An investigation into the political wing of Peru's Shining Path has revealed the extensive nature of the imprisoned guerrilla commander Abimael Guzman's involvement in directing the group, as recently arrested Movadef leaders face up to lengthy prison sentences for ties to drug money.
According to a report from El Comercio, one of the arrested leaders of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (Movadef), Alfredo Crespo -- who also served as Guzman's lawyer -- acted as a point of contact between the rebel leader and field commander Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Artemio," from Movadef's conception in 2008 until Artemio's capture in 2012.
Based on wiretaps and witness testimony, the case against Crespo and another lawyer and Movadef leader, Manuel Fajardo, alleges the two attended a meeting of the guerrillas' central committee in 2008 as full members, where they advocated a shift away from violence in order to build up the political wing's power base, with the ultimate aim of freeing imprisoned leaders and returning to the armed struggle.
Crespo is also reported to have lobbied Artemio for money to support Movadef, as well as providing "civil reparation" funds so imprisoned guerrillas can leave prison and return to the armed struggle.
These revelations follow the recent arrest of 28 of the Movadef's members on allegations of ties to the Huallaga Valley faction of the guerrillas -- a move welcomed by the United States. The arrested members face up to 35 years in prison, reported Peru.com.
InSight Crime Analysis
Movadef, which saw its application to become an official political party blocked in 2012, has long been framed as a front for the Shining Path. While this latest report offers some of the strongest indication yet of how deep the ties between Movadef and the guerrillas run, the political wing's support of armed struggle is not without precedent, with the group making statements to that effect in late-2012.
SEE ALSO: Shining Path Profile
Since Artemio's capture, the Peruvian government has continued to insist that the guerrillas' Huallaga Valley faction is dead, however it has repeatedly shown signs of life -- a fact emphasized by these apparent plans to regroup and return to arms on a larger scale.
While the southern faction of the Shining Path continue to operate in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM) region, the two factions underwent an acrimonious split long ago.