News from Peru's Guerilla War

Revolutionary Worker #1006, May 16, 1999

The mainstream press often hides or slanders the advances of the People's War in Peru, but a review of recent mainstream news reports in Peru makes one thing clear: the People's War continues. Press reports in the past six months indicate that there have been guerrilla actions involving sizeable units of the People's Liberation Army led by the Communist Party of Peru (PCP)--particularly in the Upper Huallaga Region, in the northern provinces of the Department of Ayacucho, and in parts of the Department of Ancash. (A "department" is similar to a state in the U.S.)

Press reports also indicate that the PCP has been recruiting significant numbers of young people to join the ranks of the Maoist fighters--and that a large proportion of the revolutionary combatants, including those apparently leading guerrilla columns, are women.

In a February 1998 document, the Central Committee of the PCP spoke about the current situation with the People's War: "The Plan `Overcome the Bend in the Road by Developing the People's War' successfully achieved the objectives set for it. We have begun to emerge from the bend. The masses are gradually becoming active once again. Some reactionary spokespeople are talking about a `fresh outbreak,' saying `They have organized,' `They have expanded their area of operations,' `They have put an end to the period of withdrawal.' What should be emphasized is that the enemy's `low intensity warfare' has been systematically fought against and their operations and campaigns and counter-campaigns have been defeated both successively and simultaneously. The advance is taking place amidst a hard-fought and determined struggle. Our center is combat. The People's Committees and the base areas have been defended with blood."

The following are some actions that have made it into the mainstream media in recent months:

October 8, 1998: At least two government soldiers were reportedly killed and another injured when Maoist guerrillas ambushed a military patrol in the area called Putis in the Department of Ayacucho. Those killed were non-commissioned officers from a regional military base 550 kilometers southeast of Lima. In the weeks prior to this attack the government forces were repeatedly harassed by the guerrillas.

Week of November 25, 1998: A column of about 100 guerrilla fighters of the People's War attacked the police outpost in the town of Conchucos to the north of Huaraz in the Department of Ancash. They reportedly captured guns, ammunition and radio equipment from the police post--as well as money from the National Bank and medicines from the local hospital and two pharmacies. Press reports also said that the revolutionary column recruited various youths from the area who joined the guerrillas and traveled with them into the mountains and jungle.

December 5, 1998: According to press reports, some 40 PCP fighters entered the Andean communities of Accobamba and Chingalpo, in the Province of Sihuás, Ancash Department. Press reports said that five young women were part of this guerrilla column. Residents gathered at the central plazas to listen to revolutionary speeches. The guerrillas reportedly appropriated medicines and surgical equipment from the health centers and food from the stores. Press reports also cited military sources who revealed that counter-insurgency posts which had been dismantled in recent months would be reactivated due to the new upsurge in guerrilla activity in the region.

December 10, 1998: The Peruvian press reported that PCP fighters blocked a section of the Central Highway between Tingo María and Pucallpa in the Upper Huallaga region and burned seven vehicles. The Maoist fighters--about 20 young men and women--halted traffic for four hours near the town of Las Vegas, about 37 kilometers from Tingo María. During that time they painted revolutionary graffiti on the highway and on some buses. They agitated among the passengers, calling on them to support the People's War and to demand "humanitarian treatment for Chairman Gonzalo," the leader of the Communist Party of Peru who has been imprisoned for six years in conditions of isolation. The guerrillas took over almost a kilometer of the highway and stopped more than 30 vehicles. Five empty fuel tankers were burned. The fighters reportedly used dynamite and phosphorus bombs to destroy the trucks. Two government trucks belonging to the customs service were also burned.

Week of December 7, 1998: A column of about 80 guerrillas reportedly took over the small town of Mollepata, province of Santiago de Chuco, Department of La Libertad. The guerrillas called for a 24-hour armed strike and a boycott of the second round of municipal elections. People of the town said that the revolutionaries appeared from the hills, from where they shouted denunciations of the government and local political authorities. It was also reported that 20 days earlier, a similar column entered the town of La Aguilera where, after confiscating supplies from warehouses, they painted the hammer and sickle symbol on some buildings. In the nearby town of Pataz and Bolívar the revolutionaries distributed leaflets calling on people to join the armed strike in rejection of the central government.

December 17, 1998: The Peruvian press reported that the Minister of Defense extended the state of emergency for an additional 60 days in the provinces of Coronel Portillo and Padre Abad in the Department of Ucayali and in the province of Puerto Inca in the Department of Huánuco. During those 60 days the armed forces will assume total control over the local authorities.

Early March, 1999: According to press reports, groups of guerrillas numbering up to 50 entered the towns of Huayllacayan, Congos, Pampas Chico y Huambro, in the province of Huaraz, Department of Ancash. The guerrillas demanded that the local authorities resign.

April 24, 1999: A column of 20 guerrillas entered the town of Chongos in the Province of Huanta, Department of Ayacucho taking clothing, food and medical supplies.

April 29, 1999: Press reports said that a PCP guerrilla column made up of about 15 fighters and led by a woman in her 20s ambushed a patrol of the National Police on the road between Tingo María and Aucayacu in the Upper Huallaga Region.

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