The internal conflict in Peru is an ongoing armed conflict between the Government of Peru, the Communist Party of Peru (also known as Shining Path) and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.  

The conflict began on May 17, 1980. It is estimated that there have been nearly 70,000 deaths, making it the bloodiest war in Peruvian history, since the European colonization of the country.

The high death toll includes many civilian casualties, due to deliberate targeting by many factions. Since 2000, the number of deaths has dropped significantly and recently the conflict has become dormant. There were low-level resurgences of violence in 2002 and 2014 when conflict erupted between the Peru-icon.png Peruball's Army and Guerrilla remnants in the VRAEM region. The conflict has lasted for over 39 years, making it the second-longest internal conflict in the history of Latin America, after the Colombian Conflict.

Dictator-icon.png Background

Prior to the conflict, Peru-icon.png Peruball had undergone a series of coups with frequent switches between political parties and ideologies. On October 2, 1968, General Juan Velasco Alvarado staged a military coup and became Peru-icon.png Peruball's 56th president under the administration of the Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces, a left-leaning Dictator-icon.png military dictatorship. Following a period of widespread poverty and unemployment, Velasco himself was overthrown in a bloodless military coup on August 29, 1975. He was replaced by Francisco Morales Bermúdez as Peru-icon.png Peruball.

Morales announced that his rule would provide a "Second Phase" to the previous administration, which would bring political and economic reforms. However, he was unsuccessful in delivering these promises, and in 1978, a Constitutional Assembly was created to replace Peru-icon.png Peruball's 1933 Constitution. Morales then proclaimed that national elections would be held by 1980. Elections were held for the Constituent Assembly on June 18, 1978, whilst martial law was imposed on January 6, 1979. The Assembly approved the new constitution in July 1979. On May 18, 1980, Fernando Belaunda Terry was elected president. Between February 1966 and July 1980 approximately 500 people died of political violence.

Many affiliated with Peru-icon.png Peruball's Communist Party had opposed the creation of the new constitution and formed the extremist organization known as Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball. This ultimately led to the emergence of internal conflict, with the first attacks taking place a day before the elections. Despite this, national elections continued and Fernando Belaúnde Terry was elected as the 58th President of Peru-icon.png Peruball in 1980. Terry had already served as the country's 55th president prior to Velasco's coup in 1968.

Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball

During the governments of Velasco and Morales, Shining Pathball had been organized as a Maoist political group formed in 1970 by Abimael Guzmán, a communist professor of philosophy at the San Cristóbal of Huamanga University. Guzmán had been inspired by the Cultural Revolution which he had witnessed first-hand during a trip to China-icon.png Chinaball. Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball's members engaged in street fights with members of other political groups and painted graffiti encouraging an "armed struggle" against Peru-icon.png Peruball.

In June 1979, demonstrations for free education were severely repressed by the army: 18 people were killed according to official figures, but non-governmental estimates suggest several dozen deaths. This event led to a radicalization of political protests in the countryside and the outbreak of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball's terrorist actions.

Military-icon.png Timeline

Jihad-icon.png Outbreak of hostilities (1980-1982)

When Peru-icon.png Peruball's military government allowed elections for the first time in 1980, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball was one of the few leftist political groups that declined to take part. They opted instead to launch guerrilla warfare actions against the state in the province of Ayacucho-icon.png Ayacuchoball. On May 17, 1980—the eve of the presidential elections—members of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball burned ballot boxes in the town of Chuschiball, Ayacucho-icon.png Ayacucho. The perpetrators were quickly caught and additional ballots were brought in to replace the burned ballots; the elections proceeded without any further incidents. The incident received very little attention in the Peru-icon.png Peruball's press.

Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball opted to fight in the style taught by Mao Zedong-icon.png Mao Zedong. They would open up "guerrilla zones" in which their guerrillas could operate and drive government forces out of these zones to create "liberated zones". These zones would then be used to support new guerrilla zones until the entire country was essentially a unified "liberated zone". There is some disagreement among scholars about the extent of Maoism-icon.png Maoist influence on Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball, but the majority of scholars consider Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball to be a violent Maoist organization. One of the factors contributing to support for this view among scholars is that Soviet-icon.pngShining Pathball's economic and political base were located primarily in rural areas and they sought to build up their influence in these areas.

