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Peru: Current status and activities of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL); police response to complaints of threats or violence by SL members; measures taken by large companies to protect their employees from SL intimidation or violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 28 January 2004
Citation / Document Symbol PER42332.E
Reference 7
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Peru: Current status and activities of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL); police response to complaints of threats or violence by SL members; measures taken by large companies to protect their employees from SL intimidation or violence , 28 January 2004, PER42332.E , available at: [accessed 1 December 2015]
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.

Although the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL), listed by the government of Canada as a terrorist entity (Canada 12 Feb. 2003), suffered dramatic losses during the 1990s, with its ranks "greatly diminished" by arrests and desertions, the group remains active, according to Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 (30 Apr. 2003).

Several reports published since January 2003 claim that there has been an increase in SL activity (JIR Jan. 2004, 22; Caretas 3 July 2003; IHT 24 July 2003), including armed attacks (AFP 12 July 2003; ibid. 17 Aug. 2003), recruitment (JIR Jan. 2004, 25) and proselytization (IHT 24 July 2003). However, the SL is "as yet ... in no position to threaten the state" (JIR Jan. 2004, 22), and both the size of its fighting force and its geographical reach remain limited (IHT 24 July 2003; Latinamerica Press 30 July 2003).

Estimates of the number of armed SL members range from a low of 200, according to unidentified government officials cited by the International Herald Tribune (24 July 2003), to a high of 730, according to a May 2003 report by the non-governmental organization Council for Peace (Consejo por la Paz) (AP 11 June 2003; La Encuesta 20 May 2003). The SL is also said to have a "political wing" comprising approximately 2,500 individuals (The Washington Post 23 Mar. 2003). Although the group operates chiefly in the coca producing regions of Huallaga, Ene and Apurímac (JIR Jan. 2004, 23; Radio Netherlands 14 Apr. 2003; Agencia Perú 26 Jan. 2003), Peruvian military intelligence has detected an increasing SL presence at a number of universities, as well as the reactivation of cells belong to the Metropolitan Committee in the Lima area (JIR Jan. 2004). Furthermore, SL columns are reportedly on a "recruiting drive" (JIR Jan. 2004, 25), in some cases offering unemployed youth a monthly salary of 500 soles [CAN $186.05 (Bank of Canada 15 Jan. 2004)] if they enlist (Caretas 3 July 2003). According to EFE, the SL has also infiltrated protest marches in Lima with the objective of gaining new members there (7 Apr. 2003).

According to Jane's Intelligence Review (JIR), the SL is taking steps to shake its reputation for violence and foster popular support (Jan. 2004, 22-23). Examples of measures being taken in this regard include the purchase of foodstuffs from local people, often at elevated prices (JIR Jan. 2004, 23), and the provision of loans of up to US $500 to displaced peasants who would like to develop their land (ibid., 23-34; CAJ July 2003). As well, the group has allegedly attempted to infiltrate trade unions (APRODEH 9 May 2003; Correo 8 May 2003) and build an alliance with coca farmers (JIR Jan. 2004, 23), with JIR claiming that the farmers are being organized into SL "support bases" (ibid.).

Besides its proselytization and trust-building activities, the group is also said to be engaged in a campaign to secure the freedom of imprisoned SL members (Latinamerica Press 30 July 2003; El Comercio 23 Dec. 2003). The pursuit of this goal has reportedly become SL leader Abimael Guzmán's "main battle" and, in the view of former police colonel Benedicto Jimenez, Guzmán is responsible for orchestrating recent SL attacks as a way of exerting pressure on the authorities in support of this campaign (JIR Jan. 2004, 25). However, other individuals consulted by JIR claim that Guzmán has "little or no contact" with SL commanders in the field who are opposed to his 1993 peace deal with the government and who continue to engage in attacks (ibid.).

Among the violent acts carried out by the group since November 2002 was the high profile June 2003 kidnapping of 71 employees of an Argentinean oil company in the Department of Ayacucho (ibid., 24; AP 11 June 2003). Although the hostages were freed unharmed in less than two days (JIR Jan. 2004, 24), General Marco Miyashiro, head of the police Anti-terrorism Directorate (Dirección Contra el Terrorismo, DIRCOTE), characterized the mass abduction as a publicity bombshell (bombazo publicitario) for the SL (Correo 16 June 2003). This statement was corroborated by Jaime Antesana, an SL expert cited by JIR, who stated that

With this kidnapping, Shining Path are telling us they are still around – not just starving diehards with no operating capacity. More than a resurgence, this is a Shining Path that has survived and now is announcing they have new allies to help them press on with their armed struggle (Jan. 2004, 24).

