Sitemap

Select language:

In English

Home > Database > Peru > Historical Introduction

Get Informed

Print this article

Historical Introduction

The political history of Peru, which gained its independence from the colonial administration of Spain in the 1820s, has been inconstant and controversial, despite stable periods of development. The country riddled by internal conflicts, civil wars, revolutions and political clashes has now gained infamy thanks to the actions of the Peruvian communists. The period of coups, military and authoritarian dictatorships, which lasted from the 1920s to the 80s, concluded with the forming of the civilian government, which was followed by the anti-government guerrilla war of the extremist communist, Guevarists and Maoists, who had been preoccupied with their own ideological struggles for some years. This terrorist movement that has its roots in a student movement was lead by the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path), who still has an influence on the internal politics of Peru even today. From the 1980s to his downfall in the middle of the 1990s, Sendero employed guerrilla warfare, terrorism, criminal organizations to achieve his political aims and to cultivate hostility.
Sendero Luminoso systematically eliminated landowners, enterprising individuals, intellectuals, law enforcement personnel, the members of the left wing-centrist American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (ARPA) and committed numerous terrorist acts, of which there were at least 2600 in 1984 alone. In order to establish people's communes, Sendero also started destroying state owned and managed companies and infrastructures. Tens of thousands of Amazonas Indians fell victim to the repression and violence of the Maoists. In the middle of the 1980s, Sendero started collaborating with drug lords and began establishing labour camps for his political opponents.
In addition to the counter terrorist operations undertaken by the government, thousands of civilians or guerrillas were killed in the power struggle with the classical Marxists, the tupacamarus (The Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement - Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru (MRTA)). By the 1990s, approximately 69 - 70 000 people had lost their lives as a result of the actions of the Shining Path insurgents, the smaller Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and the government, 25 - 30 000 of who died as a result of the direct actions of Sendero. The terror orphaned about 50 000 children. Sendero Luminoso, defeated by the MRTA and weakened by the attacks of the army, started to lose his position in 1992, but despite this, in 1996-1997, the Túpac Amaru held the Japanese embassy in Lima hostage.
In 2002, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigates the conflict between the government and Sendero Luminoso, started work. In 2006, President A.C. Toledo Manirque declared a state of emergency in six provinces of Peru as a result of the actions of Sendero Lumonoso.