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Rebellion in Rural Peru: The Origins and Evolution of Sendero Luminoso

Author(s): David Scott Palmer

Source: Comparative Politics, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Jan., 1986), pp. 127-146
Published by: Comparative Politics, Ph.D. Programs in Political Science, City University of
New York
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/421840
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Rebellion in Rural Peru

The Origins and Evolution of Sendero Lumino

David Scott Palmer

When yet another splinter group of the Marxist-Leninist left burst onto the
politics scene in Peru in 1980, it evoked little but mild ridicule at the time. B
however, the extremists of Sendero Luminoso were taken very seriously in
and they continue to be so considered. This article reviews the national an
contexts within which Sendero's organization evolved and offers an assessm
its quite remarkable staying power in the face of multiple obstacles and of
tations inherent in the movement itself.
In terms of theories of revolution, Sendero evolved in a context with several
recognizable elements. These include a center in a region which was both isolated
geographically and marginalized socially, an area which experienced a decline in
central government resources for a number of years followed by a number of
initiatives inappropriate for the region, a historically exploited Indian population, an
increasingly politicized provincial university, and charismatic leadership. Gener-
alization from Sendero's evolution is a risky and perhaps impossible enterprise.
However, the combination of circumstances which gave rise to this particular
guerrilla movement is repeated in a variety of Third World Settings.' It is thus
conceivable, however unlikely, that the Battle of Ayacucho in the 1980s may
acquire the same significance for the "liberation" of the marginalized of Latin
America that the Battle of Ayacucho in 1824 did for the liberation of the Americas
from Spanish colonial domination. At the same time, however, a central thesis of
this analysis as it relates to revolutionary theory is that Sendero Luminoso is
fundamentally a sui generis phenomenon. If indeed the context is familiar and
replicable in some other Third World settings, the specific circumstances in the
local environment out of which Sendero eventually emerged as a radical guerrilla
movement are, for all intents and purposes, unique.

Sendero Luminoso ("Shining Path")

What is today known as Sendero Luminoso began in the rural department capital of
Ayacucho in 1962 as the Ejercito de Liberaci6n Nacional (ELN, National Libera-
tion Army), Huamanga command, within the National University of San Crist6bal
de Huamanga. This was the colonial university of Ayacucho founded in 1677,
closed in the 1880s amidst the general economic crisis after Peru's defeat in the War
of the Pacific (1879-1883), and reopened in 1959. The organization was led almost


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Comparative Politics January 1986

from the outset by a philosophy professor in the education program, Abimael

Guzman Reynoso, who came to the university fresh from graduate study in
Arequipa in 1963. Over the organization's first two or three years, Professor
Guzman recruited some of the most talented students then at the university for trips
to Cuba and for various kinds of extension programs in literacy, farming, health,
and nutrition in Ayacucho's countryside. By 1964 there may have been about fifty
students and faculty members (out of a total university population at that time of
about 700 students and fifty faculty members) who regularly participated in such
activities. These included individuals who eventually emerged as leading members
of the Sendero hierarchy, such as Luis Kawata Makabe, Osman Morote, and Julio
The Huamanga command of the ELN broke with the national organization in
1965 over the issue of opening guerrilla fronts in the Peruvian highlands at that ti
ELN leaders Guillermo Lobat6n and Luis de la Puente Uceda went to their deaths,
and Hector Bejar to capture and jail in the massive military reponse to their
misguided efforts to apply the Cuban foco theory of rural revolution to Peru.2
However, the Huamanga group became more identified with a longer-term rural
strategy based on a combination of Chinese revolutionary theory and experience.
They also evolved interpretations of Marxist theory in the context of Peruvian
reality as presented originally by Jose Carlos Mariitegui, a Peruvian intellectual and
founder in 1928 of the original Communist Party of Peru. By 1966, Guzman and his
followers at Huamanga were part of the Maoist Partido Comunista del Peru-
Bandera Roja (PCP-BR, Communist Party of Peru-Red Flag). The relationship
between center and periphery in the party was an uneasy one, nevertheless, with
the withdrawal/expulsion of the "country bumpkins" of Huamanga occurring be-
tween 1968 and 1970.3 It was at this time that the Guzman faction adopted the title
of Partido Comunista del Perui en el Sendero Luminoso de Mariitegui (Communist
Party of Peru in the Shining Path of Mariitegui), known to outsiders as Sendero
During the 1970s Sendero turned inward, concentrating on theory-building fr
within its academic haven at the University of Huamanga and on expanding its
relationships with peasant communities in outlying districts of the department
Ayacucho, particularly in the province of Cangallo. From the perspective of hi
followers, Professor Guzmin succeeded during this period in reconciling the bitt
dispute which had divided the Maoist left at the national level during the 1960s o
the application of Mao, on the one hand, and the proper interpretation of
Mariategui, on the other. Guzman's synthesis of the two formed the ideological
base of Sendero Luminoso and justified to his followers an exalted place in the
hierarchy of Marxist thinkers. In 1978 most of the leadership disappeared from
public view, perhaps in part as a result of University of Huamanga elections that
year which overturned the radical group, in power for a decade, and replaced it
with more moderate leadership.
In 1980, as Peru was returning to civilian rule via elections after twelve years of
military government, the first public manifestations of Sendero's concerns began to


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David Scott Palmer

appear-in the form of the burning of ballot boxes in the Indian community market
town of Chuschi, Cangallo province, and of the hanging of dogs from lamp posts in
both Lima and Ayacucho.4 Bombings of public buildings and some private com-
panies in late 1980 and 1981 gradually escalated to attacks on and assassinations of
local public figures and then to more generalized violence after a massive raid and
jailbreak from the Ayacucho department prison in March 1982. By December the
escalation of violence, bombings, and power blackouts by Sendero, mostly in
Ayacucho but increasingly in Lima, the capital, turned official indifference to deep
concern. By New Year's Day 1983 a state of emergency had been declared in five
provinces of the Ayacucho region, and administrative control by the armed forces
began. Violence and counterviolence escalated-tens of deaths became scores, and
then hundreds-and spread to other parts of the country. While the military au-
thorities believed they had regained control over most of the area once subject to
deep Sendero influence, much of the leadership remained intact and at large.
Subject to Guzman's continued influence, Sendero remained committed to its
five-point program for gaining power-even if it took seventy-five-years! These were
(1) to convert the backward areas into advanced and solid bases of revolutionary
support, (2) to attack the symbols of the bourgeois state and of revisionist elements,
(3) to generalize violence and develop guerrilla war, (4) to conquer and expand the
bases of support, and (5) to lay seige to the cities and bring about the total collapse
of the state.5
Over time, then, Sendero has become more militant, more dogmatic, and more
violent. Its capacity to harrass has not been translated into a capacity to control. If
anything, Sendero's ability to occupy territory effectively has been reduced by the
extensive military operations in the Ayacucho area, expanded by mid 1985 to
include thirteen provinces in three highland departments under a state of
Even so, a substantial reservoir of support, or at least acquiescence, remains
the core areas of Sendero's historic activity. In the 1983 Ayacucho municipal
elections, over 75 percent of the eligible voters of the province of Huamanga
followed Sendero's instructions knowingly or unwittingly, either by not voting or by
voting a blank or spoiled ballot (fully 56 percent of the votes cast were blank or
spoiled, and over 50 percent of the eligible population, including illiterates,
abstained). The winning party, PADIN, ran on a platform of peace, rural develop-
ment, and amnesty for Sendero. Even in victory, however, PADIN received only
27 percent of the votes actually cast." Furthermore, the government was unable to
hold municipal elections in Ayacucho's provinces of Cangallo, Victor Fajardo, La
Mar, and Huanta on the appointed day, an admission of its inability to protect
candidates for local offices in this region.7
While there seems to be no reasonable prospect that Sendero can gain full
regional, much less national, power, there also seems to be little likelihood that the
military can fully reimpose order by force alone. The situation remains very delicate
for a fragile civilian democracy beset by a number of other serious social, political,
and economic problems.


