Type of Document Master's Thesis Author Switzer, Russell W Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-01242007-200500 Title Sendero Luminoso and Peruvian Counterinsurgency Degree Master of Arts in Liberal Arts (M.A.L.A.) Department Liberal Arts (Interdepartmental Program) Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Stanley E. Hilton Committee Chair Karl A. Roider Committee Member William A. Clark Committee Member Keywords
- Guerrilla warfare
- Abimael Guzman
Date of Defense 2006-12-22 Availability unrestricted AbstractSendero Luminoso first appeared in Peru in May 1980 by burning several ballot boxes
and hanging dogs from streetlights. This unusual event signaled the beginning of one of the
most violent insurgencies in the Western hemisphere. Abimael Guzmán, the founder of Sendero
Luminoso, set out to utterly destroy Peruvian society in order to replace it with his vision of a utopian communist society by creating a peasant uprising starting in the Andean highlands and
spreading throughout Peru, eventually surrounding the capital, Lima.
The government of Peru virtually ignored Sendero Luminoso for two years, which allowed the group to establish strong base areas in and around the department of Ayacucho. When the government finally reacted, it was forced to declare a state of emergency in the south central highlands and send in the military to regain control.
Through successive administrations over the next decade, Peru was engulfed in violence
and destruction, human rights abuses, corruption, and economic catastrophe. Sendero Luminoso
demonstrated an uncanny ability to avoid the military’s concentrated efforts while expanding
into new regions of Peru. The group also benefited from the drug trade to finance the insurgency by providing protection to coca farmers and narcotraffickers in the Upper Huallaga Valley.
Only after Guzmán’s capture in 1992 did the government witness visible progress in the
fight against the insurgents. Sendero Luminoso rapidly declined without Guzmán’s leadership
and the remnants withdrew to the Upper Huallaga Valley. Yet many of the conditions that led to
the creation of Sendero Luminoso still plague the country, including corruption in the government, poverty, and a weak economy. The missing catalyst is another leader like Abimael Guzmán.
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