The United States government saluted Peru on its arrest of almost 30 members of a political group that had close ties to the Shining Path rebels.
In a statement, the U.S. State Department said it “congratulates the Government of Peru for last week’s arrests of at least 28 leaders and members of a front organization for the Shining Path terrorist group.”
“Under the leadership of President Humala, this successful effort exemplifies an admirable commitment to respect for the rule of law and human rights, to patient and persistent criminal investigation work, and an effective ‘whole of government’ approach featuring coordination among judicial, police, armed forces and intelligence elements,” the state department said.
The Shining Path has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States since 1997. The group was responsible for killing tens-of-thousands of people during the 1980s and early 1990s. The Shining Path, a Maoist group, launched its campaign to overthrow the Peruvian state in 1980, led by a ruthless, messianic philosophy professor called Abimael Guzman.
The Shining Path largely collapsed in 1992 when police arrested Guzman and other members of the group’s central committee in a house in Lima. A small number of rebels still exist in remote, jungle areas of Peru, but analysts say they share little of the original ideology and are instead heavily involved in the local cocaine trade.
Earlier this month, President Humala announced the arrest of 28 people from the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef). The individuals, including its leaders, are accused of belonging to a terrorist organization and financing terrorism with money from drug trafficking.
Movadef’s central proposal is to obtain amnesty for the Shining Path leaders, including Guzman. One of Movadef’s leaders, Alfredo Crespo, who was arrested in the national sting this month, is the lawyer for Guzman.
The head of the Joint Command of Peru’s Armed Forces, General Leonel Cabrera, said he was pleased with the U.S. support for the mission.
“We are satisfied with it, as they are friends that have been in one way or another involved in the problems of drug trafficking and terrorism,” Cabrera said. “It is a satisfaction for all Peruvians.”