Shining Path and the Marxist Left

  • Sandra Woy-Hazleton
  • William A. Hazleton


For the political left in Peru, the 1980s was a decade of unprecedented expansion in strength and influence, tempered, however, by the tension of ideological definition and the reality of armed conflict. The two main claimants to revolutionary leadership — Shining Path (SL or Sendero) and the United Left (IU) — had a similar intellectual heritage and sought support from the same sectors of society. Their goals and means were diametrically opposed, however. The major difference was that IU opted to participate in the political system and SL wanted to destroy it. The IU’s electoral strategy succeeded to the point of giving the Marxist coalition a real chance to win the 1990 presidential elections.1 Shining Path’s guerrilla war had expanded concomitantly, claiming over 20,000 lives through 1990 and putting a majority of Peru’s population of 22 million under government-imposed states of emergency.


Political Violence Electoral Politics Electoral Success Armed Attack Municipal Election 
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  1. 2.
    Among the books that treat the origins of the current Peruvian left in some detail are Ricardo Letts, La izquierda peruana (Lima: Mosca Azul, 1981); Jorge Nieto, Izquierda y democracia en el Perú 1975–1980 (Lima: DESCO, 1980); Enrique Bernales, El Parlamento por dentro (Lima: DESCO, 1984); and Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez, Opciones políticas peruanas 1985 (Lima: Centro de Documentación Andina, 1985).Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    For more detail on this controversy, see Sandra Woy-Hazelton, “Peru,” in Yearbook on International Communist Affairs 1990 (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1990), pp. 131–132.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    Henri Favre, “Perou: Sentier Lumineux et Honzons Obscurs,” Problèmes d’Amérique Latine, 72, 2e trimestre, 1984, pp. 3–27; Cynthia McClintock, “Sendero Luminoso: Peru’s Maoist Guerrillas,” Problems of Communism, 32, September–October 1983, pp. 19–34; and “Why Peasants Rebel: The Case of Sendero Luminoso,” World Politics, 37, October 1984, pp. 48–84.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    For insight into this period of Sendero development, see David Scott Palmer’s works, particularly “Rebellion in Rural Peru: The Origins and Evolution of Sendero Luminoso,” Comparative Politics, 18, January 1986, pp. 137–146, and “Terrorism as a Revolutionary Strategy: Peru’s Sendero Luminoso,” in Barry Rubin, ed., The Politics of Terrorism: Terror as a State and Revolutionary Strategy (Washington: Foreign Policy Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, 1989), pp. 129–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 15.
    Gordon H. McCormick, The Shining Path and Peruvian Terrorism (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 1987), pp. 17–18.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    See Raúl González’s discussion in Quehacer, 50, January–February 1988, pp. 47–59.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    See Palmer, “Terrorism as a Revolutionary Strategy,” p. 139; and Gabriela Tarazona-Sevillano, Sendero Luminoso and the Threat of Narcoterrorism, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), The Washington Papers 144, (New York: Praeger, 1990), pp. 55–77.Google Scholar
  8. 28.
    The Peruvian government desires foreign military assistance for counterinsurgency operations, but the United States, in supplying it, is concerned mainly with stopping the flow of coca. See Waltrud Queiser Morales, “The War on Drugs: A New U.S. National Security Doctrine?” Third World Quarterly, 11:3, July 1989, pp. 147–169; Cynthia McClintock, “The War on Drugs: The Peruvian Case,” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 33:2–3, Summer/Fall 1988, pp. 127–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 42.
    See James Anderson, Sendero Luminoso: A New Revolutionary Model? (London: Institute for the Study of Terrorism, 1987), p. 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Scott Palmer 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Woy-Hazleton
  • William A. Hazleton

There are no affiliations available

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