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Comparative Politics January 1986

The National Context: Socioeconomic and Political Environments

Peru is a nation of sharp contrasts and great complexity marked by rapid cha
over the past thirty years. Total population has increased at close to 3 percent
year in recent decades, from 9.9 million to 17.7 million between the 1961 and 19
censuses. Urbanization has advanced apace; the capital city of Lima increased fr
less than 1.7 million inhabitants in 1961 to over 5.5 million just twenty years la
Gross national product per capita was $526 in 1960 and $1294 in 1981.8 Literacy
levels have gone from less than 50 percent to over 75 percent. Labor unions gr
from just 849 in 1961 to over 4,700 by 1981. Barriers to voting included both
and literacy requirements well into the twentieth century; only in the 1980s was
literacy restriction abolished. As a result, voting levels increased from less th
percent of the population in 1939 to almost 25 percent in 1980.9
The major effect of the changes within Peru over the past forty years, represent
only crudely by the aggregate figures, was to bring into the national system a m
larger proportion of the total population. This means that the vast majority o
Peruvian citizens are now in a position to make demands on the system-and do
A government's staying power is thus increasingly dependent on its ability
respond to the concerns of the citizenry.
How well has the system responded to these needs? Between 1950 and 1975,
fairly sustained net economic growth and some limited income redistribution did
occur. Government employment more than doubled between 1965 and 1975, and
both the informal and formal private sectors increased substantially as well. Con-
comitant with the burgeoning of unions and union membership, wages tended to
keep pace with or slightly ahead of the cost of living. Infant mortality declined
modestly, and caloric intake increased somewhat.
Beginning in 1976, the picture began to change, by and large for the worse. With
the exception of the 1979-1981 period, net economic growth has been negative,
wage settlements have fallen behind the cost of living, and inflation rates have
increased from a 20-30 percent range to a 75-125 percent range. The promising
changes in both infant mortality and caloric intake have been reversed. While
income does not appear to have become more concentrated, the lower strata of
society have clearly lost their incremental gains with the shrinking of the economic
That this sustained adverse turnabout in Peru's economic and social fortunes has
not to date provided revolutionary ferment at the center may be attributed to
several significant developments over recent years. One is the presence of a very
large and pervasive "'informal" sector of the economy, based largely in Lima
Two-thirds of Lima's work force, according to one study, is employed in a largely
profitable "underground" economy." Some 85 percent of the city's public
transportation, 90 percent of the clothing manufacturing business, and 60 percent o
housing construction are to be found in this informal sector. These figures sugges
that much of the massive urban migration to Lima over the past generation has
indeed been absorbed in economically productive activity even though the result


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David Scott Palmer

do not appear in the national accounts. Although the '"official" system has been le
able to meet popular needs since the mid 1970s, the "unofficial" system appears
have picked up much of the slack. In fact, actual per capita income may be as muc
as 45 percent above official figures. In other words, any "revolutionary gap," with
attendant increased popular violence and susceptibility to extremist organization
may be much smaller in fact than official figures would suggest (at least for Lima.)
A second factor with an effect of defusing revolutionary activity is the legitimiz
tion of the Marxist left within rather than outside the system. The Marxist partie
now mostly grouped within the umbrella organization Izquierda Unida (IU, Unite
Left), grew from a 3.6 percent share of the vote for president in 1962, to 13.7
percent in 1980, to 22 percent in 1985 (with 24 percent in the 1980 and 30 percent
the 1983 municipal elections).'3 The Marxist union confederation, Confederaci6n
General de Trabajadores del Perui (CGTP, General Federation of Peruvian Work-
ers), legalized by the military government only in 1971, now counts within its ran
at least 46 percent of Peru's 437,000 unionized workers.14 Both the IU and CGTP
are committed to Marxist principles, but more on the French or Italian models.
Their success to date, which includes winning the mayorship of Lima in the 198
municipal elections, has encouraged them to continue on this tack and to decry th
guerrilla activity of Sendero. The incorporation into the system of a new generatio
of forces on the left may be the most significant and enduring legacy of the docen
(twelve-year period) of military rule between 1968 and 1980.15
A third important element is the return to civilian government through a series
elections between 1978 and 1985 (for a constituent assembly in 1978, for the presi
dency and congress in 1980 and 1985, and for municipal officials in 1980 and 1983
Because Peru had gone without a presidential election since 1963 and municip
elections since 1966, their reestablishment provided the adult population with a
tangible symbol of a direct relationship with the government and of influence with
it. The military docenio, in spite of its reformist goals and policies, never succeed
in building an acceptable substitute for elections in terms of citizen-system relatio
ships."6 Thier reestablishment gave both citizens and political parties a direct stak
in the system once again, and along with that a substantial infusion of legitimacy f
that system.
By reelecting Fernando Belahinde Terry as president in 1980--the very individual
the military had plucked from power twelve years earlier-with a substantial margin
(over 45 percent of the total vote in a fifteen-candidate race), the people of Peru
delivered to its military establishment a specific rebuke. This rebuke, on top of
intramilitary divisions, the overextension of the military's members in both political
and military responsibilities, and a belated recognition through governing that it was
in fact much harder to run a country than to plan for running it, raised substantially
the threshold of intervention."7 In other words, the Peruvian armed forces since
1980 have been much more reluctant to come back into politics through a golpe de
estado, and civilian leaders much less willing to provoke them. From the perspec-
tive of the citizenry, civil government, even with its many difficulties, gives them
access and is widely perceived as legitimate.18 The election of an opposition party


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Comparative Politics January 1986