On December 3, 1982, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball officially formed an armed wing known as the "People's Guerrilla Army".

MRTA-icon.png Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movementball

In 1982, MRTA-icon.png Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movementball (MRTAball) launched its own guerrilla against Peru-icon.png Peruball's state. The group had been formed by remnants of the Movement of the Revolutionary Leftandball identified with Castroite guerrilla movements in other parts of Latin America. The MRTA-icon.png MRTAball used techniques that were more traditional to Latin American leftist organizations, like wearing uniforms, claiming to fight for true democracy, and accusations of human rights abuses by the state; in contrast, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball did not wear uniforms and did not care for democratic processes.

During the conflict, MRTA-icon.png MRTAball and Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball engaged in combat with each other. MRTA-icon.png MRTAball only played a small part in the overall conflict, being declared by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to have been responsible for 1.5 percent of casualties accumulated throughout the conflict. At its height, MRTA-icon.png MRTAball was believed to have consisted of only a few hundred members.

President-icon.png Government response (1981)

Gradually, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball committed more and more violent attacks on the National Police of Peru until the Lima-icon.png Lima-based government could no longer ignore the growing crisis. In 1981, President Fernando Belaúnde Terry declared a state of emergency and ordered that the Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian Armed Forces fight Soviet-icon.pngShining Pathball. Constitutional rights were suspended for 60 days in the Huamangaball, Huantaball, Cangalloball, La Marball, and the Víctor Fajardoball Provinces. Later, the Peru-icon (modern soldier).pngArmed Forces created the Ayacucho Emergency Zone, where military law superseded civilian law.[citation needed] The military committed many human rights violations in the area where it had political control, including the infamous Accomarca massacre. Scores of peasant farmers were massacred by the Peru-icon (modern soldier).png armed forces. A special USA-icon (1980).png US-trained "counter-terrorism" police battalion is known as the "Sinchis" became notorious in the 1980s for their violations of human rights.

Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball's reaction to Peru-icon.png Peruball's government's use of the military in the conflict was to increase violent warfare in the countryside. Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball attacked police officers, soldiers, and civilians that it considered being "class enemies", often using gruesome methods of killing their victims. These killings, along with Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball's disrespect for the culture of 3-icon.png indigenous peasants, turned many civilians in the Sierra away from the group.

Soviet-icon (soldier).png Shining Path massacres (1982-1989)

Faced with a hostile population, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball's guerrilla campaigns began to falter. In some areas, fearful, well-off peasants formed Anticommunism-icon.png anti-Shining Path patrols called Aymara-icon.png rondas. They were generally poorly equipped despite donations of guns from the Peru-icon (modern soldier).png armed forces. Nevertheless, Soviet-icon (soldier).png Shining Path guerrillas were attacked by the Aymara-icon.png rondas. The first reported attack was near Huataball in January 1983, where some Aymara-icon.png rondas killed 13 guerrillas. In February in Sacsamarcaball, Aymara-icon.png rondas stabbed and killed the Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball commanders of that area. In March 1983, Aymara-icon.png rondas brutally killed Olegario Curitomay, one of the commanders of the town of Lucanamarcaball. They took him to the town square, stoned him, stabbed him, set him on fire, and finally shot him. Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball responded by entering the province of Huancasancosball and the towns of Yanaccollpaball, Ataccaraball, Llacchuaball, Muylacruzball, and Lucanamarcaball, where they killed 69 people. Other similar incidents followed, such as ones in Hauylloball, Tambo Districtball, and La Mar Provinceball. In the Ayacucho Department, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball killed 47 peasants.

Additional massacres by Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball occurred, such as one in Marcasball on August 29, 1985.

Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball, like the government, filled its ranks by conscription. Thousands of Soviet-icon (soldier).png child soldiers were recruited by Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball.

Alberto Fujimori-icon.png Administration of Alberto Fujimori (1990–2000) and decline

Under the administration of Alberto Fujimori-icon.png Alberto Fujimori, the state started its widespread use of intelligence agencies in its fight against Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball. Some atrocities were committed by the National Intelligence Service, notably the La Cantuta massacre, the Barrios Altos massacre, and the Santa massacre.

