Shining Path and Its Changing Threat
Considering the basic definition of a threat, it could be said that the Shining Path (SL) continues to pose one. Its armed militants have the capacity to mobilize themselves and to harm government forces. The group has the intention to do so, and in fact, they do. SL receives funding from drug traffickers and illegal woodcutters, and they exercise control over a portion of Peruvian territory that, though small, represents a symbolic and psychological factor for its followers.
SL operations have varied substantially over the last 10 years. They no longer attack the civil population but instead concentrate solely on the police and Armed Forces. Their modus operandi ranges from ambushes to foot patrols to audacious helicopter attacks, and even harassment of the state’s combat bases. The group is estimated to have some 600 armed militants in and around the Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley (VRAE). Members are recruited from the cocagrowing rural population and include abducted children who are subsequently indoctrinated and trained to kill. The group even includes discharged soldiers of the Armed Forces, contracted on salaries much higher than those in the local labor market (no less than $500 per month).
The arms at their disposal are weapons of war, including machine guns and rocket launchers, which they use against helicopters. It is also very common for them to set traps in and around fields or mandatory routes of the rural territory of the VRAE. These handcrafted traps, made with great imagination and ingenuity, are difficult to discover by detection devices and specialized search teams.
While the VRAE is the main area of activity, the SL also continues to operate in the region of Alto Huallaga, where the group has nearly been defeated, but where complete victory has not been achieved. In the Alto Huallaga region, their armed legions are far fewer in number, consisting of no more than 150 militants. The problem is that SL as a threat has changed, and its members have become “[illegal] narco-lumber trafficking terrorists,” according to Brigadier General Leonardo Longa López, commandant-general of the 31st Infantry Brigade in charge of the VRAE, as noted in the December 2010 edition of the Peruvian Army’s magazine, Expresión Militar.
Gen. Longa calls narco-lumber terrorism “the result of changes among the remaining terrorists in the VRAE, who have become drug traffickers and beneficiaries of illegal logging.” This transformation has enabled them to influence the local population, largely poor and immigrant people from the Peruvian mountain region. With a lack of employment opportunities, this influence has transformed the local economy, which is now driven by these two illegal activities under the armed protection of the SL.
General Andrés Acosta has a master’s degree in national development and defense and a doctorate in political science and international relations.
Shining Path Continues to Recruit Children
The Shining path turns children into soldiers capable of murder
The narcoterrorist group shining path (SL) continues to recruit minors and even has an indoctrination school for them called “People’s School,” according to a report on peruvian television program Panorama that aired in November 2010.
This school is located in the Apurimac and Ene Rivers Valley (Vrae). images from the report show children reciting Marxist, Leninist and Maoist slogans. the program also showed photographs of children in military-style formation carrying long-range weapons.
When they reach 15 years old, and are barely taller than a meter in height, these children are already considered war veterans, reported Mexico’s Noticieros Televisa.
The SL has among its ranks children who are turned into soldiers trained to kill, according to the same news report.
Corporal arí Zevallos, a survivor of an SL ambush in the Sarabamba jungle in ayacucho, revealed during the report that one of the attackers was an 11-year-old child, who was forced by a woman to fatally shoot a wounded soldier.
Ántero Flores aráoz, peru’s defense minister until late 2009, acknowledged in an interview with Noticieros Televisa that “shining path indoctrinates and perverts children in order to use them in its war against the state.”
A simple internet search using the key words “children” and “Shining Path” yields unsettling images of children recruited by the SL, heavily armed with weapons that include akM machine guns and light automatic rifles. Most dress as adults, with blue jackets and camouflage pants, and with expressions that have been stripped of the innocence of childhood. they have lost their childhood to become machines of war.