candidate as president in 1985, with 47.7 percent of the vote and a majority in both
houses of Congress, will likely serve to maintain the political system's legitimacy
for the time being.
Another important development which served to make less severe the growing
gap between popular expectations and government capacity was the reemergence
on the democratic left of the long-established Alianza Popular Revolucionaria
Americana party (APRA, American Popular Revolutionary Alliance). With the
election of a new party head in 1982, youthful Alan Garcia Perez, APRA simultan-
eously overcame a potentially devastating split between its left and right wings
after its 1980 electoral defeat and a twenty-six-year legacy of having compromised
its reformist principles in order to gain political power.19 By reemerging as a
reformist party with an attractive presidential candidate for 1985, APRA was now in
a position to compete for the center-left as well as the center vote. This gave the
populace a choice between Marxist and non-Marxist reformist alternatives and
some expectation that their needs might be attended to in a more satisfactory
manner in the fairly near future. They chose APRA's Garcia and gave APRA a
working majority in Congress as well, even as they increased their support for the
Marxist left. The military, then, did not have to face the dilemma of whether or not
to allow a Marxist candidate to take office in 1985. One important result is the
further institutionalization of democratic procedures and practices.
Another consideration concerns the strategy and tactics of Sendero. Their revo-
lutionary approach for taking power is based on consciousness-raising and mobili-
zation of the rural Indian periphery rather than the urban cholo or mestizo center.
Their leaders have made little attempt in recent years to mobilize support in the
sprawling capital of Lima, even among organizations sharing at least the core
elements of their own ideological perspective. Efforts by the more radical youth
wings of some of the parties of IU to join up formally with Sendero and its violent
path to power apparently have been rebuffed, at least for now.20 Sendero's com-
mitment to the Indian peasantry appears to inhibit any expansion of its support
within the urban proletariat, except perhaps among the more recent migrants from
Indian areas who retain both family and economic ties to their communities of
origin.2' With rare exceptions, Sendero has shown little interest in any kind of
public relations campaign to gain either sympathy or support from the center.
Rather, its announced program involves progressive isolation of the center, to be
followed by a frontal attack on it.
A factor which is difficult to measure precisely but which undoubtedly has some
effect on the continued willingness of a population to suffer adversity rather than
rise up against it is the degree to which Peru's present difficulties may be blamed on
forces beyond the government's control rather than on the system itself. The
combination of the high and largely inherited debt burden, international recession,
and rising interest rates with el Nino current and disastrous floods and drought in
different parts of the country can be attributed to misfortune rather than to mis-
guided policies. Even though the democratic government has made its share of
mistakes, the system (as distinct from the Belatinde administration) retains more


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David Scott Palmer

legitimacy than it would if the problems persisted in the absence of such major
external and environmental setbacks.
The net result of this combination of factors is to keep the system going, even
it lurches from one crisis to another. Popular despair shows itself thus far in stri
and protests and in substantially increased support for opposition parties as ele
toral opportunities are offered. Popular discontent has not yet manifested itself
generalized willingness to overthrow the current system. Paradoxically, some o
Sendero's more brutal actions, combined with its unwillingness to explain or def
them, may well serve to push citizens on the brink of collective violence b
toward a more moderate approach in trying to resolve their problems.22 Sende
has won neither the minds nor the hearts of the urban proletariat because it has
tried to do so. The net result so far is system maintenance and system stabilit

The Local Context: Poverty, Isolation, and the

Frustration of Reformist Initiatives

The south-central highland department of Ayacucho where Sendero Luminoso

originated has long suffered from neglect by central government authorities.23
Although founded in 1540, the city of Ayacucho, its capital, was not connected to
the rest of the country by road until 1924. The railroad originally designed to link
Ayacucho with the rest of the central sierra only made it as far as Huancavelica, a
long day's journey away. The arrival of air service in the 1940s provided a tenuous
link with the national capital of Lima via a short dirt runway for the very few who
could afford the fare. A chronic shortage of water in and around the city of
Ayacucho stimulated numerous proposals and plans over the years which never
quite materialized. As late as the 1960s there were fewer than a hundred cars and
trucks in the city and only two buses for local transportation. Census figures for
1961 indicated an overwhelmingly rural population (90 percent of a total of 430,289),
almost entirely Quechua speaking, with adult illiteracy levels for the department as
a whole almost 73 percent. Schools were few and far between outside the depart-
ment and province capitals, and public health facilities were even more limited. Per
capita agricultural income for the core provinces of Huanta, Huamanga, and Can-
gallo, at just over $100 per year in 1961, was lower than for all but nine of Peru's
155 provinces.24 The name Ayacucho, Quechua for "corner of the dead" due to the
many battles fought in the area among warring Indian groups before the Conquest,
was also synonymous with a lack of economic activity and opportunity. The
colonial golden age of the city, when it served as a trading center, a resting place on
the track from Lima to Cuzco, a university town, and the residence of numerous
mine- and land-owning elite families, had long since passed.
Beginning in the late 1950s, however, and continuing into the 1970s, a number of
changes were introduced from the outside which had important effects on the city
of Ayacucho and its surrounding countryside. Together, the changes upset the
balance of power which had rested for more than a century in the hands of a small


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Comparative Politics January 1986

white and mestizo elite and made others feel that it might be possible after all to
improve their historically precarious situation.
One change was the building of an access road from Ayacucho to its hitherto
inaccessible jungle between 1960 and 1965 with Inter-American Development Bank
funds. Within a decade, up to 30,000 families had settled the area, in largely
spontaneous rather than planned colonizations, all the way to and even across the
Apurimac river at San Francisco. Another important road, built with credits from
Japan in the mid 1960s, was the Via de los Libertadores (Highway of the
Liberators) connecting Ayacucho directly with the coast at Pisco for the first time.
The previously isolated department capital and its outlying areas now had an
all-weather road to population centers in addition to the precarious, often one-lane
track tight against the mountains above the Mantaro river to Huancayo and Huan-
cavelica. Products and people could now be moved more efficiently in and out of
the area. Other communications changes included the installation of telephones
within Ayacucho city limits in 1964 and the establishment of a regional and national
hookup soon thereafter.
The Alliance for Progress reached both Ayacucho and outlying areas as well,
with a variety of small-scale projects for access roads, potable water, and health
and educational facilities. Included was a substantial contribution to local self-help
projects through the Food for Peace program, by which cash and food for oneself
and one's family were provided in exchange for labor. Another initiative was a
school lunch program which at its peak operated in all of the province capitals and
even some district capitals and served more than 50,000 elementary school children
a day.
In addition, a substantial number of Peace Corps Volunteers went to Ayacucho at
the Peruvian government's request between 1962 and 1974. Upwards of 200 dif-
ferent individuals served in a variety of community development and self-help
projects for two-year periods, many in small towns, villages, and Indian communities.
Major activities included the development of an artisans' cooperative, oversight of
the school lunch program, reforestation, irrigation, road building, and school
The Peruvian government established its own domestic Peace Corps in 1963,
called Cooperacion Popular. Each year between 1964 and 1968, it trained hundreds
of Peruvian volunteers, mostly students and mostly urban, and sent them to the
sierra (including Ayacucho) for the three-month summer holiday to work in a
variety of community self-help projects.
The much heralded agrarian reform of the 1963-1968 Belautnde administra-
tion never lived up to its promises nationwide (less than 20,000 families received
titles to expropriated land-in Ayacucho only one property was expropriated, and
only fifty-four families became beneficiaries). However, several thousand land
"certificates" were distributed to tenant farmers in Ayacucho so that the bearers
might "prove" that they were entitled to be beneficiaries if and when the land they
were working was expropriated.
More substantively, in 1963 the Belaunde government reinstituted municipal
elections down to the district capital level for the first time since 1917. In both 1963