It is also at this time that the Alberto Fujimori-icon.png Fujimori government begins to use Military-icon.png death squads such as the Grupo Colina or the Rodrigo Franco Command, which successfully weaken the guerrillas, although at the cost of committing human rights violations.

On April 5, 1992, Alberto Fujimori-icon.png Fujimori dissolved the Congress of Peruball and abolished the Constitution, initiating the Peruvian Constitutional Crisis of 1992. The reason for these actions was that Congress was slow to pass anti-terrorism legislation. Alberto Fujimori-icon.png Fujimori set up military courts to try suspected members of the Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball and MRTA-icon.png MRTA and ordered that an "iron fist" approach be used. Alberto Fujimori-icon.png Fujimori also announced that Peru-icon.png Peruball would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

As Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball began to lose ground in the Andes to the Peru-icon.png Peruball and the Aymara-icon.png rondas, it decided to speed up its overall strategic plan. Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball declared that it had reached "strategic equilibrium" and was ready to begin its final assault on the cities of. In 1992, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball set off a powerful bomb in the Miraflores District of Lima-icon.png Limaball in what became known as the Tarata bombing. This was part of a larger bombing campaign to follow suit in Lima-icon.png Limaball.

On September 12, 1992, Peruvian police captured Guzmán and several Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball leaders in an apartment above a dance studio in the Surquillo district of Lima-icon.png Limaball. The police had been monitoring the apartment, as a number of suspected Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball militants had visited it. An inspection of the garbage of the apartment produced empty tubes of a skin cream used to treat psoriasis, a condition that Guzmán was known to have. Shortly after the raid that captured Guzmán, most of the remaining Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball leadership fell as well. At the same time, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball suffered embarrassing military defeats to peasant self-defense organizations – supposedly its social base – and the organization fractured into splinter groups.

Guzmán's role as the leader of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball was taken over by Óscar Ramírez, who himself was captured by Peruvian authorities in 1999. After Ramírez's capture, the group splintered, guerrilla activity diminished sharply and previous conditions returned to the areas where the Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball had been active. Some Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball and MRTA-icon.png MRTAball remnants managed to stage minor scale attacks, such as the January 1993 wave of attacks and political assassinations that occurred in the run-up to the municipal elections, which also targeted USA-icon.png US interests; these included the bombing of two Coca-Cola plants on January 22 (by Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball); the RPG attack against the USIS Binational Center on January 16; the bombing of a KFC restaurant on January 21 (both by MRTA-icon.png MRTAball) and the car-bombing of the Peruvian headquarters of IBM on January 28 (by Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball). On July 27, 1993, Shining Path militants drove a car bomb into the USA-icon.png USAball Embassy in Lima-icon.png Limaball, which left extensive damage on the complex (worth some US$250,000) and nearby buildings.

Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball was confined to their former headquarters in Peru-icon.png Peruball's jungle and continued smaller attacks against Peru-icon (modern soldier).png the military, like the one that occurred on October 2, 1999, when a Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian Army helicopter was shot down by Soviet-icon.png SPball guerrillas near Satipoball (killing 5) and stealing a PKM machine gun which was reportedly used in another attack against a Mi-17 in July 2003.

Despite Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball being mostly defeated, more than 25% of Peru's national territory remained under a state of emergency until early 2000.

Drug cartel-Icon.png Reemergence in the 21st Century (2002–present)

Over the last two decades, there have been a number of incidents relating to an internal conflict within Peruball. On March 20, 2002, a car bomb exploded at "El Polo," a mall in a wealthy district of Lima-icon.png Limaball near USA-icon.pngUSAball's embassy. On June 9, 2003, a Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball group attacked a camp in Ayacucho-icon.png Ayacucho and took 68 employees of the Argentina-icon.png Argentine company Techint and three police guards hostage. The hostages worked at the Camisea gas pipeline project that takes natural gas from Cuzco-icon.png Cuzcoball to Lima-icon.pngLimaball. According to sources from Peru-icon.png Peruball's Interior Ministry, the hostage-takers asked for a sizable ransom to free the hostages. Two days later, after a rapid Peru-icon (modern soldier).png military response, the hostage-takers abandoned the hostages. According to some sources, the company paid the ransom.

