Archived conflict (updated: February 2002)

The conflict in Peru has been removed from the Armed Conflicts Report because for the second successive year there were few reports of violence. Former President Alberto Fujimori was indicted by the Peruvian Congress on charges of abandonment of office and non-fulfillment of duties in August and an international arrest warrant was issued for his arrest by a top Peruvian judge.



2000 Although President Fujimori’s government had minimized rebel threats, Peru was still haunted by political violence. By October, there appeared to be no reports of killings related to the conflict.

1999 The year saw sporadic clashes between government forces and rebels as well as rebel attacks on villagers and alleged paramilitary leaders. At least 60 people were killed in 1999, about half the estimated 117 deaths in 1998.

1998 Fighting between government forces and guerrillas and rebel attacks on the rural population continued in 1998 but at a less intense level.

Type of Conflict:

State control
Parties to the Conflict:

1) Government, led by President Alejandro Toledo. Internal security is the responsibility of:

(a) Military; and

(b) Police.

“The police and military share the responsibility for internal security. However, in May President Fujimori issued a decree granting the National Intelligence Service an as-yet-unspecified role in anti-crime efforts. Since 1980 the security forces have directed most of their efforts against the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) terrorist groups. Due in large part to the Government’s strong actions, the threat posed by these groups continued to decline in overall terms. Within specified emergency zones, which cover 16 percent of the country and where the military is in charge, certain constitutional protections are suspended. In the rest of the country, the civilian authorities generally maintain effective control of the security forces. Nevertheless, the military and the police were responsible for serious human rights abuses.” [Peru Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998, US State Department, 1999]

The government security forces are supported by:

(c) “Rondas,” rural paramilitary units created and armed by the government.

2) Rebels:

There are two main rebel groups in Peru:

(a) the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) – with an estimated 200 members in 1999; and

(b) the Moviemiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) (MRTA).

After 1993, when captured Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman declared an end to the armed struggle, armed opposition was continued by a Shining Path faction,

(c) Red Path.
Status of Fighting:

2001 There were only a few incidents of violence in 2001. In February the Shining Path guerrillas were suspected of an attack on an army helicopter that left one soldier dead. In August, four policemen were killed and six others injured in an ambush by guerrillas.

“A band of suspected Shining Path guerillas attacked an army helicopter, killing one soldier. The February 17 incident led the military to step up counter subversive operations activities in the are.” [Associated Press, March 3, 2001]

“The government stated on three occasions- in 1993, 1996, and 1999- that the last remaining insurgents still in activity lacked military or political significance- declarations that amounted to a confirmation that the war was over. But the Sendero Luminoso faction known as Sendero Rojo (Red Path) killed four police and wounded six others in an August 7 ambush in the jungle valley of Satipo, 350 km east of Lima, just 11 days after President Alejandro Toledo was sworn into office.” [InterPress Service, August 15, 2001]

2000 Thanks to President Fujimori’s strong-arm tactics, the Peruvian government significantly reduced threats from the two main rebel movements in the country. In February violence was reported in Yanamayo prison in the Andes mountains, when Shining Path and MRTA inmates took prison officials as hostages.

“During the day, about 300 soldiers and police surrounded Yanamayo prison, which lies 3,870m (12,700 ft) up in the Andes mountains. On Monday, the Peruvian government had confirmed that the rebels killed a fellow inmate after he tried to stop the hostage-taking. A police guard was also killed in a three-hour clash on Sunday when security forces tried but failed to rescue the hostages.” [BBC News, February 9, 2000].

“[Fujimori’s] strong-arm tactics in defeating Peru’s two main guerrilla movements has previously given him popularity.” [BBC News, February 24, 2000]

1999 In spite of the mid-year capture of the highest ranking Shining Path leader, the year saw sporadic clashes between government forces and rebels as well as rebel attacks on villagers and alleged paramilitary leaders. With much-reduced numbers, rebel military activity was confined to remote areas. State-of-emergency regulations were lifted in Lima, but were maintained in other regions.

“The government continued to face sporadic armed activity by remnants of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) guerrilla group, now largely confined to remote regions of the departments of San Martín, Huánuco, Ucayali, Junín, and Ayacucho. On June 6, state-of-emergency regulations were lifted in all of metropolitan Lima. They had been in force for thirteen years in parts of the city, except during elections. However, constitutional guarantees regarding the inviolability of the home and freedom of movement continued to be limited by states of emergency affecting large regions of the national territory, including areas recently unaffected by serious guerrilla attacks.” [Human Rights Watch World Report, 2000]

1998 Fighting between government forces and guerrillas and rebel attacks on the rural population continued at a less intense level.

