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The Shining Path

Updated on June 15, 2016

What is The Shining Path?

The Shining Path is a communist terrorist group that terrorized Peru for decades. They rose to power in the early 1980s and were hell bent on doing away with the Peruvian government at the time. The Shining Path consisted of indigenous people from the Andes who felt that their government did not represent them. The indigenous people made up fifty percent of Peru's population, yet they were not represented in government. This flaw would be exposed by The Shining Path's leader, Abimael Guzmán. He was a philosophy teacher who taught classes in the more rural parts of Peru where these indigenous people lived. Guzmán hosted discussions about how the Peruvian government was unjust and that the indigenous people should rebel against it. They would then form Peru's first communist party, which later turn into a radical terrorist movement that would forever scar Peru.

Horrors and atrocities committed by The Shining Path

In order to achieve their goals, The Shining Path resorted to extreme measures. Anyone who went against or did not agree with their ideals, were punished horribly. Men would have their entire family murdered in front of them. Villages who stood against them were massacred. No one was left alive; elders, children, even pregnant women were killed to show how far they were willing to go in order to create a new Peruvian government.

This was just the beginning. In order to grow their numbers, The Shining Path began to kidnap children as young as 7. They were trained to murder and to worship the movement. Along with that this terrorist group also had people inside Peruvian prisons, recruiting prisoners. Sadly these prisoners knew there was no future for them anymore and with the brainwashing of The Shining Path, many of them gave themselves up to the cause.

It seemed for a time that they were unstoppable. The Peruvian government had trouble trying to stop their advances, and locating Abimael Guzmán was seemingly impossible. He became a legend of some sorts, and was seen as unstoppable. Guzmán's Shining Path would begin to set eyes on Peru's capital, Lima, and victory seemed inevitable for them. However, this cockiness would lead to his downfall.

An unlikely hero..

Alberto Fujimori would enter the scene after winning the 1990 Peruvian presidential elections. He was seen as an outsider, and people trusted him to defeat the terrorists. Fujimori campaigned on the issue of terrorism and how he would defeat it. He kept his promise. Within two years of his first term, the Shining Path's terrorist began to decline. Fujimori armed rural Peruvians to defend themselves, gave the Peruvian military more power, and even was successful in locating and capturing Abimael Guzmán. He did what the past two presidents failed to do, but he became a controversial figure later on.

Alberto Fujimori campaigning

Fujimori was seen as very brutal to the terrorists. He gave the military power to arrest anyone who they thought was suspicious, which some people saw as undemocratic. Fujimori said that this was nessessary in defeating the terrorists. However after a while, he seemed to get corrupted. The savior now became the oppressor and began to strip Peruvians of their democracy. He would begin to take over media, and make it seem that the terrorists were still a threat, even though he seemingly defeated them. This was Fujimori's ploy to stay in power, giving the image that the terrorists were still a threat and that only he could defeat them. The Peruvian people would in the end take their democracy back, and force Fujimori to go into exile.

End of the era of terror

With the capture of Guzmán, The Shinning Path was defeated. They lost almost all their ground, and the chain of command fell apart. Peru was left in the aftermath, and to this day is still trying to rebuild what was destroyed. The problem with poverty in Peru is still a huge problem, as it still divides people. However, the country is experiencing the largest economic growth they have ever seen in their history. Hopefully with this amazing opportunity, Peru will be able to put the troubled past behind them and look to create a more peaceful future, in which all Peruvians both rich and poor can enjoy.

Abimael Guzmán in prison


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