During 2015, the USA-icon.png USAball Treasury declared Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball a narco-terrorist organization engaged in the taxing of production, processing, and transport, of cocaine. The allegations of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball drug trafficking have been made by Peru-icon.png Peruball's government before the USA-icon.png USAball's decree. This decree will freeze all Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball financial assets in the United States. US treasury official John Smith states the decree would help "the government of Peru's efforts to actively combat the group".

Timeline

  • October 13, 2006 – Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison for terrorism.
  • May 22, 2007 – Peru-icon.png Peruvian police arrested 2 Soviet-icon.png SPball members in the town of Churcampaball, Huancavelica-icon.pngHuancavelicaball.
  • May 27, 2007, the 27th anniversary of the Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball's first attack against Peru-icon.png Peruball, a homemade bomb in a backpack was set off in a market in the southern Peruvian city of Juliaca, killing six and wounding 48. Because of the timing of the attack, Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball is suspected by the Peruvian authorities of holding responsibility.
  • September 20, 2007 – Police arrested 3 Soviet-icon.png SPball insurgents in the city of Huancayo, Junín province.
  • March 25, 2008 – Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball rebels killed a police officer and wounded 11, while they were performing patrol duty.
  • October 15, 2008 – Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball militants attacked an Peru-icon (modern soldier).png army patrol, killing 2 and wounding 5.
  • October 20, 2008 – a group of 30 to 50 Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball insurgents entered a camp set up by the mining company Doe Run. After delivering a short Maoism-icon.png Maoist propaganda speech, before leaving, the militants stole communications equipment and food.
  • October 2008 – in Huancavelica-icon.png Huancavelicaball, the Soviet-icon.png senderistas engaged military and civil convoy with explosives and firearms, demonstrating their continued ability to strike and inflict casualties on easy targets. The clash resulted in the death of Peru-icon (modern soldier).png 12 soldiers and two to seven civilians.
  • April 9, 2009 – Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball ambushed and killed 13 Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian soldiers in the Apurímac and Ene river valleys in Ayacuchoball, said Peruvian minister of Defense, Antero Flores-Aráoz.
  • August 26, 2009 – Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Two soldiers were killed in two separate incidents outside San Antonio de Carrizales, in the Huancayo Province.
  • August 31, 2009 – Peru-icon (modern soldier).png 3 soldiers were wounded in an encounter with Soviet-icon.png SLball rebels, in the San Antonio de Carrizales, in the Huancayo Province.
  • September 2, 2009 – Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball militants shot down a Peruvian Air Force MI-17 helicopter, later killing the two pilots with small arms fire.
  • February 12, 2012 – Comrade Artemio was captured by a combined force of the Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian Army and the Police. President Ollanta Humala said that he would now step up the fight against the other remaining band of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball rebels in the Ene-Apurímac valley.
  • April 14, 2012 – A helicopter crashed after a Soviet-icon.png SPball sniper killed a police helicopter pilot during a hostage rescue operation in the Peruvian Amazon, Peru-icon (modern soldier).png 4 soldiers were also wounded in the crash. The operation started when Soviet-icon.png SPball took up to 40 hostages, demanding a $10 million ransom, 1500 soldiers were deployed into the abduction area in order to participate in the operation.
  • April 27, 2012 – Soviet-icon.png Senderista rebels killed 3 soldiers and wounded 2 others in the aftermath of an ambush.
  • May 2012 – It was reported that since 2008, Peru-icon (modern soldier).png 71 security forces personnel had been killed and 59 wounded by Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball ambushes in the VRAE region.
  • August 11, 2013 – The Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian army killed three Soviet-icon.png Shining Path rebels, including senior commander Comrade Alipio.
  • November 8, 2013 – General Cesar Diaz was removed from the position of Chief of the Joint Command of Special Operations and the Intelligence Command in the VRAEM. The decision came in the aftermath of the 16 October aerial bombing of Mazangaroball which killed one civilian and injured 4 others.