In addition to this incident, the SL reportedly carried out more than 160 actions in the Department of Ayacucho in the first four months of 2003 (Revista Cambio 16 June 2003), including armed attacks, sabotage and political agitation (La Encuesta 20 May 2003). Media reports also refer to a number of SL ambushes of military or peasant militia patrols in 2003 (EFE 13 June 2003; AP 25 June 2003; Miami Herald 18 Aug. 2003; JIR Jan. 2004, 22), including one incident on 10 July 2003 in which five soldiers and two guides were killed in Matucana, Ayacucho (AFP 12 July 2003; Miami Herald 18 Aug. 2003). According to JIR, the group's increased capacity to engage in armed confrontations with state security forces suggests that its members may have received military training from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), which is known to have contacts with the SL (Jan. 2004, 24).

No information pertaining specifically to the police response to complaints of threats or violence by SL members, or to measures taken by large companies to protect their employees from SL intimidation or violence, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, numerous reports refer to the state's response to the increase in SL activity (ibid., 26; AFP 17 Aug. 2003; Notimex 21 June 2003).

Following purges of the state security forces and intelligence service in the wake of President Alberto Fujimori's departure from office in 2000, along with a substantial decrease in the size of the defence budget (JIR Jan. 2004, 26), the June 2003 abduction of the oil workers prompted the Alejandro Toledo government to declare that it would revise its security policy and counter-insurgency strategy (Notimex 21 June 2003). In addition to assigning as many as 1,100 soldiers to the hunt for those responsible for the mass kidnapping (AP 14 July 2003), in July 2003 the government adopted a plan to combat both insurgency and narcotics trafficking (JIR Jan. 2004, 26). According to JIR, the plan

comprised more resources for the police and army, the re-establishment of four security force bases in areas under SL influence; two control points for the Ene and Apurímac rivers; the establishment of the Committee of Peace and Development to concentrate on social investment; and the reactivation of ronderos [peasant militias] in the region (ibid.).

Furthermore, in June 2003 the government announced that although it was lifting the state of emergency in most of the country (CAJ June 2003; AFP 26 June 2003), it would remain in place in Junín, Ayacucho, Apurímac and part of Cusco, all regions where an SL presence has been detected (ibid.).

Sources consulted by the Research Directorate also refer to several instances in which state security forces acted against the SL (AFP 9 Nov. 2003; ibid. 13 Mar. 2003; AP 17 July 2003). Examples follow.

In March 2003, the authorities detained Abimael Córdova Morales and three other unidentified individuals suspected of being SL leaders (AFP 13 Mar. 2003). The four were arrested in the country's central Amazon region (ibid.).

On 4 July 2003, state security forces searching for those responsible for the oil workers' abduction reportedly killed Victor Quispe, a suspected SL political leader, in a confrontation with guerrillas in Satipo, Junín (EFE 5 July 2003).

The following day, on 5 July 2003, Florentino Cerrón, also known as Marcelo and believed to be a senior SL leader, was detained in Huancayo, Junín (DPA 7 July 2003). He was reportedly charged with taking part in 122 assassinations, 92 armed attacks and 91 other acts of violence (ibid.).

On 17 July 2003, one SL guerrilla was killed and another five captured in a clash with state security forces on the banks of the Yanabamba River in the Department of Ayacucho (AP 17 July 2003). The rebels were allegedly "armed with automatic weapons and were carrying raw cocaine paste" at the time of the incident (ibid.).

In November 2003, fighting between state security forces and SL members in the Department of Junín reportedly led to the killing of four guerrillas and capture of a man believed be Jaime Zúñiga Córdova, also known as Dalton, the deputy commander of SL rebels operating in the Ene and Apurímac valleys (AFP 9 Nov. 2003). He is believed to be responsible for an attack in October 1999 that resulted in the downing of a military helicopter and the deaths of four soldiers (ibid.).

On 4 December 2003, Lima police detained Florencio Luque Rafael, a university professor at the National Agrarian University of La Molina (Universidad Nacional Agraria de La Molina), suspected of being an SL member and wanted in connection with the killing of two police officers (El Comercio 11 Dec. 2003).

Also in December 2003, police freed 12 Ashaninka indigenous people who were reportedly being held as slaves by the SL in the Amazon region (AP 15 Dec. 2003). The rescue operation was carried out by a squad of 50 police commandos, who evacuated the former captives by helicopter and then destroyed the camp where they were being held (ibid.). Four months earlier, in August 2003, the police freed another group of 24 Ashaninka people being held by the SL in the vicinity of the Mayortepeni and Quirinquiari rivers in the Ene valley (Correo 7 Sept. 2003).

