The Allure of Quick Victory: Lessons from , Peru's Fight against Sendero Luminoso

By Burgoyne, Michael L. | Military Review, September/October 2010 | Go to article overview

The Allure of Quick Victory: Lessons from , Peru's Fight against Sendero Luminoso


Burgoyne, Michael L., Military Review


FOURTEEN YEARS AFTER a powerful rebellion spread fear and destruction throughout the nation of Peru, the commanding general of the Peruvian Army, Otto Guibovich, provided the ominous warning: "If we don't do something they will grow and we will realize we have our own FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia)."1 Sendero Luminoso (SL) conducted a violent campaign of rural guerrilla war and urban terrorism from 1 980 to 1995; however, its growth and expansion seemed to vanish in an instant with the capture of its leader, Abimael Guzman. The rapid disintegration of SL was cited as an example of successful counterinsurgency, but now rising casualties and violence caused by the formerly dormant group have called those conclusions into question. While the importance of the capture of SL's leadership is incontrovertible, recent events indicate that the underlying problems that fueled the Sendero insurgency remain. The Peruvian government must use a combination of enemy- and population-focused strategies to defeat SL and produce lasting stability.2

The Emergence of Sendero Luminoso

The environment that spawned SL is similar to that which produced numerous other insurgencies. Like other nations in Latin America, Peru had acknowledged the need to conduct land reform. In the 1960s, it began an extensive program to redistribute land to peasants from the previous hacienda system.3 The Peruvian highlands, however, did not receive much support from these initiatives. The government largely neglected the Ayacucho Department, which would become the heart of the insurgency. By 1980, the annual per capita income there was as low as $60, and three of its provinces were among the poorest 1 5 percent in the nation.4 Additionally, Ayacucho contained a majority indigenous population that had never fully integrated with Peru's coastal regions, and its inhabitants maintained the use of their native Quechuan language. The disconnected, impoverished region suffered under an antiquated social-economic structure and was ripe for revolution.

Revolutionary action sprang from the Communist Party. A splintering of the Communist Party of Peru in the 1960s gave birth to the Communist Party of Peru in the Shining Path of Mariátegui (Sendero Luminoso in Spanish).5 Its leader, Abimael Guzman, was a devout follower of Mao Tse-Tung and his philosophies of guerrilla warfare. Mao's highly influential book, On Guerrilla Warfare, set the tone for the beginnings of SL. Mao advised that "success largely depends upon powerful political leaders who work unceasingly to bring about internal unification."6 Shining Path began this process of unification at the University of Huamanga, in the city of Ayacucho, where Guzman was a professor. Guzman and other members of SL were able to dominate the faculty and student organizations of the university during the late 1960s and early 1970s.7 During this time, they indoctrinated the largely indigenous student body with a Maoist ideology that highlighted the vast disparity of wealth in Peru. In 1974, SL lost control of the university, but it had already succeeded in creating a "revolutionary consciousness" in the population of Ayacucho.8 Other Latin American communist movements followed Che Guevara 'sfoco method and brought their ideologies to rural areas.9 Guzman's followers were not foreigners or crusading children from the urban middle class, they were a part of the impoverished rural population already. Sendero Luminoso did not need to build bonds with the population; they were the population.10

Having created a powerful support base among the people, Guzman organized them for active insurgency. Mao Tse-Tung devoted a considerable amount of time in his writing to "organization for guerrilla warfare," and provides explicit instructions to aid "students who have no knowledge of military affairs."" Mao provides a description of a highly structured organization with clear command and control mechanisms. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Allure of Quick Victory: Lessons from , Peru's Fight against Sendero Luminoso
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.