domingo, 31 de mayo de 2015

On Guerrilla Warfare: Two Takes, Mao vs. Guevara

On Guerrilla Warfare: Two Takes, Mao vs. Guevara

Kyle W. Fonay

Both Mao Tse-Tung and Che Guevara had outsized impacts on the social, political and cultural landscape of the 20th Century.  They also made significant contributions to the field of irregular warfare.  To the untrained observer, their similarities are many.  Both were committed communists who fought and won guerrilla struggles.  Both understood the people were the key to safety, support and victory for the insurgent cause.  Both even gave their books the same straightforward title, On Guerrilla Warfare.  Yet after looking closely at each, a number of important differences emerge.

This review will cover key similarities and differences; and then take a wider view of their relevance and value for practitioners today.  But before comparing them, it’s important to take a brief look at each author’s circumstances at the time of writing.  These differing experiences go a long way in explaining the relative utility of one over the other.

When Mao wrote On Guerrilla Warfare in 1937 the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had been at war for a decade in one of the largest countries in the world.  At first, the war was waged against the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) who ruled most of the country.  But in 1937 the two parties found themselves in an uneasy alliance against the stronger Japanese military.  Mao had seen countless disasters and barely escaped annihilation during the arduous “Long March” of nearly 8,000 miles.  These experiences profoundly shaped his understanding of guerrilla warfare.  Strategic patience, political action and deliberate methodical engagements are his greatest weapons.

Two decades later and only one year after he and Castro’s victory in Cuba, Guevara wrote his version of Guerrilla Warfare.  When his booklet was published in 1960, he had scarcely more than a year of wartime experience.  Unlike Mao’s decades of struggle, the Cuban Revolution was a fairly rapid affair against an elderly, tottering dictator.  Consequently, his experiences and understanding of war differed from that of his predecessor.  Where Mao’s style was measured and subtle, Guevara’s prose is that of a decisive young revolutionary eager for the next victory.

Topics of Discussion

The two men agreed on much, but their differing experiences led to a number of important discrepancies in their strategy.  Additionally, there are a few areas discussed by only one author.  Guevara, but not Mao, covers: the traits of a good fighter, the details of guerrilla life, and women’s role in the revolution.  Mao on the other hand describes the traits of a successful guerrilla leader, and the history of irregular war.

Guevara spends more than 10 pages discussing the personality, behavior and world outlook of the ideal revolutionary.  He begins with the ethics of a guerrilla fighter, stating that he, “must have a moral conduct that shows him to be a true priest of the reform to which he aspires” (Guevara, 1960, p. 72). The guerrilla must also be physically fit, “able to march to the place of attack across plains and mountains” (Guevara, 1960, p. 74).  Guevara goes on to describe someone who is intelligent, at ease among the people and able to endure both physical and mental hardships.  While Mao does give some advice in this area, it is tangential to his main arguments and is mentioned only sporadically through different chapters of the book.

Along with the traits of a successful fighter, Guevara also discusses the specifics of guerrilla life with a detail that likely made many reconsider this line of work.  He compares the Guerrilla’s life to that of a, “hunted animal,” constantly on the move and terrified of spies potentially in their midst (Guevara, 1960, p. 76).  A lack of food, terrible hygiene, and poor medical care for the sick and wounded are also described.  While Mao discusses the hardships of war, he does so in a detached manner which does little to enlighten the potential guerrilla to the monotony and horror they may face.

Another topic exclusively covered by Guevara is the role of women in the revolution.  While he makes a good case for their importance to the movement (Mao mentions the topic hardly at all), Guevara clearly did not see them as equal partners in the guerrilla enterprise.  After a few sentences avowing their “extraordinary importance” and “ability to perform the most difficult tasks”; he goes on to confess that he believes, “she is weaker,” and her best role is to, “bring the qualities appropriate to her sex” (Guevara, 1960, p. 111-112).  Despite this, he later explains their importance not only as cooks and companions, but as spies, teachers and nurses.  He even admits that they can perform the same combat functions as a man, “on certain occasions” (Guevara, 1960, p111).  While these attitudes may seem prejudiced to the modern reader, it is important to understand them in the context of their time and place.

