Peruvian security forces have arrested another close associate of captured Shining Path leader "Comrade Artemio," making it appear increasingly likely that the rebel faction will splinter.
Freddy Jaime Arenas Caviedes, known as "Comrade Braulio," was captured on Tuesday in the Santa Rosa de Yanajanca Valley, Huanuco region, by the anti-terrorism police (Dircote).
The authorities said that Braulio had become the political leader of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) faction based in the Upper Huallaga Valley, following the capture of its commander Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Comrade Artemio," in February.
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Braulio was a close associate of Artemio, but it is not known if he took over leadership of the group after Artemio's arrest. What is clear, however, is that Peruvian authorities are striking a series of devastating blows on the remnants of the Huallaga branch of the Shining Path.
In March, the authorities announced the capture of another guerrilla said to be a successor to Artemio: Walter Diaz Vega, alias "Freddy" or "Percy."
As InSight Crime has reported, it will be difficult for the rebels to replace Artemio because he was one of the last of the old guard of the guerrilla group's leadership, with the authority and political training to command.
In his absence the group is likely to splinter, and lose its political elements. Terrorism expert Pedro Yaranga told La Republica recently that the rebels left in the Huallaga faction have more military experience than political-ideological training, and that most are semi-literate, noting that Braulio can "barely read." He said that Braulio was at the top of the command chain.
Another Shining Path fighter thought to be a possible successor to Artemio is Daniel Atencia Beraun, known as “Leo,” who is reported to have fled after Artemtio's capture with a large sum of money belonging to the commander.