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Although soundly defeated in the early to mid-1990s, Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) did not disappear. Over the past five years, it has reemerged in a substantially different form, with both a military and a political component. The organization, once again coordinated by jailed leader Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, has eschewed shorter-term military objectives in favor of a longer-term strategy of slowly rebuilding popular support and establishing a party within the Peruvian political system. In so doing, it has also moved from extreme Maoist ideological rigidity to a more pragmatic, though perhaps only tactical, approach. Financial support is derived once again from cocaine production and trafficking in the Upper Huallaga Valley (UHV). Although there may be some individual exceptions, Shining Path is not a narcoterrorist organization. At the same time, Sendero is still very small, in no way a threat to the Peruvian state, and divided. The Lima-based political organization and the military wing in the UHV continue to follow Guzmán‟s leadership, while the Apurímac-Ene Valleys (VRAE) group remains committed to the armed struggle. The Government of Peru (GOP) response to date, both military and civilian, has been inadequate. VRAE military operations are hampered by poor leadership, ill-trained troops, and an outdated strategy. VRAE development resources have been cut, and the long-promised paved road remains in the planning stage. Without significant GOP adjustments, Shining Path is likely to continue to grow.


The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this report (paper) are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy or decision unless so designated by the official documentation.

Funded by the National Defense Center for Energy and Environment (NDCEE), ID W91WAW-09-D-0022, delivery order number 0616.

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