Where Guevara covered the traits of a good guerrilla fighter, Mao discussed the traits of a good leader.  Leaders should be, “unyielding in their policies, resolute, loyal, sincere and robust” as well as, “well educated in revolutionary technique” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 45).  Mao then discusses where these qualities can be found, among, “students, teachers, professors, other educators, local soldiers, professional men and artisans” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 72).  Surprisingly, four of these seven professions come from academia.  Mao clearly valued educated and well-informed leaders, something in short supply in the semi-feudal China of the 1930’s.

He also wrote a great deal about guerrilla warfare in history, devoting an entire chapter to the topic.  He discusses a wide range of conflicts and draws three conclusions.  First, guerrilla armies can win.  Second, guerrilla armies can win only after a portion of their force has transitioned to “regular” operations.  And third, political methods are just as important as military ones.   While Guevara agrees with each of these, the only historical narratives he uses are from first-hand knowledge in the Cuban Revolution. (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 58-65) (Guevara, 1960, p. 53)

Key Similarities

Eight central topics are covered by both Mao and Guevara; they agree on four and disagree on four others.  The matters on which they agree are: The population as the key to victory, the importance of political as well as military action, military tactics, and the importance of context when developing strategy.

The most important of these contributions is the necessity of the population’s support.  Mao famously observed that a guerrilla swims among the people like a fish swims in the sea.  Without the support of the people the guerrilla is a fish out of water, “it cannot survive” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 93).  Guevara agrees, stating that, “the guerrilla fighter needs full help from the people...  This is an indispensable condition.” (Guevara, 1960, p. 52).  In order to achieve this, they both agree on the importance of treating civilians with respect.  Mao gives three rules and eight remarks to guide guerrilla forces.  Some are practical, for instance, “do not steal from the people,” “replace the door when you leave the house,” and “return what you borrow.”  Others are more abstract, such as, “be neither selfish nor unjust,” and “be honest in your transactions” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 92).  On this, Guevara states simply that behavior toward the people, “ought to be regulated by a large respect for all the rules and traditions of the people of the zone” (Guevara, 1960, p. 62).  Both also wrote about the importance of treating prisoners of war compassionately. Something they believed helped win the people’s support and induced enemy defections (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 93) (Guevara, 1960, p. 75).

The second point of agreement is the inherently political nature of guerrilla warfare.  Interestingly, Mao had clearly read Clausewitz’s declaration that, “war is the continuation of politics by other means,” while Guevara probably did not.  Mao devotes more than a chapter to this subject, declaring that the war strategies pursued were followed, “only to achieve our political goal” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 43).  He goes on to state that, “simple minded militarists” must, “be made to realize the relationship that exists between politics and military affairs” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 89).  Guevara never states this as clearly as Mao, yet it is clear from the rest of his writing that he agrees with the basic necessity of this point.  For example, he agrees on the importance of raising class consciousness among both the peasants and urban poor.  He also states that in lieu of more military actions, it would be better to focus instead on efforts to convert people to the cause of the revolution (Guevara, 1960, p. 111).

The basics of guerrilla military tactics are another area of agreement between the two.  Mao famously described these tactics using the following pithy phrase; “withdraw when he advances, harass him when he stops, strike him when he is weary, and pursue him when he withdraws” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 46).  He also lists alertness, mobility, and attack as well as adjustment to the enemy situation as crucial to victory.  Likewise, Guevara states that the Guerrilla band must flee rather than be pulled into a decisive fight with a superior force.  He also lists mobility and adjustment to enemy actions as vital to victory (Guevara, 1960, p. 58).

The situation of every conflict is different.  And both authors agree that understanding this unique context is vital to developing effective strategies.  On this, Mao quotes Clausewitz’s verdict that, “wars in every period have independent forms and independent conditions, and, therefore, every period must have its independent theory of war” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 49).  He goes on to discuss the importance of the environment, economy, customs, and national character.  On this, Guevara says, “geographical and social conditions in each country determine the mode and particular forms that guerrilla warfare will take” (Guevara, 1960, p. 51).  “We offer an outline, not a bible” he would later add (Guevara, 1960, p. 111).

Key Differences

There are four major points of disagreement between Guevara and Mao.  All four of these can be directly attributed to the differing circumstances of the wars in which they fought.  These are: the goal of the warfare they describe, the conditions necessary for revolution, the phases of guerrilla war, and the tone of their writing.  In each case, the relatively short length of the Cuban campaign led Guevara to different conclusions than those drawn by his predecessor.

