LIMA – Authorities at Lima’s Canto Grande Prison dismantled a school of the Shining Path terrorist group that was indoctrinating inmates and their families in that jail, the local press reported on Saturday.
According to the daily El Comercio, the alarm sounded in October when the Dircote anti-terrorist police got wind of Shining Path prisoners there involved in raising awareness among relatives of inmates convicted of terrorism.
The situation in Canto Grande had become so overwhelming that prison officials banned entry into cellblocks controlled by Shining Path prisoners – some 80 per block – while some entrances had been closed off from the inside with metal fittings.
El Comercio said that the work of jailers was almost nonexistent, since they could only perform guard duty from outside each cellblock.
The work of indoctrination was most advanced in cellblock 6-B, where not only those convicted of terrorism and their families who visited them on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays (including women and children) were implicated, but also common criminals who had been recruited in jail.
Intelligence reports, to which the daily had access, said they not only gave classes but that they also imposed an almost military discipline in which the prisoners marched, gave inflammatory speeches and sang subversive songs.
The warden of the prison reacted to the situation by applying such regulations as having all inmates locked up in their cells by 9:00 p.m., which sparked protests and was even, according to the intelligence service, the cause of a riot seeking to take over some of the cellblocks.
In view of the situation, authorities decided to search each cell, an operation that was carried out by 120 agents and 15 prosecutors.
They seized cell phones, two cameras, red flags emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, a portrait of the Shining Path’s historical leader Abimael Guzman, and at least a dozen large sheets of paper with notes on subjects like the communist revolution in China, Shining Path and on Guzman himself.
Other measures adopted by the National Penitentiary Institute, or Inpe, was moving some 30 inmates to other jails or to other cellblocks.
Shining Path fought a 20-year-civil war against the Peruvian armed forces in an attempt to subjugate the country and institute a revolution like the one carried out by Mao in China.
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.
“Remnants” of the Shining Path operate 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.”
In both areas, they are suspected of working with drug traffickers and staging attacks on the security forces.