This week, I was very interested in the topics discussed in the lecture video “Peru’s Civil War”, especially the formation of the Shining Path and the profound effects the group had on Peru. In the 1960s, they began their formation and recruitments. Many of the leaders were those living in the city with a connection to rural people who then traveled back to rural areas to work with the indigenous people. This started their following and they continued to expand by helping areas that have been neglected by the government. The Shining Path came into these areas and protected the people, making a statement about their presence through public displays of punishment to those committing injustices within the community. This situation reminds me of our discussions in class where we talked about how leaders of groups see populations lacking support and structure as an opportunity. They can provide their protection and either gain volunteers for their cause or ask for service in return.
The government did not support the Shining Path taking leadership in these areas and sent the army to punish those associated with the group. Unsurprisingly, this did not solve the issue and led to a cycle of violence between the military and the Shining Path.
When the Shining Path made their first public display against the military as a unified group in the 1980s by burning down election ballot boxes, the situation, in my opinion, seemed to escalate quickly from then on. Much of the population in Peru was in a state of fear, with acts of terror taking place on the streets. The military’s official force only seemed to convince more people to fight against the government. This is when the new president, Fujimori, came in. I was amazed by the actions he was willing to take and the general population’s support of his approach to the issue. He changed the system to favor himself as a dictator where he could now tell the military to complete questionable tasks in the fight again Shining Path and not receive any of the blame.
I found it ironic, in a unamusing way, that after all the change Fujimori made to take a more forcible stance against the terrorism, the leader of Shining Path was brought in as a result of the investigations of the police. Even though Fujimori’s military force did not have a significant role in capturing the leader, I believe Fujimori’s actions still had an important impact on the people. He provided a sense of strength and stability that the people needed during this time, and his approval was made clear by the large amount of support he received.