At the time of his writing, Mao’s major concern was the removal of a foreign invader.  Guevara, on the other hand, was more concerned with the removal of a system of government.  So when Mao lists the seven steps necessary for victory, two of them (recovering national strength and regaining lost territories) are only applicable in situations involving a foreign invader (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 43).  This leads to a difference of opinion regarding cooperation between guerrilla and regular forces.  Mao clearly sees regular forces as a vital part of the campaign, declaring that an attempt to use only irregular forces to win a war, “exaggerates the importance of guerrilla hostilities” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 55).  He goes on to say that guerrilla activities cannot be separate from those of regular forces, which are the key to final victory.  Guevara expands and clarifies the discussion by pointing out that there are two types of guerrilla warfare, one of which involves regular armies and one of which does not (Guevara, 1960, p. 53).  Since the Cuban revolution did not involve such forces until the end of the war, his book does not discuss this cooperation.  This concept is closely related to the phases of guerrilla war, which is discussed below.

The second major disagreement between the two concerns the conditions necessary for revolution.  Mao does not list specific conditions for revolution, but does state that wars of this type are, “the inevitable clash between oppressor and oppressed when the latter reach the limits of their endurance” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 41).  Mao assumes that before guerrilla action can begin, the people must be made aware of their oppression and ready to fight the enemy of their own accord.  Guevara disagrees, stating that while certain conditions such as class consciousness are necessary for ultimate victory, they are not necessary to begin guerrilla action.  He argues that these conditions, “very rarely come to exist spontaneously” and can instead be created through military action (Guevara, 1960, p. 56-57).  This would later be known as the “foquismo,” or “foco,” theory of guerrilla warfare.  Put simply, Guevara believed guerrilla forces could kick-start the revolution themselves, creating the necessary conditions as they fought. 

Mao, on the other hand, organized guerrilla warfare into three distinct phases.  The first of these is political work, the building of necessary conditions at the grassroots level (what Guevara hopes to skip using his foco shortcut).  The next two are: guerrilla warfare and mobile warfare (these are not always sequential or uniform, and different elements of each phase can exist simultaneously across different fronts).  Put simply, political work builds the necessary awareness and inspiration among the people.  Guerrilla warfare seeks to weaken the enemy while further building the political base.  And mobile warfare seeks the destruction of the enemy’s forces, capture of his cities and ultimately the fall of the old regime.  Mao is fairly thorough in listing everything which must be accomplished before moving to Phase III, including: quality of equipment, levels of training, supply structures, medical and hygiene units, political bureaus and communications systems just to name a few (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 112-114).

Guevara agrees on the general concept of a phased war, but he does not specify levels or lay out a method of advancing from one to the next.  Instead, he likens the spread of guerrilla forces to that of a beehive, and argues that when a guerrilla unit, “reaches a respectable power… ought to proceed to the formation of new columns” (Guevara, 1960, p. 57).  When guerrilla forces grow sufficiently strong they should join together in a, “war carried on by regular armies” (Guevara, 1960, p. 47).  While similarities between the two can be found, Mao offers a methodical approach to gradually overcoming the enemy on several fronts.  Guevara argues for a more basic strategy of growth until critical mass is developed. 

The final, and often overlooked, difference between the two is the tone of their writing.  The struggles each endured undoubtedly affected their temperament, and this shows in everything from the style of their prose to the organization of their paper.  Mao was twelve years older than Guevara at the time of writing and had nearly a decade more guerrilla experience.  He is measured and calm.  Guevara, on the other hand, rages against an unjust system, calling for the oppressed of the world to, “free themselves by means of guerrilla warfare” (Guevara, 1960, p. 50).    The two following sentences clearly illustrate the authors’ differences in this regard.  Mao describes the, “fundamental axiom of combat” as, “conservation of one’s own strength… in accordance with national policy” (Tse-Tung, 1961, p. 95-96).  Guevara takes an entirely different view, describing combat as a, “most interesting event, the one that carries all to a convulsion of joy and puts new vigor in everybody’s steps” (Guevara, 1960, p. 79).  After reading these two very different explanations of combat, one can almost see the grizzled Mao rolling his eyes at the young revolutionary.

