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5/2/09

Peru: Insight into why Sendero terrorists are gaining ground


  • There's the lack of attention paid to the provincial regions by the Republic of Lima*, of course.
  • There's also the drug money Sendero is using to win hearts and minds of VRAE (and other Amazon basin dwelling) locals.
  • There might even be some political sympathy towards the group's ostensibly ultra-communist ideology (though that's debatable)

But there's one key element that hasn't been fully examined up to now, which is...

...Peru's Security Forces are Commanded by Total Dumbasses.

Here's an example: This week the chief of police in the VRAE region was stripped of his post by the new Interior Minister Mercedes Cabanillas. It so happened that the VRAE police force took delivery of a consignment of 120 AKM rifles to help beef up presence in the Sendero controlled region but the police honcho, General Percy Riveras Paiva, decided to get the arms from Lima to his area by putting them on an interprovincial bus like any other cargo load. On its journey into the terrorist-controlled region the bus wasn't escorted by any other army or police force vehicle, either. Now let me be clear I'm in no way a fan of Cabanillas, being a career politico in the corrupt and inept APRA party of President Twobreakfasts. However Cabanillas has done the right thing this time and should be applauded.

That the bus wasn't intercepted by Sendero and the guns lost to the enemy isn't the point. What's crystal clear from this episode is the lax attitude of Peru's security forces in the face of a growing threat to their country's social stability. Cabanillas has made a Voltaire-like "pour encourager les autres" move, but it remains to be seen whether Peru's police and army can pull themselves together. If not, one has to fear the worst.

*excellent phrase stolen from Cesar Hildebrandt, perhaps the most intelligent journalist in Peru