Authorities in Peru have declared the end of the northern faction of the Shining Path guerrillas after arresting the man believed to be its latest leader, a claim they have made before but which is probably not far from the truth.
On December 9, a specialist intelligence unit arrested Alexander Dimas Fabian Huaman, alias "Hector," in the department of Huanuco, reported El Comercio.
According to officials, Huaman heads the remnants of the Shining Path faction that operates in the Huallaga valley and had been attempting to collect finances and rebuild the organization after the arrest of leader Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Comrade Artemio," in early 2012.
Following Huaman's arrest, the chief of the police anti-drugs unit, Víctor Romero Fernandez, said the Shining Path "is disappearing from this zone."
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After the capture of the Shining Path's founding leader Abimael Guzman in 1992, the remnants of the guerrillas split into two factions, one in the northern region of the Huallaga valley, which remained loyal to Guzman, the other in the south eastern region known as the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM), which declared Guzman a traitor to the cause.
SEE ALSO: Shining Path Profile
At the time of the arrest of the Huallaga faction leader Artemio, authorities similarly hailed the death of the Shining Path in the region, which, as shown by the arrest of his alleged successor nearly two years later, now seems premature.
However, while the Shining Path may not have been completely wiped out in the region, and even now remnants may still be active, it is true that they have not been a significant force since the arrest of Artemio.
One of the main indicators of this has been the gap left by their absence from the drug trade. While the extent of their involvement in drug trafficking has remained a contentious point, the guerrillas were at least involved in protecting and taxing coca cultivation. Since the arrest of Artemio, eradication efforts in the region have increased, suggesting coca farmers can no longer count on Shining Path protection.
However, there have also been allegations the VRAEM faction, which is believed to have closer ties to the drug trade, have sent in their own fighters to halt eradication efforts in the region, raising the possibility they could be the force that fills the vacuum left by their defeated rivals.