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Shining Path leader calling it quits

The Americas Post - Comrade Artemio has reached the end of the Shining Path. Photo Credit: AP

One of only two surviving leaders of the Shining Path guerrilla group has announced that his insurgents will halt attacks,  and called for a truce to begin peace negotiations with the Peruvian government.

Known by his war name of Comrade Artemio, Jose Flores Hala told journalists gathered in his jungle hideout Friday he “isn’t going to deny” that government forces have won.

Flores, however, was not able to speak for another Shining Path leader known as Comrade Jose, who has not declared a similar cease-fire.

Flores operates in the Central Peruvian Huallaga Valley, a hotbed for coca production, while Comrade Jose is based in the country’s southeast Apurimac-Ene river valley, which also produces a high volume of coca.

Flores said that his approximately 150 guerrillas would not disarm without a “process of frank and real negotiations.”  He added however, that “We have no intention of continuing the armed struggle.”

The Shining Path is dramatically smaller than when it controlled large areas of rural Peru in the 1980’s.  Government soldiers captured leader Abimael Guzman in 1992 and his replacement Comrade Feliciano in 1999. The remainder of the group has since split into the two small remaining factions.