“During 1998, serious armed actions by anti-government guerrilla forces … was generally limited to isolated pockets of the departments of Ayacucho, Huanuco, Junin, Pasco, San Martin and Ucayali where columns belonging to the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) continued to attack soldiers and to commit grave abuses against the civilian population.” [Human Rights Watch World Report, 1999]

Number of Deaths:

Total: Over 30,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since fighting commenced in 1980.

2001 There were five conflict related deaths in 2001.

2000 By October, there appeared to be no reports of conflict-related deaths.

1999 At least 60 people were killed in 1999, about half the estimated 117 deaths in 1998.

“Sendero Luminoso terrorists killed 51 persons, including 34 civilians. According to information gathered by the Legal Defense Institute, the MRTA was responsible for nine deaths.” [Human Rights Watch World Report, 2000]

1998 According to one human rights group, at least 117 people, died in the conflict during 1998.

“According to statistics gathered by the Legal Defense Institute, the Sendero Luminoso and MRTA terrorist groups carried out 454 violent attacks during the first 10 months of the year. During this period, the total number of deaths attributable to the internal conflict was 117. Of these, the security forces, including both military and police, suffered 27 fatalities while the members of the terrorist groups incurred 21 deaths. The civilian population, with 69 deaths, suffered the highest toll.” [1999 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Department of State, February 25, 2000]

Political Developments:

2001 Former President Alberto Fujimori was indicted in February on charges of abandonment of office and non-fulfillment of duties. In August, Peru’s congress unanimously approved a constitutional accusation against Fujimori on charges of homicide and forced disappearances. Also in August, an international arrest warrant was issued on Fujimori by a Peruvian judge.

“The Peruvian congress voted to indict former President Alberto Fujimori, charging him with abandonment of office and nonfullfillment of duties.” [CNN, February 23, 2001]

“Peru’s congress unanimously approved a ‘constitutional accusation’ against former President Alberto Fujimori on charges of homicide and forced disappearances. A congressional investigation committee accused Fujimori of being the co-author of crimes against humanity for the killing of 25 people in two army death squad operations in the early 90’s.” [CNN, August 28, 2001]

“A top Peruvian judge issued an international arrest warrant for the arrest of Alberto Fujimori. Supreme Court Judge Jose Luis Lecaros declared Fujimori an absent criminal for failing to appear before him to answer charges that he abandoned the duties of his office.” [CNN, August 28, 2001]

2000 In May, President Alberto Fujimori was re-elected for a third term in elections marred by irregularities that angered Peru’s neighbours and the Organization of American States (OAS).

“Former Guatemalan foreign minister Eduardo Stein, head of the OAS team, left Peru yesterday saying he had been ‘deceived and disappointed’ by Mr Fujimori’s officials. ‘The conditions of the elections do not provide a strong basis for legitimacy’, he told The New York Times. Earlier, he criticized problems with vote-counting computers and unfair media coverage of Mr. Alejandro Toledo.” [The Globe and Mail, May 27, 2000]

1999 A prominent Shining Path (Red Path) leader Oscar Ramirez Durand was captured in July 1999 by the Peruvian security forces. Ramirez, who attempted to reorganize the Shining Path following founding leader Abimael Guzman’s capture in 1992, was regarded as the group’s military strategist.

“A 46- year-old with thick glasses and a mean temper, Oscar Ramirez Durand — Comrade Feliciano to his followers — was reduced to masquerading as a simple farmer. Along with three female and two male bodyguards, he fled through the nearby forest to evade Peruvian soldiers who where closing in fast… But now, as the sun rose, Ramirez was sighted by 20 soldiers, and the struggle ended. The last main light of the Shining Path surrendered without a fight. Albert Fujimori hailed the capture as the beginning of the end of a guerilla war that has cost 30,000 lives since 1980 … Ramirez, the son of a retired army colonel who dropped out of a Lima engineering school, was considered the Shining Path’s military strategist, and he tried to reorganize the group after Guzman’s capture.” [Guardian Weekly, July 22-28, 1999]


The Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, began fighting a guerrilla war to overthrow the Peruvian government in 1980. The intensity of the war declined following the capture in September 1992 of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman and his subsequent public call for peace talks and postponement of the armed struggle. These events damaged the Shining Path severely, but the organization regrouped and appeared to settle in for a long period of low-level conflict. Since 1984, a much smaller group, the Moviemiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru (MRTA) also has carried out attacks. In December 1996 the MRTA seized the Japanese Embassy, taking more than 500 hostages, including numerous foreign diplomats. Peruvian soldiers stormed the embassy in April 1997, freeing the remaining hostages and killing the 14 MRTA hostage takers. (One hostage and two soldiers also died.)
Arms Sources:

Recent major arms suppliers to the Peruvian government include Belarus, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, and the US. The rebel groups have obtained weapons through the black market and the drug trade.

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