Consequences and Continuing Relevance

Both works would profoundly impact international security.  Mao is still regularly read by insurgents and counter-insurgents alike.  But where Mao’s relevance has continued (or perhaps even grown), Guevara’s theories have yet to bear much fruit.  Dozens of revolutionary movements attempted to utilize his foco shortcut, yet the only successful use thus far was in Cuba.  Guevara himself would die 7 years later attempting the same thing in Bolivia.  Other notable examples of the use of foco strategy are: the FMLN of El Salvador, the Symbionese Liberation Army in the United States, the FSLN “Sandanistas” of Nicaragua and many others.  The Sandanistas are a powerful case study.  After attempting foco based strategies for more than a decade, they finally succeeded only after ditching this strategy in favor of a grassroots popular uprising.  Some of these groups had at least palatable ideas about building their nations and helping their people, yet all failed.  Compare this to the Maoist inspired insurgency of Sendero Luminoso in Peru.  By all accounts, Sendero was a truly awful organization.  Yet by continually focusing on Phase I political development, it managed to stay in the fight for more than a decade.

This is not to say that Guevara’s theories are no longer of any value.  His understanding of guerrilla tactics and descriptions of guerrilla life remain relevant today.  He also agrees with many of Mao’s fundamental precepts: the primacy of political power, the support of the people and the importance of context.  Furthermore, his call to action continues to inspire people throughout the world today.  Even if some of his theories have not held true, insurgents and counter-insurgents alike would be unwise to discount him completely.  Yet it is now clear that Mao, with his measured and pragmatic approach, more accurately describes the principles of effective guerrilla war.  His extensive experience and lengthy study of the historical processes of war ensure his theories will remain relevant.  Guevara’s book, which lacked a broad historical context, relied too heavily on the unique experiences of the Cuban revolution.  This led to his faulty “foco shortcut” theory.

Despite these flaws, students, practitioners and policy-makers of international security would be wise to read both books.  The nature of war is ever evolving; and today it is even less state centric than twenty years ago.  The majority of future conflicts are going to look a lot like the one’s Mao and Guevara describe.  For policy makers in the developed world, understanding the differences between the two approaches will help greatly in building strategies to defeat insurgent movements.  For the brooding revolutionary considering his next move, it would be equally wise to study the options before him.  Each should remember the following basic principles. The population is the key to victory, so treat them well.  Political action is at least as important as military action.  Remember that effective insurgent tactics will always seek to avoid the decisive battle, until they can win it.  And finally, understand the importance of context when developing strategy.  By remembering these values, insurgents and counter-insurgents alike will find themselves much better prepared for the battlefields of tomorrow.

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"Al-Qaeda 3.0": Fusion of Terrorism and Guerrilla Warfare

As war escalates between the United States and its allies against ISIS, we should understand why ISIS is so significant and how it attempts to terrorize with political message making. This is especially important within the context of the beheadings of American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and the recent threat in Australia to conduct mass decapitations in solidarity with ISIS efforts in Iraq and Syria.

The Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) is part of what scholars at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) have called "Jihad 3.0." The evolution of ISIS showcases the importance of the terrorist group "splintering" and "spinoff" processes that produce new strains of terrorist groups oftentimes associated with lethal assaults and copious bloodletting as they try to make a name for themselves and essentially compete with other terrorist groups for status, funding, and recruits in ways that closely parallel market dynamics.

The rationale here is that what Bruce Hoffman calls "al-Qaeda central" that was decimated in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in December 2001 and in Pakistan is "Jihad 1.0." Presumably, the emergence of al-Qaeda "affiliate groups" such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, constituted "Jihad 2.0. it follows that "splinter groups" such as the AQIM derivative, the "Battalion of Blood" that is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar would comprise a "Jihad 2.5." In turn, ISIS signifies the emergence of what CSIS experts call "Jihad 3.0" but at a recent CSIS symposium, neither Juan C. Zarate, one time national security advisor to president George W. Bush nor Jon B. Alterman attempted to define what "Jihad 3.0" means.

The distinguishing characteristics of "Jihad 3.0" are primarily threefold: first, is the fusion of guerrilla warfare, with its almost singular focus on efforts to take and hold land and simultaneously to win the "hearts and minds," of the populace by means of terrorism. While the use of terror by guerrilla organizations is neither a new nor original idea, the wide-spread, systematic, and seemingly predominant use of terror as a pacification method seems to be a watershed event in the modern terrorism experience. 

