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Toward a radical middle

a time for fear
Saturday, May 31, 2003  
Reports early last year spoke about a Shining Path resurgence, boosted by Colombian narcotics entrepreneurs who found fresh territory for drug production in Peru (less risky than Columbia and Afghanistan, both subject to American intervention). Shining Path guerillas made money by running protection rackets for opium farmers and traffickers on the poppy fields, and this financial bounty lay behind new waves of Shining Path attacks that began in 2001. In August Shining Path killed four policeman in a rural ambush, and later that year Peruvian Intelligence claimed to have uncovered a Shining Path plot to blow up Lima's US Embassy. Is Shining Path retooling itself, shapeshifting back in and out of Peruvian society (Shining Path insurrectionists included not just peasants and intellectuals, but doctors, lawyers, school teachers...), radicalising the Andean highlands again, just like it did in the 70s and 80s? This seems unlikely because Shining Path success was based on a fluid network of very tight and secretive cell-structure operations that remained virtually impenetrable until the police successes of the early 90s which effectively broke the organisation by removing Guzman himself
(to his followers the fourth sword of Marxism, after Marx, Lenin, and Mao). Great irony: that a movement so decentralised that each cell was made of up six fighters max, divorced from all contact with the movement command and structure itself except for the individual cell leader who would answer to superiors in an infinitely complex tier system that eventually led to Guzman alone, fell to pieces once the head had been lopped off. It died from the tip down to the grassroots: not so much rhizomatic as aborescent after all (or a fatal mix of both). In 2003 Shining Path remains diffuse, rootless, a faint spray of vicious and desperate resentment in a country still reeling from years of destruction, conspiracy and chaos.

12:17 AM

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