November 12, 2008
After more than a decade of dormancy and virtual extinction, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) has begun terrorizing parts of Peru once again. Today's Washington Post reported on the recent surge in violence. During October, the Shining Path killed 17 soldiers and five Peruvian civilians, the biggest number since the 1990s. Drug money has fueled their operations, and it may be that the success of Colombia's government in putting down the narco-guerrilla movement there has caused a "spillover effect," as drug traffickers seek new sources and new protection from underworld movements in neighboring countries.
That article referred to the Shining Path militants as "guerrillas," but when I first visited Peru, I was told in no uncertain terms that they are considered terrorists, not "rebels" or "guerrillas."
Another disturbing aspect to this surge in Shining Path activity is the possible involvement of hostile governments such as Veneuzela, Ecuador, or Bolivia. Presidents Hugo Chavez, Rafael Correa, and Evo Morales have expressed support for revolutionary movements across South America, while excusing drug trafficking. As the transition to a new administration begins in the United States, everyone will be watching to see what President-elect Obama will do about the narco-terrorist problem in Latin America.