Shining Path Of Peru

In This Review

Shining Path Of Peru

Edited by David Scott Palmer
St. Martin's Press, 1992
247 pp.
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A professor of political science at Boston University has assembled 14 American, Peruvian and Dutch experts from the fields of development, academia and journalism to provide what may be the most comprehensive analysis available of Peru's violent insurgency, the Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso. Complementary and sometimes overlapping chapters assess the genesis of the movement among middle-class mestizos at the University of Huamanga, the reasons for Sendero's acceptance and setbacks, its spread to the coca-producing Upper Huallaga valley and the beginnings of its campaign of urban terror. Other contributions provide theoretical context on the motivations of revolution and a profile of the "philosopher king," Abimael Guzmán Reynoso, who is Sendero's prime force. Collectively the chapters emphasize that Sendero is not a broad-based popular front; it is a highly organized and cellular Maoist vanguard-an "armed party"-using selective terror often to impose itself on the very people it espouses to serve: Peru's Indian and campesino population. What support it does gain comes from exploiting local needs and animosities, fissures in a nation characterized as a "political archipelago." Although compiled before Peru's April autogolpe, this collection makes clear that if Sendero's aim is to supplant Lima's already-weak governmental structures, President Fujimori himself may have gone a long way toward aiding that end.