The Peruvian blogosphere is abuzz with rumors of an imminent coup d'etat against President Ollanta Humala, fomented by elements of the opposition APRA party. Humala has reportedly put off all travel abroad and is limiting his trips into the interior of the country, staying close to Lima for fear of a move against his government if he leaves the capital. The National Intelligence Directorate (DINI) has reportedly warned that elements of the National Police are discussing a strike over various greivances, actually aimed at causing an explosion of chaos and debilitating the government—following the model of the right-wing coup of Feb. 5, 1975, that brought Francisco Morales Bermúdez to power. Humala is said to have lost the confidence of the Armed Forces Joint Command, which is unhappy with his execution of the counter-insurgency program in Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE), where a remnant faction of the Sendero Luminoso guerillas remains active. (Raúl Weiner in La Mula, Dec. 23)
The Penal Chamber of Peru's Supreme Court on July 21 affirmed its acquittal of imprisoned former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos of homicide charges related to the 1997 military raid on the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima after it was seized by guerillas of the now-defunct Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Two commandos, one hostage, and all 14 of the guerillas were killed in the operation, code-named "Chavín de Huantar." Two commandos who oversaw the operaiton, Nicolás Hermoza Ríos and Roberto Huamán Azcurra, were also cleared of homicide charges in the ruling. The three had been acquitted last October, but prosecutors requested a review of the earlier ruling on the basis of forensic evidence. The high court admitted that at least one of the "terrorists" (as the guerrillas are almost universally refered to in Peru's press), Eduardo Cruz Sánchez AKA "Tito," had been "executed"—shot to the head after he had already surrendered to the commandos. But the court found that it could not be determined who shot him, or if orders were given for the killing.
On Aug. 1, Peru's President Ollanta Humala signed a decree extending for another 60 days the state of emergency in the remote jungle area called the VRAE, for the Apurímac-Ene River Valley, where a remnant faction of the Shining Path guerilla movement remains active. However, as we have repeatedly noted, the acronym "VRAE" is becoming an elastic term defined by areas where the Shining Path is active rather than by geography. The state of emergency includes Echarate district, in La Convención province, Cuzco region—in the valley of the Urubamba, the next river basin to the east of the Apurímac-Ene. Similarly, districts of Tayacaja province in Huancavelica region are also affected—in the watershed of the Río Mantaro, to the west of the Apurímac-Ene, and on the edge of the central Andean section of the country. Affected districts in Ayacucho and Junín regions constitute the VRAE "proper"—actually within the Apurímac-Ene watershed. Most of the affected districts have been under a repeatedly extended state of emergency since May 2003, but Echarate only came under the decree in April after guerillas took scores of oil pipeline construction workers hostage.