Our guest author, this week, is Max Tomlinson. Max is fron the Bay Area of California and has traveled extensively throughout South America.
His debut novel SENDERO, a thriller set in modern-day Peru, got a star from Kirkus. His second in the series, WHO SINGS TO THE DEAD, will be available in December.
In his next book, Max will be shifting his focus to Argentina and dealing with the aftermath of the military takeover in the ‘70s.
You can visit him, and I hope you will, on his web page: http://maxtomlinson.wordpress.com/
Cara - Tuesday
The Shining Path
“What a frightening thirst for vengeance devours me.” Osmán Morote (Comrade Nicolas)
|Abimael Guzmán dressed as he was when paraded through the streets of Lima in 1992|
During the 80s, after an unknown philosophy professor by the name of Abimael Guzmán founded the Shining Path (“Marxism–Leninism is the shining path of the future”), there was a period when it seemed that the Maoist revolutionary movement might well take control of Peru.
Inflation was rampant, as was corruption, and the indigenous Quechua population, along with many demoralized Peruvians, were more than ready for change.
But at what price?
Somehow Chairman Gonzalo (one of Guzman’s noms de guerre) was able to take that deep discontent and turn it into a full-fledged insurgency that lasted twelve years and killed, by modest estimates, 30,000 Peruvians. (Some estimates go as high as 70,000.)
|The Cult of Shining Path|
The Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) were matched only by their Cambodian counterparts The Khmer Rouge for creative brutality and out-and-out atrocities. Stories of dogs hanging from lampposts in Lima, beheadings for civilian infractions such as adultery, and random bombings with explosives strapped to farm animals only touch upon what the Senderitsas were capable of.
Cult-like activities including free love (but absolutely not ‘love’) and members taking oaths (the cuota) agreeing to their own death once they had killed their share of soldiers and capitalists, only helped raise the Shining Path to a level of notoriety well above your average South American revolutionary group.
Bear in mind that Peruvian government forces battling the insurgents weren’t much better. Accounts of disparados (disappeared ones), political prisons, torture and the wholesale attack on the Quechua people in the Red Zone of the Andes are abundant and many Peruvians regarded the Shining Path as Robin Hoods in ski masks.
Somehow the Peruvian people lived through it all and on September 12, 1992, Abimael Guzmán, a man few people had ever actually seen, was arrested in a Shining Path safe house in Lima. And thus began the decline of the Shining Path.
President Alberto Fujimori (currently in prison for human rights abuses and bribery scandals) was given much of the credit for ending the dirty war. Many Peruvians are willing to forgive the methods he used.
Ironically both men on either side of the struggle are still in prison today.
|President Fujimori during his sentencing.|
In recent years the Shining Path’s numbers have dwindled to 100-300. The odd military-style attack has been carried out against soldiers and political leaders but the main effort has been to provide security for Peru’s drug cartels. It is said that a five percent fee is charged for ‘protecting’ cocaine shipments through the Huallaga Valley, where half the world’s cocaine comes from.
|The Peruvian Military destroying a cocaine lab in the Huallaga Valley|
Last December Comrade Artemio, one of the last infamous old school terrucos, said the Shining Path were defeated. He requested the Peruvian government grant amnesty to imprisoned members and open talks with the remaining holdouts.
|Comrade Artemio prior to his arrest.|
But on February 12 of this year Comrade Artemio was captured in a jungle basecamp. After two bullets were removed from his stomach, he too, is in prison.
So, finally—the end of the Shining Path?
Unfortunately, not yet. Just last April, Shining Path rebel leader Martin Palomino (Comrade Gabriel) took responsibility for the kidnapping of three dozen natural gas workers in the coca growing region.
The workers were ultimately set free but only after six soldiers were killed in a shootout.