The period of terrorism is one of the darkest episode of the story of Peru. The traumatism of the army violence, between 1970 and 2000, is already present in every conscience.
First it is necessary to replace rapidly the context of Peru to understand the beginning of this movement. At the end of 1970, we are in a country essentially federal. The social structures correspond to the colonial order of the Viceroyalty of Peru (the haciendas, big homesteads of white people who employed an Indian workshop, almost reduced to slavery because the abolishment was in 1973). Lima has absolutely all the powers and the habitants living in the internal lands are forgotten, except when they have to pay taxes. On the other hand, the internal context of Cold War see fighting on one side United States, major allies of Lima’s system, exploiters of Peruvian natural resources, that consider Latin America as his preserve, and on the other side, URSS, with its speech; countries “poor and enslaved by capitalist and imperialist tyranny”.
So, this is without surprise that the terrorist movement that emerged took the characteristics of Maoism/Leninism. It clearly indicate its purpose against the Peruvian colonial State to install a Marxist-Leninist State corresponding to the necessaries of Peruvians living in the intern lands, the poorest. Abimaël Guzman taught philosophy in the University of Ayacucho and was who ruled this emerging movement. He started to organize the guerilla with the name of “Presidente Gonzalo”. The terrorists choose the name of “Shining Path” in reference to a quote of a great Peruvian author who wrote “the Marxism-Leninism will open the Shining Path until the Revolution”. So, the purpose was, obviously, revolution like in Cuba.
At the beginning, the attacks only were oriented to State representatives; attack against a mayor, against officers, against governors… Progressively, the terrorism movement grew, relying on frustration and farmers ignorance to teach them their doctrine and made them new soldiers or militant for their cause. But the most important idea says that “you’re either with us, or against us”. The terror of guerillas armed with rifles and a watertight conviction rules in many regions of the country and the fear of a new attack terrified most of the habitants.
Lima didn’t care about this loss of control on Andean and Amazonian territories until a bomb were set off right in Miraflores, the business district of Lima. And then, suddenly, this is the national emotion and we have to eradicate at all costs those sanguinary persecutors.
According to last works, more than 70 000 Peruvians died during this armed conflict, caught between two fires; the one of terrorist and the one of army send to kill the guerilla. Everyone required a total collaboration from the population but it automatically meant be murdered by the other the day after for “treachery against the Nation”. We estimate that 54% of civil murders come from the terrorist movement and 46% from the national Army. This conflict had, on another side, powered a massive rural exodus to the city of Lima that see its population expand in 300% in 20 years, in a chaotic way, disorganized and increasing more than ever the social inequalities.
This is finally the Present Alberto Fujimori who achieved to master the Shining Path: during his two mandates (1990 to 2000), he achieved to capture the head and the most important persons of the movement, letting them dying and without any organization. Nowadays, Abimaël Guzman ask to renounce to weapons to enter in politic, with a new party called MOVADEF (received with insults and general disdain of Medias and finally, prohibited). The entire notion of “left-politic, in Peru, is almost systematically associated to Marxism-Leninism and terrorism. About the movement per se, it is inactive since now 15 years. Only a few remote regions in Amazonia suffer the lay of a neo-terrorism associated to drug trade but all this thing pass far away for populated area and much more in touristic regions.