Second, is the refined "follow-up" capacity of the terrorist group to exploit marginalized elements of the ancient regime and integrate those elements into its structure. Scripted accounts report that ISIS forces have in some cases, been trained by former Sunni Baathist military officers who are themselves infuriated by the systemic discrimination against Sunnis experienced under the Nouri al-Maliki government. It is possible that in addition to kinetic warfare, those acquired skills might include cybercrime and even cyber war capabilities. Still another reason why ISIS connections to former Iraqi military officers is noteworthy is because those highlight the importance of political, religious, and historical "contextual factors" that help fashion the constituency groups critical to guerilla warfare and terrorist group success. In turn, those constituency groups help to determine the attributes of terrorist assaults as Rosemary Harris suggests in her work ("Anthropological Views on 'Violence' in Northern Ireland").

Third, ISIS demonstrates a more profound understanding the Internet and its value and other "social media" platforms than did its predecessors. In a thoughtfully written article in the New York Times, David Carr reports that ISIS films are the modern equivalent of "drawing and Quartering" for mass effect ("Medieval Message, Modern Delivery," New York Times, September 8, 2013, B-1, B-4) and his is right that the red jumpsuits ISIS victims wear before decapitation reflect and ISIS morality tale: the "role reversal" in Carr's words, of terrorist once imprisoned in places like Camp X-Ray now relish their role as captors. In contrast what is consistent with this new strain of al-Qaeda with what has come before, its is reliance on independent finances that have their origins in a multiplicity of sources.

What these ISIS films reflect is what I have called the "esthetic component" of terrorism, where extremely stark and graphic images of violence are used to strengthen, uplift, and essentially empower terrorist perpetrators, while the target population, what Martha Crenshaw would call the "secondary audience," is simultaneously denigrated, emasculated, and made powerless to control events. The end result of this is abject fear and other similar sentiments for the victims. In addition to the more proximate visceral reactions to the brutality of the event, what videoed terrorist events attempt is to inflict deeper psychological disruption on target populations by conjuring up historical and cultural references to the powerlessness of ethnic and racial groups.

This "historical reading" of terrorism is a powerful undercurrent or riptide to the act itself. Perhaps the most vivid example was the murder of Leon Klinghoffer in 1985 on board the Achille Lauro. That terrorist event evoked the deepest reaction in the Jewish community because the killing of a helpless, elderly wheel chair bound Jewish man, killed only because he was Jewish, tapped into the deepest feelings about the tragic historical legacy of the Jewish people.

Another problem with this CSIS event was that while experts did talk about the importance of an American strategic approach to combat ISIS, there was little if any in the ways of specifics offered. First, what American policymakers must do is isolate and identify differences in Syrian and Iranian national interest objectives that conflict and work to exploit them. If U.S. policymakers can develop a "triangular relationship" between the United States, Syria, and Iran in the "short-run and perhaps "middle-run" time frames, it can play off the national interests of Syrian and Iranian leadership putting a wedge between both Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rohani and Bashar al-Assad that would allow the policymakers to disrupt political, economic and materiel flows between those two countries that would give the U.S. policymakers flexibility and maneuverability to fight ISIS. In the case of Iran, it would be prudent to employ what David A. Baldwin describes as "positive inducements," coupled with negative sanctions to compel Iranian leaders to more readily conform to American foreign policy objectives Those efforts would perhaps also work to disrupt Iran's continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas. Moreover, such efforts would also signal a new engagement with Iran where their status in the Middle East is recognized at some level; that might have its own positive spillover effects.

Clearly an understanding of what constitute al-Qaeda 3.0 and what methods they use to achieve particular objectives contributes to our fight against ISIS. American leaders need to identify a set of Iranian and Syrian national interests that conflict with each other as the basis for a policy that manipulates those interests to our advantage. For the rest of us, we need to understand the "esthetic component" of terrorism and what it attempts to accomplish for these images of murder are in fact terrorist events in their own right. If political leaders and the American populace can work on those areas respectively, those efforts are a good first step in our fight against ISIS.

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South Sudan guerrilla warfare

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.

An overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted in a January 2011 referendum to secede and become Africa's first new country since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993.

The young state plunged into crisis in December 2013 amid a power struggle between the president and his deputy whom he had sacked.

