DixPix Photographs

     

SOUTH CORDILLERA

 
     
  Problems:  TERRORISM IN PERU  

 

A group of "maoist" philosophy, by the name of the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), began a terrorist campaign in the highlands of Peru in 1980. For much of a decade they dominated large swaths of the countryside, with units also in Lima and other cities.  Their cause was greatly helped by the neglected and exploited condition of the rural inhabitants and by the mindless cruelty in the reaction of the state, but in the long run their own pointless cruelty alienated most of the population that should have been their base. Their disdain for the social fabric and values of the rural population was also influential.  With the capture and capitulation of their less than visually inspiring leader in 1992, the movement splintered and their importance almost disappeared.

 

This is what a car looks like after it has been used as a car-bomb. Click to see big picture (640x385 pixels; 88 KB)
This bomb went off in a business district of Lima.  It exploded at night and I almost suspect it was commissioned by a plate glass company as all it seemed to do was break a great many windows. Click to see big picture (640x340 pixels; 96 KB)
Here in the Ayacucho region, the Sendero didn't just knock down the odd transmission line tower to starve the cities of power, they downed whole rows of them. Click to see big picture (640x381 pixels; 102 KB)
Trenches such as this (now filled) were dug across rural roads at night, both to trap any night traffic and to limit commerce. Click to see big picture (640x385 pixels; 109 KB)
Not that Peruvian roads need much sabotage, this one just caved in from neglect. Click to see big picture (357x480 pixels; 81 KB)

Traffic jammed to a halt on the road between Tingo Maria and Pucallpa, when the Sendero assaulted an army convoy, killing 34.

Click to see big picture (640x399 pixels; 129 KB)
There is little doubt that conditions were ripe for social unrest in the Peruvian altiplano and elsewhere, not so much due to poverty but to exploitation of the subsistence farmers and herders Click to see big picture (640x441 pixels; 94 KB)
Perhaps more than anything else, it was the lack of education for the youngsters and any real future that drove so many young people into the arms of the rebels. Click to see big picture (553x480 pixels; 118 KB)
Large families and increasingly small plots of arable land on which to eke a living continue to drive young people off the land and into the city slums with little to offer, although things have been looking up in the new century. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 134 KB)
But in the long run it was the Sendero's cruelty to its own rural population that stopped it from becoming a truly mass movement.  Here in the highlands an entire village was destroyed and abandoned-- who knows by which side. Click to see big picture (640x409 pixels; 82 KB)
Although the Sendero is now just a ghost of its former self, both injustices and protests continue, this one in Lima. Click to see big picture (612x480 pixels; 146 KB)
And despite the election of a "people's president" in Bolivia, the marches, demonstrations and sit-ins continue, this one by women.  When the Bolivian miners protest, they tend to throw sticks of dynamite about for emphasis. Click to see big picture (640x372 pixels; 118 KB)

In 1996, another terrorist group, named after Tupac Amaru, the last Incan emperor, captured the residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Lima during a gala party with many important guests.  Some of these were held hostage for 126 days, until the affair was ended by the armed forces in a surprise raid.  With the collapse of the Sendero, many militants are said to have joined the narcotraffic barons as hired guns, and in the new century terrorists groups have again begun to appear.  In general, both Peru and Bolivia remain rife with protest on many levels.