A March 2009 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reports that Peru’s new military head was involved in narco-corruption, a charge that the general adamantly denies. The document, written by then-Ambassador Michael McKinley, stated that an unnamed source “saw signs that officers may have continued to cooperate with drug traffickers.” The document referenced a 2007 meeting between Peruvian Gen. Paul da Silva and a local fishing industry boss, Rolando Eugenio Velasco Heysen, where the two allegedly discussed drug shipments. In October 2007, Velasco was arrested on charges that he attempted to export 840 kilograms of cocaine hidden in frozen fish.
The cable also says corruption has “long plagued Peruvian government institutions,” charging that the military is reluctant to initiate a serious plan to pacify one of the most notorious coca-producing zones in Peru, the Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE). Da Silva called a press conference in response to the charges, where he demanded that the government investigate the matter and called the cable a “disgrace.”
Another leaked cable coming from the US embassy indicates that the US fears a resurgence of the Shining Path insurgency. “There is no doubt that the (Sendero Luminoso) has adopted a ‘kindlier, gentler’ approach towards the local population,” the October 2009 cable said, stating that in the Apurímac Valley the insurgency “prefers to bribe peasants and local officials, rather than to terrorize them and even execute them, as they did in the past.” (Latin America News Dispatch, Dec. 14)