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David Scott Palmer

and 1966 literate adults had the opportunity to select their mayor and town or ci
council rather than have them appointed by the central government.25
In another important initiative, the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), in
cooperation with the ministry of education, established during the 1960s over thir
bilingual elementary schools both in the city of Ayacucho and in a number
outlying villages and communities. SIL personnel set up a special training facilit
on the outskirts of Ayacucho to prepare teachers for these schools.26
These initiatives had mixed results. However, their basic thrust was to foster
modest but demonstrable change in the daily lives of many citizens of both urban
and rural Ayacucho. There was a sense of progress and development, along with a
perception among many that the center was concerned about the periphery and was
willing to infuse some resources and personnel, domestic and foreign, into the area.
The network of relationships from the political center of Lima to the Ayacucho
periphery between 1963 and 1968 was enhanced by the competitive party politics of
the period. Accion Popular (AP, Popular Action), the party of President Belauinde,
won the department of Ayacucho in the 1963 presidential elections and also domi-
nated local elections later the same year. Clientelist ties based on AP connections
between center and periphery thus worked in favor of new and expanded programs
for Ayacucho.
Perhaps the most important of all the changes was the reopening of the National
University of San Cristobal de Huamanga in 1959. The reopening was viewed as a
historic opportunity to revitalize the area in the eyes of the Ayacucho delegation
responsible for seeing the reestablishment legislation through Congress. From the
beginning, San Crist6bal de Huamanga was to be different from the rest of Peruvian
universities: it was to serve as an agent for change by simultaneously educating
local sons and daughters in subjects and levels appropriate for the area and provid-
ing assistance in alleviating the many problems which confronted the region. In the
words of the first rector of the reestablished university, Dr. Fernando Romero

The educational philosophy ... [is] based on ... concepts that derive from the unique role
of this university. To break the inertia of almost a century, it is not sufficient to train
professionals; we must train leaders who will have an intimate understanding of the part
they must play . . . [W]e are preparing our students to bring about the socioeconomic
development of our area ....27

These goals were to be accomplished by having special programs related to local

problems, like nursing, education, applied anthropology, and rural engineering.
Unlike other Peruvian universities, there was to be no law school or medical
school. Quechua was required (for the minority of students who were not native
speakers). Professors were to teach full-time. Extension programs, whether in adult
education in Ayacucho, applied anthropology in Pampa Cangallo, or university
demonstration and practice farms at Alpachaca or Huallapampa, were from the
beginning fundamental components of the university.
During its first years, the University of Huamanga attracted with much en-
thusiasm teachers and programs connected with the SIL, the Peace Corps, the


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Comparative Politics January 1986

United Nations, the Fulbright Commission, the Danish, Dutch, and Swiss gov-
ernments, the full range of Peru's political parties, and some of Peru's leading
academics. From the student federation and the anthropology and rural engineering
programs to the practice school of the education program and the university's local
director of Cooperacion Popular, opportunities proliferated to work with local
people as part of the university's efforts to accomplish its extension service mis-
sion. From experiments in bilingual education and plant and animal breeding to
cultural, artistic, and athletic programs in outlying communities, most of the faculty
and many students contributed to the university's goals.
Increasingly, however, issues of what kinds of change, toward what ends, di-
rected or organized by whom, grew in importance. In spite of the rector's commit-
ment to keep politics out of the university, political questions came to dominate
programs and services." The pluralistic melange of initiatives gradually succumbed
to an increasingly radical political criterion by which the university was perceived
as fulfilling its responsibilities only if it was a committed institution ("la universidad
comprometida") that is, committed to Marxist principles. While the extension work
continued and at times stayed above the partisan fray, it was more and more subject
to radical precepts and staffed by committed radicals. With the economic crisis that
the government suffered in 1966-1967, funding for Huamanga was cut back, some
programs were eliminated, and some of the more moderate faculty abandoned their
idealistic quest. Then the 1968 university elections delivered the major positions
into the hands of radical elements. By the end of the first decade of renewed
operations, the University of Huamanga had become yet another politicized univer-
sity, with open admissions and up to 15,000 students in a physical plant that could
only handle one-fifth that number, constant political turmoil, and frequent strikes.
Huamanga's distinctive extension services became yet one more instrument by
which radical political goals could be accomplished.29
The combination of the October 1968 military golpe de estado and the U.S.
government's policy of retrenchment in its economic assistance programs soon
brought to an end many local development initiatives in Ayacucho. These included
the department development corporation, Cooperacion Popular, the Alliance for
Progress programs, including Food for Peace and school lunches, and, within a few
years, both the Peace Corps and the SIL. These developments occurred at about
the time that the most radical elemerits were gaining control of Huamanga outreach
and extension programs. With fewer alternatives open to peasants in Ayacucho,
university initiatives conducted by radical students and professors became rela-
tively more important. Furthermore, Sendero Luminoso's separation from the
PCP-BR during the same period gave Abimael Guzman and his colleagues the
opportunity to develop their own emerging conception of theory and praxis rather
than that of their erstwhile comrades at the center. Sendero's success in gaining
bases of support in the countryside dates from this period. As early as 1971 Sendero
exercised sufficient influence over a group of communities in the Vischongo-
Vilcashuamain area of Cangallo province to keep out by force agrarian reform
representatives of the central government.30
This agrarian reform, begun in mid 1969, was one of major significance. Before it


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David Scott Palmer

was completed in the late 1970s, almost half of the agricultural population estimat
by the government to be in need of land had received it, usually in one or anothe
form of cooperative ownership. In Ayacucho, however, the proportion of needy
farmers to eventual beneficiaries was much lower-in the neighborhood of 15 to 2
percent. Furthermore, the results even for the small number who did receive lan
were generally much less satisfactory than for other parts of the country.31
In part this was because Ayacucho was different. It had smaller and less prosper
ous haciendas and many more Indian communities (303 of which were officially
recognized and many others which were not). The department also had a low
priority for agrarian reform implementation from the national government. As a
result, central authorities devoted fewer resources and fewer personnel to the area.
Furthermore, the new rural organizations to be established under the agrarian
reform required a profit-making dynamic center in order to be able to distribute
profits to other members, especially the Indian communities. But very few hacien-
das in Ayacucho were profitable, and most of the owners of those which did
produce a reasonable income stripped their properties of their movable assets
before the reform was implemented.
The large number of Indian communities posed special challenges. In areas where
they bordered on affected haciendas, they were often included in the agrarian
reform but rarely benefitted due to the low levels of production of the enterprises
and to the inevitable dislocations which occurred in the process of transferring
ownership. Rarely were agrarian reform personnel able to provide the necessary
technical assistance in the new cooperative enterprises. Where Indian communities
bordered only on other Indian communities, which was frequently the case in
Cangallo, Victor Fajardo, and parts of Huanta, there was no effective government
program at all. An early effort in 1970 and 1971 to reorganize communities along
"made in Lima" criteria failed after strenuous objections were raised by hundreds
of Indian community leaders nationwide.32 For these the major change effected by
central authorities was in name only: Indian communities became peasant com-
munities. In effect, then, the agrarian reform brought little change to the com-
munities of Ayacucho, and most that was attempted from the outside was negative
and even counterproductive.
Thus, government policy in Ayacucho during the late 1960s and early 1970s
unwittingly played into the hands of Sendero. Local peasant circumstances were
deteriorating, in part due to program cutbacks and terminations and in part due to
the ineffectiveness of new rural initiatives. The number of government personnel in
the region actually declined during the military regime's first years. Those assigned
to Ayacucho often did not speak Quechua, suffered from low pay, and had almost
no infrastructure support for their official activities. Sendero activities became one
continuing and positive outside contact for many peasants; its ideology and com-
mitment would logically lead it to concentrate its efforts in areas of numerous
Indian communities. Hence the points of greatest contact between the peasantry
and Sendero tended to be those of least contact between the peasantry and govern-
ment. Given Sendero's approach-providing needed paramedical, farming, and
literacy services, learning Quechua when necessary, and marrying into peasant


