Research Assignment: The Terror

   Source: Holmes, Jennifer S. “Sendero Luminoso After Fujimori: A Sub-National Analysis.” The Latin Americanist 59, no. 2 (2015): 29.

   For our group project we will be focusing on Peru’s Sendero Luminoso insurgency that was active in the 1970’s through the 1990s, and to some extent in the early 2000’s.  For my part of the research, I will be drawing on Jennifer Holmes’ essay, “Sendero Luminoso after Fujimori: A Sub-National Analysis.”(1) The article studies two factions of the original Sendero insurgency that re-emerged after the fall of Alberto Fujimori in 2001. The essay argues that it is important to analyze the remaining factions in post-Fujimori Peru as there was significant change in motivation between the past and present groups,(2) primarily due to changes in the current political, social and economic climate of the country. Specifically, the author believes that these changes are due to the changing policies of coca eradication, a growing economy as opposed to the economic crisis from which the original group emerged, and a call for peace from Sendero’s leader Abimael Guzman.(3) In the opening section of her article, Holmes provides examples of contemporary Sendero activity, primarily in coca growing regions.(4)  She asserts that there are two dominant interpretations of the continued presence of Sendero Luminoso factions. The first is that they are no longer an ideologically motivated group, but rather that they have warped into a narco business.(5) The second holds that they are still an ideologically motivated military group with a strong social and economic base.(6) The second section of the article examines “linkages between specific economic commodities and violence.”(7) Of particular focus here is the link between coca and the drug trade, and Sendero Luminoso and their protection of drug routes.(8)  In the third section Holmes examines the role of the State in the persistence of violence in the country.(9) She argues that high state capacity is a necessary precondition to eradicate terrorism.(10) Furthermore, she argues that a reduction in inequalities will assist in the reduction of violence.(11) In the fourth section Holmes emphasizes this point by arguing that economic maladies are a root cause of continued violence.The remainder of the essay sets out to prove a series of hypotheses relating to the aforementioned sections, using quantitative analysis.

   This essay is useful for our topic in a number of ways in that it provides a historical context from which to base our project as well as a foundation for analysis on the continued existence of Sendero Luminoso. The original conflict arose out of the context of the neoliberal economic crisis that was sweeping the region in the1980s and 90s. The present conflict is different in that it takes place in the context of a growing economy, yet the social, political, and economic inequalities continue in the regions where Sendero is present. Thus, it seems that Sendero is unwilling to disband due to the continued issues faced by the poorest members of Peruvian society. Furthermore, it appears that the persistence of these issues has also led to continued support from communities in the areas where they are most active. To add a layer of complexity, the article also highlights new factors in the ongoing presence of the Sendero, such as growing narco businesses that have strengthened, or warped, the insurgency, depending on your perspective of the situation. Finally the general theme of the article, the re-emergence of the insurgency, is useful for this project as it will allow us to give a more holistic history of the conflict.


1:Jennifer S. Holmes. “Sendero luminoso after fujimori: A subnational analysis.” The Latin Americanist, vol(2), 2015,. 29-50.

2: Holme, P, 29.

3:ibid., p, 30.

4: ibid., p, 30

5: ibid., p,31

6: ibid.,

7: ibid., 32.

8: ibid.,

9: ibid., 34.

10: ibid., 35.

11: ibid., 36.


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