Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April 2014, 11:39 GMT

Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Peru

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 18 August 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Peru, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e5248194e.html [accessed 24 April 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.

Overview: Peru's primary counterterrorism concern remained Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path or SL), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization that wreaked havoc on the country in the 1980s and 1990s in a conflict that claimed more than 69,000 lives. SL elements in the Upper Huallaga River Valley (UHV) sought to regroup and replenish their ranks following significant setbacks in recent years. Separately, the rival SL faction in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE) maintained its influence in that area. Implementation of the government's Plan VRAE, which in its security component called for 2,000 troops and 19 counterterrorism bases under a central command, was still evolving in 2010. Plans for new health, education, and infrastructure investment in these isolated communities were not fully implemented, but authorities made some improvements to roadways and rural electrification.

Although Peru nearly eliminated SL in the 1990s, the organization, now entwined with narcotics trafficking, remained a threat. Because of the nature of the threat and SL's close ties to narcotics trafficking, counterterrorism efforts are often, but not always, intrinsically tied to counter-narcotics; some analysts refer to SL as "narco-terrorists." In 2010, the U.S. State Department added the leaders of both SL factions to its Narcotics Rewards Program, and offered up to US$5 million each for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Florindo Eleuterio Flores-Hala (aka "Artemio," of the UHV) and Victor Quispe Palomino (aka "Jose," of the VRAE).

SL forcibly recruited young children. Digital cameras found at an SL camp in the VRAE raided by Peruvian authorities in October contained numerous photos of about 50 children of ages 5 to 16, many of them carrying automatic weapons or reading Maoist literature. The children apparently formed part of a group led by "Alipio," a high ranking leader known for leading some of the bloodiest ambushes in the VRAE. Some of the children were thought to have been kidnapped from local towns or indigenous communities, while others may be the children of SL members.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continued to use remote areas along the Colombian-Peruvian border to regroup and make arms purchases. Peruvian government experts believed the FARC continued to fund coca cultivation and cocaine production among the Peruvian population in border areas.

2010 Terrorist Incidents: The two factions of the SL (UHV and VRAE) together carried out 136 terrorist acts that killed police and civilians (mostly individuals perceived by SL in the UHV as police informants or collaborators), and members of the military in 2010. The Peruvian Army's 2008 offensive in the Vizcatan region, called "Operation Excellence 777," continued haltingly, with the military maintaining a number of small provisional bases in the area. Confrontations generally consisted of SL members attacking Peruvian patrols or incoming supply helicopters, but in several cases SL attacked a military base.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: Government efforts to improve interagency cooperation, especially in intelligence, and to strengthen prosecutorial capacity were somewhat successful. Police units specializing in counterterrorism and counternarcotics conducted some joint operations with the Peruvian Army in the UHV, where police captured two high-ranking SL terrorists. Peru has counterterrorism legislation and applied it consistently to arrest and convict terrorists. No new counterterrorism legislation was passed in 2010, and there was no movement on President Garcia's 2006 proposal calling for the death penalty for those convicted of acts of terrorism.

Police detained over 121 suspected terrorists during the year, including Edgar Mejia Ascencio (aka "Izula"), believed to be the UHV faction's number two leader, and later Mario Antonio Sifuentes Sandoval (aka "Sergio), who had succeeded Mejia as number two. In November, police arrested 43 people during a raid in the UHV as part of its "Operation Eclipse." The detainees, several of whom were prominent coca farmer leaders and local elected officials, faced drug trafficking, terrorism, falsification of documents, homicide, money laundering, and other charges. Some of the detainees had been filmed meeting with Artemio in April, demonstrating an alliance between coca growers and SL.

Authorities also killed five SL members in clashes with SL columns, including Victor Raul Vasquez Santa Cruz (aka "Ruben"), who was reputed to have assassinated political leaders in the UHV and to be in Artemio's inner circle. SL founder and leader Abimael Guzman and key accomplices remained in prison serving life sentences on charges stemming from crimes committed during the 1980s and 1990s. Many others have been released in recent years, having completed their sentences or been released on parole for good behavior.

Peruvian authorities installed body scanners for drug detection at the border crossings with Chile and two international airports. Authorities collected no biometrics information, and citizens of neighboring countries were allowed to travel to Peru by land using national identification cards alone. There is no visa requirement for citizens of most countries in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Peru is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Against Money Laundering in South America (GAFISUD), which held its XXI Plenary Session in Lima in July. Peru's Superintendent of Banks served as Chair of GAFISUD during 2010. Peru was ranked as 'partially compliant' in the GAFISUD 3rd Evaluation Report (2008) on the Ratification and Implementation of UN Instruments and the Special Recommendation Freezing and Confiscating Terrorist Assets. As a result, the Superintendent of Banking issued a resolution in September establishing guidelines for financial and insurance entities to implement the UN resolutions to prevent and suppress the financing of terrorism.

Regional and International Cooperation: Peru is an active member of the OAS, the Union of South American Nations, and the Andean Community. On October 21, senior military commanders from Colombia, Peru, and Brazil met in Leticia, Colombia to discuss joint actions, including aircraft monitoring against drug trafficking and guerrillas along their common tri-border area in the Amazon jungle. Previously, the countries had conducted bilateral operations; this will mark the first tripartite effort to address drug trafficking and terrorism.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: While the Government of Peru does not have a systematic program to counter radicalization and violent extremism, aspects of Plan VRAE (improvements in education, infrastructure, health, and security) are designed to increase the state's presence and improve governance. The official position of the National Penitentiary Institute is that prison is meant to rehabilitate and reintegrate prisoners, especially terrorists, and therefore a psychological assessment that indicates such change has taken place is required before a terrorist can be granted parole. This benefit is also meant to encourage prisoners to change, rather than to continue in conflict with the state. Many observers have expressed concern that convicted terrorists are not, in fact, rehabilitated, and many return to SL after they complete sentences and are released. Comrade "Sergio," for example, completed a 12-year prison sentence for terrorism charges in 2004, and promptly returned to SL to become Artemio's number two leader in 2010 before being re-arrested in December.

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