Shining Path

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Shining Path, in Spanish Sendero Luminoso, is a Maoist terrorist group in Peru.


Former university professor Abimael Guzman formed Sendero Luminoso in the late 1960s, and his teachings created the foundation of SL's militant Maoist doctrine. In the 1980s, SL became one of the most ruthless terrorist groups in the Western Hemisphere-approximately 30,000 persons have died since Shining Path took up arms in 1980. Its stated goal is to destroy existing Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist peasant revolutionary regime. It also opposes any influence by foreign governments, as well as by other Latin American guerrilla groups, especially the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

In 2000, government authorities continued to arrest and prosecute active SL members, including, in April, commander Jose Arcela Chiroque, a.k.a. Ormeno. Counterterrorist operations targeted pockets of terrorist activity in the Upper Huallaga River Valley and the Apurimac/Ene River Valley, where SL columns continued to conduct periodic attacks.


Conducted indiscriminate bombing campaigns and selective assassinations. Detonated explosives at diplomatic missions of several countries in Peru in 1990, including an attempt to car-bomb the US Embassy in December. SL continued in 2000 to clash with Peruvian authorities and military units in the countryside and conducted periodic raids on villages. Despite numerous threats, the remaining active SL guerrillas were unable to cause any significant disruption to the Peruvian national elections held on 9 April.


Membership is unknown but estimated to be 100 to 200 armed militants. SL's strength has been vastly diminished by arrests and desertions.

Location/Area of Operation Peru, with most activity in rural areas.

External Aid None.

source: Terrorist Group Profiles, Dudley Knox Library, Naval Postgraduate School