Fighting between government troops and rebel factions erupted, and within weeks the conflict had killed thousands and prompted more than 800,000 to flee their homes. Oil production fell drastically.

South Sudan includes the nilotic Mandari tribe, known for fishing with spears and nets on the River Nile
The new nation stands to benefit from inheriting the bulk of Sudan's oil wealth, but continuing disputes with Khartoum, rivalries within the governing party, and a lack of economic development cloud its immediate future.


Formed from the 10 southern-most states of Sudan, South Sudan is a land of expansive grassland, swamps and tropical rain forest straddling both banks of the White Nile.

It is highly diverse ethnically and linguistically. Among the largest ethnic groups are the Dinka, Nuer and Shilluk.

Unlike the predominantly Muslim population of Sudan, the South Sudanese follow traditional religions, while a minority are Christians.

As Sudan prepared to gain independence from joint British and Egyptian rule in 1956, southern leaders accused the new authorities in Khartoum of backing out of promises to create a federal system, and of trying to impose an Islamic and Arabic identity.

In 1955, southern army officers mutinied, sparking off a civil war between the south, led by the Anya Nya guerrilla movement, and the Sudanese government.

The yes vote in the 2011 referendum on independence sparked scenes of jubilation
The conflict only ended when the Addis Ababa peace agreement of 1972 accorded the south a measure of autonomy.

But, in 1983, the south, led by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its armed wing, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), again rose in rebellion when the Sudanese government cancelled the autonomy arrangements.

At least 1.5 million people are thought to have lost their lives and more than four million were displaced in the ensuing 22 years of guerrilla warfare. Large numbers of South Sudanese fled the fighting, either to the north or to neighbouring countries, where many remain.

The conflict finally ended with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, under which the south was granted regional autonomy along with guaranteed representation in a national power-sharing government.

The agreement also provided for a referendum in the south on independence in 2011, in which 99% of southern Sudanese voted to split from Sudan.

South Sudan has faced major disruption because of the conflict that broke out shortly after independence

Long based on subsistence agriculture, South Sudan's economy is now highly oil-dependent. While an estimated 75% of all the former Sudan's oil reserves are in South Sudan, the refineries and the pipeline to the Red Sea are in Sudan.

Under the 2005 accord, South Sudan received 50% of the former united Sudan's oil proceeds, which provide the vast bulk of the country's budget. But that arrangement was set to expire with independence.

In January 2012, the breakdown of talks on the sharing of oil revenues led South Sudan to halt oil production and halve public spending on all but salaries.

A deal in March 2013 provided for Sudan to resume pumping South Sudanese oil in May, and created a demilitarised border zone.

Despite the potential oil wealth, South Sudan is one of Africa's least developed countries. However, the years since the 2005 peace accord ushered in an economic revival and investment in utilities and other infrastructure.

Alongside the oil issue, several border disputes with Sudan continue to strain ties. The main row is over border region of Abyei, where a referendum for the residents to decide whether to join south or north has been delayed over voter eligibility.

The conflict is rooted in a dispute over land between farmers of the pro-South Sudan Dinka Ngok people and cattle-herding Misseriya Arab tribesmen.

Another border conflict zone is the Nuba Mountains region of Sudan's South Kordofan state, where violence continues between the largely Christian and pro-SPLA Nuba people and northern government forces.

Inside South Sudan, a cattle-raiding feud between rival ethnic groups in Jonglei state has left hundreds of people dead and some 100,000 displaced since independence.

Several rebel forces opposed to the SPLM-dominated government have emerged, including the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) of Peter Gadet and a force originally formed by a former SPLA general, the late George Athor. Juba says these forces are funded by Sudan, which denies the accusation.

Sendero Luminoso, de la revolución al crimen organizado

El Partido Comunista del Perú Sendero Luminoso (PCP-SL) nació en los años setenta, en la Universidad Nacional de San Cristóbal de Huamanga, bajo el liderazgo absoluto de Abimael Guzmán, un profesor de filosofía llamado "Presidente Gonzalo" por sus acólitos. En 1980, el mismo año en que Perú recuperaba la democracia, se convirtió formalmente en una organización armada, que se propuso imponer por la fuerza un régimen comunista de orientación maoísta.

