Peru: Shining Path control outlaw gold operations?

Five soldiers were killed in an attack by presumed Shining Path guerrillas Aug. 15 on a military base in Mazangaro, Junin region, in Peru’s Apurimac-Ene River Valley (VRAE). According to La Republica, the attack could be in response to the army’s seizure three days prior to the assault of 800 kilos of precursor chemicals used in the production of cocaine. (InSight Crime, Aug. 16) Two days after the attack, Peru’s special anti-terrorism prosecutor, Julio Galindo, asserted that the Shining Path column in the coca-growing region was financed not only by the narco traffic, but by illegal gold-mining and logging. He said the state is attempting to crack down on the guerilla column’s money laundering networks, which he characterized as “very technical.” He also referred to the area of guerilla operations as the VRAEM—including the Mantaro River in the acronym, a western tributary of the Apurimac-Ene, in an implicit acknowledgement that the insurgency is spreading. (Perú21, Aug. 18; El Comercio, Aug. 17)

Education Minister Patricia Salas meanwhile accused the teacher’s strike that has shut schools across much of the central Andean part of the country of being controlled by the Shining Path, through “front organizations” such as the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF). (Generación, Aug. 16)

Members of Peru’s teachers’ union, CONARE-SUTEP, began an indefinite strike July 20 in various regions in the interior of the country to demand pay raises and better working conditions. There have been violent confrontations with police, and teachers in Andahuaylas, Apurímac region, have blocked the highway to Cusco and Lima. MOVADEF has distributed pamphlets in the streets of Huamanga, Ayacucho, declaring its support for the “just struggle” of the teachers, and the “glorious regional strike in support of our brothers in Cajamarca.” Teachers have gone on strike in northern Cajamarca region to support a peasant struggle against a planned gold mine. (InSight Crime, July 25)

But CONARE-SUTEP quickly disavowed MOVADEF and refuted Sala’s accusation. Said the union’s Ayacucho regional president Germán Tacuri: “We are the first to reject any act of violence, or any act generated by a movement based on violence.” (La Republica, Aug. 7)