Deep within the Peruvian jungle, authorities are reported to have freed 39 victims that were being held as slaves by the Shining Path guerrilla movement. The Maoist group has existed for decades in Peru, but was dealt a near-mortal blow in 1992 when its leader was arrested. At that point, the conflict between the Shining Path and the Peruvian government had lasted a decade and had cost around 70,000 Peruvian lives. But, as the London Times reports, the embers of the group still burn:
Some of the 39 victims found in a raid by Peru’s army had been held for 30 years, military officials said. Many of the women had been raped to make them pregnant. Their children were forced to harvest coca plants to produce cocaine before being trained as fighters for the Shining Path guerrilla movement.“We’ve been here, like this, for 30 years,” one woman told La Republica newspaper.Some of the children had been kidnapped from rural communities whose residents were too afraid to report the abductions to the police. The youngest of the captives was one year old, while one of the oldest women was 70. She had been kidnapped from a convent decades ago.
Though Shining Path long ago lost its momentum as a political movement, it has managed to reinvent itself as what a U.S. Treasury Department official described as a criminal “narco-terrorist organization.” The group’s activities propelled Peru into producing record numbers of cocoa, giving the country a bigger role in the Latin American cocaine trade, in which Peru briefly overtook Colombia for the top spot in 2012. Disturbingly, the exploitation of women to breed and indoctrinate children as slave laborers and fighters has been vital to its success in the cocaine trade and may have helped save the group from extinction.In the warped world of the Shining Path, when a political revolution fizzled out, its answer was to take to the jungle and raise a settlement of abducted and traumatized women and indoctrinated children. Peruvian authorities have stepped up their efforts to beat back the rise of the cocaine trade, and in doing so have rooted out Shining Path settlements like this one.But we should never forget: scum like these are the revolutionary heroes that the looney members of the compassionate left once looked up to during its heyday.