The Shining Path and the Future of Peru

by Gordon McCormick

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This report examines the threat to Peruvian stability posed by the guerrilla group Sendero Luminoso (the Shining Path), and the degree to which this problem has been compounded by economic and political crisis. The author discusses the Shining Path, its origins, organization, the nature of its support, the movement’s governing doctrine and theory of victory, and the character of its rural and urban campaigns. He then discusses those variables that are likely to determine the direction, growth, and prospects of the insurgency in the future; the capabilities and limitations of the Peruvian army; the nature of the country’s current economic and associated political crises; the prospects for, and possible consequences of, a military coup; and the net strengths and weaknesses of the Shining Path. Finally, he considers what all of this could mean for the future of Peru.

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Defense Research Institute.

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