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Comparative Politics January 1986

community families at times-it is not surprising that members often gained the
confidence and the support of many local residents.
The impact of these experiences on the activists of Sendero as well should not be
underestimated. Most of their leaders, both professors and students, came origi-
nally from outside the area, usually from very different coastal urban settings.33 The
opportunity to put radical principles derived from university studies into practice in
concrete settings of downtrodden and deprived rural communities required a dedi-
cation and commitment rarely seen in radical movements in Peru. They needed to
learn both a new language and the totally different daily routine of a peasant farmer.
The sacrifices required were enormous. It should not be surprising, therefore, that
those who successfully passed through this gauntlet would come to have a very
special perspective. They saw themselves as the true vanguard of the peasant
proletariat, clearly superior to their fellow teachers, students, and even Marxist
colleagues who had not tempered their principles in the fire of peasant reality.
When the Maoist leader Saturnino Paredes expelled Abimael Guzman and his
Huamanga colleagues from the PCP-BR as "hopelessly out of step with the proper
ideological approach," he failed to appreciate that Sendero, not his Lima-based
compatriots, was in the best position to combine Maoist ideology and practice in a
proper rural setting.
From 1959 onward, most students at the University of Huamanga were from
Ayacucho (70-75 percent). Many came from peasant backgrounds and had grown up
in Indian communities. Almost all were bilingual; most had learned Spanish as their
second language. With the growing influence of Marxist and Maoist perspectives in
the university, these students often were exposed to a world view which exalted
their own class and ethnic origins and to various programs which gave them
opportunities to assist their own people. Sendero's leaders there skillfully devel-
oped over the years a cadre of militants from among these students.
The university's education program and accompanying Escuela de Aplicaci6n
(teacher training school) became popular vehicles by which students from Indian
communities could become elementary school teachers and thus make a contribu-
tion to their home areas. From the standpoint of Guzmain and his radical colleagues,
the education program was an ideal vehicle to build a cadre of supporters paid by the
state as teachers in the very areas which were the focus of Sendero attention.
Teachers were in many cases the only continuing government presence in the local
village and community; good teachers were very much respected there, all the more
if they were bilingual and came from an Indian community background. Moreover,
education was one area in Ayacucho which was not slighted by the central govern-
ment after 1968. According to the 1981 census, illiteracy in Ayacucho as a whole
declined between 1961 and 1981 from 73 percent to 54 percent of the total popula-
tion and to 44 percent of those five and older. But of the school age population five
to fifteen, less than 25 percent could not read or write. There were in place in the
department in 1981 4,741 teachers and 1,450 schools.34
In other activities, the central government was unable or unwilling to maintain or
expand programs. In the department of Ayacucho, with just over 500,000 inhabi-
tants in 1981, there were only 30 doctors and 366 hospital beds, 827 telephones, and


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David Scott Palmer

44 kilometers of paved road. Furthermore, life expectancy was estimated at forty

four years, only 7 percent of the residents had running water, and only 14 percen
had electricity.3" Although Ayacucho has 3 percent of the country's population, it
received only 1 percent of central government expenditures over the 1968-1980
period.36 Since expenditures in education were expanded rather than cut bac
other areas of need suffered disproportionately.
The elected civilian government which came into office in July 1980 continued t
neglect Ayacucho. In part this was due to severe economic crisis, in part to the
bureaucratic difficulties inherent in trying to make adjustments in established po
icy, and in part to the administration's failure to take Sendero very seriously
between 1980 and 1982. Ayacucho continued under the civilian government to be a
low priority area for resources from the center.
In retrospect, the government's approach was mistaken. Sendero's leadershi
committed itself publicly to the armed struggle in 1979. It moved to the second
stage of its strategy in 1980 ("attack the symbols of the bourgeois state"), and to th
third, more violent stage ("generalization of violence and development of guerrilla
war") in March 1982 with the massive attack on the Ayacucho jail and release of al
prisoners, including over fifty suspected senderistas. Levels of violence steadily
escalated during this period, from two deaths attributed to Sendero activity in 198
to eight in 1981, to 171 in 1982.37 Only at the very end of 1982 did the central
government declare a state of emergency in the five most affected provinces in th
Ayacucho area and put the region under military control.
Far from ending the violence, however, the military presence was associated wit
a dramatic increase in civilian and combatant casualties in 1983. Almost two-thirds
of the 3,028 deaths attributed to Sendero and counter-Sendero activity in 1983
throughout Peru occurred in Ayacucho and neighboring provinces in the
Emergency Zone.38 They included the widely publicized January 1983 massacre of
eight journalists by the residents of the Indian community of Urchuraccay, in the
province of Huanta, ostensibly mistaken as senderistas.39 After this incident, the
military governor sharply restricted access to the region by independent outside
observers. Therefore, most news on subsequent events in Ayacucho came from
official accounts which local and foreign journalists often found suspect.
The picture which emerged was one of ebbs and flows of violence perpetrated by
Sendro and military or police forces. Sendero militants seemed to be on the run at
times, but continued their acts of sabotage and violent attacks on isolated police
stations and the main comisaria in downtown Ayacucho. After a period of relative
quiet in late 1983 and early 1984, the level of violence escalated sharply in June and
July 1984. Pressure increased to unleash the full might of the armed forces rather
than rely mainly on police. As casualty figures suggest, over five times as many
police have been killed as military-ninety-two Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), six
Policia de Investigaciones del Perui (PIP, Peruvian Investigative Police), and
twenty-seven Guardia Republicana (Republican Guard), to twenty-four soldiers.40
However, neither the army nor the civilian political leadership seemed eager to
pursue this course.41 In spite of announcements of substantial economic aid pro-
grams for Ayacucho and the rest of the Emergency Zone, very little had mate-


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Comparative Politics January 1986

rialized by mid 1984 save for emergency repairs to sabotaged roads, bridges, and
buildings.42 While Sendero may have only a small chance of success in the long run,
the organization shows little sign in mid 1985 of being on the verge of defeat.
Furthermore, the concentration of military and police forces in the Emergency
Zone since early 1983 seems to have produced a spillover of violent acts into other
parts of the country. Another ominous development is the alleged association of
Sendero with drug traffickers in both the jungle areas of Ayacucho and the Upper
Huallaga river basin further north. What cannot be determined is the degree to
which Sendero itself is responsible. Many of the violent activities outside Sendero's
core area in Ayacucho may be perpetrated either by criminal elements or by other
radical imitators. Whoever is responsible, the violence poses serious continuing
problems for beleaguered central government authorities.
Sendero, in turn, has some problems of its own. With the move to implement the
second and third stages of its strategy for taking power, it was forced beyond its
own core area of Ayacucho. With the exception of the remnants of the Confedera-
ci6n de Campesinos del Perui (CCP, Peruvian Peasants Confederation) in neighbor-
ing Apurimac department, led by Julio Mezzich, which joined with Sendero in the
early 1980s, there were no truly peasant-based radical organizations in the coun-
tryside. However, the arrogance of Sendero's leaders-resulting from their belief
that they had discovered through their own long and arduous efforts the true

refusal to of Marx, Mao,
compromise and
their Maria.tegui
principles for Peru-made
for tactical alliances, them
even ifadamant in their
these might help
them achieve power. So while Sendero began to use its superb clandestine organi-
zation to harrass the establishment around the country, that organization never
ceased to be Ayacucho-based. Furthermore, Sendero's appeals for pure native
peasant communism as the final objective of the revolution have attracted few who
are now in the modern national economy or who are not (and never have been)
Indian. Thus Sendero's greatest strengths-a local Indian peasant base of support,
committed leadership, and a pure ideology-became significant limitations as the
organization began to expand and extend the guerrilla struggle.


