In the 1960s, revolutionary leftist movements deed throughout Latin America because the majority of the country, particularly indigenous peoples, suffered from economical and political exclusion. In Peru, the rebellion would continue to emerge several organizations such as the Tupac Amaru and Shining Path, leading into what is known as the Internal Conflict in 1980. Military dictatorship and multiple rebel parties wanted control over territories and achieve basic human rights. Unfortunately, native civilians of Peru found themselves caught in between the violence.
The day of the 1980 elections, Shining Path launches the armed phase of its “People’s War” against the Peruvian government. After several years of being ruled by the military, different political movements, in particular, the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA) were established to return to a democratic government. Also, for the first time in Peru, illiterates- mostly the indigenous population, had the right to vote. However, the Shining Path had different plans and stole ballot boxes in the town of Chuschi and burned their central plaza. The cause for this revolt was the frustration of peasant living and the government being weaker due to the then minimal role of the military. The Shining Path’s actions went unreported till they grew in numbers.
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) emerged in 1980, a Maoist inspired guerilla movement. Founded by a philosophy professor, Abimael Guzman, established at San Cristobal of Huamanga University, in Ayacucho. His trip to China gave firsthand experience to the Cultural Revolution in 1966. Guzman and several students implemented the Shining Path’s ideology and expanded to other universities in Lima, recruiting new members. The Shining Path formed committees, including a “Revolutionary Directorate,” discussing politics and practicing military tactics. They did not publicize their goals and originally met in small cells. They organized terrorist attacks against military and civilians who opposed their ideals. Guzman refused to align his movement with foreign powers or other leftist groups in Peru. They stated that their goal was to replace the bourgeois democracy with “New Democracy,” a principle which applies to developing nations overran by imperliasm. Once imperialism is overthrown, a new contradiction of class consciousness of the populous and the productive forces must be solved under New Democracy, while also paving the road for a socialist revolution. By establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat, eliminating questionable groups, including other leftists and spreading anarchy, they believed they could get to communism. They believed they were the vanguard of this movement, a concept by Lenin, to organize and raise the class consciousness of the other members within the exploited class. The vanguard was supposed to be a revolutionary tool of the working class to provide support. Nevertheless, the result of this revolution resulted in terrorism. The guerilla had originally been organized in Quechua population, but lost their goal after largely focusing on militant Maoism ideals.
From 1980-1985, Fernando Belaunde Terry served as the President of Peru. He did not have a strong relationship with Armed Forces and didn’t want to be involved in the conflict with Shining Path. He believed that by being involved, he would then encourage the military’s power. He failed to respond to the community of people that felt threatened by Shining Path. This resulted, in Peruvian communities forming their own type of patrols. Violence was largely concentrated in the Andean highlands, in particular the Ayacucho region, inhabited by indigenous peoples. In 1983, ronderos (peasant patrols in rural Peru) augmented against Shining Path after being suspected of disloyalty and efforts to stop their markets, despite their promise to redistribute the land. The ronderos killed one of Shining Path’s commander, torturing him by setting him on fire. Shining Path responded to his death by coming into the region and an outcome of 69 confirmed kills. Several victims were hacked into pieces or shot at close range. This became known as the Lucanamarca Massacre and Ayapucho region was then placed under a state of emergency and President Terry sent out the military. The government forces were given the consent to massacre villages. The military was unable to tell apart the guerillas from the ronderos and other residents and sadistic violence was used against them. From 1982-85, the military engaged in disappearances, rapes and tortures. Human right groups were largely behind the president, criticizing the lack of attention paid to end SP. The Shining Path continued to extend out to Lima, launching a campaign of car and truck bombs and attacking civilians. This also included attacking leftist politicians, labor union leaders, and social revolutionists. The people targeted by SP unimaginable and the terror caused had devastating effects on both the urban and rural life
From July 1990 to November 2000, Alberto Fujimori was the President of Peru. Inspired by his alliance to Vladimiro Montensinos, he created the death squad and intimidated Shining Path and supporters. On September 12, 1992 Guzman is caught and sentenced to life imprisonment. Assassinations and attacks on behalf of SP decrease immediately. This becomes a major victory for President Fujimori and in return gave him public support. In 1993, Guzman arranged a peace agreement between SP and the government. Many of his followers laid arms but others split into different groups. Shining Path continues today in the remote areas of the highlands. In July 2001, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) investigated the human rights abuses that took place within 1980-2000, estimated 69,000 death and disappearances. The majority of these victims were indigenous peoples.