Last Sunday, in the VRAEM area (Valle del Río Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro), in central Peru, an attack was carried out in the village of San Miguel del Ene that claimed the lives of 16 people, including 4 under ages. This massacre took place in the context of the upcoming presidential election, to be held on the first Sunday of June.
The attack, which initially appeared to have fourteen losses, was carried out by the Militarized Communist Party of Peru (MCPP), a remnant of the terrorist group ‘Shining Path’, and ended up with sixteen lives as reported by the Joint Command of the Armed Forces through a statement.
VRAEM is known as a coca-growing centre, where drug trafficking groups associated with terrorist groups, still present in the country, operate. Through pamphlets left at the site of the accident, the MCPP made its reasons for the attack clear. “Cleaning the VRAEM and Peru of dens, bad living people, parasites and corrupts” is the title of the document, in which it is shown its stance against corruption, crime, begging and denigrating activities such as homosexuality and drug addiction.
This attack rekindles the memories for many Peruvians of the constant terrorist attacks of Shining Path, far-left grouping, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, involving violence against civilians, peasants, police, military, and political authorities. The group’s first action, on May 1980, was the sabotage of the elections in the village of Chuschi, where they stole and burned voting amphorae and electoral rolls, to be used the next day for the presidential and congressional elections, starting with a series of regular attacks on the Peruvian political system. Although in 1992, after the capture of its leader, Abimael Guzman, the attacks slowed. Remnant groups allied with drug trafficking groups to keep their power and influence. Before the last elections (in 2011, 2016 and 2021), a series of attacks have occurred, the last being the massacre in Ayacucho in March of this year.
These are some of the proclamations with which the pamphlet ends. Keiko Fujimori, a candidate for the right-wing Fuerza Popular party, is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, in whose government captured the head of Shining Path. In the elections of 6 June, she faces Pedro Castillo, a radical left-wing candidate, in whose party are alleged characters linked to MOVADEF, the political wing of Shining Path. Both parties are strongly linked to corruption. While Popular Force was involved in the Lava Jato case, for which the candidate is being prosecuted, regional governors and mayors of the Peru Libre party have been investigated, and even party leader Vladimir Cerrón has been convicted for corruption. Both parties spoke out in the face of the attack, suggesting that the attack was carried out to promote the opponent’s campaign or harm theirs, as well as showing solidarity with the victims and their families.
The Government’s response was frontal against the perpetrators. The transient president, Francisco Sagasti, noted that the act “would not go unpunished.” He also indicated that Peru’s military was intensively patrolling the area, also moving through the possible escape routes of the perpetrators for further capture and sentencing. The Government reaffirmed that “free, transparent and orderly” elections will be held in the country.