Shining Path rebels have taken responsibility for an attack that left 16 people dead in the coca-rich regions of Peru ahead of a tight election between a far-left candidate and the daughter of former President Fujimori, who took down the terror group in the 1990s.
On Sunday evening, what was initially reported to be 18 bodies were found in the small mountain town of San Miguel del Ene, which is located in one of the nation’s largest cocoa-producing regions.
According to the BBC, a local official said that after being alerted of the attack, he found several bodies in two bars that were across a river from one another. While some of the bodies had bullet holes in them, at least two of the children had been burned.
Authorities later confirmed that number to be just 16, according to Spanish-language newspaper El País. Pamphlets signed by the Central Committee of the Militarized Communist Party of Peru, which the BBC says is the official name for a Shining Path offshoot group, were found at the scene and on the bodies of the victims.
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso in Spanish) itself, a communist terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The pamphlets warned Peruvians not to vote in the upcoming June 6 president election, which pits a communist teachers’ union organizer named Pedro Castillo against Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in prison for human rights abuses from the period in which he managed to take down Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán, who is also in prison.
Both candidates, however, vocally condemned the attack, with Castillo calling it a “cowardly” act and Ms. Fujimori calling on her countrymen “not to allow terrorism to stop our electoral process.”
While Castillo, who denies allegations of Shining Path sympathies, has been enjoying a healthy lead in the polls, Fujimori has managed to close the gap in recent weeks and now stands a reasonable chance of winning what is her third run for the presidency.
One Peruvian security expert worries that should Fujimori managed to secure the election, Shining Path violence will increase. “We are returning to something that we thought we had overcome,” Pedro Yaranga told the New York Times. “Most in Peru have thought the Shining Path no longer existed. This tragedy shows that this is not the case.”
This is a chilling revival of Peru’s violent history that is far from long-buried, and as Marxism rises in popularity and influence around the globe, has concerning implications for a region that has already suffered much amid decades of guerilla warfare.
It often seems rather tucked away from mainstream history, but the last century has seen immense violence and bloodshed in the name of Marxist ideology — from Peru, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and across the ocean to Russia, the Soviet bloc countries, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia … the list goes on.
While some have resorted to human rights abuses to stop this violent movement, the movement has always been violent entirely of its own accord, and yet we appear to be set to see the same cycles repeat again and again.
Another 16 lives were just added to the already staggering body count estimated to be in the neighborhood of 100 million people killed at the hands of Marxist adherents — and this number can only be expected to increase if we do not confront a resurgent ideological specter that is once again haunting the whole world.