Taking the High Ground: Shining Path and the Andes

  • Michael L. Smith


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


High Ground Municipal Election Peasant Community Party Apparatus Authoritarian Structure 
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    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
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    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

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© David Scott Palmer 1994

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  • Michael L. Smith

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