes: The Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and the Refusal of History,” Journal of Latin American Studies 27, no. 2 (May 1995): 399–421, http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/peru/shining-path.pdf.

[4] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.; Orin Starn, “Maoism in the Andes: The Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and the Refusal of History,” Journal of Latin American Studies 27, no. 2 (May 1995): 399–421, http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/peru/shining-path.pdf.

[5] COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[6] COHA, “Shining Path, Tupac Amaru,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, September 25, 2008, http://www.coha.org/shining-path-tupac-amaru-peru-leftists/.

[7] Orin Starn, “Maoism in the Andes: The Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and the Refusal of History,” Journal of Latin American Studies 27, no. 2 (May 1995): 399–421, http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/peru/shining-path.pdf.

[8] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.

[9] Carlos Ivan Degregori, “After the Fall of Abimael Guzman: The Limits of Sendero Luminoso,” in The Peruvian Labyrinth: Polity, Society, Economy (Penn State Press, 2006), 179–91.

[10] Kathryn Gregory, “Shining Path, Tupac Amaru (Peru, Leftists),” Backgrounder, Council on Foreign Relations, (August 27, 2009), http://www.cfr.org/peru/shining-path-tupac-amaru-peru-leftists/p9276; Max G Manwaring, “The Resurgence of Peru’s Shining Path,” Online Magazine, World Politics Review, (February 22, 2011), http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/7959/the-resurgence-of-perus-shining-path.

[11] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.

[12] COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[13] “Shining Path: Peruvian Revolutionary Organization,” Online Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, (June 2, 2014), http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/540794/Shining-Path.

[14] COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[15] IRBC, “Peru: Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), Including Its Activities and Negotiations with the Government,” Responses to Information Requests (Ottawa: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, March 7, 2012), http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2013/11/07/PER103966.FE.pdf.

[16] Annie Murphy, “Old Rebel Group Looks For Foothold In Modern Peru,” NPR.org, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.npr.org/2011/06/21/137327034/old-rebel-group-looks-for-a-foothold-in-modern-peru.

[17] IRBC, “Peru: Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), Including Its Activities and Negotiations with the Government,” Responses to Information Requests (Ottawa: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, March 7, 2012), http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2013/11/07/PER103966.FE.pdf.

[18] LaVerle Berry et al., “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups” (Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, May 2002), http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf.; COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[19] LaVerle Berry et al., “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups” (Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, May 2002), http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf; LaVerle Berry et al., “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups” (Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, May 2002), http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf..

[20] LaVerle Berry et al., “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups” (Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, May 2002), http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf; COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[21] LaVerle Berry et al., “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups” (Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, May 2002), http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf; COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[22] Max G Manwaring, “The Resurgence of Peru’s Shining Path,” Online Magazine, World Politics Review, (February 22, 2011), http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/7959/the-resurgence-of-perus-shining-path; Dan Collyns, “Former Shining Path Leader ‘Presidente Gonzalo’ Faces Peru Court,” Online Newspaper, The Guardian, (January 20, 2014), http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/21/shining-path-leader-presidente-gonzalo-abimael-guzman.

[23] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.

[24] “Shining Path,” Research Group, InSightCrime: Organized Crime in the Americas, accessed June 11, 2015, http://www.insightcrime.org/peru-organized-crime-news/shining-path-profile.

[25] Scott Wilson, “Peru Fears Reemergence of Violent Rebels,” The Washington Post, December 10, 2001, http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/peru/reemergence.htm; Max G Manwaring, “The Resurgence of Peru’s Shining Path,” Online Magazine, World Politics Review, (February 22, 2011), http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/7959/the-resurgence-of-perus-shining-path.

[26] Joshua Partlow, “In Peru, a Rebellion Reborn: Dreaded Shining Path Returns as a Drug-Financed Movement Seeking Popular Support,” The Washington Post, November 12, 2008, sec. World, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/11/12/ST2008111200021.html.

[27] LaVerle Berry et al., “A Global Overview of Narcotics-Funded Terrorist and Other Extremist Groups” (Washington, DC: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, May 2002), http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/pdf-files/NarcsFundedTerrs_Extrems.pdf.

[28] START, “Global Terrorism Database [Data File],” National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 2013, http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/.

[29] Michelle Mittelstadt and Richard Whittle, “Shining Path Rebels Suspected in Lima Car Bombing,” Dallas Morning News, March 21, 2002, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-84080689.html; John J. Lumpkin, “US Intelligence Suspects Shining Path Movement in Peru Bombing,” AP Worldstream, March 21, 2002, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-51532599.html.

[30] Kathryn Gregory, “Shining Path, Tupac Amaru (Peru, Leftists),” Backgrounder, Council on Foreign Relations, (August 27, 2009), http://www.cfr.org/peru/shining-path-tupac-amaru-peru-leftists/p9276.

[31] COHA, “The Rise and Fall of Shining Path,” Council on Hemispheric Affairs, May 6, 2008, http://www.coha.org/the-rise-and-fall-of-shining-path/.

[32] US Department of State, “Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” Other Release, Bureau of Counterterrorism, (August 20, 2014), http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm..

[33] Public Safety Canada, “Currently Listed Entities: Sendero Luminoso (SL),” Listed Terrorist Entities, November 20, 2014, http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-eng.aspx#2043.