Introduction: History, Politics, and Shining Path in Peru

  • David Scott Palmer


Peru’s political history is remarkably rich, distinctive, and complex. It was the land of the Inca and the center of Spain’s Empire in South America. The final decisive battle that assured the independence of Latin America from Spain was fought here, in Ayacucho, December 9, 1824. Stable elected civilian government came late as well, in 1895 with the “Aristocratic Republic.” This experiment in limited liberal democracy was also shorter lived than most of its contemporary counterparts in the region. It was interrupted by a civil military coup in 1914, but definitively terminated by the elected president’s own takeover five years later. Not until the 1980s did civilian democratic rule with successive elected governments return to Peru (ironically ending the same way on April 5, 1992!). Over the intervening years the military dominated Peruvian politics most of the time — as “watchdogs of the oligarchy” from the 1930s through the 1950s, and as progressive reformers in the 1960s and 1970s.


Political Violence Military Coup Agrarian Reform Military Government Municipal Election 
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© David Scott Palmer 1994

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  • David Scott Palmer

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