Teodoro Penadillo Carmen, the man suspected of being a former high-level Shining Path guerilla known as “Comrade Rayo,” was arrested Monday while allegedly recruiting new members for the group in Lima. Penadillo is suspected of being the former Huallaga Regional Committee chief for the Shining Path according to Minister of the Interior Fernando Barrios. Peruvian counterterrorism police arrested Penadillo in the San Juan de Miraflores neighborhood of the capital after receiving intelligence that Penadillo was leaving the city to return to the Huallaga region, an area where the Shining Path guerillas are still active.
Penadillo’s return to the Huallaga region was anticipated as the Peruvian military captured Edgar Mejia Asencio, known as “Comrade Izula” last Wednesday. That operation left two other rebels dead in an area near the Huallaga River. Penadillo had been ordered to return to the region to assume command of the security squad for the Shining Path’s leader, Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, known as “Comrade Artemio,” who remains at large.
In its continuing campaigns against the Shining Path guerillas the Peruvian government has offered 1 million soles (US$385,000), while the United States has offered US$5 million each for information leading to the capture of the rebel group’s remaining leaders at-large—Comrade Artemio and Victor Quispe Palomino, known as “Comrade Jose.”
Today marks the 30-year anniversary of the founding of the Sendero Luminoso or “Shining Path”—and an internal conflict in
Where does the movement stand today? It has fractured and continues to fight internally, and has transformed itself into a narcotraficante group. No longer can it even attempt to portray itself as an ideological or social movement. However, the group still does make the headlines, especially with the recent violence in Apurimac and the capture of its leaders. Yet, they also intend to run political candidates in the upcoming election. All in all, 30 years later, the movement is barely alive and internal fighting has greatly weakened its ability to grow beyond certain highland and rainforest districts.
Members of the insurgent group Sendero Luminoso launched an attack on an army post yesterday in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers (VRAE) region of central Peru that left at least one police officer wounded. Earlier this week, in the first deadly attack of 2010, rebels also ambushed and killed a police officer and two civilians who were destroying coca plantations in the area.
Insurgent-related violence in the VRAE region has claimed the lives of 43 soldiers since 2003 and has continued to pose challenges for the Peruvian government. A single attack last year in the region killed 13 soldiers and provoked a scaling-up of military operations in the region.
The Peruvian government has mobilized an intense manhunt for those responsible for the attacks. During a visit to the site of the violence, Minister of the Interior Octavio Salazar pledged to capture the rebels.
For the first time, Peruvian officials have publicly identified the Shining Path guerrilla group’s military commander, Orlando Alejandro Borda Casafranca. The region where the group operates, Valley of the Apurimac, has become Peru’s largest producer of cocaine, which officials believe has helped fuel a resurgence of guerrilla violence in recent months.
Few details are known about Mr. Borda-Casafranca, 42, who allegedly disappeared in a remote jungle region while still a teenager. What little is known, including the identity of his family, was provided by two Shining Path members who deserted earlier this year and have been cooperating with federal authorities.
The Shining Path is Peru’s most infamous terrorist group, whose actions are believed to be responsible for at least half of the 69,000 people estimated killed in violence that occurred from 1990 to 2000. An estimated 40 Peruvian soldiers have been killed in recent months with the resurgence the Apurimac region.
From the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
White House Chooses First Hispanic for SCOTUS
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced his choice for a Supreme Court justice to replace David Souter, picking the first Hispanic judge in history to be selected for the highest court in the United States. Sotomayor, whose credentials include three decades in the field of law and 16 years as a federal appeals judge, is from the South Bronx and of Puerto Rican descent. Pundits suggest that her ethnic background could serve as an obstacle for Republicans fighting her confirmation. Read AS/COA analysis about the nomination.
The Houston Chronicle’s Immigration Chronicles blog points out that several media outlets made the mistake of saying Sotomayor was born to immigrant parents. Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917.
AS/COA’s Christopher Sabatini joined PBS’ Worldfocus to talk about the historic nature of Sotomayor’s appointment, as well as how Latin America is receiving her nomination.