The Sendero Luminoso movement is in some ways the most recent manifestation of
a historic pattern in Peru of periodic organization at the periphery in opposition to
the center. Indian groups opposed Incan hegemony imposed from Cuzco before the
Spanish Conquest, and Incan and Quechua dissidents opposed Spanish rule
emanating from Lima for almost one hundred years after the Conquest. Large-scale
Indian uprisings in the sixteenth century had as their goal the reimposition of an
Indian state and Indian leadership. Local Indian rebellions frequently punctuated
Spanish rule in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, culminating in the massive
uprising against abusive local officials led by Incan descendant Tupac Amaru in the
1780s. Independence did not end the tension between center and periphery. One of
the most dramatic cases was the Indian rebellion in Huanta in the 1890s over an


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David Scott Palmer

attempt by the central government to impose a tax on salt. Furthermore, vic

situdes in the capacity of the republic's center to influence its periphery hav
frequently required local grievances to be resolved at the local level, ofte
Sendero also deviates from the main historic pattern for Peru. Its leaders are
fighting, not for system adjustments to benefit grievants at the periphery, but for the
total overthrow of the system itself. It is also distinctive in that it is the first
full-blown rural rebellion in Peru guided by communist principles. In its ideology
and in its strategy for taking power, it consciously and quite proudly follows the
principles and practices of Mao. In its plan for Peruvian society after victory is
won, it resembles the Indian millenarian movements and most particularly the
precepts of primitive and pure Indian communism presented by Jose Carlos
Maria'tegui.43 Sendero is also different in that its leadership was willing to take a
longer view of the revolutionary process and was ready to work side by side with
the Indian peasants and to educate their leaders for many years before proceeding
with the more violent stages of their program for taking power. In the Peruvian
context, then, Sendero Luminoso is in some ways the latest manifestation of a rich
tradition of local rebellion at the periphery against real and alleged abuses of the
center. In other ways, however, Sendero is breaking new ground as a Peruvian
revolutionary movement.
When one turns to a more general theoretical or analytical context to attempt to
understand and explain Sendero, an equally mixed conclusion results. The move-
ment emerged during a period when social and economic circumstances were
worsening in the area in which its operations were centered, due both to govern-
ment neglect (declining budgets and programs) and to government actions (espe-
cially the agrarian reform). This contributed to the perception on the part of many
Indian comuneros (peasant community members) that their situation was worsening
and that the central government was less concerned about them. Very likely it
contributed to their willingness to work with and support Sendero. At the micro
level at least, a sense of relative deprivation, reinforced by a decline in system
capacity as expectations were rising, made the peasant population susceptible to
radical appeals. The catalysts were the core group of radicals at the university, local
students whom they had trained, particularly as teachers, and other Indian commu-
nity members whose consciousness levels were raised by education or by urban
work experience.44
At the same time, however, a number of the strands which were intertwined with
the emergence of Sendero are quite distinctive. One was a local university commit-
ted to help its own region and people which could be and was turned to the more
partisan purposes of a Marxist perspective. Another was the relative isolation of the
region from the center culturally (as a predominantly Indian area), geographically
(separated by rugged mountains and only two access roads), and politically (as an
area of low priority from the late 1960s onward). A further consideration was the
continuing presence and commitment of an effective teacher and charismatic leader,
Abimael Guzmain, along with several extremely able colleagues. Assisting in Sen-
dero's development and consolidation in the 1970s was the presence of a rather


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Comparative Politics January 1986

tolerant reformist military government which was trying to build allies on the left as
counterweights to traditional parties just when control of the university shifted to
the radicals. Sendero was able to forge closer ties with Indian peasants in Ayacucho
than would have been possible otherwise because government programs were both
fewer in number in the area and less beneficial to most Indians. By controlling and
guiding the education of many teachers from the university, Sendero academics
influenced heavily one central government relationship with local communities
which actually expanded during the 1970s. Sendero's continuing commitment to the
peasantry and range of activities on their behalf over a number of years gradually
built a basis of trust and support among many Indians of the region.
Without this distinctive combination of circumstances and developments, it is
unlikely that Sendero could have taken root and grown. Therefore, even though this
peasant-based revolutionary movement can be categorized to a degree within the
rubric of theories of revolution, in large measure Sendero Luminoso is sui generis.
In other words, the organization emerged out of a very special set of events and
realities which are not easily comparable.
The issue of appropriate policies to deal concretely with this revolutionary
movement is also not easily managed. An exclusively military approach, the domi-
nant policy of the center from 1983 through mid 1985, addressed symptoms rather
than causes. A key element of any response to the challenge posed by Sendero
should be in the form of economic assistance. Aid which responds to local needs
and which has a large measure of local control over how and on what it should be
spent could serve to reverse the present cycle of center indifference/neglect/
misguided policies-local concern and desperation-loss of legitimacy of central
authorities-attraction to Sendero-militancy and violence. Sendero by itself has
little chance of bringing about its ultimate goal, "the encirclement of the cities and
the collapse of the state." Nevertheless, Sendero leaders appear determined to
persist in their efforts, even if they mean increasing isolation from the radical
mainstream and from the concerns of most Peruvians.45 However, their actions and
the publicity attached to them can have serious consequences for Peru in other
ways. Sendero's activities gradually give a perverse legitimacy to radical violence.
Other Marxist elements, frustrated by what they see as their organizations' compla-
cency and by Sendero's unwillingness to have them, may choose their own violent
route; one, the Lima-based Tupac Amaru group, has already done so. In addition,
Sendero actions may well serve as convenient cover for groups and organizations
with no radical pretentions whatever (for example, criminals, drug dealers) to try to
accomplish their objectives through violence.
The tardy response of central authorities to the development crisis in the
Ayacucho area, along with their emphasis thus far on force and repression rather
than economic and social development assistance, seem likely to prolong the cycle
of violence. In the context of the worst economic crisis in Peru since the War of the
Pacific, Sendero's long-term activity in its core areas, central government neglect of
the region, and a perception among some radicals that other Marxist parties are too
conservative, it is likely that Sendero will continue to attract new recruits on its
own terms and equally probable that the organization will continue to be a threat to


