29th January 2005
The Shining Path, or the Communist Party of Peru - Shining Path (Partido Comunista del Peru - Sendero Luminoso) was a radical Maoist organization operating in Peru, which reached the peak of its activities during the 1980s as it began to capture and control much of the impoverished countryside, as the country began to emerge from decades of military rule into a 'democratic' government. Previous guerrilla groups had already existed to add to the tensions. The party originated from a split from the Peruvian Communist Party, declaring that the party had strayed from its roots. As it became active it began a long war with the government, which took a familiar shape of violence against people perpetrated by state authorities and the rebels. The war was very violent leading into the early 1990s, with some tens of thousands believed to have died in fighting between the government and rebels.
In 1991, the leader and ideologue of Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán (known by his norm de guerre "Chairman Gonzalo") was captured by Peruvian government authorities early in the term of Alberto Fujimori, a heavyhanded strongman. For the rest of the 1990s the government engaged in a 'dirty war' of sorts against the group (along with the MRTA), and along with controversial economic reforms, caused Fujimori's to be removed from power and ultimately in jail, where coincidentally he ended up being in the same cell block as Chairman Gonzalo. During the 1990s the group began to turn increasingly to drug trafficking as it lost control of territories it had 'liberated'.
The group has been going downhill for sometime now, though it has been active in some quarters. Like FARC in Colombia though, it has suffered from increasing police response to its activities, and along with cooperation with the United States under the pretext of the War on Drugs, the group has suffered one loss after another. The capture of the current leader came as the government engaged in raids on many of the suspected camps. The group itself is rather small now, a shadow of its former power, and this current raid has probably sent the last blow to it.
Peru Shining Path leader Comrade Artemio captured
The leader of the remnants of Peru's once-powerful Shining Path rebel group has been captured, government officials have announced.
The guerrilla leader known as "Comrade Artemio" was found badly wounded after a clash with troops in a remote jungle region, the defence minister said.
The Maoist Shining Path movement posed a major challenge to the Peruvian state in the 1980s and early 90s.
But it is now reduced to small bands involved in drug trafficking.
President Ollanta Humala said the capture of Artemio marked the defeat of the Shining Path in the Alto Huallaga valley - a centre of cocaine production.
"In the name of the police and the army we can say to the country: mission acomplished," Mr Humala said during a visit to the units involved.
Mr Humala added that he would now step up the fight against the other remaining band of Shining Path rebels in the Ene-Apurimac valley.
Initial reports said Artemio - whose real name is Florindo Eleuterio Flores - was dead.
But Defence Minister Alberto Otarola said he had been found alive but badly wounded.
"He has practically lost his right arm and he is being given medical attention," Mr Otarola said.
Some Peruvian media reports suggested Artemio may have been betrayed or abandoned by his fellow guerrillas.
He has been flown to the capital Lima for questioning and further medical treatment.
Last December Artemio admitted to reporters that the Shining Path had been defeated, and said the remaining rebels were ready to negotiate with the government. 'People's War'
An estimated 70,000 Peruvians died in the conflict between the Shining Path and government forces, which peaked in the 1980s and early 90s.
Inspired by Maoism, the rebels tried to lead a "People's War" to overthrow what they called "bourgeois democracy" and establish a Communist state.
But the movement lost force after the capture of its founder and leader Abimael Guzman in 1992.
The remnants of the Shining Path have fought on in the Alto Huallaga and Ene-Apurimac valleys - two remote jungle regions dominated by the cocaine trade.
The capture of Artemio is the first major blow to the rebels since President Humala took office last July.
Mr Humala fought against the guerrillas as an army officer in the 1990s.