  • February 2014 – The Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball were reported to have attacked a Transportadora de Gas del Peru natural gas work camp in Peru-icon.png Peruball's Cuzco-icon.png Cuzcoball region.
  • April 10, 2014 – Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian authorities arrested 24 people on charges of Soviet-icon.png SPball affiliation.
  • June 18, 2014 – Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Security forces killed 3 and injured Soviet-icon.png 1 Shining Path insurgents during an apartment raid in the Echarate region.
  • October 5, 2014 – 2 policemen were killed and at least 5 injured when they were attacked by Soviet-icon.png SPball rebels in the VRAEM region.
  • October 14, 2014 – Peru-icon (modern soldier).png One soldier was killed and 4 injured in the aftermath of an ambush conducted between Chalhuamayoball and the town of San Franciscoball, VRAEM. A civilian was also injured in the attack.
  • December 17, 2014 – The garrison of the Llochegua army base, in Huantaball, successfully repelled a Soviet-icon.png Shining Path attack, Peru-icon (modern soldier).png one soldier was wounded following the skirmish.
  • April 9, 2016 – Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Two soldiers and one civilian were killed, and Peru-icon (modern soldier).png 6 other soldiers were injured when Soviet-icon.png guerrillas believed to be part of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball, hidden in the jungles of the Juninball attacked a truck carrying soldiers to protect voting stations in Lima-icon.png Limaball, as Presidential Elections were to be held the following day.
  • August 2, 2016 – The Joint Command of the Armed Forces reported that yesterday at 11 pm suspected terrorists attacked a military base in the mazamari district, in the Valley of the Apurimac River, Ene, and Mantaro (abbreviated commonly VRAEM), leaving the balance of Peru-icon (modern soldier).png a wounded soldier.
  • September 27, 2016 – At least three people, Peru-icon (modern soldier).png one soldier, and two civilians were injured in a shooting, there is a detainee in Huancavelica-icon.png Huancavelicaball.
  • December 13, 2016 – A policeman died during an operation in the town of Apachitaball in Vraem region.
  • December 14, 2016 – Two policemen (another was seriously injured) and four narco-terrorists died after a clash in the Vraem region, known for hosting remnants of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball and the high traffic of drugs.
  • March 12, 2017 – Soviet-icon.png Militants of Shining Pathball attacked a helicopter of the Peru-icon (modern soldier).png armed forces of Peru, the latter responded to the attack leaving as balance several wounded attackers.
  • March 18, 2017 – Three policemen were killed and another injured during an ambush in Ayacucho-icon.png Ayacuchoball.
  • May 31, 2017 – According to Channel N, it would be a narco-terrorist attack in which two members of the National Police of Peru were shot dead in the VRAEM region.[73]
  • July 21, 2017 – Llochegua Clashes: An armed confrontation and attempted rescue rescued 10 policemen and a prosecutor injured in Llochegua, in Ayacucho-icon.png Ayacuchoball. A leader of a local armed group was arrested in the operation.
  • August 1, 2017 – A Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Peruvian soldier died and Soviet-icon.png seven other rebels were wounded in an ambush in a clash between the army and remnants of Soviet-icon.png Shining Pathball. In other incident in the same district at least Peru-icon (modern soldier).png one soldier was killed and other three were wounded.[76]
  • September 6, 2017 – At least three police were shot dead by suspected militants at approximately 6 p.m. in the province of Churcampa, Huancavelica-icon.png Huancavelicaball.
  • September 22, 2017 –
    • A Peru-icon (modern soldier).png military patrol and a group of Soviet-icon.png Sendero Luminosoball remnants clashed Thursday in a sector of the Vraem in Ayacucho-icon.png Ayacuchoball without causing injuries, reported the Joint Command of the Armed Forces.
    • A policeman was killed and four injured. A guide were also injured and one missing by the 116 of the Inter-Oceanic road, 15 minutes by motorcycle, in the section of Puerto Maldonadoball, Madre de Dios-icon.png Madre de Diosball.
  • June 7, 2018 - Four policemen were killed in an ambush by Soviet-icon.png terrorists in the Anco district of Churcampa province in the Huancavelica-icon.png Huancavelicaball.
  • June 11, 2018 - A group of Soviet-icon.png terrorists attacked a military base in the town of Mazángaro in the province of Satipoball. Peru-icon (modern soldier).png Six soldiers were injured in the shooting.
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