Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Thirty-Year Anniversary of the [i]Sendero Luminoso[/i] Movement

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Today marks the 30-year anniversary of the founding of the Sendero Luminoso or “Shining Path”—and an internal conflict in Peru that has led to over 70,000 deaths and still haunts the country.

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.

It also appears that there are longer-term consequences of the movement. With the exception of Bolivia and Ecuador, some have hypothesized that many popular movements today, especially indigenous, are weak because of the history of the Sendero Movement. This means that leftist movements in Peru have a difficult time gaining momentum and struggle to separate themselves from the legacy that has been left by Sendero Luminoso.

*Sabrina Karim is contributing blogger to www.AmericasQuarterly.org and is currently living in Lima, Peru, as part of a Fulbright Fellowship.


Sabrina Karim was a 2010 U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Peru, affiliated with Grupo de Análisis para Desarrollo (GRADE). She specializes in issues related to security, gender, peacekeeping, and counterinsurgency.  She is currently a PhD candidate in political science at Emory University. 

Tags: Sendero Luminoso
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