News from the People's War in Peru,
Fall 1999 to Winter 2000
Revolutionary Worker #1044, February 27, 2000
We received this article from the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru (CSRP):
It's clear from press reports coming out of Peru that the U.S.-backed Fujimori regime has failed in its attempts to defeat the Communist Party of Peru (PCP) forces that carried out a powerful guerrilla attack on a Peruvian Army helicopter on October 2 in the Department of Junin. The PCP attack killed five Peruvian Army officers and up to four enlisted men. The government said their Army helicopter had landed near the town of Satipo, about 180 miles east of Lima, while in pursuit of a guerrilla column of more than 60 PCP combatants, when the revolutionary forces suddenly unleashed the unexpected attack.
Since the October 2 action, Fujimori has sent more than 3,000 troops into the jungle region of Junin and Northern Ayacucho to, in his words, "pursue the column of guerrillas responsible for the October 2 assault." Fujimori called the guerrilla column "followers of Oscar Ramirez, Comrade Feliciano." Government forces have included helicopter gunships, Army regulars, paramilitaries, and 400 of his elite "special forces." Fujimori admitted at a press conference that the PCP fighters were heavily armed but boasted that he would continue pursuing these PCP forces "until all the rebels are captured." Press reports in subsequent weeks, however, point to a failure of Fujimori's "Operation Annihilation" despite heightened U.S. military assistance.
A report in the Peruvian newspaper La Republica (October 18, 1999) said that in Satipo (in the same region as the Oct. 2 action) there was another armed clash between PCP guerrillas and government forces that reportedly lasted one hour and 45 minutes. According to the report, pro-government paramilitary forces were "serving as guides for the Army." The government ground troops were supported by helicopter-mounted artillery.
The La Republica article points out that despite the all-out assault by the Peruvian military since October 2, not a single PCP fighter has been captured in this area. The report also reveals that the government's recent barrage of helicopter-mounted artillery attacks in this area was not just targeted at PCP fighters but also villagers who live in this area along the banks of the Ene River.
According to reports from "native people who have fled from this zone, the helicopters have been firing rockets into this area near the Anapati River, where the ambush of the government helicopter occurred, but the principal [PCP] column has already retreated to Vizcatan [Northern Ayacucho] and only [PCP] contingency forces remained behind, and these are the ones who have been battling against the Army."
U.S. Ambassador Inaugurates New Military Base
An October 19, 1999 La Republica article reports that on that day, U.S. Ambassador John Hamilton inaugurated a new police base at Palmapampa. La Republica says that in response to recent PCP incursions in the jungle of Ayacucho, the head of the pro-government paramilitary forces of the Apurímac River area asked for "more coordination with the police authorities to fight the insurgency." He affirmed that "the insurgency was not eradicated" because guerrilla columns had recently entered towns in Ayacucho near the Apurímac River.
According to the paramilitary official, on October 8 a column of PCP fighters went into the community of Conaire and took supplies from various markets. Later, on October 12, according to La Republica, a column of approximately 50 Maoist combatants, men and women, entered the community of Iribamba-Choymacota in the Ayacucho province of Huanta, taking food and medicines. La Republica reports that the head of the paramilitary forces wanted "to warn about the latent danger of a resurgence" of the People's War.
The new military base, funded with a $13 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, is for the Peruvian National Police "Department of Tactical Anti-Drug Operations of Palmapampa." This police force is part of what the U.S. calls their "war on drugs." In reality this "drug war" is a pretext for sending more U.S. military assistance for Fujimori's vicious counter-insurgency. This past month the U.S. Congress approved a new $1.3 BILLION military assistance package to the Andean region, which includes Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.
On Nov. 6, La Republica reported that two officers and three enlisted men of the Peruvian Armed Forces were killed in armed clashes with the PCP. The battles took place on November 3 and 4 in the departments of Junin and Ayacucho.
The first engagement was on Nov. 3 in an area where the Mantaro and Vizcatan Rivers meet in Ayacucho. A soldier patrolling the area stepped on a booby-trap land mine called "cazabobo." According to the official story, when an MI-17 helicopter came to evacuate the injured soldiers, the guerrillas opened fire. The helicopter received three shots to the cabin and could not take off. During the clash, Army captain Florencio Zegarra and two enlisted men were reportedly killed, as well as six PCP fighters.
On Nov. 4, a group of "Special Forces" of the Peruvian Army "confronted a senderista column in the Ene River Valley, near Tincaveni, in the jungle of Junin, resulting in one Army captain dead (unidentified) and four enlisted men injured." The La Republica report says that during the same week the Special Armed Forces operation intensified in Junin and Ayacucho in search of the PCP column that downed the helicopter on October 2. The report says the Army has combined the launching of rockets from the air with land pursuits--trying to carry out an "encirclement to keep the subversives from crossing the left bank of the Ene River to get food and supplies."
The article quotes Peruvian military sources saying they have been trying to cut the supply lines of the Maoist forces, in order to then encircle and proceed to "clean up" the area. But Peruvian press reports show that government forces are taking significant losses in these failed attempts to encircle the PCP's revolutionary forces.
On November 11, according to an article in the Peruvian magazine Caretas, Gedion Charrete--one of the main leaders of the government's reactionary para-military forces in Junin--was killed in a clash with PCP fighters. The report says that Charrete and his men were returning to the Natalio Sanchez counter-insurgency base when they were ambushed by PCP forces, leaving Charrete dead and a captain and three soldiers seriously wounded.
El Comercio newspaper reported that on January 21 "two soldiers were killed and another three seriously wounded" when "a military contingent that was carrying out a counter-insurgency operation in the locality of the Apurímac River Valley was ambushed by a Senderista group." This was in the mountain region of Junin that borders northern Ayacucho. The armed clash reportedly lasted over an hour. Two government soldiers were killed and another three were severely wounded. The press report says that an estimated 20 men and women combatants of the PCP took part in the attack.
According to a February article in La Republica, about 35 PCP combatants took over a stretch of the Tumtubaru Highway in the province of La Mar (Ayacucho), stopping vehicles and asking for support in the form of food or money. According to the article, the PCP fighters gathered the drivers and passengers of the different vehicles and gave a talk urging support for the People's War.
After PCP leader Comrade Feliciano was captured by government forces last July, the Fujimori regime and its U.S. imperialist godfathers have intensified their counter-revolutionary war--along with pompous claims that they were on their way to finally defeating the Maoist People's War. But the PCP and the revolutionary masses of Peru have other ideas--they have shown the ability to persevere in the People's War under very difficult conditions, demonstrating a fierce determination to "overcome the bend in the road" that followed the 1992 capture of PCP Chairman Gonzalo. As these battles intensify, and the U.S. tries to "beef up" Fujimori's military, it is more important than ever that people in the U.S. and around the world stand with the people of Peru.
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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