Although the SL was implicated in the 20 March 2002 bombing near the American embassy in Lima in which ten people died (Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 30 Apr. 2003), no reports of armed attacks perpetrated by the group in the capital since January 2003 could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Neither the Association for the Defence of Human Rights (Asociación por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, APRODEH) nor the National Coordinator for Human Rights (Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDDHH), both Lima-based non-governmental organizations, mention any incidents of SL violence or harassment carried out in the capital since January 2003 on their respective Websites.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France-Presse (AFP). 9 November 2003. "Peruvian Army Kills Four Shining Path Rebels, Captures Top Commander." (Dialog)
_____. 17 August 2003. "Peru Creates Police Unit to Fight Shining Path Rebels." (Dialog)
_____. 12 July 2003. "Attack Hints Resurgence of Shining Path Rebels in Peru Ricardo Uztarroz." (Dialog)
_____. 26 June 2003. "Emergency Partially Lifted in Peru as Opposition Presses Toledo to Quit." (Dialog)
_____. 13 March 2003. " Shining Path Number Two Arrested, Say Peruvian Police." (NEXIS)

Agencia Perú [Lima]. 26 January 2003. "El nuevo objetivo de Sendero Luminoso." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), Lima. 9 May 2003. "Noti-APRODEH." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Associated Press Worldstream (AP). 15 December 2003. "Peruvian Police Rescue 12 Amazon Indians Held by Rebels." (Dialog)
_____. 17 July 2003. "Rebel Dies in Clash with Military in Peru." (Dialog)
_____. 14 July 2003. "Peru's Defense Minister Says Rebel Activity has Increased." (Dialog)
_____. 25 June 2003. Hugo Ned Alarcon. "Shining Path Guerrillas Kill one Soldier in Peruvian Jungle Ambush." (NEXIS)
_____. 11 June 2003. Hugo Ned Alarcon. "Peruvian Security Forces Search for Guerrillas who Released 71 Hostages." (NEXIS)

Bank of Canada. 15 January 2004. "Exchange Rates." [Accessed 15 Jan. 2004]

Canada. 13 February 2003. Canada Gazette. Vol. 137, No. 1. Part II. "Regulations Amending the Regulations Establishing a List of Entities." [Accessed 27 Jan. 2004]

Caretas [Lima]. 3 July 2003. No. 1779. Milagros Trujillo. "Dominios de Sendero." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

El Comercio [Lima]. 23 December 2003. "En algunos penales todavía hay presos por traición a la patria." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]
_____. 11 December 2003. "Capturan a senderista que laboraba como catedrático en universidad." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Comisión Andina de Juristas (CAJ). July 2003. Cronología Andina. "Perú-Julio 2003." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]
_____. June 2003. "Perú-Junio 2003." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Correo [Lima]. 7 September 2003. "SL utiliza a 300 asháninkas como escudos humanos." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]
_____. 16 June 2003. "Jefe de la Dircote solicita mayores recursos para lucha antisubversiva." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]
_____. 8 May 2003. Emilio Camacho. "'Sendero Luminoso se infiltra desde las bases del Sutep'." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA). 7 July 2003. "Top Shining Path Chief Arrested in Peru." (Dialog)

EFE. 5 July 2003. "Army Patrol Kills Guerrilla Leader in Central Peru." (Dialog)
_____. 13 June 2003. "Peru-Terrorism Peruvian Peasant Killed in Clash with Rebels." (NEXIS)
_____. 7 April 2003. "Peru-Terrorism Peruvian Official: No Terrorist Resurgence in Lima." (NEXIS)

La Encuesta [Lima]. 20 May 2003. "Ultimas ediciones." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

International Herald Tribune (IHT) [Neuilly-sur-Seine]. 24 July 2003. Juan Forero. " Peru Relives a Nightmare as Rebels Reappear." (Dialog)

Jane's Intelligence Review (JIR) [Surrey]. January 2004. Jeremy McDermott. "The Shining Path Glimmers Again."

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 30 July 2003. Cecilia Ramón. Vol. 35, no. 15. "Shining Path Active Again."

Miami Herald. 18 August 2003. Tyler Bridges. "Guerrillas Return as Threat in a Deal with Coca Traders." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Notimex [Mexico City, in Spanish]. 21 June 2003. "Peruvian Security Policy to Be Revised in Face of Shining Path Comeback." (FBIS-LAT-2003-0621 23 June 2003/WNC)

Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002. 30 April 2003. United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 27 Jan. 2004]

Radio Netherlands. 14 April 2003. Medalith Rubio. "La otra imagen de Sendero Luminoso." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

Revista Cambio [Bogotá]. 16 June 2003. "El regreso de Sendero." [Accessed 9 Jan. 2004]

The Washington Post. 23 March 2003. Scott Wilson. "Peruvian Guerrillas Fight New Battle in Court; Ruling May Free Shining Path Rebels, Rekindle Fading Maoist Insurgency." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including;

24 Horas [Lima]. 2003-2004

Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)

El Comercio 2003-2004

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos

Cronología Andina [Lima]. "Perú." Dec. 2002-Nov. 2003

World News Connection (WNC)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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