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Thread: Peru & Sendero Luminoso (merged thread)

  1. #1
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default Any Sendero Luminoso Experts Here?

    I'm using it as one case study for my "high value targeting" paper I'm doing for the RAND Insurgency Board (and will later have the Strategic Studies Institute publish). Time is short and I was wondering what would be the best one or two sources on SL, preferably article or chapters rather than books.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Article on there comeback May31,08


    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j...ozabQD910NOUO0

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    Default Sl

    Steve--

    See Chapter 7 of my and Max's Uncomfortable Wars Revisited. Compares SL and FMLN insurgencies.

    Gustavo Gorriti's book is the classic on early SL. Scot Palmer has a book (edited) devoted to SL as well as a number of articles. Same for Cynthia McClintock.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default

    What do you think of Steve Stern? Just got it from Amazon

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    Default Steve, I haven't read the book but

    it is a mixed bag of authors. A number of them are academics of both the left and the right. Among the better ones are Enrique Obando (former civilian #3 man in the Peruvian Defense Ministry) and Carlos Ivan DeGregori. The latter is also in Scott Palmer's Shining Path of Peru. Renique's writing on SL is incompetent and an ideological apology. Palmer's book is, i think, the definitive work - Scott was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Unversity of Huamanga when Guzman was founding SL and teaching there. Guzman mounted a campaign to force Scott to be transferred.

    I think that Max and my analysis is probably the best (and really the only) one to focus on the Peruvian COIN ops with good coverage of both SL and GOP strategy.

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    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    it is a mixed bag of authors. A number of them are academics of both the left and the right. Among the better ones are Enrique Obando (former civilian #3 man in the Peruvian Defense Ministry) and Carlos Ivan DeGregori. The latter is also in Scott Palmer's Shining Path of Peru. Renique's writing on SL is incompetent and an ideological apology. Palmer's book is, i think, the definitive work - Scott was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Unversity of Huamanga when Guzman was founding SL and teaching there. Guzman mounted a campaign to force Scott to be transferred.

    I think that Max and my analysis is probably the best (and really the only) one to focus on the Peruvian COIN ops with good coverage of both SL and GOP strategy.
    I'll pull it up. The Maxster is off on some boondoggle in Kingston, ON right now.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Steve, are you going to let us read your paper here?

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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default

    This story may be of some use, its about the team that captured Abimael Guzman:

    'Superman' Meets Shining Path: Story of a CIA Success
    , By Charles Lane. The Washington Post, December 7, 2000 ; Page A01.

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    Default Good report but

    reflects the bias of the sources (as does most good journalism).

    CIA did play an important role in the fight against SL - even as far back as 1986. In the first Alan Garcia administration Peru was getting very little US assistance because of anger with Garcia's economic policies (debt service in particular). We, in Southcom, could do a few things - Subject Matter Expert Exchanges, occasional combined military exercises, and IMET training and education for individuals when Peru was in an open window from Brooke sanctions. CIA was not so limited and was able to build a relationship with the SIN and DIRCOTE (DINCOTE's predecessor) which the article makes clear was maintained after Fujimori became President.

    Generally, the article underplays the role of Vidal and overplays that of CIA making no mention of other USG efforts. In short, it was a much more complex situation that the brief article suggests. For example, one of the keys to success was the Peruvian Army decision to support the development of the Rondas Campesinas (peasant militias) in the mountains. Another was the Army effort to go after SL and not the drug traffickers in the coca growing areas of the high jungle - the Upper Huallaga Valley - to the consternation of the US DEA which sabotaged the most effective COIN commander in the region with a major campaign of slander against him. (So the elements of the USG were working at cross purposes - what else is new? )

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default Info on Sendero Luminoso

    John, Steve or anybody else with a background on SL

    I'm working on a short paper discussing the decline of SL. Basically I'm arguing that

    1. The removal of Guzman was critical in the defeat of SL

    2. This was only possible because SL was a highly organized "spider organization"

    3. This is not common among most insurgencies because they operate under a "starfish" structure in which is not easily decapitated. Therefore a comprehensive strategy to secure the population is preferred to enemy focused targeting.

    My question is...do you think removing Guzman was the silver bullet that caused the decline of Sendero or do you think the Rondas Campesinas and other initiatives by GOP were the real reason for their success.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Burgoyne
    My question is...do you think removing Guzman was the silver bullet that caused the decline of Sendero or do you think the Rondas Campesinas and other initiatives by GOP were the real reason for their success.
    Compare and contrast the internal structural, ideological and cultural aspects of SL that resulted in its decline following Guzman's capture with the same aspects of the PKK and its decline following the capture of Ocalan. Do the same with the external pressures upon both organizations existing at the time of the decapitations and subsequent decline. Useful study.

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    Thanks, I think I'll check that out.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Another was the Army effort to go after SL and not the drug traffickers in the coca growing areas of the high jungle - the Upper Huallaga Valley - to the consternation of the US DEA which sabotaged the most effective COIN commander in the region with a major campaign of slander against him. (So the elements of the USG were working at cross purposes - what else is new? )
    That's very interesting. Former DEA guys I knew back in the late 1990's basically held the view that the DEA Ops in the Upper Huallaga valley were in fact a cover activity for "other" Intel operations to target SL, and that not everyone got onside. - That reflects your view.