En su momento de esplendor, SL llegó a tener un enorme poder, desplazó al Estado de vastas regiones rurales, acumuló muchos millones de dólares gracias a su control sobre el narcotráfico, e impuso su ley con violencia y terror en poblaciones enteras.

"Protegían a los productores de coca del Gobierno y de la DEA, y cobraban cupos a los grupos que sacaban la pasta base de cocaína en avionetas y la llevaban a Colombia. Llegaron a ganar hasta 100 millones de dólares al año, lo que les permitía comprar armas y mantener el apoyo de sus cuadros. Mientras la economía del país se caía a pedazos por la inflación, SL ganaba más terreno, afiliados y simpatizantes, que no veían otra alternativa", explica David Scott Palmer, profesor de Relaciones Internacionales en la Universidad de Boston, y estudioso de la historia de SL, en diálogo con Infobae.

Abimael Guzmán al ser capturado, en 1992

Pero en 1992 Guzmán fue capturado y la organización se derrumbó, presa de su verticalismo extremo. "Como todo giraba alrededor de él, nadie estaba preparado para tomar su lugar. Cuando lo descabezaron, SL cayó por su propio peso", dice a Infobae la investigadora argentina Fernanda Daniela Díaz, del Centro de Estudios Suramericanos de la Universidad de La Plata.

La Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación, creada en 2001 para dar cuenta del conflicto armado que asoló a Perú entre 1980 y 2000, llegó a la conclusión de que en el período perdieron la vida 69.280 personas entre caídos en enfrentamientos, asesinados a sangre fría y desaparecidos. SL fue responsable del 54% de esas víctimas; las Fuerzas Armadas, del 37%; y del resto se encargaron organizaciones menores.

La caída de Sendero Luminoso

El arresto del líder fue un golpe del que SL nunca se pudo recuperar. Desencadenó un efecto dominó por el que los principales referentes del Comité Central fueron cayendo uno a uno en muy poco tiempo, y la organización perdió rápidamente la unicidad monolítica que había mantenido en los ochenta. 

"Luego de la caída de Guzmán, SL se fragmentó. Destacaron en estos dos facciones, ambas ubicadas en zonas de producción de cocaína: el Alto Huallaga en la selva norte, y el Valle de los Ríos Apurímac, Ene y Mantaro (VRAEM), en la selva central y hacia el sur", cuenta Nicolás Zevallos, Investigador del Laboratorio de Criminología Social de la Universidad Católica del Perú, consultado por Infobae.

El primer grupo marcaba una clara continuidad y seguía bajo la influencia de "Presidente Gonzalo", que enviaba sus directivas desde prisión. Estaba conducido por Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Camarada Artemio", el único miembro de la conducción histórica que permanecía en libertad.

Abimael Guzmán, 20 años después, reclamando una amnistía que lo libere

En cambio, la facción del VRAEM rompió con la línea de Guzmán poco después de que cayera preso, porque quería un acuerdo de paz que pusiera fin a la lucha armada, algo con lo que no estaba de acuerdo. Entonces se independizó, formando una especie de "neosenderismo", al que llamaron Proseguir. Entre 1993 y 1999 estuvo liderado por Óscar Ramírez Durand, alias "Camarada Feliciano".

"Estaban recluidos en la selva, en una zona muy aislada, de extrema pobreza y poco desarrollo -cuenta Díaz. Se internaron allí para sobrevivir. En 1999, los hermanos Quispe Palomino traicionaron y entregaron a Feliciano. Entonces nació el 'neosenderismo', que no se considera SL y reniega del pensamiento de Guzmán".

Hay un tercer grupo, fundado en 2009, que renunció a la lucha armada y que propone una salida negociada al conflicto. Es el Movimiento por Amnistía y Derechos Fundamentales (Movadef), que reclama la liberación de los presos políticos, especialmente, de Guzmán.

Su objetivo es convertirse en un partido político reconocido como cualquier otro y participar de las elecciones, pero el Estado no los autoriza, por sus estrechos vínculos con SL.

Un campamento de la facción de Sendero Luminoso en Alto Huallaga, cuando aún estaba operativa

Sendero Luminoso en la actualidad

Si bien las dos facciones de SL fueron duramente golpeadas por distintas operaciones efectuadas durante el gobierno de Ollanta Humala, la que opera en el VRAEM aún continúa con vida, mientras que la del Alto Huallaga quedó totalmente desarticulada tras la captura en 2012 del Camarada Artemio.

