Shining Path Leader Seeks Truce, Denies Links To Drug Trade – Report

In the process of seeking a truce and political legitimacy, the leader of Peru’s Shining Path remnant group in the Upper Huallaga Valley, one of the country’s top coca producing regions, denied links to the cocaine trade.

Source: IDL Reporteros

In the second part of an interview with IDL-Reporteros published on Wednesday, Florindo Flores, known as “Comrade Artemio,” said that while the Shining Path has allowed drug traffickers to operate, they have not collected fees for protection or other services.

Artemio leads the some 100–300 insurgents based in the valley. The faction is known as Proseguir, or “to continue,” and has cut off ties with the other splinter group based in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley, or VRAE, which is another major coca growing area.

The Shining Path waged a bloody Maoist insurgency against the state in the 1980s and early 1990s, until its leader, philosophy professor Abimael Guzman, was arrested. The Truth & Reconciliation Commission, CVR, found in 2003 that the group were responsible for killing 54% of an estimated 70,000 people, some of whom were state authorities but most were Quechua-speaking peasants.

Today, the remnants have little to do with Guzman’s original rebel group, which at its peak in the late 1980s had around 5,000 members, most of whom operated in small cells unlinked to each other.

When the remnants of Shining Path fled into the montane forest and established themselves in the Upper Huallaga Valley, Artemio said the group brought order to a “Wild West” environment dominated by drug traffickers. He said, however, that the group allowed the drug traffickers to continue working because “the objective was not them, the objective was the state.”

“There are three objectives: Against imperialism, against bureaucratic capitalism, and against semi-feudalism,” Artemio said. “Those were the objectives, we can’t fight against everyone at the same time.”

“I’ve never had an alliance with those people (the drug traffickers),” he added.

“We aren’t mercenary forces at the service of the mafias. Not for removal, not for transportation, not for looking after airplanes and not for anything else,” Artemio said.

Source: IDL Reporteros

“We have to differentiate ourselves from other forces that do indeed do that,” he said, pointing to armed groups in Colombia and the Shining Path group in the VRAE.

Peru is considered by the U.S. to be the world’s top producer of cocaine.

In the first part of Artemio’s interview, published late Tuesday night, the Shining Path leader said that he is looking for a truce with the government and recognized that insurgency is defeated.

“We aren’t going to deny it,” Artemio said. “The political objective continues to be the same one that we took up arms for, even though in practice today that is not possible.”

He said that the group has no intention of increasing the “armed fight.”

“We want a political solution. We want it to end but through negotiation,” Artemio said. “The issue is that it pass through a situation of a military truce.”

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