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David Scott Palmer

authorities. However, Sendero Luminoso's capacity to take power in Peru, "in fi

ten or even seventy-five years," as their leaders put it, remains very much in d


The manuscript is revised and expanded from discussion points presented as "From Mao to Mariate
Rural Peru" at the 1983 meeting of the New England Council of Latin American Studies, Durham,
Hampshire, and from a paper prepared in April 1984 for the Project on Latin American Insurgencies
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University. The views expressed ar
author's alone. However, grateful acknowledgment is given for the most helpful comments of sev
readers, including Luis Millones, Ricardo Melgar Bao, Abelardo Sandoval Millones, Gustavo Gorriti,
Cynthia McClintock, Peter Johnson, and the three anonymous reviewers for Comparative Politics.
We do not really know a great deal about Sendero Luminoso, beyond the visible external signs, given its
penchant for secrecy and its unwillingness to engage in public relations. What we interpret or infer is based
largely on previous experience in the area and acquaintance with some of the principals before they went
underground, as well as on the persistent inquiries and research of a few journalists (chief among them,
Gustavo Gorriti of Caretas) and occasional interviews. In my own case, I lived for two years in Ayacucho
between 1962 and 1964 as a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (responsible for my own projects as well as for
liaison with all the other volunteers in the department of Ayacucho). My duties included teaching English
and social science at the university for a year and a half, during which time I knew many of the individuals
who would in due course emerge as Sendero activists. I also worked for six months on reforestation
projects in conjunction with the Peruvian Forest Service and Cooperaci6n Popular (the Peruvian gov-
ernment's domestic Peace Corps) in three Indian communities in the isolated province of Victor Fajardo,
Llucita, Circamarca, and Huancaraylla. I returned to the area for several months between 1970 and 1972,
on one occasion with a group of student assistants from the Catholic University of Peru (Lima). This was to
carry out research for my dissertation on the effects of military government policies on local level
participation in agricultural cooperatives and peasant communities. In 1977 I returned briefly to follow up
on my earlier work and, in 1979, to lecture at the invitation of the University of Huamanga. While I have
returned to Peru several times since then, I have not gone back to Ayacucho since Sendero became an
active and open guerrilla force. Much of the information presented in this paper is based on the daily journal
I kept during my Peace Corps service, on field notes from subsequent research, and on conversations with
Peruvian friends and acquaintances knowledgeable about Sendero, the key figures, and Ayacucho. The
analysis and conclusions are my best inference from these experiences and from the very partial public
evidence available.
1. See Cynthia McClintock, "Why Peasants Rebel: The Case of Peru's Sendero Luminoso," Wor
Politics, 35 (October 1984), 48-84, for one analysis of Sendero Luminoso and an interpretation of
relationship to theories of peasant rebellions and revolutions. McClintock emphasizes the emergence
threat to peasant subsistence as a central factor, in the context of geographical isolation, governme
neglect, and a local university intellectual vanguard. My own analysis, elaborated more fully in the bod
this article, concludes that center-periphery relationships were more important than a threat to pe
subsistence in explaining the rise of Sendero. Of particular significance in this view was the impact of
sharp decline of most government programs in the region in the late 1960s, which coincided with Sendero
initial expansion into the area's countryside. This was followed by a series of central government initia
in the early 1970s which were largely ill-suited to Ayacucho peasant needs. To the degree, then, that
theory of revolution is appropriate in enhancing our understanding of the Sendero phenomenon, Ja
Davies' "J-curve," relating declining capacity to increasing expectations and a resulting loss of legitim
for the established government, seems more useful than James Scott's "subsistence crisis." See Jam
Davies, "Toward a Theory of Revolution," American Sociological Review, 27 (February 1962), 1-19
James C. Scott, The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia
Haven: Yale University Press, 1976).
2. See Hector Bejar's analysis in Pertu 1965: Una experiencia guerrillera (Lima: Campodonico Edicion
3. Equis X, July 15, 1981, pp. 38-40. Excerpt from Piedad Pareja Pflucker, Terrorismo y sindicalismo en
Avacucho (Lima: 1980), on the rise of Sendero Luminoso in Ayacucho.
4. Presentations and analyses in English of the rise of Sendero from 1980 to the present include the
following: Cynthia McClintock, "Sendero Luminoso: Peru's Maoist Guerrillas," Problems of Communism,
32 (September-October 1983), 19-34; Cynthia McClintock, "Democracies and Guerrillas: The Peruvian
Experience," International Policy Report, Center for International Policy (September 1983); Philip Bennett,


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Comparative Politics January 1986

"Peru: Corner of the Dead," Atlantic (May 1984), 28-33; David Scott Palmer, "Peru," in Yearbook of
International Communist Affairs, 1982 and 1983 (Stanford: Hoover Institution, 1982 and 1983); and Sandra
Woy-Hazelton, ibid., 1984. For the most complete discussion of Sendero in Spanish, see the periodic
articles and analyses in Caretas (Lima) by Gustavo Gorriti and in Quehacer (Lima) by Raul Gonzalez.
5. As reported in Caretas, Sept. 20, 1982, pp. 20-23ff., and Latin America Regional Report (Andean
Group), Oct. 8, 1982, p. 2.
6. Data from election results reported in Foreign Broadcast Infiormation Service (FBIS), Nov. 14, 1983,
pp. J4-J5.
7. Ibid., p. J4.
8. These are Inter-American Development Bank figures in 1980 dollars.
9. The 1939 figure is calculated from presidential election data in Kenneth Ruddle and Philip Gillette,
eds., Latin American Political Statistics (Los Angeles: Latin American Center, University of California,
1972), p. 96. The 1980 figure is calculated from 1980 presidential election data as compiled in David Scott
Palmer, "Peru," in Jack Hopkins, ed., Latin America and Caribbean Contemporary Record, Volume I,
1981-82 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1983), Table II, p. 345.
10. See the detailed summary of such disturbing trends in McClintock, "Democracies and Guerrillas," p.
11. The full study has been carried out by the Peruvian Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Hernando de
Soto, President, but was not available in published form as of mid 1985. Articles on the Institute's major
findings appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 27, 1984, and the Washington Post, Oct. 30, 1983, among
other newspapers and magazines. The data in the paragraph come from these articles.
12. The concept of the "revolutionary gap" is that of James C. Davies, originally elaborated in "Toward a
Theory of Revolution."
13. The 1962 figure is from Ruddle and Gillette, p. 96. The 1980 figures are from Palmer, "Peru," in Latin
America, p. 345. The 1983 datum is from Latin America Regional Report (Andean Group), 83-10, Dec. 16,
1983, p. 5. The 1985 electoral figure comes from FBIS, June 3, 1985, p. J1.
14. These figures appear in one of a series of articles on Communist influence in Peru appearing in O
Globo de Siio Paulo Sept. 2, 1984, p. 14. Other sources show significantly higher figures. For example,
David Scott Palmer, "The Changing Political Economy of Peru under Military and Civilian Rule," Inter-
American Economic Affairs, 37 (Spring 1984), 59, presents an estimate of 80 percent for CGTP affiliation
among organized workers. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook-1982 (Washington: United
States Government Publishing Office, 1982), p. 187, notes that 25 percent of the Peruvian labor force of
approximately 5.2 million is organized (i.e., 1.3 million, of which about 300,000 belong to Industrial
Communities). Thus figures on CGTP-affiliated workers range from O Globo's estimate of 201,000 to
Palmer's of 800,000. In spite of the disparity in actual numbers, there is no question that labor organized
into the Marxist confederation increased dramatically between 1971 and 1985.
15. For additional discussion of this point, see Palmer, "The Changing Political Economy of Peru," pp.
54-55 and 61-62.
16. This is a theme of several of the studies of the military period in Peru between 1968
for example, Henry Dietz and David Scott Palmer, "Citizen Participation under Innovative Military
Corporatism in Peru," in John A. Booth and Mitchell A. Seligson, eds., Political Participation in Latin
America, Volume I: Citizen and State (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1978), pp. 172-188. But also see
several of the articles in both Abraham F. Lowenthal, ed., The Peruvian Experiment: Continuity and
Change under Military Rule (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975), and Cynthia McClintock and
Abraham F. Lowenthal, eds., The Peruvian Experiment Reconsidered (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1983).
17. For a fuller discussion of the basis of the argument that the threshold of military intervention in Peru
(and in other Latin American countries recently experiencing long-term institutionalized military rule) has
been raised, see David Scott Palmer, "The Military in Latin America," in Jack Hopkins et al., Latin
America: Perspectives on a Region (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), passim.
18. In a February 1983 poll of Lima, only 9 percent of those expressing an opinion wanted military
government, even though the popularity of President Belauinde had plummeted from well over half the
population early in his term to 14 percent. Presented in McClintock, "Democracies and Guerrillas," p. 5,
from Caretas, Feb. 28, 1983.
19. This is not to imply that APRA has overcome completely its recent divisiveness and leadership
conflict. Internal differences continue to pose a challenge, but since the 1982 party elections the Garcia
forces have been in control.
20. Some reports, however, indicate that Sendero, or at least some elements of Sendero, may b
attempting to reorganize on a somewhat wider class and regional base. See, for example, La Prensa (Lim
Feb. 6, 1984, p. 1. There does seem to be a historical precedent for such activity by Sendero, whic
based on member activities among the leadership of the major parties and unions of the Marxist left