"Los remanentes de Sendero Luminoso tienen mayor presencia en el VRAEM, con una clara relación con la producción de derivados cocaínicos. Están involucrados en al menos dos tipos de actividades. Por un lado, el propio refinamiento y comercialización de pasta básica y de clorhidrato de cocaína. Por otro lado, la protección armada de las rutas de tránsito de estos derivados", dice Zevallos.

"Por ello se argumenta que sus objetivos económicos se anteponen a su discurso político. En todo caso, el dominio territorial que ejercen tiene como principal función asegurarles el control de las zonas de producción y de las rutas del tráfico", agrega.

Florindo Eleuterio Flores Hala, alias "Camarada Artemio", antes de ser capturado

Muchos investigadores ya ni siquiera consideran como una organización propiamente política a la que opera en el VRAEM. "El neosenderismo es directamente crimen organizado -dice Díaz- porque dejaron atrás la motivación ideológica y se hicieron fuertes en actividades ilícitas, sobre todo en las drogas".

"Al principio -continúa- se mostraban como defensores de los productores de coca y empezaron ofreciendo servicios de protección para el transporte del producto, lo que no era visto como una amenaza por los pequeños clanes de narcotraficantes. Pero hoy toda la droga que sale del VRAEM está manejada por el neosenderismo".

Sin embargo, una operación militar realizada en 2013 los debilitó profundamente. "El gobierno de Humala les propinó un golpe terrible al matar al número 2 de la estructura, Alejandro Borda Casafranca ('Camarada Alipio'), y al 4, Marco Antonio Quispe Palomino ('Camarada Gabriel'). Todavía se están reorganizando. Siguen manejando la droga, pero ya no están haciendo ataques a policías y militares", dice Díaz.

De todos modos, Víctor Quispe Palomino ("Camarada José"), continúa liderando la organización junto a uno de sus hermanos, Jorge Quispe Palomino ("Camarada Raúl"). Se estima que cuentan con una fuerza de 500 hombres.

Víctor Quispe Palomino ("Camarada José"), el líder de Sendero Luminoso en el VRAEM

¿Senderismo de exportación?

En los últimos meses se viene hablando de la presencia de ex integrantes de SL en distintos países de Sudamérica, asociados principalmente a bandas de narcotraficantes. Uno de los casos que más se citan es su supuesta presencia en algunas villas de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, en Argentina.

Sin embargo, no hay elementos suficientes para afirmar que estos ciudadanos peruanos tengan o hayan tenido vínculos con la organización. "Si hay presencia de peruanos en Argentina es posible que sean representantes de las mafias de la droga que existen en casi todo el continente, y que son los que facilitan la salida de la droga hacia el sur, que ahora parece ser la ruta más favorecida por los productores en el VRAEM", dice Palmer. 

"Es posible y probable que haya agentes peruanos en Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay y hasta en Brasil, pero dudo mucho que sean militantes de SL. Estos serían los que representan más bien los vendedores del producto, y no los vendedores ideológicos que todavía existen, pero en un número muy reducido y, esencialmente, sólo en el VRAEM", agrega.

Díaz va un poco más allá, y sostiene que en al menos un país sí se pueden verificar nexos con SL. "Está probado que los Quispe Palomino tienen vínculos con grupos en Bolivia para trasladar la producción de droga, lo que se ve en el aumento exponencial de las avionetas. Pero más allá de Bolivia, no me atrevería a decir que hay elementos concluyentes".

Para Zevallos, aún suponiendo que los narcos peruanos que operan en Argentina se presenten como SL, eso no significa que realmente tengan relación. "El SL que operaría en Argentina no evidencia vínculos orgánicos con los remanentes que hay en el VRAEM, aun cuando esté conformado por ex integrantes de SL en Perú. Se trataría más bien de una organización que capitaliza esta identidad para desarrollar sus actividades, logrando control territorial para el comercio de drogas y otras actividades conexas", concluye.

viernes, 29 de mayo de 2015

Sendero Luminoso and peruvian counterinsurgency (Tesis)

A Thesis

Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
Louisiana State University and
Agricultural and Mechanical College
in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts in Liberal Arts
The Interdepartmental Program
In Liberal Arts


Russell W. Switzer, Jr.

B.S., University of the State of New York, 1993

May 2007