Last Updated: Monday, 22 September 2014, 21:11 GMT

U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Peru

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Publication Date 30 April 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Peru, 30 April 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4681088023.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Peru's top counterterrorism concern was preventing the reemergence of the militant Maoist Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that convulsed the country in the 1980s and1990s at a cost of more than 69,000 lives. SL members continued to engage in narcotrafficking and killed eight civilians and five counternarcotics police officers. SL members also intimidated voters during the election year, but it suffered significant setbacks in 2006 when SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman was sentenced to life in prison, SL's number two military leader Hector Aponte Sinarahua "Clay" was killed, and a boat capsized in the Ene River drowning some 40 members.

Although previous Peruvian administrations nearly eliminated SL in the 1990s, the organization, now entwined with narcotics trafficking, reemerged and remained a threat. Now estimated to include hundreds of armed combatants, Sendero Luminoso conducted 92 terrorist acts in remote areas. While the new SL is shorter on revolutionary zeal than its predecessor, reports suggested it was attempting to rebuild support in the university system, where it exercised considerable influence in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the drug trade provided SL with a greater source of funding to conduct operations, to improve relations with local communities in remote areas, and to gain recruits. Lack of government presence in these areas and deterioration in Peruvian security capabilities complicated efforts to counter or disrupt SL activity.

Since SL remnants operated in coca growing regions and relied on narcotrafficking income, the Peruvian National Police (PNP) in these regions and U.S.-Peruvian counternarcotics operations were on alert for possible attacks based on SL threats. SL presence and activity near Aucayacu in Huanuco limited voluntary eradication and alternative development projects, as SL members reportedly owned and operated coca fields in this area.

SL killed five Peruvian Police officers and two employees of the government-regulated licit coca company (ENACO) in an ambush attack on December 16 in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) of Ayacucho. The ENACO staff, protected by the PNP officers, was tasked to confiscate illegal coca and cocaine precursor chemicals. The Armed Forces reported three soldiers wounded by SL. Two sustained injuries in May and July when their base came under SL fire, and the other soldier was wounded when his convoy was ambushed by SL guerillas.

In rural areas of the Huallaga Valley and the Apurimac and Ene River Valley, SL called for the boycott of April presidential elections and stepped up its recruitment before the elections. Five murders were linked to SL either as voter intimidation during the presidential elections or as revenge for the police operation resulting in the death of SL military leader Hector Aponte Sinarahua "Clay". In March, three people were tortured and mutilated for allegedly providing information to the PNP that led to the police operation against Clay. Their bodies were found with anti-election/pro-revolution notes attached. In March, three residents of Leoncio Prado, Huanuco were murdered; one body was found with a note stating that other informants would also be murdered. SL declared that the killings would continue until Clay's death was avenged. In August, SL murdered a fifth civilian from Tocache, San Martin for working as an informant in Clay's case. SL's propaganda and intimidation activities peaked around the first round of the presidential elections and were less pronounced for the subsequent runoff and regional/municipal elections.

From January through June, then-President Toledo undertook a counterterrorism campaign (the Huallaga Police Front) in response to the deadly attacks on police in 2005. This strategy remained in effect. Alan Garcia's government announced a new counterterrorism strategy in November. Under Garcia's strategy, 2,000 troops and 19 antiterrorism bases in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley operated under a central command. The plan also called for new health, education, and infrastructure investment in these isolated communities where the state lacked presence. The government also sought to improve interagency cooperation and strengthen prosecutors. Police units specializing in counterterrorism and counternarcotics conducted joint operations with the Peruvian Army. President Garcia proposed a law in November that called for the death penalty for those convicted of acts of terrorism, but Congress has yet to take action.

President Garcia and former President Toledo repeatedly reauthorized a 60-day state of emergency in parts of Peru's five departments where SL operates, suspended some civil liberties and gave the armed forces authority to maintain public order.

The Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) has not conducted a significant terrorist attack since the December 1996 hostage taking at the Japanese Ambassador's residence in Lima. However, there were indications that ex-MRTA members were trying to reconstitute an organizational structure. These MRTA activists were infiltrating far left civil society organizations. For example, the MRTA participated in a conference with left-wing fringe parties in Chile in an attempt to rejuvenate their organization. Police also found MRTA propaganda distributed during the election season.

Authorities arrested 155 suspected SL members and nine Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) members. On February 19, the PNP killed Clay, military leader and number two in the Huallaga branch of the SL. The PNP also arrested Mansueto Ausencio "Mansho" and Juan Chujutalli "Pablito", two top political-military operatives in November. Reportedly the result of a boat accident, almost 40 SL members, a third of the force in the region, drowned in the Ene River.

Government records indicated that 145 former SL members were released from jail in November after completing their sentences. Some of these members rejoined political movements but there was no evidence that they have engaged in violent acts.

The Government of Peru aggressively prosecuted terrorist suspects, led by special counterterrorism prosecutors. A special terrorism court was in the process of retrying the remaining SL and MRTA members whose convictions were overturned by Peru's Constitutional Tribunal in 2003. Following a trial that lasted over a year, Abimael Guzman was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on October 13 for acts of terrorism and for founding and leading SL. Elena Iparraguirre, his partner and co-conspirator, was also sentenced to life in prison. Oscar Ramirez Durand 'Feliciano', former leader of SL was sentenced to 24 years prison in June for acts of terrorism. Guzman and his accomplices will continue to face other judicial processes.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) used remote areas along the Colombian/Peruvian border for rest and to make arms purchases. According to the Peruvian police, the FARC has forced indigenous groups in remote jungle areas to cultivate coca crops. The outgoing Loreto Regional President made headlines in November when he claimed the FARC operated in the region and had begun to recruit locals to fight in Colombia. Peru, Colombia, and Brazil are party to a 2004 border security agreement to cooperate against terrorism and arms trafficking.

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