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Taking the High Ground: Shining Path and the Andes

  • Michael L. Smith

Abstract

In November 1988, guerrilla units of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP-SL), better known as Shining Path (SL or Sendero), laid the final crossbeam in an Andes-spanning strategy. They knocked down a vital power line between Lima and the Mantaro hydroelectric plant in the Central Sierra. When the state electricity company moved to repair the downed pylons, Sendero quickly blasted others. SL also sabotaged the rail line between the mining center of Cerro de Pasco and Lima. Sendero columns moved viciously into the peasant communities and agrarian cooperatives in the countryside around Huancayo, the breadbasket of the national capital.1

Keywords

High Ground Municipal Election Peasant Community Party Apparatus Authoritarian Structure 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nelson Manrique, “Sierra Central: La batalla decisiva,” Quehacer, 60, August–September 1989, pp. 63–71. Also, Rodrigo Sanchez, “Las SAIS de Junín y la alternativa comunal,” Debate Agrario, No. 7, July–December 1989, pp. 85–101.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    I will be using the nomenclature developed by the Peruvian geographer Javier Pulgar Vidal. He divides the Andes into eight natural regions based on altitude with variations due to climate (mainly levels of moisture and temperature), flora and fauna. The two Amazon categories (rupa-rupa and omagua) and the categories of coast (chala) and lower slopes (yunga) are of minor importance for this study. See his Geografía del Perú: Las ocho regiones naturales (Lima: PEISA, 1987). Also Olivier Dollfus, El reto del espacio andino (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1981) and Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), Atlas del Perú (Lima: IGN, 1989).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Efraín Gonzales de Oliarte, Economía de la comunidad campesina: Aproximación regional (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1984), pp. 38–39.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    José Matos Mar, “El pluralismo y la dominación en la sociedad peruana, una perspectiva configurativa,” in José Matos Mar et al., Dominación y cambio en el Perú rural (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1968), pp. 24–59.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Enrique Mayer and Marisol de la Cadena, Cooperación y conflicto en la comunidad andina: Zonas de producción y organización social (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1989).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    See Telmo Rojas, “Límites y posibilidades del desarrollo microregional” in Fernando Eguren et al., eds., Perú: El problema agrario en debate (Lima: Universidad Nacional de San Cristobal de Huamanga and Seminario Permanente de Investigación Agraria, 1988), pp. 386–391. Rojas gives a provocative survey of class and group structure within rural societies and how they function.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Gavin Smith, “The Fox and the Rooster: The Culture of Opposition in Highland Peru,” This Magazine, 19, April 1985, pp. 9–14.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    The Ayacuchan anthropologist Rodrigo Montoya says that Andean culture contains a “structural hypocrisy” in which the peasants consent to the domination of the government or other power groups but, at the same time, try to obtain the maximum benefits from the relationship. This concept also applies to all outside influence. Peasants have to keep all their options open, just as they strive to gain access to a maximum number of ecological niches. Rodrigo Montoya, La cultura quechua hoy (Lima: Mosca Azul, 1987), p. 13.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    Carlos Iván Degregori, Sendero Luminoso: Los hondos y mortales desencuentros y lucha armada y Utopia autoritaria (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1986), p. 8.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    Henri Favre, “Sentier Lumineux et Horizons Obscurs,” Problèmes D’Amérique Latine, 72, 2e trimestre, 1984, pp. 23–28.Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    Efraín Gonzales de Oliarte, Economías regionales del Perú (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1982), pp. 236–237.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    Salomón Beisaga, “Costos de producción y precios de garantía,” Sur, August 1988, pp. 15–16.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Nelson Manrique, Yawar Mayu: Sociedades terratenientes serranas, 1879–1910 (Lima: Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos and DESCO Centro de Estudios y Promoción del Desarrollo, 1988), p. 183.Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    Samuel Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968), p. 461.Google Scholar
  15. 28.
    PCP, Desarrollar la guerra popular sirviendo a la revolución mundial (Lima: Ediciones Bandera Roja: 1986), p. 37.Google Scholar
  16. 29.
    Jesus Manuel Granados, “El PCP Sendero Luminoso: Aproximaciones a su ideología,” Participación y Socialismo, 37, March 1987, pp. 28–31.Google Scholar
  17. 31.
    Norman Gall, Reforma educativa peruana (Lima: Mosca Azul, 1976), pp. 39–51. The text was originally published as “Peru’s Education Reform,” American Universities Field Staff, West Coast South America Series, 21:3–5, 1974.Google Scholar
  18. 33.
    Juan Biondi and Eduardo Zapata, El diseur so de Sendero Luminoso: Contratexto educativa (Lima: Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología-CONCYTEC, 1989), p. 44.Google Scholar
  19. 34.
    Gonzalo Portocarrero and Patricia Oliart, El Perú desde la escuela (Lima: Instituto de Apoyo Agrario, 1989), p. 188, 234–236.Google Scholar
  20. 35.
    See Hernando Burgos, “Maestros: La última clase,” Quehacer, 58, April–May 1989, pp. 32–66.Google Scholar
  21. 37.
    For two interesting studies highlighting the strategic importance of the Andes, see John Hemming, The Conquest of the Incas (London: Penguin, 1983), and Nelson Manrique, Las guerrillas indígenas en la guerra con Chile (Lima: Centro de Investigación y Capacitación (CIC) and Editora Ital Perú S.A., 1981). Sendero has studied armed conflicts in the Andes, especially the peasant guerrilla resistance to Chilean troops in the Central Andes. The army has found copies of Manrique’s book on several fallen Sendero militants.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Scott Palmer 1994

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  • Michael L. Smith

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