LIMA – Police have identified the Shining Path guerrilla group’s military commander in the Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, known as the VRAE region and considered Peru’s principal cocaine-producing area, as Orlando Alejandro Borda Casafranca, the press reported over the weekend.
Counterinsurgency and intelligence officers have determined that the 42-year-old Borda Casafranca is Shining Path commander “Comrade Alipio,” the La Republica newspaper said Sunday.
Borda Casafranca was born in San Jose de Secce district, where a Shining Path ambush left five people, including three police officers, dead earlier this year.
Preliminary information about the Shining Path’s military commander in the VRAE, identified as Victor Quispe Palomino, was provided by guerrillas who deserted earlier this year.
Police found the parents and brothers of Borda Casafranca, who disappeared when he was a teenager while working in the jungle.
“My son disappeared when he was 16. I don’t know if he is alive or dead. He has never been back since going to the jungle,” the suspected guerrilla’s mother, Julia Casafranca, told the Lima daily.
“I raised him with love, so he would be a good man and not to be a terrorist. If the police say that Alipio is my son, I would ask him on my knees to leave the terrorists. He does not know how much I suffer here alone,” she said.
Some of Borda Casafranca’s former classmates told the newspaper that they had seen him for some time with a Shining Path unit that operates along one of the routes used to smuggle cocaine in Ayacucho’s jungle region.
Police took DNA samples from the suspected rebel’s relatives.
Last month, the former chief of the counter-terrorism police, Gen. Marcos Miyashiro, told La Republica that the Shining Path “is increasingly improving its firepower” in the VRAE region.
The retired general, one of the key men behind the 1992 capture of Shining Path founder Abimael Guzman, said the expansion of the guerrilla group’s firepower explains “why they dare to directly attack the military bases located in the VRAE.”
More than 40 soldiers have died in ambushes and attacks staged by the Shining Path in the region in recent months.
The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.
A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.
The guerrilla group also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses, according to commission estimates.
The Shining Path operates in the northeastern Upper Huallaga Valley, a center of coca cultivation and cocaine production, under the command of “Comrade Artemio” and in the VRAE region under Comrade Jose.
The guerrilla group’s “remnants” operate in both valleys, working with drug traffickers and staging attacks on the security forces. EFE