Excerpts from the alleged diary of captured Shining Path leader ‘Comrade Artemio’ have been released by Peruvian media, providing insight into the rebel group’s criminal dealings.
The diary of Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias “Comrade Artemio,” was found by police during the hunt for the rebel leader last month. Artemio was wounded in a firefight and captured three days later on February 12.
Extracts from the diary, presented by Cuarto Poder (see video below), detail some of the group’s more nefarious dealings, along with some of Artemio’s personal reflections on his life with the guerrillas. According to his writings, he felt a “political and moral obligation” to record his experiences, given the fact he was the “last surviving Communist in [Huallaga Valley].”
The text reportedly includes a list of assassination targets, whom the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) judged to be informants for the security forces, kidnappers or rapists.
Artemio also wrote of the guerrillas’ dealings with illegal loggers and drug traffickers in the region, and how the rebels taxed these operations.
The would-be-leader joined the Shining Path in 1980 when he “voluntarily” traveled to the Huallaga Valley in search of the rebels.
InSight Crime Analysis
Artemio’s alleged diary could potentially provide Peruvian authorities with a trove of intelligence on the Shining Path’s economic and political networks. Similarly to the laptops confiscated from FARC leaders alias “Raul Reyes” and “Mono Jojoy” in Colombia, the document could include damning revelations. But as was the case with Colombia, Peru’s government may face doubts about the diary’s authenticity or whether it was tampered with. There is also the question of how actionable the intelligence in the diary really is. In the sections quoted in the Cuarto Poder video report, Artemio is less than reliable as a narrator.
Based on what has been released so far from the diary, there appears to be a lack of evidence linking the Shining Path directly to drug trafficking, despite the US State Department’s assertion otherwise. Artemio has continually denied that his faction of the Shining Path were involved in the drug industry and based on his writings, it does appear instead that their operations seem to have been centred on the taxation of coca. In contrast, another faction of the guerrilla group, based further south in the Apurimac and Ene River Valley (VRAE), is deeply involved in the cocaine trade.
But Artemio’s claims may be unreliable. The rebel leader was likely aware that his diary would one day fall into the public domain, and he may have chosen to gloss over certain details. Based on an interview given in December last year, he believed that his Shining Path faction was experiencing its last days and any incriminating evidence that cast doubt on their revolutionary credentials would need to be kept out of the spotlight.