Spring to Fall 2000:
News from the People's War in Peru

Revolutionary Worker #1082, December 10, 2000, posted at http://rwor.org

We received the following article from the Committee to Support the Revolution in Peru (CSRP).

For a long time the government and reactionary media in Peru have been trying to deny the importance of the continuing armed actions of the Maoist combatants--repeatedly claiming that the People's War is on the verge of defeat. Yet reports keep leaking out that give a different picture. The Communist Party of Peru (PCP, usually called Shining Path or Sendero Luminoso in the bourgeois press) continues to show resilience and perseverance in organizing the masses to carry forward the armed revolution in the face of the difficulties the revolution has faced since the capture of Chairman Gonzalo and other leaders. The following are some reports that have appeared in the Peruvian press in recent months.

On October 7, 2000, El Comercio newspaper reported that the Maoist insurgents used saws to take down a high-tension electrical tower in the region of Tarapoto of San Martín Department. Red flags were found planted at the base of the downed tower.

Several Peruvian newspapers reported that on the afternoon of October 2, a column of Maoist guerrilla fighters "led by a young woman" went into the neighborhood of Pacae in the town of Tingo María (Upper Huallaga Valley) and organized a rally at the central square, "proceeding to detain all the cars that passed along the Carretera Marginal [which is the main road that connects different cities in this region]". According to these reports, one of the people in a car they stopped was an "arrepentido" (an arrepentido is someone who used to participate in the revolution but now collaborates with the government). He was killed when he tried to run away.

An article in the June 28 La República describes an action of the People's War in the Satipo region, where the Maoist fighters used boats to approach and launch a rifle assault against a government Army outpost. The article says: "In broad daylight, a column of 50 [fighters] of Sendero Luminoso attacked an Army post (manned by 30 government troops) with rounds of rifle fire." The Army post was situated in a zone called Llanco, in the region of Martín de Pangoa, in the province of Satipo, Junin. One government soldier was reported injured and the government claims to have killed some of the Maoist fighters.

On July 5, 2000 El Comercio, another bourgeois newspaper in Peru, reports that the Maoist fighters continue to use riverboats to launch attacks on pro-government forces in the Satipo River region. In one incident the guerrilla fighters captured almost a ton of food, medicine, and other provisions from a riverboat transporting these supplies.

During the period of the July presidential inauguration, several stories in El Comercio and other dailies reported that Peruvian Army General Hector Jhon Caro, former chief of the DINCOTE secret police, was claiming that the demonstrations in the streets against President Fujimori were being "infiltrated" by Maoist revolutionaries of the Communist Party of Peru. The general said, "They are professional agitators and always prepared to act." Whether his allegations are true or not, General Caro's statements reflect how much the rulers in Peru fear the Maoist People's War, especially in these times of crisis for the government.

The bourgeois newspaper La República, which opposes the People's War, nonetheless published an extensive and very revealing article on June 16, based on information from Peruvian Army intelligence. The report provides evidence that in recent months the PCP has been organizing and mobilizing the peasants in the Satipo region of Junin Department. La República describes an area called "Valle Nuevo, near the upper part of the Tsomaveni River, in the Ene Valley" where the Army has failed in repeated attempts to penetrate it. The article claims the government has not been able to take on the revolutionaries of this area because of mainly geographic barriers. But later it has to admit that the Maoist revolutionaries aren't just sitting still and defending an enclave but that they have continued to launch military operations from this area called Valle Nuevo.

La República gives as an example the April 14 action, where the Maoist guerrillas "assaulted an MI-17 helicopter that was trying to evacuate [government] soldiers" who had been ambushed by the revolutionary forces the day before near the government's counterinsurgency base at Corazón Pata, Ayacucho.

The article says that "according to calculations by military intelligence, [Valle Nuevo] has some 200 armed combatants under the command of Comrade Alipio, among which are those who, on October 2, 1999, attacked the Army helicopter that carried ex-Chief of Operations of the SIN [National Intelligence Service] General Eduardo Fournier." That action killed five Army officers and injured the general.

The article says that "the last time that [government] troops tried to penetrate" the area was last November [1999] when an elite Army group called linces, together with government-led paramilitary forces, made a futile attempt to attack the zone. The attack was part of the government's "Operation Annihilation" which was supposed to capture those responsible for the October 2 attack on General Fournier.

The article interviews a reactionary pro-government paramilitary who describes how the Maoist forces ambushed his Army patrol in that November operation. "At around five in the morning the subversives, under cover of darkness, unleashed an infernal barrage of fire." Five soldiers and one paramilitary were injured. The guerrilla fighters surrounded them. According to the interview, the Army linces were able to repel the attack, but the Maoist fighters "did not retreat." "On the contrary," said the paramilitary who was interviewed, "at eleven in the morning, when the [Army] helicopter arrived, they tried to bring it down."

Apart from these armed actions of the People's War, the other thing that comes out in this extensive article is evidence that the PCP may have been organizing the peasants of this area to develop a new, self-sufficient economy. The article says, "The Army found extensive fields planted with yuca." According to the article, the fields were well protected by barriers built so wild animals could not eat their harvest. [Yuca is a very nutritious tuber, like potatoes.] In these parts of the countryside it is very unusual to find extensive areas like these planted for food production unless it is organized by the revolutionary forces.

The strategy of the Maoist revolution in Peru is to organize Revolutionary Base Areas--places where peasants, workers and allies from the middle classes organize a new revolutionary political power. In these Base Areas, peasants are given land and organized to work collectively with others to grow food for the whole community instead of just maintaining their own small family plots. Also, a whole new system of self-government and a new system of justice are set up in the interests of the people. The new communities are what the PCP has called "the embryo" of the future People's Republic. It is in these Base Areas that new fighters are recruited and trained.

La República describes how the Army detained 30 peasants from the area around Valle Nuevo and relocated them to another part of the countryside. The article says that the peasants had been cultivating these yuca fields and had apparently been self-sufficient. The article says the government moved them to an area where they are now facing terrible hardship.

According to La República, the 30 peasants taken from the region of Valle Nuevo were presented to the press as people who the Peruvian Army claimed it had "rescued" from the Maoist revolutionaries--but the Army never let ANY of these supposedly "rescued" peasants talk to the press. According to the report, the Army even refused to let them talk to the International Red Cross. The strategy of forcibly relocating people away from areas where the revolutionaries are strong is a counter-insurgency strategy that the U.S. used in Vietnam--it is called "strategic hamletting" in the parlance of the U.S. military. This U.S. strategy failed in Vietnam.

The writer of the June 16 article tries to paint Valle Nuevo in Junin Department as the "last bastion" of the People's War, but news articles have continued to appear that report revolutionary armed actions in several other parts of the country. Besides the previously mentioned actions this past October in San Martín Department and the Upper Huallaga Valley, La República on June 20, 2000 also listed the following:

On April 24 Maoist fighters enter a school in Chongos, Ayacucho and take teaching supplies. On April 29 they ambush a police patrol in Tingo María (Upper Huallaga Region), killing one and injuring three. On May 28 the Maoist fighters kill five paramilitary "ronderos" in the town of Yananyac, in the province of Huancayo. On June 4 they ambush an Army truck in the sector of Rio Frio, Huanuco. After an intense firefight, one government soldier is killed.

For further information, contact CSRP: PO Box 1246, Berkeley, CA 94701. Phone: 415-252-5786; web: www.csrp.org

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