    Having examined the DEA and other "Tros Lettros" activity in Bolivia, inter agency friction seems to disproportionate to efforts actually involved.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default The real reason

    Mike--

    The fall of SL is complex. The capture of Guzman was not just his capture but that of the entire Politburo in one fell swoop due to good police work and SL carelessness. It was also due to SL expanding too rapidly and taking in new members who had not been recruited and indoctrinated as children - their previous pattern. While important, cutting off the head was hardly the sole reason for defeating SL. SL was a master of centralized direction and decentralized execution. In fact. the Politburo only put out the party line and all the regional commands were given free reign to conduct operations in their own area so long as they conformed to the party line. Hardly a pure spider org.

    The other critical factor in the defeat of SL was its brutality which cost it nearly all its legitimacy in the Sierra and in Lima. That brutality turned the local people - districts and their dependencies - to arming themselves and forming the rondas. That the army, after some resistance, accepted the rondas and helped arm them and provided some communication capability was decisive in the Sierra. Cooperation with the police and govt worked in Lima for the people.

    In the UHV, GEN Arciniega's efforts blunted SL until he was releived due to DEA's slander campaign.

    Wilf--

    I never heard the charge that DEA was a cover for other intel activity in the UHV and I'm inclined to discount that charge. CIA ran a very small operation in Peru, focused largely on Lima - at least when I was in Southcom (86 - 91) - while DEA had been operating in the UHV since, at least, 1979. Interestingly, the one SL regional command that was not shut down or significantly degraded by the capture of Guzman and the Politburo was the Huallaga Regional Command.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    I never heard the charge that DEA was a cover for other intel activity in the UHV and I'm inclined to discount that charge. CIA ran a very small operation in Peru, focused largely on Lima - at least when I was in Southcom (86 - 91) - while DEA had been operating in the UHV since, at least, 1979. Interestingly, the one SL regional command that was not shut down or significantly degraded by the capture of Guzman and the Politburo was the Huallaga Regional Command.
    I'm inclined to discount it as well. Sounded like rubbish when I heard it, but from what you said previously, I can see how the myth got developed to reframe the events on the ground.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Default Have to agree with this bit...

    The other critical factor in the defeat of SL was its brutality which cost it nearly all its legitimacy in the Sierra and in Lima. That brutality turned the local people - districts and their dependencies - to arming themselves and forming the rondas. That the army, after some resistance, accepted the rondas and helped arm them and provided some communication capability was decisive in the Sierra. Cooperation with the police and govt worked in Lima for the people.

    While working on my Masters In International Relations, I wrote a paper on SL, and what jumped out at me was that they essentially turned what appeared to be victory into defeat by relying almost solely on violence. There were several reports that predicted the success of SL, yet in the end, they lost the war. While they proclaimed to be a "Maoist" type insurgency, they never really adopted that philosophy, and instead of forming a relationship with the local people, their extreme brutality forced the locals into cooperation with the army, no small matter since the army was also implicated in many human rights abuses at the time. They also showed very little acumen when dealing with Perus indigenous people, and ignored their customs and culture in favor of communist doctrine. At one point, an SL leader said that he expected a million deaths during the "struggle." They killed community service workers to make the plight of poor Peruvians even worse, and widening the gap between rich and poor, ostensibly to cause the poor to rise against the rich. This however, backfired on them in a big way.

    George

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    Default George

    I saw those reports at the time and thought they were pure BS!

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default Thanks for the help

    Quote Originally Posted by John T. Fishel View Post
    Mike--

    The fall of SL is complex.
    John,

    Thanks, that is a great perspective. I’m working my way through David Palmer’s compilation on Shining Path now and you are right like most conflicts it is complex and multi-layered. I’m going to make a more nuanced argument and see where that takes me.

    Mike

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    Default D.S. Palmer

    goes by Scot He was the first, and perhaps the only, American victim of SL (Guzman's) machinations when Prof Guzman had his tenure at the U of Huamanga (as a PCV) cancelled.

    Got your PM and am back to you.

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default State of Peru: narcosenderistas, terrorism...?

    Recent years saw an increase in reports on Sendero Luminoso activities, now tied to drug trafficking. Last year was quite violent, especially with the military operations in the Valle de los Ríos Apurímac y Ene (VRAE). (See here some glamorizing of the Operaciones VRAE).

    The situation may well deteriorate, but apart from mentions of incidents in the news, there is not a lot of coverage.
    This piece criticizes the strategy chosen in the VRAE, as opposed to Alto Huallaga (i.e. military operations instead of police work).

    I'm curious about people's thoughts on the issue, especially:
    1. How big is the risk of this becoming a larger conflict?
    2. ... and related: could/would this hurt Peru's economy, break the growth trend?
    3. Why isn't there more attention to this in the international press?

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