HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Peru's Guerrillas Back On Warpath In Alliance With Drug Barons
Pubdate: Mon, 20 Mar 2006
Source: Daily Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2006 Telegraph Group Limited
Author: Jeremy McDermott in Aucayacu
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Peru's brutal rebel movement, the Shining Path, long thought to be all
but extinct, is on the warpath again, boosted by an alliance with drug

Its Maoist guerrillas almost vanished after the capture of their
founder and leader, Abimael Guzman, in 1993, with only a few hundred
left sheltering in remote highlands.

But those mountains are now the setting for a dramatic growth in
cultivating coca to produce cocaine, and veteran fighters are now
serving new masters, the drug barons.

The Shining Path once forced the whole country to its knees in a war
that claimed 70,000 lives. The front line in this conflict is
Aucayacu, a cradle for the insurgency in the past and centre of the
cocaine trade now.

Peru threatens to reclaim its title as the world's foremost coca
producer, snatched from it by Colombia in the mid 1990s.

"All the conditions are ready for a rapid expansion of the Shining
Path, as happened with Colombian rebels in the 1980s," said Col
Benedicto Jimenez, the policeman who caught Guzman.

Little has changed in the jungle over the years and much of it is
controlled by Jose Flores, known as "Artemio", the most senior Shining
Path commander still at large.

Eight policemen were killed in an ambush outside Aucayacu last
December after a local police major refused to come to an
"arrangement" with the drug lords.

"The Shining Path have become contract killers for drug traffickers,"
said a former interior minister Fernando Rospigliosi.

The ambush was followed by a police raid in which Artemio's
second-in-command was killed and, in revenge, the murder last week of
three suspected informers.

"Alipio", the commander of the Shining Path's other major surviving
wing, commands 150 fighters from the Vizcatan mountain, a peak never
conquered by the state.

His new recruits are drawn from subjugated Ashaninka indigenous
Indians. He also imposes taxes on the local industries - logging and
coca growing.

"In this area the Shining Path have their own drug crops and
laboratories," said Gen Carlos Olivo of the anti-narcotics police.
"Alipio is making serious money."

But the Shining Path's bloody reputation ensures that few are drawn to
support the resurgent guerrillas voluntarily.

A former commander who would not give his name said: "Peru will never
be taken in again by them." 
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