March 18, 2009

Sendero Luminoso de las Drogas

When revolution no longer worked for the FARC, they turned to drugs. When the Good Friday agreement was signed, the militant groups of Northern Ireland turned to crime as well. So it comes as no surprise that the Shining Path -- once an idealistic Maoist guerrilla group -- has now re-invented itself as an armed drug cartel after failing as a political movement. (h/t Nirav)

The war against the Shining Path rebels, which took nearly 70,000 lives, supposedly ended in 2000.

But here in one of the most remote corners of the Andes, the military, in a renewed campaign, is battling a resurgent rebel faction. And the Shining Path, taking a page from Colombia’s rebels, has reinvented itself as an illicit drug enterprise, rebuilding on the profits of Peru’s thriving cocaine trade.

The front lines lie in the drizzle-shrouded jungle of Vizcatán, a 250-square-mile region in the Apurímac and Ene River Valley. The region is Peru’s largest producer of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.

As the military and the rebels skirmish for control of isolated coca-producing hamlets, the reports of rising body counts and civilians killed in the cross-fire, still far lower than the carnage at the height of the Shining Path war in the 1980s and early 90s, are rousing ghosts most Peruvians thought were long dead.

More here. Be sure to check out the pictures.