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David Scott Palmer

Lima in the early 1970s. From conversations with a participant in these sessions who prefers to re
unidentified, Apr. 18-19, 1985.
21. While the author has no firm empirical evidence for any formal Lima connection to Sendero th
recent migrants from Ayacucho communities under its influence, other studies which suggest the histor
importance of such ties between country and city make the hypothesis plausible. See, for example, W
Mangin, ed., Peasants in Cities (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970); and Billy Jean Isbell, To Def
Ourselves: Ecology and Ritual in an Andean Village (Austin: Institute of Latin American Studies, Un
sity of Texas, 1978).
22. See, among other theoretical discussions of this issue, Chalmers Johnson, Revolutionary Ch
(Boston: Little, Brown, 1966).
23. Two very different but most useful studies of Ayacucho, with copious documentation of this point, are
Luis R. Fowler, Monografia histbrico-geografica del Departamento de Ayacucho (Lima: Imprenta Torres
Aguirre, 1924); and Antonio Diaz Martinez, Ayacucho: Hambre y esperanza (Ayacucho: Ediciones
"Waman Poma," 1969). Diaz Martinez, who came to the University of Huamanga in the mid 1960s to teach
economics, was identified by authorities as one of the leaders of Sendero and was captured and jailed in
24. Province level income data was provided to the author by Richard Webb and was part of the data base
for Webb's larger study, Government Policy and the Distribution of Income: Peru, 1963-1973 (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977).
25. Ironic exceptions, fairly common in the sierra, were those district capitals which were also Indian
communities and which had for generations elected local authorities by vote of their own community
26. This and the other examples presented come from the author's journal covering residence in Ayacucho
between 1962 and 1964 and from field research notes covering the 1970-1972 period.
27. Fernando Romero Pintado, "New Design for an Old University: San Crist6bal de Huamanga,"
Americas (December 1961).
28. For a discussion of this process in its early stages, see David Scott Palmer, "The Peace Corps and the
Peruvian University," in Robert Textor, ed., Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps (Cambridge, Mass.:
MIT Press, 1966), pp. 243-270.
29. For a most illuminating analysis of the University of San Crist6bal de Huamanga and its importance as
the source of what came to be known as Sendero Luminoso, see Luis Millones, "Informe sobre Uchurac-
cay," in Informe de la Comisi6n Investigadora de los sucesos de Uchuraccay (Lima: Editora Perti, 1983),
esp. pp. 90-102.
30. The author happened to be in the agrarian reform offices in Ayacucho when the report arrived that two
agriculture ministry employees had been shot while attempting to enter the area.
31. The agrarian reform program in Ayacucho is discussed at length with a number of case studies in
David Scott Palmer, "Revolution from Above": Military Government and Popular Participation in Peru,
1968-1972 (Ithaca: Latin American Studies Program, Cornell University), esp. pp. 203-227.
32. Enrique Mayer and David Scott Palmer, "They Won't Listen: Government-Campesino Relations in
the Central Andes," paper presented at the Andean Consortium, Pennsylvania State University, May 5,
33. Of the original activists at the University of Huamanga who became identified as leaders of Sendero
and whom I have been able to identify, the families of only two of them were originally from Ayacucho (but
neither activist spoke Quechua).
34. Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Censos Nacionales: VIII de Poblaci6n, III de Vivienda, 12 de junio
de 1981: Departamento de Ayacucho. vol. 1 (Lima: 1983), pp. vii-xii.
35. Ibid., pp. ix-xvi.
36. McClintock, "Democracies and Guerrillas," Table 3, p. 4.
37. Caretas, July 9, 1984, p. 11.
38. Ibid.
39. Informe de la Comision Investigadora, and Mario Vargas Llosa, "Inquest in the Andes," New York
Times Magazine, July 31, 1983, pp. 18-23ff.
40. Caretas, July 9, 1984, p. 11.
41. But see Amnesty International's report on the extent of violence in the Emergency Zone in 1983 and
1984 and its conclusion that a large proportion of the more than 1000 persons who have "disappeared" in
the area are "victims of political killings by government forces." Amnesty International, Peru Briefing
(London: Amnesty International Publications, 1985), p. 1.
42. The military governor of the Emergency Zone, encompassing eleven provinces in Ayacucho,
Apurimac, and Huancavelica by mid 1984, dismissed the head of the region's development corporation in
July 1984 in a move to call attention to the failure of the government to provide promised economi
assistance to the area (FBIS. July 10, 1984, p. J3). In August 1984, General Adrian Huaman repeated his


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Comparative Politics January 1986

concern in a Lima newspaper interview, noting that he was promised up to $20 million to help with the
problems of the region, "but nothing happened." His conclusion was that "the solution for Ayacucho is not
military, but the reversal of 160 years of abandonment" (La Republica, Aug. 27, 1984, p. 1). General
Huaman was dismissed from his post for his public utterances, but central government authorities also
responded to his frustration by announcing a $26 million economic assistance program for Ayacucho in the
1985 budget. Cf. La Cronica (Lima), Aug. 28, 1984, p. 1.
43. See Juan M. Ossio A., ed., Ideologia mesidnica del mundo andino (Lima: Grdfica Morson, 1973),
which contains several articles on Indian messianism in Ayacucho communities. Also see Jos6 Carlos
Mariitegui, Siente ensayos de interpretaci6n de la realidad peruana (Lima: Empresa Editora Amauta,
1963), esp. pp. 29-43, 168-197, and 285-300.
44. For an analysis of Sendero which emphasizes its relationships with the "lumpen peasantry," see Henri
Favre, "Perui: Sendero Luminoso y horizontes oscuros," Quehacer (Lima) Oct. 31, 1984, pp. 25-35.
45. A caveat is in order here which may suggest at least the possibility of an eventual nonviolent
resolution of the confrontation between Sendero and authorities of the center. Sources who did not wish to
be identified noted to the author that Sendero leaders and APRA party representatives have maintained
secret but regular contacts from 1979 to the present. Sendero has shown a rather curious restraint in public
pronouncements with regard to APRA during this period, even as it has roundly denounced all the other
parties. APRA, in turn, has been somewhat more circumspect in its own statements on Sendero than other
parties-especially the other Marxist parties-and has advocated substantial, locally directed and controlled
economic assistance to the Ayacucho area. Given this apparent ongoing relationship and APRA's historic
victory in the 1985 presidential and congressional elections, it is at least conceivable that some alternative
to the continued escalation of violence might eventually be worked out.


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